Alexander Skarsgard Compares Making The Northman To His Tarzan Experience [Exclusive]

In September of 2014 I was able to visit the set of Warner Bros. Pictures' big-budget Edgar Rice Burroughs adaptation, "The Legend of Tarzan." On those huge soundstages at Leavesden Studios in England, filmmaker David Yates had meticulously recreated jungles, African plains, and even a train where stars Alexander Skarsgård and Samuel L. Jackson fought off bad guys. With so many resources and the "Harry Potter" helmer behind it, why did "The Legend of Tarzan" not spawn the franchise that the studio was clearly hoping for? 

During our discussion with Skarsgård for his latest shirtless action outing, Focus Features' Viking epic "The Northman," we were able to ask him his thoughts on why "Tarzan" didn't get to really swing at Warners. His answer is clearly complicated, and you can check it out below!

'There's so much politics behind it'

While "The Legend of Tarzan" didn't exactly set the world on fire, opening to a moderate domestic box office in June of 2016, its international take was strong (especially in China). All-in, the movie took about $349 million worldwide and an additional $25 million on home video, which means a lot of folks saw it and perhaps even enjoyed it. While pre-Covid cashflow was judged on less of a curve than nowadays, those numbers might have been strong enough to justify another outing with Alexander Skarsgård in the loincloth, though perhaps not on a $180 million budget. 

When we asked him about this very thing, Skarsgård was cautious in hinting at the reasoning behind letting the series flounder but did draw an interesting comparison to the filming style of "The Northman:"

"There's so much politics behind it. New heads of studio will have a slate of movies that they will prioritize. I can't really speak to that. As you saw if you came to visit we had a really great time on 'Tarzan,' it was super fun. Very different experience from shooting 'The Northman.' 'Tarzan' was a walk in the park compared to 'The Northman' because it was shot in a more conventional way where we had several cameras, we had coverage, and we could chop those big set pieces into smaller pieces. You could focus on one section and then get that and move on. On 'The Northman' it's obviously just one long continuous take every scene, so it demanded a lot more preparation, rehearsal, and patience to get it right. Very, very different experience, but I had a really good time on 'Tarzan' as well."

Directed by Robert Eggers ("The Witch," "The Lighthouse,") "The Northman" also stars Nicole Kidman, Claes Bang, Anya Taylor-Joy, Ethan Hawke, Björk, and Willem Dafoe. It is now playing in theaters everywhere, and be sure to check out our interviews with both Skarsgård and Eggers