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Alexander Skarsgård credits ‘True Blood’ for inspiring ‘The Northman’

Turns out similarities between Alexander Skarsgård's character in 'True Blood', and Robert Eggers' 'The Northman' aren't purely coincidental.

Eric Northman The Northman Amleth Alexander Skarsgard

Alexander Skarsgård’s character in HBO’s True Blood is a Viking prince turned vampire on a mission to avenge his family. In Robert Eggers’ The Northman, Skarsgård’s Amleth is also a Viking Prince who witnesses his uncle (Claes Bang) murder his father, the King (Ethan Hawke) and then vows to avenge his death. The similarities are eerie, and they are actually purposeful, Skarsgård has revealed. 

It’s in season 3 of True Blood that the show finally features a flashback episode about Eric’s past as a human. In Sweden, young Eric is left orphaned when a pack of werewolves attacks and kills his family. Hundreds of years later, and now a vampire himself, Eric discovers the creature responsible for the bloody murder was vampire Russell Edgington. 

The process of filming these flashback episodes reportedly inspired Skarsgård, sparking an interest in bringing a Viking story to the big screen. “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?’,” he told Entertainment Weekly

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Albeit partly inspired by the old Norse tale that originated Shakespeare’s Hamlet, The Northman was actually first born on the set of True Blood. Skarsgård, who has jokingly stated the film is “a straight-up sequel” to the vampire series, was adamant about crediting True Blood for the idea for the film. The actor had been “harboring” the dream “of one day making an epic Viking movie” for 10 years when director Robert Eggers finally helped make it a reality. 

Eric Northman being the inspiration for The Northman is as poetic as any old Norse tale. The result, with Eggers at the helm, seems to have been a success, as early reviews of the film praise its splendor

The cast for The Northman is completed by Anya Taylor-Joy, Nicole Kidman, Björk, Willem Dafoe and Alexander’s brother Bill Skarsgård. It’s arriving in theaters all over the United States on April 22. Fans of Viking stories and True Blood aficionados alike should be in for a treat. 

Francisca Tinoco
About the author

Francisca Tinoco

Francisca is a pop culture enthusiast and film expert. Her Bachelor's Degree in Communication Sciences from Nova University in Portugal and Master's Degree in Film Studies from Oxford Brookes University in the UK have allowed her to combine her love for writing with her love for the movies. She's a freelance writer and content creator, working in both the English and Portuguese languages for various platforms, including WGTC.