FT Magazine - May 13, 2016

The Inventory: Stellan SkarsgŚrd

What was your earliest ambition?

To be a diplomat. I had the illusion that a diplomat was someone who travelled the world, made peace, and made people talk to each other. Some do but I wasnít aware they were mostly megaphones for their own governments. I had great belief in the UN. I still havenít given up on this ó Iím acting until I take up my diplomatic career.

Public school or state school? University or straight into work?

A state school in Sweden. When I was 17 or so I got a theatre job. My father said I should finish school so I had something to fall back on. I had no intention of falling back, so I just quit. Iím still reading, learning and studying.

Who was or still is your mentor?

My father and mother have supported me in any decisions Iíve made, given advice ó but never pushed me in any direction.

How physically fit are you?

Fit enough for my job. If Iím shooting for 12 hours, I pace a lot. I donít go to the gym or do any sports but Iím always moving.

Ambition or talent: which matters more to success?

Neither is sufficient. You need dedication and passion.

Have you ever taken an IQ test?

No. I havenít got the courage. I would hate to be deprived of thinking Iím pretty smart.

How politically committed are you?

Iím very politically interested, and also politically saddened at the current state of affairs.

Do you consider your carbon footprint?

I recycle. I pay to erase my carbon footprint when I fly. It does concern me. It should concern us all.

Do you have more than one home?

If you donít count my summer house, I only have one.

What would you like to own that you donít currently possess?

British Airways or News Corp. BA because I like the planes ó but Iíd rather have News Corp because Iíd like people to have more accurate information.

Whatís your biggest extravagance?

Undoubtedly food. Not only making sure that I buy the organically best and most delicious, but also the amount, because I cook for so many people all the time. I cook several times a week for 15 to 20 people. Itís lovely.

In what place are you happiest?

Anywhere my family and friends are.

If you had a coat of arms, what would be on it?

Fergus Hendersonís cookbook, Nose to Tail Eating ó the cover has a whole pig, showing how you butcher it. A pig like that. Or a cow.

What ambitions do you still have?

To stay alive a little longer, because I have small children.

What drives you on?

The lust for excitement and joy.

What is the greatest achievement of your life so far?

Eight kids, even if it only took eight minutes to make them.

What has been your greatest disappointment?

How Europe, the western world, has lost interest in equality and democracy. That is extremely saddening. Also the rise of nationalism and protectionism in various countries is frightening.

If your 20-year-old self could see you now, what would he think?

ďYou sellout!Ē When I was 20, I was very pretentious and artistic, and the very idea of doing Hollywood blockbusters would have seemed like heresy. And, ďGod, youíve aged!Ē

If you lost everything tomorrow, what would you do?

Iíd try to get a job.

Do you believe in assisted suicide?

Yes.

Do you believe in an afterlife?

No.

If you had to rate your satisfaction with your life so far, out of 10, what would you score?

Ten.