A pop phenomenon and a heartthrob, the Swedish actor can also be serious and low-key. Men’s FASHION editor-in-chief David Livingstone sits down with Alexander Skarsgard in New York.
From the flow of his voice coming from behind the door, it’s evident that Alexander Skarsgard has taken to the role of spokesmodel with guileless good cheer.
As I sit outside a New York hotel suite, waiting in line to go face to face with the face of Encounter Calvin Klein ($87, thebay.com), this fall’s major new men’s fragrance, I can’t help hearing the interview before mine and thinking that the guy is not nearly as taciturn or inscrutable as he has been in the parts that have shaped his fame.
Born in Sweden in 1976, Skarsgard rose to North American stardom in 2008 with a one-two punch. On Generation Kill, an Emmy-winning HBO miniseries about the U.S. invasion of Iraq, he played a tight-lipped Marine nicknamed Iceman. After that came True Blood, the enthusiastically received HBO series (recently renewed for a sixth season) on which he plays an enigmatic vampire called Eric Northman.
When my turn comes, the man who meets me is not frosty but affable. Talk about friendly and warm! He even tells me, “I’ve had some good conversations, actually. It’s been journalists from all over the world, so that’s always fun.”
Skarsgard’s easygoing eagerness makes it impossible to begrudge his good looks. Tall, fine-featured and athletically built, he is spared from perfection only by a slight overbite, though even that has a page dedicated to it on Facebook.
As for the way he is dressed—white Calvin Klein shirt with Persol shades slung from its open neck, black Alexander Wang jeans, grey Converse high-tops—there is nothing to suggest it isn’t cool, except the way Skarsgard wears it, which is as if no thought of cool went into it.
However, Skarsgard did put thought into his decision to become a spokesmodel. “I’ve never done anything like this before. I’ve had some opportunities, but they haven’t felt right,” he says. “This one—just everything felt right about it. Calvin Klein is such a great house. I was flattered.”
Another reason for Skarsgard to participate in the Encounter campaign was the team working on it. He considers creative director Fabien Baron one of the best in the world. He had worked with photographer Steven Klein before, on a shoot for Interview magazine, and “had a blast.”
The film noir style of the campaign was another motivation. “The way they pitched Encounter, it almost sounded like something out of the German Expressionist movement, like an old Fritz Lang movie like M or Metropolis.”