I have never opened doors in the industry for my children; their acting careers are self-made
Playing diverse roles might not be a huge deal for most actors, but not many can boast of the range of roles Swedish actor Stellan Skarsgård has played in his 50-year-long career. From characters like Prof Gerald Lambeau in Good Will Hunting, Commander Maximillian Richter in Angels and Demons, and Bill in Mamma Mia in film, to guest appearances on shows like Entourage, the 66-year-old actor, seems to have done it all, but refuses to pick a character closest to him in real life.
“I really enjoy playing intriguing characters that are not me, and see how I can approach them differently. I don’t think anybody should go to the cinema to see me. They should go in to see the work I do. To me, a project is not just a role. It is who you are working with, what the script is and the conditions I am working under. So even if a role might look boring on paper, I will still work on the project, if I know that I am working with a great team,” he says, in a telephone conversation from Los Angeles, ahead of a ‘Stellar Skargård’ special, airing on Sony Pix, in lieu of his birthday.
Skarsgård is a self-confessed lover of movies with dark themes, and enjoys acting in them (think God On Trial, set in the Nazi era, where he plays a Jewish professor). “If you go into investigating human conditions, and you explore them, you will reach very dark places. Although I am quite cheerful in real life, I am also attracted to a kind of melancholy. I have fun doing dark themes. It is interesting to go there and explore the darker side of the human mind,” he says. But that did not stop Skarsgård from acting in an all-out musical, Mamma Mia!, based on the band ABBA, who also hails from Sweden. But the actor says that he wasn’t too familiar with their music before he starred in the film. “It can also get a bit too much at times,” he laughs. “For the first film, I was rehearsing for almost two months, dancing to Voulez Vous at the end of the which, once in the middle of the night, I got up screaming Voulez Vous! So I have OD’d on some of their songs,” says the actor, adding that Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again is up for release in July.
Skarsgård is the father of eight children, four of whom are in the acting sphere (his oldest, Alexander, is the star in shows like True Blood and Big Little Lies). But the doting dad says he prefers to let them be, and offer them no advice. “I gave them a decent upbringing and gave them the freedom to decide their futures. All my children’s successes are self-made, I have never introduced them to any agent or opened any doors for them,” he says, adding that there are no family reunions on the big screen on the cards. “We have worked together on different projects over the years, and it has been great working with them. Not just because they are great actors, but it is also fun — it’s like playtime all over again.”