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Alexander Skarsgård Explains How True Blood Influenced The Northman

On April 22, eager fans will finally get an eagerly anticipated dose of Viking vengeance on the big screen in "The Northman," courtesy of director Robert Eggers and an all-star cast. Led by Alexander Skarsgård as Amleth, the titular "Northman," the film is backed by the top-tier talents of Anya Taylor-Joy, Nicole Kidman, Björk, Willem Dafoe, and Ethan Hawke. Epic in scope and overflowing in blood and gore, it shows just how far the actor has come since Skarsgård's early days in Bon Temps, Louisiana, as the charming antihero Eric Northman on HBO's "True Blood." (Okay, maybe he's not gone too far where the blood and gore are concerned.)

Debuting in the fourth episode of the show's first season back in 2008 (via IMDb), Skarsgård quickly became known as the scene-stealing vampire in HBO's sultry, blood-sucking series. His turn as Eric Northman sparked his career into greatness, leading him to more significant ventures in the future, like starring roles in "The Legend of Tarzan" and "The Stand." It was a stepping stone that the Swedish actor hasn't forgotten; recently, he made it clear that without his turn in "True Blood," he may never have taken up arms as "The Northman."

The story of True Blood's Eric was the inspiration for The Northman

During an Entertainment Weekly interview, Alexander Skarsgård discussed how he was indebted to his time as the vampire sheriff Eric Northman, whose backstory seemingly has the same narrative bones as his latest film. In "True Blood," time was spent learning the origins of Eric's character, who is revealed to be a Viking from 936 A.D. His transformation to the fanged fiend audiences knew him as on the HBO series after his father, a Viking king, is killed by werewolves. "I was kind of harboring this idea, this dream of one day making an epic Viking movie, but in a truly authentic way that would capture the essence of the old Icelandic sagas and the poetry," Skarsgård explained. "That stark, laconic, harsh world and characters and tone, but it was a distant dream 10 years ago."

Skarsgård's time filming Eric's pre-vamper transformation years gave him a taste beyond the fake blood he was so used to drinking. "The Northman" star recalled how filming Eric's origin story for "True Blood" planted an interest in exploring this period of history in greater depth. He recalled, "I loved it so much. There was something coming out where I was starting to feel like, 'How amazing would it be to tell a Viking story on a bigger canvas, on a more epic scale — not just [with] a two-day flashback but actually have a whole Viking journey?'" 

The rest, as they say, is Viking history. After a meeting with Robert Eggers, the longship sails were set. See how the director and the star handled things when "The Northman" busts into theatres on Friday, April 22.