Remember Shirtless Alexander Skarsgård In The Northman Trailer? The Director Talks His 'Crazy' Transformation

Alexander Skarsgard's Amileth wears a bear's head and screams in the dark in 'The Northman.'
(Image credit: Focus Features)

Alexander Skarsgärd has a history of proving he’s committed to the roles he plays. When he beefed up to play the legendary Tarzan, fans around the world were shocked at his transformation. But now that we’ve seen him in all his shirtless glory in the trailer for his upcoming film The Northman, it's clear that he’s taken his dedication to a whole new level. And the film’s director has confirmed that he went to great lengths to bring his character to life. 

In The Northman, Alexander Skarsgärd plays a Viking warrior prince who will stop at nothing in his quest to avenge his father’s death and reclaim his kingdom. The upcoming historical thriller, from acclaimed director Robert Eggers (of The Lighthouse fame), looks to be a no holds-barred epic saga with plenty of violence and vengeance. So it’s no wonder that Skarsgärd needed to be in top shape to play the part – and Eggers told our sisters ssite GamesRadar that the actor went above and beyond in his preparation: 

The amount of discipline that Alex put into this role is crazy. He transformed his body more wildly than he did in Tarzan.

Knowing how hard he worked to attain his Legend of Tarzan physique makes his work ethic this time around even more impressive. And based on what we’ve seen from the The Northman trailer, Robert Eggers doesn’t seem to be exaggerating. Alexander Skarsgärd’s Amileth seems to do most of his fighting shirtless (let’s hear it for historical accuracy), and so the results of his rigorous training aren’t easy to miss. Take a look at the trailer for yourself to make your own judgment: 

Even if you ignore the shirtless situation, The Northman looks like it’s going to be a can’t-miss movie. An epic revenge saga all on its own has the makings of being a masterpiece but, in the hands of Robert Eggers, it could be something extra special. The director already has a proven track record of making the kinds of films that stay with you long after they’re over – just look at the slow-burn horror fable The Witch, which also starred Anya Taylor-Joy. The Northman also brings another collaboration with The Lighthouse’s Willem Dafoe, who signed on despite the previous film (which was shot in black and white) being a challenging shoot

It’s also interesting to see Alexander Skarsgärd starring in another project with his Big Little Lies co-star Nicole Kidman, especially since they’re playing mother and son this time and not husband and wife. Based on the trailer, it’s hard to tell if they’ll actually share the screen. If they do, hopefully it will be under happier circumstances than it was the last time around, even if it means he has to brutally kill several dozen Vikings (while shirtless) to make their reunion happen.

If you’re as excited about seeing the fruits of the labor that Alexander Skarsgärd and the rest of The Northman’s cast put into the film, you won’t have to wait too long. It’s one of many exciting 2022 new movie releases – and it’s hitting theaters April 22. 

Katherine Webb