NY Post - June 6, 2010

Swedish actor Alexander Skarsgĺrd has been a hot item ever since HBO gave us a double dose of him in "Generation Kill” and “True Blood,” which returns to HBO next Sunday. But the sexy vampire du jour is not a solo act. It turns out there’s a whole clan of actor Skarsgĺrds back in the old country — the Nordic Baldwins! Basically, you can’t swing a dead cat in the Swedish entertainment biz without hitting a Skarsgĺrd. “They are definitely considered acting royalty,” says Swedish writer Jan Gradvall. “Remarkably enough, they seem to be liked by everyone in Sweden. All of them are nonpretentious and easygoing.” What’s more, their father is Stellan Skarsgĺrd, one of Sweden’s most famous actors. You know him — depending on your taste — from “Good Will Hunting,” the films of Lars von Trier, the “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies (he played Bootstrap Bill) or his guest spot as the volatile director Verner on “Entourage.”

Stellan has seven kids, the youngest of whom was born last April (and has not yet declared his intentions regarding an acting career). But the rest are teenage or older, and they’re a physically impressive bunch, all strapping height and chiseled cheekbones. The Skarsgĺrd brothers also include:

Gustaf, 29 - The closest successor to Alexander. Already has a blossoming career as an actor in Sweden and will be on our shores soon. He’ll make his major English-speaking debut later this year in Peter Weir’s “The Way Back,” alongside Colin Farrell and Ed Harris, as a WWII soldier escaping from a  Siberian gulag. Also appears with Alexander this year in the Swedish film “Trust Me.”

Samuel, 28 - Hasn’t spent much time in front of the camera — his one appearance so far was in 1987’s Swedish film “Jim and the Pirates,” which also featured his dad (playing a character named Gustav, no less) and a rare cameo by his mom, My Skarsgĺrd (playing a character named Mother). He’s worked as a production assistant on a couple of other movies and definitely has the looks to get back in the game if he wants to.

Bill, 19 - Made his debut in the 2000 movie “White Water Fury” alongside big brother Alexander. Has since appeared in several Swedish movies and TV shows. On the horizon for later this year is the big-budget Swedish film “Behind Blue Skies.”

Valter, 14 - Has already been in four Swedish movies; two of them were the “Arn” fantasy series (“The Knight Templar” and “The Kingdom at Road’s End”), which also starred Gustaf, Bill and Stellan.

So far, sister Eija, 18, has stuck to modeling.

Meanwhile, Stellan and Alexander, 33, just recently worked together for the first time — twice. There was last month’s dystopian “Metropia,” and they both voice characters for an animated kids’ movie, “Moomins and the Comet Chase,” out later this year.

Stellan already has other ambitious family projects in mind: “It would be great fun to do ‘Long Day’s Journey Into Night’ with Alexander and Gustaf someday. That drama is just as if it’s been written for us.”

Stellan is well-versed in the ways of child actors, having started his career at 15 in a popular Swedish TV show. He’s used that experience to help his offspring navigate the fickle entertainment world. As Stellan himself told the Newark Examiner recently, “They’re wiser, more handsome and better than I was, so there is a clear evolutionary process that is under way.”

“None of the kids who’ve taken up acting, and there are quite a few, have been targets of any backlash,” says Martin Degrell, writer for the Swedish magazine Plaza. “On the contrary, they have received praise where it’s due — especially Alexander.”

Swedes have followed Alexander since his early days on the Swedish soap opera “White Lies.”

“Alexander’s struggles in Hollywood as an actor are pretty well-documented here,” says Degrell. “He only did a handful of movies and TV shows in Sweden before leaving for America. The part in ‘Generation Kill’ was obviously the big breakout for him.” In 2009, he scored a high-profile cameo as the eye-patch-wearing stud in Lady Gaga’s “Paparazzi” video, directed by his countryman Jonas Akerlund.

These days, Alexander is firmly on America’s radar. He’s dating Kate Bosworth, his co-star in the upcoming remake of “Straw Dogs.” When he took her to meet family and friends in Stockholm recently, it was big tabloid news.

“Meanwhile,” Degrell says, “Gustaf seems to take the opposite approach, making a name for himself here first before moving out.” Of his 27 acting credits thus far, the Peter Weir role is Gustaf’s first non-Swedish title. He’s already got a dedicated fan base, though, and looks poised for Alexander-level fame here if he so chooses.

But, it seems, there’s no rush, and no pressure from Dad. With their even-keeled temperaments and across-the-board talent, perhaps the Skarsgĺrds aren’t really the Baldwins after all.

At least one huge distinction can be made: There may be a Bill Skarsgĺrd, but “there is no ‘Billy Skarsgĺrd,’” says New Yorker Martin Schiff, who became a fan of the family during a two-year Swedish sojourn. “And thank goodness for that.”