Alexander Skarsgard brings his own military experience to bear in the edgy war drama Generation Kill. Well, sort of, as Guy Davis discovered.
Skarsgard underwent a stint in his homeland’s armed forces. He admits, however, that it might not necessarily have provided him with the insight he needed for his Generation Kill role.
“ I mean, we haven’t been in a war in almost 200 years,” he laughed. “ I was training for something I knew would never happen. Who’s going to invade Sweden?”
The son of acclaimed actor Stellan Skarsgard ( whose credits include Good Will Hunting, the Pirates of the Caribbean movies and Mamma Mia!), the 32-year-old started out as a child actor before taking time out for military service and architecture studies.
He returned to acting at the age of 20, quickly amassing roles in Europe and the US. But it’s his parts as Colbert in Generation Kill and Eric, the 1000-year-old Viking vampire in the pay-TV hit True Blood, which have propelled him into the public eye.
Getting into character as Colbert, a central fi gure in the Evan Wright book series creators David Simon and Ed Burns ( of The Wire fame) have adapted for the small screen, was initially no challenge for Skarsgard – he simply acted the part when auditioning for the role.
“ When I was auditioning, I was very, very confi dent,” he said. “ Because I had to be. So I kind of played the part of a confi dent actor going into the audition basically because I had to, because if I didn’t believe that I was the only one who could play Brad Colbert, these guys wouldn’t believe it.”
It wasn’t until a couple of days later when he found himself on a plane bound for the African nation of Namibia, where the series was fi lmed, that Skarsgard started to shake a little.
“ I was on the plane with seven scripts and [ Wright’s] book and I was terrifi ed,” he said. “ But it was good because as soon as we landed in Namibia, we were thrown into boot camp with these guys and it all started to make sense, you know.”
Just as daunting was doing justice to an actual person, especially one for whom Skarsgard has “ a tremendous amount of respect”.
“ I wanted him to be proud of the project,” said the actor. “ But I also realised I had to make ‘ Brad Colbert’ in the show my own. I was extremely fl attered when he said he liked it. That meant so much to me.”
Equally important to Skarsgard was making sure Generation Kill provided an accurate, authentic representation of events that are still embedded in the public consciousness.
“ I hope that people will realise that hundreds of thousands of men and women are over there and this is what they go through on a daily basis,” he said.
Special operations: Alexander Skarsgard is under fi re as Sergeant Brad “ Iceman” Colbert in