Director: Robert Eggers
Writers: Robert Eggers, Sjón
Stars: Alexander Skarsgård, Nicole Kidman, Claes Bang
The production of “The Northman 2022” forced Alexander Skarsgård to go from high to low, from rags to riches, in a matter of literally a week.
Skarsgård went from “playing one of the richest guys on the planet” for season 3 of “Succession” to Robert Eggers’ Viking epic “The Northman,” which required shooting grueling scenes in the wild.
“It’s basically the story of Hamlet or The Lion King, which was originally an Old Norse story where the Hamlet character was named Amleth. We’ve told it our way,” says Eggers. “It’s a Viking saga with magic, swords, mysticism and all the things you’d want from that.”
The Witch, released in 2015, made independent stars of both Eggers and Anya Taylor-Joy. But after years of failing to get bigger movies off the ground, the filmmaker made something “small and deliberately oblique”: The Lighthouse with Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe. That was meant, he says, “to take out my frustration.”
Eggers then found a kindred spirit in Skarsgård, who had been trying to make a Viking film for some time without success. The man even looked like a Viking. “Mostly I remember how tall he was,” says Eggers, laughing at the thought of that first meeting. “At the end, when we got up to shake hands, it took him about 30 seconds to get fully to his feet. He was very tall.”
“The days were really long and hard, and we were in the mud and on top of these mountains in the wind and cold,” Skarsgård told Total Film. “The week before, I was working on the TV show ‘Succession,’ where I play a tech billionaire in a villa on Lake Como. So I literally went from playing one of the richest guys on the planet into a beautiful crazy villa, surrounded by yachts and helicopters and luxury, and I got on a plane and flew to Iceland to be chained up and dragged through the mud. It was definitely an awakening moment and a humbling experience.”
The Emmy winner for “Big Little Lies” explained to Total Film that “The Northman 2022” was “physically and mentally the hardest job I’ve ever had, but also the most rewarding.”
Co-star Anya Taylor-Joy added, “I’m not complaining, and Rob and Jarin know it, but there was one day I was up to my knees in mud and I had frozen for a while. night and I’m barefoot. It had gotten to a point where I think they just yelled, ‘Please!’ : ‘Can we shoot, please? I can’t be here any longer…'”
Still, the pain is certainly worth it: “Because of the authenticity that we’re bringing to it, in terms of the costumes, in terms of the scenery… we don’t have to imagine much,” Taylor-Joy continued. “You can just dwell. You can just exist. You’re not on a set where the director says, ‘Hey, remember, it’s really cold.’ He gives you a real appreciation of how tough these people were. Because nothing in this life is easy. There’s no comfort in going home and watching a movie while you’re toasty with dinner. No, he’s pretty miserable all the time.”
That experience on “The Northman” included long takes with the “perfectionist” Eggers, as Skarsgård previously told Interview magazine, and “long, intense fight scenes with 40 stuntmen and horses and 200 extras.” The large-scale production also stars Nicole Kidman, Ethan Hawke, Willem Dafoe, Ralph Ineson and Björk. The film opens in theaters on April 22.
“You are so exhausted that you want to cry,” Skarsgård told Interview, citing his physical transformation for the role. “You feel like you finally got all the fight choreography done, but then you have to go over and over and over again. There’s always something in the background that wasn’t quite right. The flip side of that is when you finally get it, it feels like winning gold at the Olympics.”
Watch The Northman 2022 Official Trailer: