Alexander Skarsgård plays a prince turned slave seeking revenge in ‘The Northman’. To embody this beastly character in Robert Eggers’ film, the actor underwent extremely rigorous training.
The Northman : “Avenge my father, save my mother, kill Fjölnir!”
Based on Norse legends that probably inspired William Shakespeare to Hamlet, The Northman confirms all the talent and ability of director Robert Eggers (The Witch, The Lighthouse) create visceral sensory experiences. The film opens with King Aurvandil (Ethan Hawke) returning home, where he is greeted by his wife Gudrún (Nicole Kidman) and son Amleth (Oscar Novak).
As he prepares the latter for his destiny as ruler, Aurvandil is brutally murdered by his brother Fjölnir (Claes Bang), who also thinks he has gotten rid of the little boy. Years later, Amleth (Alexander Skarsgård) has become a Berserk warrior who has joined a band of Vikings and turned away from his quest for revenge. After a village is attacked, a clairvoyant (Björk) reveals to him that he is about to fulfill his destiny. When he learns that Fjölnir has lost his crown and now lives in Iceland, the hero decides to pose as a slave to succeed in approaching and killing him.
Anya Taylor-Joy, Willem Dafoe and Gustav Lindh complete the cast of this wild, poetic and bewitching show, where the supernatural and the real often meet. A feature film in which Alexander Skarsgård delivers an animal and touching performance.
“Amleth is half wolf, half bear”
To transform and develop an impressive physique, Alexander Skargård was able to count on the advice and training of Swedish coach Magnus Lygdbäck, with whom he had already worked on Tarzan. In the press kit, he explains:
We wanted Alex to be thicker, less lean than Tarzan, and with bigger shoulders Amleth is half wolf, half bear, and we wanted Alex to be able to move smoothly when wielding the ax and the sword, but that it also has an imposing size and volume.
Alex ate five meals a day. All of his shooting days were demanding, physically and emotionally. I was there to make sure he took breaks every three hours to eat.
The actor took almost ten kilos of muscle for The Northman. For this, Magnus Lygdbäck ensured that he ingested no less than 3700 calories per day, eating every two to three hours. Alexander Skargård submitted to this diet during his three months of physical preparation, then during the six months of filming.
Added to this are six gymnastics sessions per week for three months, to gain volume, agility and speedas the coach explains to Variety in April 2022. Production was later halted due to the pandemic. During his confinement in Stockholm, Alexander Skargård trained three to four times a week. His trainer made him practice many plyometric exercises, combined with “old-fashioned bodybuilding”. Something to help him perfect his movements for his sword fights, as well as his handling of the ax and spear.