The Verge: Bill Skarsgård

behind_blueskies_500.jpgLook out: Here comes another Skarsgård. The fourth in the venerable Swedish acting clan to get into full-time acting after father Stellan and brothers Alexander and Gustaf (younger brother Valter may be right behind him), Bill Skarsgård arrived last week with his leading-man debut Behind Blue Skies, a '70s-era coming-of-age tale about a Swedish teenager whose escape to a resort job yields first love, new responsibilities and -- wait for it -- his involvement in the biggest drug scandal in the nation's history. Not a bad breakthrough for a kid who just few years ago used to think he'd wind up as a doctor. Movieline caught up with Skarsgård the day after the TIFF premiere of director Hannes Holm's drama.

So is this your first festival attending with a film?

Er...[thinks] Yes. First festival abroad.

When did you get here?

Thursday? No, Wednesday. And then we've just been hanging out and had our first screening yesterday. So...

And it's your first leading role, right? I mean, you're carrying the film.

I had one big one before, but I guess this is, yeah.

And in the first scene you're totally naked and receiving explicit fellatio! They're just throwing you right into it, aren't they?

Yeah. I know it's boring to say, but it's really technical. It's not mine. It's all fake, basically. The scene wasn't that hard to do, actually. I had no problem with it. And it's good that it's there because it kind of shocks the audience, and they have no clue where the film is going to end up. It's like, "What the hell is this?" It's a good scene. It's important.

How early did you realize you wanted to act?

I wanted to act ever since I was a kid, basically. I got my first film role when I was 9; I played a younger brother to my oldest brother Alexander. But then, because we're four actors in the family -- me, two of my brothers, and my father -- as I grew up I thought, "I don't want to be another actor in the family. But I didn't really know what I wanted to do. So I chose a science program; in Sweden you can pick your high school program. It doesn't mean anything unless you want to be a doctor or something, in which case you have to do the science program. So I went and did that. But then I got a role in Arn (The Knight Templar), and by the time I was 16 I understood what acting was all about it. When you're 9 years old you just remember the lines. That's all you do. You don't think about the meaning of it or how you say it; you're 9 years old! But when I was 16, I was sort of like, "So this is what acting's about!"

So what was acting about?

Just making it true. Making it real. My father's in Arn, and my brothers as well, and seeing how they question lines. "I don't understand this or that..." All the stuff that's logical and doesn't add up. So it's like, "Oh..." Because you know, I'll see films and I say, "I don't believe this." Or, "Hey, OK, this is a bad script." So it's just about making it vivid, making it real, making it true. I think it's a really cool thing to do. You're creating a character. It's amazing.

So you kind of are still interested in science! Did you ever consider the technical precision or the logic that the disciplines have in common?

You can say that. I wasn't that into the science thing, actually. My mom is a doctor, and one of my older brothers is a doctor, and they were like, "Bill, it's wise to choose this program if you don't know what you want to do. If you want to be a doctor, it would be good to have this study." But I didn't like it at all. We have three years of high school in Sweden, and I realized, "I do not want to become a doctor; I do not want to become a scientist." And that was good! I did learn from that experience: I'm 100 percent sure I want to do this.

You'd better be after this movie. How did it come to you?

I got called up for an audition. I went to it with the casting director, got called back and met with Hannes, then got called back again to meet with Hannes, then I one more... I think there were five or six in the end. After one they gave me the script -- I wanted to know the story, and I completely fell in love with it. I think it's a fantastic story. Te role is amazing; you couldn't ask for a better role. I had to do it. I sort of convinced Hannes. He went to a film I was in where I had a smaller role -- he was at the premiere -- and I said, "OK, now he's watching this film, judging me on-screen." At the party afterward I confronted him and said, "I read your script and it was amazing. I want this chance to do this fantastic role." He believed me!

Martin is a highly moral young man with many convictions, yet he commits -- or submits -- himself to a major criminal enterprise. Why?

I think it's that age. When you're 17, 18, you're growing up and you're so naïve. And Martin is a bright guy, but he's naïve. It's easy for him to get used like Gösta in the film. He just gets involved in this thing, and when he's involved with it he realizes, "OK, maybe this isn't so good after all." You must understand, it's not like nowadays. You get from school and the media and everything that drugs are really bad and what the consequences are. But in the '70s, I don't think they had that knowledge of what drugs are and what they can do.

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