The upcoming release of Diary of a Teenage Girl with Alexander Skarsgard in a leading role is producing a flood of quotes from Skarsgard about that film — and a trickle of quotes, albeit interesting ones about Tarzan. WB has an embargo on any official promotion of the movie, so for now — this is all we get. But drip, drip, drip … it’s forming an image of what the Tarzan movie is likely to portray.
The latest is an interview which happened at the Edinburgh Film Festival over a month ago, but has just now been released.
We should really talk about Tarzan, shouldn’t we? Skarsgard has already wrapped on the latest take on Lord Greystoke. It is, as he acknowledges himself, a big deal, “a tent-pole Warner Brothers action adventure movie”.
But it’s also well written and smart, he says, and it’s got a great director in David Yates who made the last four Harry Potter films. “It wasn’t like ‘OK, I do one for them and then one for me. I do an indie just because I love it and then I do something big because it’s a good pay cheque.’ This is a massive film but with so much integrity and so much character. It was an unbelievable experience.”
It’s also his big chance to become a proper copper-plated movie star. The weight of a tent-pole movie will fall on his handsome naked shoulders. Are you feeling the pressure, Alexander?
“Not really, no. It was tough because it was physically and mentally demanding. It was the biggest job of my career so I was excited and focused. And I thought it was a fascinating take on it. The first act you meet him he’s already Lord Greystoke, so he’s very buttoned up. He goes back with his wife Jane to the jungle and slowly the beast that he really is inside comes out.
“We’re dealing with the fact that we’re civilised human beings but we’re also f****** primal beasts. And we’re trying to function in that dichotomy. We politely line up at Starbucks for our lattes but at the same time, we’re f****** animals, you know?”
He thinks about what he’s just said and corrects himself. “We’re not f****** animals. We are f****** animals.”
It’s interesting to hear these kind of comments — and also to see the kind of films that Skarsgard is choosing, which is another indication of what to expect. In other words, he’s not pursuing any kind of action hero image; he has a penchant for indie films and films with a darker edge to them. So when he makes these comments, consider the source (not to mention Sweden with the whole Ingmar Bergman kind of thing going on in the background).
My two takeaways from this:
“This is a massive film but with so much integrity and so much character.”
Don’t we all wish, and dream, that this is the case — that Yates has looked into the Tarzan material and distilled something special.
The first act you meet him he’s already Lord Greystoke, so he’s very buttoned up. He goes back with his wife Jane to the jungle and slowly the beast that he really is inside comes out.
This is not a news flash — it is known that he returns to Africa and it’s apparent that Jane goes too. But I find it interesting to hear him talk about the beast inside slowly coming out.
I think we can count on seeing a Tarzan who, through the course of the film, undergoes a level of psychological torment that has not been part of the way Tarzan has been presented on screen before. I can’t guarantee this … but signs pointing to it are the casting of an introspective indie-flavored Skarsgard in the first place; the decision to incorporate the character of Leon Rom (prototype for Captain Kurts of Heart of Darkness) into the story; the Congo Free State atrocities; and the reverse journey from civilization to the wild, rather than vice versa as would have been the case in an origins story. The stripping away of the veneer of civilization; the engagement of the primal self…..
Could be very, very good. I so hope it delivers on this promise.