It’s official — Skarsgard: No loincloth for Tarzan 2016

A1, Tarzan, Tarzan and Hollywood, The Tarzan Files, WB's Tarzan

What’s your first thought when you hear that, per Alexander Skarsgard in a new interview, the Tarzan that he and David Yates have cooked up doesn’t end up wearing a loin cloth?

Here’s the quote, from an interview in the Swedish version of Elle that just came out:

What can you tell us about Tarzan? Will it be a lot of loincloths or is he a gentleman in London?

– In Greystoke, the movie from the 1980’s, he was first in the Jungle and then in London and after that on an estate where he learnt how to be “civilized”. In this movie it’s the other way around. It starts when he’s been living in London for almost 10 years, when he is a very sophisticated victorian gentleman who is living with his wife Jane. Then he travels back to Kongo where he grew up. It’s an upside down tale, instead of the savage becoming civilized it’s the civilized who becomes a savage when he returns to the Jungle.

Will there be a lot of action in a loincloth?

– No, not a lot of action in a loincloth. Thankfully not! But quite a lot of action.

Were you filming in the Jungle and did you have to swing between lianas?

– We recreated the Jungle in Watford… They built the rainforest and colonial houses/buildings, a quarry and a savannah, everything! But sure, we went to Gabon for six weeks to film in a real rain forest. Because honestly, it won’t be completely authentic in Watford.

So does the news cause you to think — Great, they figured that out!

Or: WTF?

Or something in between?

As for me, well, I’ve got to tell you , when I think about a Tarzan movie coming out in 2016 and contemplate the “usual loincloth” — I feel squirmy.  I feel like, how can they do that and make it not feel . . . just “off” somehow.  (John Carter’s Barsoomian fighting harness was another such challenge, and I wasnt completely satisfied with the solution to that either.)

Anyway, I would go back to the story on this one.  Tarzan is coming back from London to the forest.  He’s civilized, at least on the exterior.   Would pack a loin cloth just in case?  Steal one from a native he would kill? (No, obviously not.)  But he’ll definitely have to get out of his Victorian duds.  Is he going to rip up a shirt and turn it into something?  My mind wants to know!

Oh well . . .

Seriously (well, sort of) … it’s a challenge from a design point of view to figure out how to do that. The audience of 2016 can accept the Victorian period look.  But when Tarzan goes from being Greystoke back to being Tarzan …. how do they design the look for that?  I guess we’ll see.

And by the way, he didn’t say he would never, ever be seen in a loincloth.  So who knows, maybe in the final stages of his reversion to primal state, he does end up in one. That would be the other way to handle it, do it in stages…..maybe that’s what they’ve done.

Other Interesting Aspects of Skarsgard’s Character

Elsewhere in the interview there is an interesting story told by Skarsgard about how he ended up playing the role of Monroe in Diary of a Teenage Girl– a role where he plays a 35 year old man who has a relationship with a teenage girl.  Here’s what he says about how he got the script and the role:

Well, I did not get the script the old fashioned way, from my agent. I got it from a friend, a comedian from 30 Rock, Jack McBrayer. He’s one of my best friends. I don’t live in Los Angeles anymore, but we used to be neighbors there. Jack knows Mari and said something like: “My friend has written a screenplay, she wanted me to give it to you, would you like to read it?” So I read it and it was so amazingly good. I met Mari and loved her energy. She had been working on this project for ten years, and I never thought about whether it would be bad for my career or whether the film would upset people. There was no strategy behind it, I just knew I wanted to do the role and I knew I wanted to work with Mari. I was going to film Tarzan immediately afterwards, so I looked forward to doing something completely different before that.

I think that little story really underscores the way that Skarsgard is an actor as opposed to a “moviestar” — and a quirky Scandinavian one at that.  I think it’s safe to say that he was attracted to the Tarzan role not to become the next movie superhero — but because he saw in the script a truly interesting character to play — a character with multiple facets, internal conflict, and the “arc” that real actors are always looking for.  I’m not sure what this means for the success of the movie.  I guess we’ll see, eventually.







  • Thanks Maggie. I believe he is sincere in the attitude you’re describing. He’s definitely not about fame. You know it’s interesting — in America, with Hollywood as sort of a dream capital, people tend to associate acting with the quest for fame and just assume that if you’re in it, you’re a person who needs fame and recognition. Acting as a process has its own rewards, just like writing. It allows you to become lost in anothe persona and in that way each time you take on a role, it’s an “empathy adventure” that few people get to experience. Getting to explore and “be” another person, particular an interesting or confusing and contradictory one, is reward enough. I think that’s definitely the kind of thing that motivates Skarsgaard.

    Re the loincloth thing….I have to say that whenever I contemplate trying to make a Tarzan movie in this day and age in which it’s the later Tarzan, not the origins Tarzan….the whole loincloth thing gives me qualmst. But cutting off regular pants also feels potentially clunky as well. It’s essential that Tarzan move unfettered about the jungle. I remember as a kid … Jungle Jim was definitely not Tarzan and that was one of the reason. Tarzan’s ability to effortlessly move through the trees was a big part of the pull…. so it becomes a conundrum.

    One thing that sometimes occurs to me. Burroughs describes young Tarzan as wearing bracelets and other jewelry type accessories taken from the natives of the tribe of Mbonga. If I were writing a latter day Tarzan movie, maybe I’d contemplate bringing the Waziri into it, and have the story bring Tarzan into contact with them early in the jungle portion…. and maybe have them somehow as a gesture of respect and brotherhood give him his kit….but then again, that puts us into the realm of white savior which I don’t think anyone wants.

    Oh well …. it will be interesting to see how they’ve solved it. It’s definitely a conundrum.

  • Yes,Meroitic does mention in the IMBD thread that there is no loincloth but Alex does go shirtless and his pants are very low slung so that the V of his pelvis shows. ( And quite a famous V it is.) He didn’t say if his pants were cut off or in tatters but I am imagining that they probably are cut off with jagged edges. Maybe Tarzan takes a knife to them and refashions tthem so he’ll have more mobility.

    I am glad there is no loincloth. Given that we pick Tarzan up after he has returned to civilization for some years,it wouldn’t make sense for him to wear a loincloth. It would look silly and be inappropriate at this stage in Tarzan’s story. In fact, it only ever made sense for him to wear one prior to his re- introduction to civilization.

    Also, Skarsgard has said repeatedly in interviews that he chooses roles because of his interest in the character,the overall script and the director. In one of his interviews for Diary of a Teenage Girl, the interviewer finally asked him” Do you even want to be a movie star?” and Alex again reiterates why he is an actor and how he chooses his films. He isn’t for or against becoming a movie star. He’s for being an actor. I have seen all of the Movies he has made that are in English and he has never delivered a bad performance,never just ” phoned it in” and every character he takes on has something interesting going on underneath the surface. When you consider that he grew up in south Stockholm,the art and theater district, in a “bohemian home ” ( his description) that was full of artists,writers,actors,musicians coming and going,it is not surprising that he is attracted more to the artistic aspects of acting than to the stereotypical muscleman roles of action or super heroes. I am not expecting Tarzan to be one dimensional at all since one of Skargards strong points is his ability to layer characters and achieve multi faceted compelling character portrayals.

  • A bit of clarification about the Elle interview: It’s a translated version of this interview:

    As for the ‘no loincloth’, I’m not sure why this would be considered anymore official than what’s been mentioned in the last year. From an interview in August 2014:
    “And then a lot of things happen in Africa, obviously. But no loincloth, no. [Laughs]”

    Margot Robbie and SL Jackson also have mentioned that there will be no loincloth. In trying to find Jackson’s quote about no loincloth I found this article from 2013, right before Tarzan was finally greenlit:

    “And now Skarsgard faces the same issue (or will, if his Tarzan ever gets the green light). No matter what the variation, I can’t really wrap my head around seeing that old Tarzan costume in something that’s supposed to be a studio tentpole film. According to Variety, “Plot details are still vague on how this version will be interpreted,” meaning that Yates, like so many others, may have found some new spin to put on the classic ape-man. Maybe he’ll have some twinge of Johnny Depp camp, like we’ve seen in the costumes for Jack Sparrow or Tonto. Maybe Yates is completely reinventing the wheel, and there’ll be no loin cloth at all. Or maybe he’ll just bite the bullet and keep Skarsgard in four square inches of brown cloth, and in the right context it won’t be so bad after all.”

    IMDB poster Meroitic mentions that there’s no loincloth.
    As to what he might be wearing instead of a loincloth, possibly the remnants of his pants.
    The costume designer is Ruth Myers, who has a pretty impressive resume:

    So I have hope that it won’t be goofy looking, whatever it is that they ended up doing.

  • I don’t think it’s the same producer but ten years ago someone was pitching a live action Tarzan idea to ERB Inc which basically turned Tarzan into Indiana Jones. That’s what this sounds like.

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