Hollywood and Fine - January 14, 2011
Yes, Stellan SkarsgŚrd
says, heís in the midst of filming David Fincherís version of ďThe Girl
with the Dragon Tattoo,Ē the biggest export Sweden has produced since
Abba. No, Stellan admits, he hasnít read the best-selling Stieg Larsson
novel upon which the much-discussed Hollywood version is based: ďI read
other things,Ē he says by telephone from Los Angeles.
Youíre Swedish but you work frequently in Norwegian films, such as ďA
Somewhat Gentle Man.Ē Do the Swedes accuse you of being a traitor?
Yes, they call me a turncoat. I say, well, you only make police
thrillers in Sweden. But this is my third time working with this
director. I still live in Sweden. Thatís my base. When Iím not working,
What attracted you to the project?
I thought it was very funny. When the producer read it, he didnít
understand it. He thought it was dark and sad and tragic. I found it
hilarious. It was an unusual script.
How often do you get offered leading roles like this?
You donít see many scripts written like this, in Hollywood or anywhere
else. There are not many roles like that out there. But this is the
third time Iíve worked with Hans Petter Moland. I also worked with him
on ďZero KelvinĒ and ďAberdeen.Ē Heís given me three of the best roles
of my career.
Yet you say there wasnít a lot in the script to hang the character
The character doesnít say anything for the first four or five minutes.
You read it and heís the lead role and heís not there, really. It was a
funny situation because of everything you could fill in between. The
character had to be invented. Even when heís not saying anything,
everything around him had to be reflected in his face. I like the
character. He had given up on life. He was so reluctant to reenter life.
Itís a story about a man who finds magic in life, finally finding at his
age that life can be beautiful and wonderful.
Whatís up with that ratty ponytail you wear in the film?
The ponytail was my idea. I wanted it to indicate that he was a man who
was a bit over the hill. When he had it like that in the í80s, it was
really cool. But heís been in prison for 12 years. My hair was probably
that long when I did ďBreaking the Waves.Ē Iíve never had it that thin
You have several bizarre sex scenes with Jorun Kjellsby, who plays
your landlady. Was it hard to keep from laughing during those?
Iíve done a lot of sex scenes but never anything like this. We laughed a
lot during those sex scenes. There were a couple of takes we had to redo
because we couldnít keep a straight face. There was dialogue in the
script and not much more; it was our interpretation of the script. All
the things about just wanting to eat his dinner while he was having sex
are things we invented.
Why did you start acting?
My first professional acting job was when I was 14. It was a Swedish
Huckleberry Finn for TV. That started my career. I did a lot of amateur
theater as a kid. The more I did it, the more I was hooked. It made it
possible to be someone else, to do things Stellan would never do. Plus I
like people and itís a collaborative art form. Iím not a mirror-style
actor. I come with 1,000 possibilities and then it depends on what the
other actors do.
Do you like working in Hollywood?
I wasnít keen on going to Hollywood at all when I first came. I won an
award in Berlin in 1982 and then did a film for PBS. My agent wanted me
to go to L.A. and I didnít want to. It was very snotty and arrogant of
me. Iíve been staying at the Chateau Marmont for 20 years when I come
here. I like the staff. But I donít feel a part of society in L.A. Itís
so totally different a city, so heavily based on the industry. Even if
youíre well-known in Sweden, you can be more private there. But I will
say the L.A. weather is great. We just had the longest cold spell in
Sweden since 1788.