Vecko Revyn (Swedish magazine) - December 1, 1988

Stellan Skarsgård started as a naughty boy in TV – and continues in life:

“I use foul language as long as people are shocked”

He stopped using a pacifier when he was eight, and went directly to cigarettes. Stellan Skarsgård does what nobody expects. Like passing up movie offers from Hollywood. Our biggest movie star goes home instead to My and the kids.

Here we have Sweden’s biggest movie star.

He could go to the film festival in Cannes or to New York, glide around cocktail parties and say: "I'm Stellan Skarsgård" and nobody would raise their eyebrows at someone so professional. He’s earned it, you see.

His American Hollywood agent calls him regularly. She is offering big money.

At a restaurant table, Stellan draws his hand through his red, poorly cut hairdo and grins in a horny boyish manner.

He doesn’t show any signs of pride.

Luxury is completely unknown to him.

After work he prefers to go home to My and the kids, place himself in front of the stove and cook something tasty, perhaps with fresh pasta and parmesan.

His tax debt does not weigh heavily enough to make him accept all offers for easy-made dollars.

The last offer from his agent was to play a villain in the new Arnold Schwarzenegger movie. But Stellan would rather wait for a good role.

Roughly a year ago, he told the people over at the institutional theatre of Dramaten exactly how he felt and handed in a form for resignation.

At another time, he shocked the audience during a get together about acting – by telling them he masturbated the morning before a show.

"I’ve said jerk off since I was little and neither my mom nor dad has ever reacted to it. And I plan to keep using foul language in public as long as people are shocked by it."

He has just quit smoking, but orders a packet of Prince, tears the filter off a cigarette and draws in a few pleasurable whiffs. Stellan didn't stop with the pacifier until he was eight, and quickly replaced it with cigarettes.

He enjoys life to the fullest: food, wine, beer – everything that tastes well goes down with ease.

Stellan has just finished shooting the movie Kvinnorna På Taket (The Women On The Roof). In it, he plays a happy prick who raises tents for a company of actors, and seduces two women under the roofs of Stockholm. But first we’ll see him in the movie S/Y Gladjen about a couple who sail across the world to help them move past mourning their son who died. It premieres by the end of the year.

He has a tendency to uglify his characters; to rather show their negative side than to accentuate the positive - he is often a dirty anti-hero.

"I’m allergic to pristine actors who make private statements on stage by using their looks," he says.

So far he has only been a lover once: in Molieres Hustruskolan. Stellan pointed out the negative side of the character by showing that he was actually in love with love and the possibilities within himself.

He is now preparing for the part of agent and count Carl Hamilton - Jan Guillou’s Coq Rouge is going to be filmed and Stellan turns into a macho man. The author has had some doubts.

"Yeah, Guillou thinks I look like a weakling," Stellan says, "but, on the other hand, he wants me to play the lead part. And I’m training hard. A guy from the coast guard is teaching me close combat and weapon tactics."

A childish smile spreads from his eyes to his dimples. Stellan can’t hide his delight.

"We did have toy guns when we were kids, but we were never allowed to aim them at anyone," he explains.

We talk about his upbringing:

"I was a very knowledgeable child," Stellan says. "Skilled, versed…. I could handle any situation with grownups involved."

But you began smoking when you were eight..

He leans back into the chair and thoughtfully says:

"Yeah, I guess there was an anarchist inside this little bastard too."

The anarchist has grown at the expense of the well-mannered. Stellan warns about being naive and playful. He lives the conversation. His face is active, and he has a hard time sitting still. Sometimes he almost jolts across the table to underline something. His hands are seldom resting, but constantly moving and gesticulating.

He suddenly starts speaking in broad skånska (a dialect used in Skåne, a part of Sweden) and a new Stellan Skarsgård appears:

"Isn’t it great! Skånska is a lot more expressive and rich. I rehearse all my roles in it. I find a lot of expressiveness that can be translated into normal Swedish."

The skåning Stellan has a certain look, which disappears at the same moment he begins speaking uppländska.

"I was born in Uppsala and we didn’t move to Skåne until I was eight," he says, "so I learned it."

The upplänning Stellan on the other hand is a serious analyzer. The actor is ambitious, the person lazy. The skilled anarchist completes the harmonic paradox that is Stellan Skarsgård.

And chaos is as familiar as neighbor with God.

Stellan’s honesty once made Bo Widerberg make the comment: “Everyone thinks Stellan is so kind and nice. But he’s a nasty bastard.”

Stellan smiles embarrassed and a proud blush spreads across his cheeks. He appears to be taking it as a compliment...

He is 37 and has lived with My for almost 15 years. It’s not an eternity, just an incredible amount of time.

"The kids enjoy having such young parents," Stellan explains. "It actually gives them good status at school."

The kids are Alexander twelve, Gustaf eight, and Sam six. Sometimes you see Stellan walking along the streets of Söder almost like a kindergarten teacher - with a virtual school class around him.

"Family and friends are very important to me," he says. "I like if my company is large, spontaneous and ready to party. We now live in a big apartment in the middle of town, but we once went through hell in a small place in Racksta, where we lived with a kid and a dog. It was HORRIBLE!"

In the house on Söder you can also find My’s brother and Stellan’s best friend, the author Johan Gunther. The kids run between the floors and the neighbors spend time together.

"We share the china, and there are forks where we last had a party."

Stellan flutters his eyes, and you understand that this environment of friends, a big family, life and movement is his elixir of life.

If he wants to be alone, he’ll close himself in a room only to shortly open the door to see what the others are doing.

"I don’t feel a great need for solitude."

It feels so liberating to meet one of Sweden’s finest actors and discover that theatre to him is not at all a condition for his existence. Stellan doesn’t use big words about acting.

"It’s not my identity," he says. "It’s just my job. Sure I’ve been marked by it – like big boredom in the evenings for example... I have a very hard time winding down when we’ve finished shooting for the day…"

"It becomes easy to have a few beers, or a bottle of wine."

Stellan states that it’s not very healthy. On the other hand, he is coming back to theatre. He is just not sure when.

"I have no idea what’s going to happen after Coq Rouge. Maybe I should please my agent and accept a movie offer… "The family could come with me," Stellan says. He talks for a long time about the advantages and disadvantages of America and Sweden.

"It’s sad that over there it’s all about money…. I like Sweden! I don’t like how square it is: Sweden is a protected workshop, but a BEAUTIFUL, protected workshop, actually more like Russia than Denmark."

"Do you know what the difference is?" Stellan asks, and once again jolts across the table.

"On the Swedish milk cartons, it says that the milk contains at most three percent fat; on the Danish one it contains at most four percent. I REALLY like Denmark!

He laughs.

Stellan Skarsgard thinks A LOT about most things.

And if the meaning of life is to enjoy it, he’s doing his very best.


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