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Why Amleth From The Northman Looks So Familiar

Cinematic Viking adventures are few and far between, and when they do come to the shores of desperate movie fans, they are often Hollywoodized, watered-down versions of what could have been. This is part of what makes the upcoming "The Northman" such an exciting film. With "The Witch" and "The Lighthouse" director Robert Eggers behind the camera, "The Northman" looks as haunting and artful as fans who have seen those previous films should expect. 

The movie follows the Viking warrior prince Amleth on his journey from a boy betrayed to a man seeking revenge on those behind his father's death. The R-rated flick sports an impressive cast, each of them committed to helping sell the grueling trailer. Ethan Hawke, Nicole Kidman, Willem Dafoe, and Anya Taylor-Joy all pull supporting roles in the film, which is due to hit theaters on April 22. 

The actor behind protagonist Amleth likely also looks familiar to audiences and happens to come from a famous acting family, though one would be forgiven for not recognizing him behind the grime and blood that's so prominent in the movie's trailer. Here's where you may recognize 2022's cinematic Viking of the year from. 

Alexander Skarsgard broke out as a blood sucker

The actor who plays Amleth in "The Northman is Alexander Skarsgård, and his first major break came with HBO's "True Blood," a drama about vampires and werewolves that pushed the envelope as far as its content. Skarsgård's character, Eric Northman, is one of the series' vampires and was also a Viking warrior, and as a bonus, his character's last name is even the same as the title of his latest film. "True Blood" was a massive success for HBO and gave its young cast plenty of moments to steam up the screen and earn their own camp of dedicated fans who followed the series. The series ran for seven seasons, debuting in 2008 and ending its run in 2014

HBO has been working to replicate the success of the original show, even working on a reboot, though fans shouldn't hold their breath. HBO Chief Content Officer Casey Bloys said this year there have been "multiple versions," but the project is not yet near a go from the network (per TVLine). In the same year Skarsgård premiered on "True Blood," he also starred in the highly successful HBO miniseries "Generation Kill," where he played a Marine taking part in the American invasion of Baghdad in 2003. The show won three Emmy Awards, including outstanding miniseries (via IMDb). 

He was The Boyfriend in a Lady Gaga music video

Alexander Skarsgård appeared in singer-actress Lady Gaga's 2009 music video for "Paparazzi," an eight-minute cinematic clip that helped solidify Gaga as one of the best visual artists when it came to the medium. Skarsgård said he didn't know who she was at the time, but admitted that the music video made him internationally known. He starred as the Boyfriend character, but it was not a typically romantic music video. 

"My friend Jonas Åkerlund...he was going to direct the music video [for Lady Gaga's 'Paparazzi'], and he called and asked if I wanted to play the boyfriend," Skarsgård recalled in 2019 on "The Tonight Show" with Jimmy Fallon (via YouTube). In the video, Skarsgård throws Gaga off a balcony and ends up getting poisoned. Skarsgård filmed the video before "True Blood" debuted, meaning he was still an actor trying to build his name in town. Today, the "Paparazzi" music video has garnered more than 294 million views on YouTube

He played the titular role in The Legend of Tarzan

Alexander Skarsgård is one of the many actors to have portrayed a version of Tarzan, King of the Jungle over the years. He took on the Edgar Rice Burroughs-created character for 2016's "The Legend of Tarzan," a film that went through numerous iterations before settling on Skarsgård and director David Yates. The movie wasn't exactly the franchise starter it was meant to be, but it was a major release and managed an impressive box office haul. It also teamed Skarsgård with legendary talents like Samuel L. Jackson and Christoph Waltz. Margot Robbie starred opposite the future "The Northman" star as Jane, Tarzan's true love. 

The film managed $126.6 million in the U.S. and $356.7 million worldwide on a $180 million budget (per Box Office Mojo). Skarsgård revealed he actually took on the role to impress his actor father, Stellan Skarsgård. "I'll never compete with Johnny Weissmuller, but I just wanted to impress my father. He was thrilled. He was more excited than I was," Skarsgård said at the time of the movie's release (via IMDb). Skarsgård certainly sacrificed for the role, trimming himself to 200 pounds and sticking to a very strict diet, taking in 135 grams of protein a day, along with 70 grams of fat and 200 grams of carbs to keep up with his intense training routine (via Men's Health).

He won an Emmy for playing an abusive boyfriend

Alexander Skarsgård won praise for his supporting turn in "Big Little Lies," an HBO miniseries in which he portrayed Perry Wright, the abusive and haunting partner of Nicole Kidman's Celeste. The David E. Kelley-created show made a major splash when it premiered in 2017, and Skarsgård went on to win an Emmy Award for outstanding supporting actor in a limited series or movie (via IMDb). 

Skarsgård said shooting some of the intense scenes of abuse between him and Kidman was "horrible." "She's not only an incredible actress but she's also like the most lovely and generous and sweet woman. So of course, shooting those scenes were horrible. Absolutely horrible," the actor recalled (per KIIS FM's Kyle and Jackie O Show). In an awkward spin, Skarsgård even revealed some of the scenes of his Perry Wright striking fear into the heart of Celeste were filmed while Kidman's real-life husband, country singer Keith Urban, was on set watching. 

Alexander Skarsgard became Stephen King's best villain

If you know Stephen King's novels, you know the name Randall Flagg. Before Alexander Skarsgård, actors such as Jamey Sheridan and Matthew McConaughey had taken on the part of Flagg, a purely dark figure who appears across multiple works by the legendary author. Skarsgård portrayed the character in the latest adaptation of King's "The Stand" from CBS All Access, now part of Paramount Network. The show originally ran from 2020 into 2021.

Skarsgård's performance won praise from the author himself. King said Skarsgård "knocked it out of the park" as Flagg (per Entertainment Weekly). The nine-episode series from creator Josh Boone had an epic tome to adapt, but Boone was a King superfan. 

"When I read 'The Stand,' it was literally from under my bed. I was raised by evangelical Christians, who believed in The Rapture. I wasn't allowed to read Stephen King books for a large part of my childhood," Boone said (via Deadline).