Interview with Johnny O'kej - 1995

Tell me about your childhood.

Oh, alright. I look at it as very happy. I had intelligent, tolerant and very modern parents  when it came to ideas on how to raise a child. A kid's opinion mattered just as much as an adult's.

Have you ever had an idol?

Sure, when I was little. I wonder if it wasn’t Leslie Howard. I saw him in The Scarlet Pimpernel when we got a TV. That movie was probably 30 years old even then, but I loved that sort of hero! I didn’t mind seeing matinees with Johnny Weismüller as Tarzan either.

Was this when you were in school?

Stellan: Yeah, in the first grade. I remember that seeing a matinee cost you one crown a ticket in Uppsala.

You lived there?

Yes, I moved around a lot. I was born in Gothenburg. We moved to Småland, then to Kalmar, off to Marielund in Uppland out in the country. After that we moved to Uppsala, and then over to Klagshamn in Skåne, then to Malmö, and then over to Helsingborg. Then I left home!

Ah, were you a circus family or travellers?

Nah, my dad always wanted a better job. Every time he got one, we first lived out in the country and then we got an apartment in the city. And when we were ready to move to another building, he got a job in another city – and on it went, ha, ha!

The big city and the country – what kind of person does that turn you into?

I’m actually a real city person. I’m not fit for the country. I don’t even have winter clothes! I wore this coat in S/Y Glädjen. By the way, I just made a Norwegian movie that takes place in Greenland in the 1920’s. We shot it further north, close to the North Pole. When I got to the airport in Oslo, I saw the whole crew in Fjällräven-gear, backpacks and amazing custom-made boots. Yeah, all dressed up for the wildlife. And I’m standing there in my bright linen suit! I didn’t even have an outer coat!!! They looked at me and thought ”This one is going to be trouble!” Ha, ha!

In situations like that, it's good to be a professional actor. You know, stay relaxed. Be COOL at the right time. Did your skills require a lot of education? How did you begin?

My first play was about children waiting for spring. I did my important part – and played a lump of snow! That is, I was lying on the stage with a sheet over me. Then spring came, and I could crawl out! When I was small, I did some ABF-theatre, and played at Stadsteatern, so I’ve done all that. But I never thought it would be my occupation. At first I wanted to be a dentist, and then a diplomat. I did a lot of things before I made up my mind. After Bombi Bitt when I was 16, I worked at the Helsingborg Stadsteater, and then the Malmö Stadsteater and thought “Yeah, what the hell – I might as well keep going!”. I never made up my mind on what I wanted to be! It just went on – a typical Skarsgård planning. Ha, ha!

I know what you mean... So, how were you in school?

I mostly liked school, and did well.

Where you bullied in school?

It was hard going to a new school. Plus, I was small and weak. I never fought. I never liked it – and had other interests, but if someone was beating me up, I could tell the bully I was small and weak. I could say "isn’t it better to go after someone your own size?” To the crowd that appeared during fights, you could say "Don’t you think he’s a coward – hitting someone so small and weak?” So, they could attack me physically, but never touch my self-confidence – which is most important and relevant. If you’ve got that intact, and your dignity, you can take a couple of punches.

Do you remember your first kiss?

Oh, I don’t know. But I do remember the first time a girl opened her mouth when I kissed her. It was during Truth Or Dare, or something like that. I probably wasn’t that old, but I remember our teeth KNOCKING together. It went ”CLANK”! I didn’t know why she did that. I was not impressed by it. I was probably too small at that time.

And puberty?

Puberty was hell. I developed late. When I was fifteen, I didn’t have any hair on my d--k at all! And I was shorter than the others, had a squeaky voice, and I didn’t understand why the girls liked the other guys – and wanted to discuss their love lives with me when I was in love with them! I thought that sucked because I always liked girls. You could get teased for that in school. You’d be called a “womanizer”. But I didn’t give a shit about what those idiots thought! I had girls as friends, and had a whole lot more fun than they had! But when I wanted to sleep with them, I had nobody…but that was probably pretty early too! I know I had strong sexual fantasies even when I was eight years old!

And when did fantasy become reality?

I don’t quite remember... but it was, of course, awkward. Are you that interested in my sex life?

You’ve done it a couple of times now?  I meant, you’ve got children and all that.

Yeah, well, five. First of all, one bunch – the oldest is eighteen. And then there is a second bunch – two small ones that I’m trying to be with more than when the others were young. This marriage is the longest relationship I’ve ever had. My and I have been together for about 20 years! Before that, I was bad at staying with one person. It was mostly rolling around, so to speak. You met the same girl a couple of times, but never looked at it as a relationship.

Ok, say no more…a party dude! After all of your horrible partying, do you remember the first time you got drunk?

You mean black outs? Nah, not more than… Well, I forget things when I’m sober, so you can’t tell them apart really, ha ha. The first time I got drunk, I was fifteen and abroad. We were in Las Palmas, and were supposed to ship bananas. We got to some bar that the crew recommended. They ordered Des Cuba Libre and eggnog because my dad had let me taste that, and something else…yeah, banana liquor! It was f--king disgusting. I threw up all night! It took a long time before I drank again.

Ugh, yeah. Afraid of cats?

I’ve always had a dog. Cats to me are as boring as hamsters!

YES! What are your favorite types of cheese?

The real parmesan. Regano parmesan is so good.


[Kindly translated by Robin Solsjö Höglund with our sincere thanks.]

Note: This was one wacky interview with Johnny O'kej and had to be edited down for clarity.