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Alexander Skarsgård Looks Impressive In The Northman, But Talks Difficulty Of Being 'Shackled' And 'Dragged' For New Movie

Alexander Skarsgård in The Northman
(Image credit: Focus Features)

Alexander Skarsgård has taken on some physically demanding roles in the past. I mean, the man played Tarzan for goodness sake. But even that movie seems to be child’s play compared to his work in The Northman. Robert Eggers’ viking epic looks incredibly intense, and Skarsgård appears to be perfect for the lead role. The actor underwent a “crazy” transformation for the job, but that’s only part of what was needed on the physical end of things. He also had to be “shackled” and “dragged,” which led to some difficulties. 

In The Northman, Alexander Skarsgård plays a viking prince named Amleth who seeks to avenge the death of his father, who was slain by his uncle. The trailer’s tease that the man finds himself a prisoner at some point in the epic tale, and the protagonist certainly suffers while in captivity. And as you’d expect, it wasn’t exactly easy for Skarsgård to portray that on screen. The actor recently caught up with our sister site, Total Film, and explained just why the film stands as “the most difficult job” he’s ever had:

It was physically and mentally the most difficult job I’ve ever had, but also the most rewarding. The days were really long and hard, and we were out in the mud, and up on these mountaintops with the wind and the cold. The week prior, I was working on the television show Succession, on which I play a tech billionaire in a villa on Lake Como. So I literally went from playing one of the richest dudes on the planet in a crazy, beautiful villa, surrounded by yachts and helicopters and luxury, and got on a plane and flew to Iceland to get shackled and dragged through the mud. It was definitely a waking-up moment and a humbling experience.

Though I’ve never personally been shackled or dragged through dirt, I’ll take the star’s word that such things do make for a humbling experience. What’s particularly interesting is that the performer jumped to the movie from HBO’s Succession. The gritty age of vikings is definitely a sharp departure from the classy, but cutthroat, corporate world. Still, the actor seems to have relished the opportunity to play in both worlds.

In terms of The Northman, Robert Eggers (known for his work on black and white horror film The Lighthouse) really challenged his actors. They all seemed to have been up to the challenge, despite the obstacles. And while also speaking to Total Film, Eggers revealed that Anya Taylor-Joy powered through spectacularly. Though she did recall one particular day that really speaks to the hazards of shooting the film: 

I’m not a complainer, and Rob and Jarin know that, but there was one day when the mud was up to my knees, and it had frozen overnight, and I’m barefoot. It had got to a point where I think just squeaked out, ‘Please!’ And they were like, ‘Oh, OK, it’s bad. It’s really bad. We need to get this done. If Anya’s saying, ‘Can we please roll? I can’t stand here any longer...'

Those who still doubt just how intense the shoot was can look no further than the trailer for evidence. Check it out for yourself down below:

It’ll be exciting to see how the story unfolds when the film finally releases. For viewers, it should be a truly engrossing experience, one that moviegoers should appreciate all the more for the challenges faced by Alexander Skarsgård and co.

One of 2022’s biggest new movie releases, The Northman, opens in theaters on April 22. If you’d like to get a sense of Robert Eggers’ work while you wait, The Lighthouse is available to stream with an Amazon Prime subscription.

Erik Swann
Erik Swann

Covering superheroes, sci-fi, comedy, and almost anything else in film and TV. I eat more pizza than the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.