If you’re at all aware of the Skarsgård acting dynasty, you know Stellan and My Agnes have quite the talented family; their sons Alexander, Gustav (Vikings), Bill (Hemlock Grove) and Valter (Black Lake) have all followed in dad’s footsteps.
In advance of the release of Stephen King’s It (2017) and Atomic Blonde and Mute, each of which stars a Skarsgård brother, respected “journalist” Alexander had an on the record conversation with Bill for Interview magazine. Their easy banter is both funny and unexpectedly moving, as they discuss Bill’s introduction to showbiz by his big brother, and the younger sibling’s thoughts on terrifying children. I highly recommend reading the full piece when you get a chance, but following are my favorite excerpts. The first comes from Alexander’s memory about Bill at 9 years old. Having finished shooting his part as Klasse in White Water Fury, Bill was taken back to the hotel while Alex finished his last scene.
I do have a very vivid memory where you wrapped early one day, and they took you back to the hotel, and I had another scene. When I got back, you were just standing outside in the parking lot, waiting for me, and it broke my heart. It was just the two of us. We obviously come from a big family back in Stockholm. I never felt needed. It was always chaos with Mom, Dad, uncles, you know, we all lived in the same building. Dinner parties with 25 people every night. And for the first time, you and I went away together, and suddenly I wasn’t just a big brother. I felt paternal. You were just standing in the parking lot waiting for your big brother to come home, because you didn’t know anyone and you didn’t know what to do. If I ever need a little sense memory for a scene, that vision of coming around the corner and seeing you standing there, this little boy in this massive parking lot, is really beautiful and heartbreaking. It was the first time I ever felt needed.” [Alexander]
The second story will snap you right out of your tears. If you haven’t yet seen the terrifying trailer for It — Bill plays Pennywise, the iconic clown role originally played by Tim Curry — you should definitely check it out. As any King or Curry fan knows, Pennywise is the most horrific of clowns, and he has an affinity for children.
Alexander asked Bill how he felt knowing he’s going to cause nightmares in kids “for decades to come”.
It’s a really weird thing to go, ‘If I succeed at doing what I’m trying to do with this character, I’ll traumatize kids.’ On set, I wasn’t very friendly or goofy. I tried to maintain some sort of weirdness about the character, at least when I was in all the makeup. At one point, they set up this entire scene, and these kids come in, and none of them have seen me yet. Their parents have brought them in, these little extras, right? And then I come out as Pennywise, and these kids—young, normal kids—I saw the reaction that they had. Some of them were really intrigued, but some couldn’t look at me, and some were shaking. This one kid started crying. He started to cry and the director yelled, “Action!” And when they say “action,” I am completely in character. So some of these kids got terrified and started to cry in the middle of the take, and then I realized, ‘Holy shit. What am I doing? What is this? This is horrible.'” [Bill]
Read the full interview here.
It is in theaters September 8th; Atomic Blonde, July 28th; Mute, later this year.