“Use your phone and shine a light over here,” says Alexander Skarsgård, whose indefinitely appropriated Southern twang echoes off the walls inside one of the many vast stages at Hollywood Center Studios in Los Angeles. It’s True Blood’s final day of production before the show’s annual hiatus (they’ll reconvene in November for season five), and the near-empty lot we’ve been wandering feels like a schoolhouse abandoned by its students for the summer. Most of the cast and crew have driven out to Malibu this afternoon to film the pyre-heavy final scene of the HBO series’ fourth season, but Skarsgård and his costar Stephen Moyer have been directed here to re-shoot a close-up. “Follow me,” he says as we edge closer to the darkest part of the hangar-size room.
“I wish I could find a fucking light switch,” he adds, before eventually flipping one. The chamber we’re in—done up like a dank basement with black columns and intimations of evil—suddenly becomes awash in the glow of overhead lights. “This is where I tortured Lafayette,” he says with a satisfied grin, referring to the show’s second season, in which his character Eric Northman, the sheriff of Area 5, chained Nelsan Ellis’ drug-abusing, cross-dressing fry cook to a post. He waves me through another door into what looks like a nightclub filled with barstools, dusty liquor bottles, and a poster of a vampiric George W. Bush. “Welcome,” he says with exaggerated gravitas, “to Fangtasia!”
Although many New Yorkers heeded Mayor Bloomberg’s advice and left town today ahead of Hurricane Irene, True Blood’s Alexander Skarsgard opted to keep a lunch date in the East Village to chat about his upcoming thriller, Straw Dogs (out Sept. 16).
As it turns out, this isn’t the first time he’s dealt with a natural disaster.
“There was a bigger earthquake when I was in Romania a couple years ago,” for work, Skarsgard said. “I was in my hotel room and I’m from Sweden – we don’t get earthquakes there. This was before I’d moved out to Los Angeles so I’d never experienced one before. You realize that Mother Earth is pretty powerful. You just can’t escape.” He was watching a movie in bed when the earth began to shake. “Everything started shaking, paintings fell off the walls,” he said. Though he and other guests were briefly evacuated from the hotel, “we were fine.”
So has he stocked up for Irene?
“No,” laughed the actor, who’s holed up in a NYC hotel while shooting a new film, What Maisie Knew. “You?” When his interviewer told him there was some wine on hand, he replied: “I’ve got some wine as well,” adding, “That’s all you need, right?”