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Swedish actor Alexander Skarsgård was cast in Alan Ball's HBO series True Blood as Eric Northman, a powerful thousand-year-old Viking vampire.
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he was cast in Alan Ball's HBO series True Blood.
After acting in several other minor film and television roles as a child, Skarsgard had a breakthrough when his 1989 film The Dog That Smiled became a surprise hit and made the young actor, still only 13 years old, a national celebrity. Unlike most teenage boys who would be thrilled to become famous, Skarsgard was put off. "The fame was scary to me," he recalls. "When people stare at you and you read about yourself in papers — at 13 it just got very confusing. I thought that if this is what it's like to be famous, I don't like it one bit."
Skarsgard quit acting and for the next seven years, he says he "did nothing." After this prolonged period of goofing off with his buddies, at the age of 19 he joined an antiterrorist unit in the Swedish marines. "It was national service," he says. "Although when I did it, it was quite easy to get out of. Most of my friends didn't do military service. But they spent those 15 months hanging out drinking and smoking pot. The reason I did it — I was 19 and grew up in downtown Stockholm. It's like any other European city, and I was a city kid. If it rains, you don't go outside. I wanted the challenge. I was curious. I wanted to see what it would do to me to go through all of this." During his 15 months in the marines, he trained in hand-to-hand combat, small-squad battle tactics and anti-sabotage attacks. "I hated it most of the time," he admits. "A lot of the guys I served with wanted to be James Bond, whereas I was a hippie. But it was good for me."
After his stint in the military, Skarsgard and a friend decided to enroll at Leeds Metropolitan University in England. After those tough months in the marines, he explains, "I just needed a break, to be able to chill. So did my friend. So we went there and studied, but it was basically just hanging out and having fun. We lived in this basement with no heating, sleeping in sleeping bags, and shared a bathroom with a drug dealer, who was obsessed with the queen of Sweden for some reason...
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