Alexander Skarsgård reveals how ‘The Northman’ came to be

The Northman
Image via IMDb

When it comes to the making of The Northman, Alexander Skarsgård, the titular star of the Norse mythology-inspired revenge epic, is convinced that he and director Robert Eggers were meant to work together. And not just in the casual sense of a pair of artists with similar goals coming together to work on a project. He thinks actual fate may be involved.

The Northman is about fate, and it was fated that we should work together,” Skarsgård told Empire in a recent interview. The actor had been impressed by the director’s first feature, 2015’s The VVitch, stating that Eggers’ “attention to detail was just next-level. It really felt like you’re transported back in time, and nothing has a sense of a movie set. It feels real, because it is real.”

Skarsgård initially met with Eggers after seeing The VVitch but before Eggers had released his second project, The Lighthouse. Though the two discussed another project, nothing came of the initial meeting. And then fate lent a hand.

I was with Lars Knudsen, the Danish producer who had just worked with Rob on The Witch, and Lars and I were trying to figure out the perfect Viking story to tell. We’re going through the old sagas and trying to decide which one to base our Viking movie on. And then I met Rob about something else, and he had just returned from Iceland where he had had dinner with Björk, and Sjøn, the Icelandic poet, author, musician, Renaissance man. Rob had fallen in love with Iceland, the people, the culture, and was really into Norse mythology after that. I mentioned that I was trying to make a Viking movie, and Rob got fired up and started talking about different ideas. We ended up spending that entire lunch just talking about Vikings. Leaving the meeting, it just felt inevitable. I called Lars and told him about the meeting, and Lars was like, “Rob is a genius. He’s amazing to work with. Of course, we should ask if he wants to join us and try to do this together.” And so we did.

– Alexander Skarsgård via Empire

The perfect storm of destiny seems almost a prelude to the story itself of The Northman, which follows the journey of the Viking Prince Amleth, played by Skarsgård, as he travels from Scandinavia to faraway Iceland to fulfill his vow —and fate — of avenging his slain father. Eggers took many of the tale’s elements from the story that lies at the root of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet.

It looks as though Eggers and Skarsgård’s collaboration is not the only thing being affected by fate. Early reviews of the film have been overwhelmingly positive. The Northman looks as though it is fated for success.