September 19, 2012
Mr. Skarsgård, where do you live?
I live in Sweden because the taxes are higher, nobody is starving, good
health care, free schools and universities. It’s a civilized country and
I like that.
You prefer paying higher taxes?
Of course. If you make a lot of money like I do you should pay higher
taxes. Everybody should have the possibility to go to school, and
university, and have good healthcare.
Not everyone seems to agree on that I guess…
Well, the sad thing is that most Americans who are on Medicare, or some
kind of state support, don’t think they are. They say, “Smaller
government! No fucking help for the sick!” But it’s like, you are being
helped. And they say, “No, not me, am I?” And of course the Republicans
will not tell them either. That is what happens when you have bad
education in a society. Then people like Rick Santorum get elected for
things. (Laughs) It’s an educational problem.
So you wouldn’t feel comfortable living in America? Do you have an
No, I don’t have anything there. I don’t mind going there, and there are
a lot of fantastic things about America, and half of Americans are
pretty sane. You have a lot of interesting culture, writers, filmmakers,
and intellectual debate, which is fabulous. But it is difficult to
accept a system where the level of the political debate is such that
Republican senators or congressmen that have gone to great universities
can stand up and say, “If you get healthcare, it is socialism and your
grandmas will be shot.” And nobody says anything! I wouldn’t be proud if
I was an American.
Are you proud to be Swedish?
I am not a nationalist in any way, and I hate flag waving, and I don’t
think much good has come out of nationalism. I am proud of Scandinavia
in the sense that we have actually managed to create a very tolerant and
human society, which is very livable. They are of course deconstructing
it and privatizing everything now, but there has been some achievement
up there, in that cold north.
Is it important for you to support Scandinavian films?
I don’t really care about the nationality. For instance, I think I have
done 1 film in 15 years in Sweden. So I don’t think nationally. But I
think it is important for me to do the smaller low budget films, and the
independent films where the director has more power, so it becomes more
personal, and the stories are more complex. I want to support those
kinds of films.
I suppose that’s why you like working with Lars von Trier.
I am going to do Lars von Trier’s next film, which according to him is a
porno flick. He called me and said, “Stellan, I am going to do a porno
flick next and I want you to be the main lead in it.” “Yes Lars, I’ll be
there, that’s no problem.” “But you will not get to fuck!” “It’s fine
Lars, I will come anyway.” “But you will show your dick at the end and
it will be very floppy.” “That’s all right Lars, I’ll be there.”
Just like that.
I haven’t seen any script yet, but I have seen an outline and some
scenes of it and I think it will be very interesting. (Laughs)
With Lars you don’t need to see the script before you sign on?
Yeah, I would work with him without a script. I mean, I don’t consider
it work. It’s just fun; it’s like play. I love it.
It’s like play?
Well, I mean, my ambition is to be real and truthful all the time, and
also to be unplanned in a way, to create life. You cannot plan life,
especially in front of the camera. So if you prepare really thoughtfully
and you do exactly the same thing in front of the camera that you did at
home, it could be brilliant but it will always be dead. So you have to
let your own life seep through in a way.
That sounds like a good gig.
I have done ninety films or something and it is still fascinating. I
still have fun when I am doing it and there are new people being created
all the time. Man is such an amazing animal, and the possibilities are
infinite for each person.
Do you feel lucky to do what you do?
Of course. I am not only lucky to be an actor, but I am lucky to be one
of the most privileged actors in the world because I can do all kinds of
films and genres and everything.
When did you reach that point?
It wasn’t like “a star is born” kind of thing. It’s been gradual. It is
really boring for journalists because if you want to write, you should
write, “And that day my life changed.” My life reads more like Proust
than a tabloid. (Laughs)