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Alexander Skarsgård's The Northman Co-Star Talks Actor Surviving Getting 'Naked On The Base Of A Volcano' And Other Wild Scenes

Alexander Skarsgård and Anya Taylor-Joy in The Northman
(Image credit: Focus Features)

If there is a single word that can be used to describe the new Robert Eggers film The Northman, “intense” might be a good try. The new film starring Alexander Skarsgård and Anya Taylor-Joy is a Viking tale of revenge. But if there’s a third co-star in the film its the environments these characters find themselves in, and Taylor-Joy has talked about some of the wild (naked) experiences they went through to get shots for the movie.

Alexander Skarsgård and Anya Taylor-Joy sat down with with Total Film (via GamesRadar) to discuss The Northman and they both admit that simply making this movie was not a simple task. While so often the magic of movie making is about making things look different than they are, if something in The Northman looks brutal, that’s probably because it is. Director Robert Eggers says Alexander Skarsgård transformed himself for the film. Taylor-Joy specifically mentioned a scene that put her co-star in the freezing cold, and naked, for several days in a row. As the actress explains…

My apartment was just floor-to-ceiling windows. It was like a bird box. And I remember going outside and it was just hailing. It was around midnight. I had just sent Alex a text and I was like, 'He's naked on the base of a volcano right now for the fourth day in a row, swinging the sword like it's not.' It's not easy. It's a miracle that anyone survived this. And you nailed it. You did such a good job.

While Alexander Skarsgård may have become known for taking his shirt off in films, this was apparently a different situation. When you’re saying that it’s a miracle that anyone survived a movie shoot, that’s quite a statement. Of course, when you’re spending four days naked in the hail, maybe survival was in question at one point or another. Skarsgård himself has talked about this scene and how difficult it was for him. The atmosphere is one of the things that viewers and critics are praising about The Northman and that was brought about through some pretty brutal work.

And Alexander Skarsgård wasn’t the only one who had to deal with some rough treatment on the set of The Northman. Anya Taylor-Joy goes on to describe the hardest scene for her, the one time she actually had to say something, when she ended up frozen in the mud. Taylor-Joy explains…

It was the one time I complained on the entire film set. The ground had frozen and, for some reason, I think the smoke wasn't quite right. We were trying to get the smoke right on a windy hill. And I think we had done it twice already. We also didn't have [cinematographer] Jaron [Blaschke] that day. I just remember, I squeaked. My feet had actually frozen into the mud and I couldn't move them. I pride myself on not complaining, but I squeaked out a 'please'. I was like, 'Please, please.' And Rob was terrified! He's like, 'Okay, let's go. Let's go! Let's go!'

The Northman may have been tough, it does sound like Robert Eggers was at least very conscious of his actors well being and wasn’t trying to put them through situations where they had trouble. In the end, it’s easier to deal with the rough moments of filming if you know the people behind the camera have your best interests at heart.  

Dirk Libbey
Dirk Libbey

CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian. Armchair Imagineer. Epcot Stan. Future Club 33 Member.