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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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Skarsgard moved to New York City to study theater for a year at Marymount Manhattan College and then returned to his native country to resume his acting career. In 1999, a full decade after he quit acting,
Skarsgard began pursuing a variety of Swedish film and television roles. He made his American film debut as an airheaded male model in the wildly popular 2001 comedy
Zoolander. He then returned to Sweden to write and direct
To Kill a Child (2003), an acclaimed short film featured at the Tribeca and Cannes film festivals.
Although he was very successful in Sweden over the next several years, he longed to return to the American screen. The opportunity came when he was cast as Marine Sergeant Brad "Iceman" Colbert in the acclaimed HBO miniseries Generation Kill, which was based on Evan Wright's book about the 2003 American invasion of Iraq. The show was shot over seven intense months in Namibia, South Africa and Mozambique. It received rave reviews, and Skarsgard earned critical acclaim for his performance.
Asked whether his experience in the Swedish marines prepared him for the role, Skarsgard says, "My training was very similar to what those guys went through — the details, the level of respect and how you handle your weapons and gear. It was very helpful for me to have gone through that in the Swedish marines... That being said, it's still the Swedish marines. We don't go to Iraq. People don't shoot us... Our last war was 200 years ago."
Alexander Skarsgard is unmarried and without children, and although various media outlets have speculated that he dated True Blood costar Evan Rachel Wood, neither has confirmed the reports.
Long a critically acclaimed and popular actor in Sweden, his prominent role on HBO's True Blood has helped make Skarsgard a full-fledged star in the United States as well. Fans can see him in two upcoming American films, Straw Dogs, with James Marsden and Kate Bosworth, in 2011, and Battleship with Liam Neeson in 2012. He is also set to appear for the first time with his father, Stellan, and opposite Kirsten Dunst in Melancholia, a movie directed by Lars von Trier.
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