|Interview with Stellan - 1999 -
"Hollywood's Hottest Swede"
Is there anything more to say about Stellan Skarsgård which has not already been said?
Perhaps Swedens most competent actor is moreover Hollywoods hottest Swede and
is to be seen everywhere soon. His place of work is the world, the Hollywood stars glorify
him, and the roles become bigger, as well as Skarsgårds name in the starry sky of
the movie industry.
After more than a year of intensive film shooting, Stellan is taking a break with his
family, relatives and friends, while his new alter ego is taking over the cinema screens
in the autumn. We were able to chat with Hollywoods hottest Swede.
Our greatest international film star certainly is not lazy. Stellan Skarsgård
continues to shoot films. He mixes small films with big Hollywood productions as usual.
"Ive got a big family to provide for and theres always a need for
money," Stellan laughs when we talk about his diligent film shooting. "But money
is not the most important thing. I simply like to work, even if I must admit that it is
quite illogical to say that because Im quite lazy by nature and like to have time
off as well. (laughter)."
Stellan has stood in front of the cameras for almost one year at a stretch. The result
are four films - Deep Blue Sea, Passion of Mind, Signs and Wonders
and Aberdeen. Its not strange that he feels tired and worn out and would
prefer to flee the limelight for a while. He politely declined all jobs during the summer
and disappeared to the big summer house on Öland with all the tons of relatives. Anyway,
he managed to slip over to the USA to the world premiere of Deep Blue Sea
and to do one more interview with questions he probably has heard a thousand times before.
But Stellan is a pro and even if he is tired of the media, he does not show it. He is as
funny through and through, pleasant, contemplative, smart and outspoken as usual.
Question: You get good reviews almost all the time in the USA, even if the films are
pulled to pieces. The critics seem to like you, and stars like Robert deNiro and Samuel L.
Jackson only praise you. Jackson, for example, said that you are one of the best actors he
worked with. How does that feel?
"Its always fun when someone likes what you do. Of course it is tremendously
flattering to hear something like that. And I liked working with Jackson again in Deep
Blue Sea. I like his acting skills."
Question: How do you pick your roles?
"Ive never actually been so interested in making a career. I choose those
roles which I think seem exciting and interesting. Its a different reason all the
time, but I try to pick something different from the film Ive done before and try
not to repeat myself. I mean, if I just did a big, expensive American action film, I like
to do a part in a little smaller European production the next time. But I usually accept
what I think could be fun to do right at that moment. I dont make a secret that
its about big money in those Hollywood films. Im getting paid tremendously
well, even if its a minor role. If I only were to work because of the money, I could
have stayed in Hollywood. But I think European films are more interesting. They get to the
(?) in a totally different way than in Hollywood. Its just my agency which does not
like me to do roles in small 'obscure' films, so sometimes I have to 'give them' a role in
a big, glittering Hollywood film to satisfy them. (laughter) I do understand them. They
earn money with me, too. Otherwise, it also depends on the script, the director and the
other actors in how I pick my film jobs."
Question: A while ago you won the Felix-award, Europes equivalence to
Hollywoods Oscar. What does a distinction like this mean to you?
"Devil knows (laughter). It does not mean that much now. Ive been around for
some time and have managed to establish myself. It would have meant significantly more if
I had received the award when I was younger and less well known, but it is flattering of
course. Its always fun to get attention by a nice award, because it means that
people like what one does."
Question: You have never considered leaving Stockholm and moving to the USA?
"No, that will never happen. I enjoy living in Sweden."
Question: Do you watch your own films?
"No, rarely. I never go to the theatre in Stockholm anymore and very rarely to the
Question: Do you manage to see films at home?
"No, we have lots of children at home, so theres not much time left. I
change nappies and cook. Its not even possible to listen to music at home.
Weve got three CD players running at the same time, while my wife is listening to P1
[Swedish culture and news radio channel]."
Question: When I name the titles of some of your latest films, what do you think of
"That was an enormous production with many good actors, e.g. Morgan Freeman and
Anthony Hopkins. I play a slavery opponent who tries to save a ship full of African people
from slavery. Steven Spielberg works in a special way. We didnt have a single
rehearsal, but shot directly. 250 people in the team and more than 400 extras with a
non-speaking part on the set. It didnt work at all. The dialogue simply disappeared
out of my head. Spielberg is a damned competent storyteller, but he doesnt give
himself the time to go deeper into his characters. Its way too fast. We had about 40
set-ups a day, which is really crazy."
"I dont appear so much in this film. I get killed almost immediately. I
havent seen it, but one of my boys have. He says it is 'okay'." (The film is
about an American (played by Dennis Quaid), whose wife (Nastassja Kinski) and son got
killed in a Muslim terror act in Paris, whereupon the man becomes a legionnaire soldier in
the former Yugoslavia to take revenge on the Muslims in Bosnia.)
Good Will Hunting:
"A wonderful experience, good atmosphere during the shooting and a lovely team
everyone from actors to the director (Gus Van Sant). Robin Williams was
hysterically funny between the takes, almost neurotic. We had so much fun. I had some
really good scenes and got some space to work with my character as I like to have it. Very
intelligent script by Ben Affleck and Matt Damon." (Stellan plays a math professor).
"My latest film. I spent two months in Scotland and acted drunk or hung over all
the time (laughter). It is a Norwegian-English production directed by Hans-Petter Moland.
I play an alcoholic oil platform worker, who split up with his wife and daughter, and the
family separated. Charlotte Rampling plays my wife. The daughter travels to take her
father home when the mother gets seriously ill." (Stellan and Moland have worked
together before - the thriller Zero Kelvin).
Signs and Wonders:
"An exciting triangle drama directed by a young, very promising American named
Jonathan Nossiter. I shot in Greece among other places."
Passion of Mind:
"I play Demi Moores lover. Shes a woman who lives a strange double
life. The shooting took place in France. When I saw how she (Moore) lives, I suddenly
realized how lucky I am to be able to move freely. She is really captured in her own fame.
She cannot take a single step with her children without being surrounded by bodyguards all
the time. It must be hell to be a Hollywood star like that!"
"Nice team, but quite boring shooting. Action films are on the whole extremely
boring to do. Most of the time you sit and wait. In Ronin not the actors are in
focus but the car races. You sit and wait for hours until the stuntmen have stopped
driving. Then they call you in to take some close-ups for half a minute."
The next big film in the cinema here at home is Renny Harlins expensive
action-thriller Deep Blue Sea. The production of this film took place in the same
studio, complete with a gigantic water tank for the sea scenes, which James Cameron had
used for Titanic. At Rosarito Beach in Mexico, Stellan rented a big house at the
beach to have enough space for family, relatives and friends, who kept him company during
his time off during the whole shooting. In earlier interviews Stellan has often said that
he does not like to be alone, and that family is the most important thing to him.
Question: Your family used to come with you when you worked?
"Yes, and in Mexico we were like a Swedish colony of 35 persons. They made me
The usual cliché is that Hollywood actors live unbelievably glamorous lives, stand in
front of a camera when the director shouts 'action' only to get back to their gigantic,
luxurious trailers again. Of course we live well. You get serviced, and the big Hollywood
productions take very good care of the actors. Everything is practically organized and
meticulously prepared with trailers and private drivers. But the job itself is damned
tough. It can be cold and awful, wet and boring like hell sometimes. Its quite hard.
In Deep Blue Sea we shot 12 hours a day and were only off on Sundays. We spent
most of the time inside and didn't see anything else but the studio. It was the same thing
with Ronin. We had 12-14 hours working days. Then it can be nice to live well,
eat well and be able to get into a waiting car after a long working day."
Question: What are you going to do now? Do you have some concrete film plans?
"I actually dont know. My professional future is to be seen as a 'big, white
piece of paper' right now. I enjoy being off for a while, but in a short while Ill
go through the offers I have got, which are laying in wait."
Question: Could you tell us something about your part in Deep Blue Sea,
"I play a researcher who works on making the brains of sharks bigger and better
developed by gene manipulation. The intention is to use them for the cure of Alzheimer
disease. But of course everything goes wrong. The sharks become as intelligent as
dolphins, while they keep their killer instincts at the same time. The sharks suddenly
become pure killing machines and start to chase us, while the research station starts to
sink into the ocean at the same time. I play one of the scientists, but theres not
so much more to it. I get almost totally eaten up quite early in the film."
Deep Blue Sea is full of action and the actors had to go through a number of
hardships with floods, bad weather, tough underwater scenes, big obstinate sharks,
explosions and blazing fire on the water. Its wet and cold and not very glamorous.
Many are forced to do quite a lot of their own stunts. One, who definitely likes to act as
a stuntman, is Stellan Skarsgård.
"Some stunt scenes are quite awful," he admits. "I only do small stunts
which are not dangerous. Ive got six children, I dont need to risk my life to
prove that Im a man. I say my lines. The rest is kindly handed over to the stuntmen.
(He didn't have to swim with the sharks) Im not a good stuntman. I dont like
pain. Its against my nature. I prefer to live a pleasant life, to eat good and not
to work out," Stellan laughs.
[Shock Movie Magazine]