Stellan Catches A Robber

"I'm lazy and feel no need to work", says Stellan Skarsgård, but still catches a robber in Pirates of the Caribbean II. Stardust meets our greatest Hollywood star to talk pirate life - and private life.

2006 is Stellan Skarsgård's great international year. In November, he's playing the title role of the artist Francisco Goya in master director Milos Forman's Goya's Ghosts. Among the co-stars we find Natalie Portman and Javier Bardem. And in July, we already get to see him as pirate captain "Boostrap" Bill Turner in Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest.

"I play Orlando Bloom's father, a pirate captain who spent years at the bottom of the sea, but returns having been inflicted with a curse."

You'd think Stellan gets to liven things up with some pirate action, but that's not the case. Johnny Depp and Bloom once again bring the action.

"Yeah, I don't have a lot of that kind of thing. But I was promised a big fight scene in the third film."

Of course, all the international work involves a lot of flying around, and living in luxurious hotels around the world. Most of us would call that the height of happiness, but not Stellan. When he's abroad, he wants to live in an apartment, or he'll rent a house. This is so he can cook himself and have guests. It's also important that friends and family can come to visit.

"I'm addicted to my family. I feel safe in it. And what else would I use my money for than food and shelter for family and friends?"

His wife My is an educated doctor, and Stellan is happy she is involved with something completely different than himself.

"She doesn't have the same kind of anxiety I do,"  he says, and reveals he's not the calm guy everyone thinks he is.

"Things take place within me. There's a layer I want to get through every day. I know myself and how far I must get. I know what is demanded of me. Actors are the most afraid and vulnerable people there are. We must always expose ourselves. I don't believe in the image of idols and stars. There are a great amount of artists who are small people. As an actor, you're always involved. The bubble tends to break."

He tells us of how he once saw Margaretha Krook before a premiere at Dramaten.

"Here she was, this legendary, this legendary entity with over a hundred years on stage, and she was still terrified. Then she went on stage and was brilliant. But that did not end her fear. I'm a lazy bastard myself, and I don't really feel a need to work. I'm terrified everytime I start a new film, but I enjoy it when it works."

Despite his unwilling approach to working, Stellan Skarsgård has come a long way. Once a teenage idol from Bombi-Bitt och jag, he's now a world famous celebrity. Directors, producers and fellow actors spread praise over his his complete lack of diva fashions, professionalism, his kindness, and his ability to take on a tormented police officer with complete conviction, as in the original version of Insomnia, to an exorcist in Exorcist: The Beginning.

A lot of people wonder why we don't see more of Stellan in Swedish productions. The reason is not a high price tag from Stellan's side though.

"I had hoped things would be like in Denmark, where they tend to think in more continental ways. But it's not as open in Sweden. Now I mostly keep in touch with Swedish cinema through my children."

Yes, the Skarsgård clan is well represented through Stellan's eldest sons Alexander and Gustaf, who have both become recognized actors.

"I think both Alexander and Gustaf are better and more mature than I was at that age. I was a prisoner of ambition. They're more taken care of than I was, but they've come furtherthan I had at that age. And they're also more handsome and smarter than I was as well."

Do you feel like an adequate father?

Never. No chance. You always make mistakes. But I'm at least trying to follow the motto 'if you can't be good, try to be careful'."

But mottos like those are probably best left at home in your chest when it's time to go out on the seas and be a pirate.

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