Alexan­der Skars­gard brings his own mil­i­tary ex­pe­ri­ence to bear in the edgy war drama Gen­er­a­tion Kill. Well, sort of, as Guy Davis dis­cov­ered.

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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

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