Actor Alexander Skarsgård exuded a mysterious magnetism that made him a natural to play dark, often disturbed characters. He amassed a decade's worth of work in Sweden before emerging as the fanged bad-boy Eric Northman on HBO's gripping vampire series, "True Blood" (2008-14). Skarsgård first impressed as a stoic Marine leader in the HBO miniseries "Generation Kill" (2008), based on journalist Evan Wright's painstakingly accurate account of the Iraq invasion. But it was his turn as the calculating and incredibly attractive Viking vampire that made Skarsgård into a bona fide Hollywood star. The juicy role often featured him in various stages of undress with frequent sex-dream partner, Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin). While he initially came off mean and manipulative, Skarsgård's take on Eric slowly revealed a softer, more caring side, which showcased the actor's range and led to many more riveting roles throughout his career. After the end of "True Blood" in 2014, Skarsgård moved on to work ranging from horror film "Hidden" to the adventure "The Legend of Tarzan" (2016) to dysfunctional family drama "Big Little Lies" (HBO 2017).
Alexander Johan Hjalmar Skarsgård was born on Aug. 25, 1976 in Stockholm, Sweden. He started acting at age eight when a director friend of his father, the famed Swedish actor Stellan Skarsgård, gave him a part in the film version of the children's book, "Åke och hans vårld" ("Ake and His World") (1984). A number of TV and film roles followed; by the time he reached 13, Skarsgård decided that he would not pursue an acting career. After a brief stint in the military, Skarsgård gave acting another shot. He attended Leeds Metropolitan University in London before moving to New York City to study theater at Marymount Manhattan College. After six months in the city, Skarsgård returned to Sweden to continue acting. But like his famous father, Skarsgård longed to make a name for himself outside of his native country. He moved to Los Angeles, found representation, and quickly landed a part in Ben Stiller's comedy "Zoolander" (2001). In his American film debut, Skarsgård portrayed a mindless Eurotrash model who dies in a gasoline fire. Then it was back to Sweden, where he appeared in more films and stage productions, and co-directed the critically acclaimed short, "Att döda ett barn," ("To Kill a Child") (2003), a powerful drama about the consequences of speeding. The film was shown at both the Tribeca and Cannes Film Festivals.
Skarsgård finally had his big break playing a Marine team leader on the miniseries "Generation Kill" based on Evan Wright's account as a reporter embedded with recon Marines in the early part of 2003. The physically challenging role, which required Skarsgård to hang on wires in the stifling heat of Namibia and mutter unfamiliar Marine slang, earned him praise from critics and audiences, including director Alan Ball who immediately cast him on "True Blood." Skarsgård played Eric Northman, the 1,000-year-old Viking sheriff of the undead. Based on the book series by Charlaine Harris, the intriguing vampire saga averaged about five million viewers a week, and transformed its stars into A-list celebrities. As the sexy and politically manipulative vampire Eric, he lurked mostly in the shadows in season one, but became a critical part of the series in later seasons as he tried to steal Sookie away from her vampire love interest, Bill Compton (Stephen Moyer). To the delight of the show's fans, Skarsgård's character often engaged in rapid-fire sex scenes, including a much-talked about tryst in season three with the vampire Talbot (Theo Alexander) that ended in a blood-curdling staking.
In 2011, Skarsgård starred in a remake of the thriller "Straw Dogs," about a couple, David and Amy Sumner (James Marsden and Kate Bosworth, respectively) who fall victim to vicious local harassment. Skarsgård and Bosworth played ex-lovers in the film, and dated off-screen, though they had split by the time the movie debuted. Later that fall, Lars von Trier's atmospheric drama "Melancholia" received an American release, with Skarsgård intentionally toning down his charm to play a man spurned by his newlywed wife (Kirsten Dunst). After a supporting role in the widely derided aliens vs. military movie "Battleship" (2012), he appeared in a number of lower-profile films that won over many critics, including the thoughtful melodrama "What Maisie Knew" (2013), with Julianne Moore, and the indie thriller "The East" (2013), co-starring Ellen Page and Brit Marling. In the summer of 2013, it was announced that "True Blood" would end with its seventh season, giving fans a limited time to appreciate the vampiric wonder of Skarsgård's Eric Northman. Skarsgård naext appeared on the big screen in a supporting role in the young adult fiction adaptation "The Giver" (2014), followed by the lead in a horror film, "Hidden" (2015). After co-starring opposite Kristen Wiig in indie drama "The Diary of a Teenage Girl" (2015) and appearing in a cameo in the comedy sequel "Zoolander 2" (2016), Skarsgård starred in the dark action comedy "War On Everybody" (2016) before landing a major starring role as the title hero of "The Legend of Tarzan" (2016). He next appeared opposite Nicole Kidman in the darkly comic family-dysfunction drama miniseries "Big Little Lies" (HBO 2017).
Cast (Feature Film)
Cast (TV Mini-Series)
Made his debut in Allan Edwalls award-winning drama "Ake och hans varld"
Became a teen star when he played 'Jojo' in Rumle Hammerichs' "Hunden som log"
Landed his first role as an adult, in Christina Olofssons' "Happy End"
Cast in first U.S. film, playing the dim-witted male model Meekus in "Zoolander"
Wrote and directed his first film, "Att döda ett barn"
Cast in the NBC miniseries "Revelations"
Cast as the handsome vampire Eric Northman on HBO's "True Blood," based on Charlaine Harris' novel series <i>The Southern Vampire Mysteries</i>
Portrayed Brad 'Iceman' Colbert in the HBO miniseries "Generation Kill"
Co-starred in Rod Lurie's remake of "Straw Dogs"
Co-starred opposite Kirsten Dunst in Lars Von Trier's apocalyptic drama "Melancholia"
Cast as one of the leads in the sci-fi action feature "Battleship"
Starred in the thriller "The East"
Featured in the drama "What Maisie Knew"
Starred in he big budget reworking of the Tarzan story, "The Legend of Tarzan"
Co-starred on HBO's dramatic mini-series "Big Little Lies"