While everyone is busy keeping up with the Kardashians or reliving the Royal Wedding, there’s another epic family that we all need to talk about – the Skarsgårds.
Whether you realize it or not, you likely know of one if not more of the Skarsgård men, and you’ve definitely seen at least one of their movies. Stellan Skarsgård, patriarch and all around cool, hippy dad, is responsible for gifting us with these tall, handsome, and talented individuals.
Maybe you’re familiar with Alexander Skarsgård from True Blood or Big Little Lies. Maybe you’re more of a horror buff and Bill Skarsgård who played Pennywise in 2107’s IT is your latest obsession. Or maybe history is your thing, and you’ve seen Gustaf Skarsgård play everyone's favorite mischievous boat maker Floki on History Channel’s TV show Vikings.
Whatever you know them from – you’ve definitely seen this family before. So what is it that makes this Swedish power family tick? We’ve scraped up some of the craziest facts about the Skarsgårds that will give you a glimpse into what their family life is really like outside of the spotlight.
They might as well be Swedish royalty at this point, and we’re happy that America is finally on the Skarsgård bandwagon too.
Here are 20 Crazy Secrets About The Skarsgård Family.
20 They grew up in a "bohemian" household
Stellan and his children have always been very open about their family life. They all grew up in Stockholm, Sweden in an environment that definitely fueled their creative freedom.
Alex, especially, has talked extensively about how relaxed and loving their household was. There were constant dinner parties and tons of people coming in and out all the time.
In an interview with Elle, Alex explains their household as a community, saying "I was raised by this whole community of artists. It was pretty wild. Illegal substances floating around... I was born in the late '70s. There was so much love there."
While the brothers generally have all good things to say about their upbringing, Alex also remembers some strange situations. Apparently as he got older, bringing girls to the house became a bit of an issue.
He recalls, "when I was 12, 13, 14—and bringing girls over after school. Dad was always walking around [without clothes] with a glass of red wine in his hand." This definitely made for some awkward dates, but Alex seemed to take it all in stride, and admitted that his friends were used to it. "They'd seen him [like that] a million times," he recalls, "but it got a little uncomfortable when you brought a girl over."
19 Alex raced Prince Harry to the South Pole
On top of being incredibly attractive and talented, Alex has a passion for charity too. In 2013 he participated in an event for Walking With the Wounded - a charity that focuses on helping Veterans re-integrate back into civilian life. Prince Harry is a patron of the charity, and helped to organize the event that Alex took place in.
The event was a race to the South Pole, where three teams including wounded soldiers compete to raise money for the charity.
Alex may be as fit as they come, but it was still an incredibly strenuous race - 200 miles to be exact.
The teams had to pull sleds to the pole's most southern point. At times temperatures dropped to almost 49 degrees below zero, and winds got as high as 50 mph. It took them 3 weeks to reach the finish line. The goal was to show that, despite injury from their time in the military, these veterans can still do amazing things.
While originally it was meant to be a race, it was decided because of intense weather conditions that they would leave out the competition aspect. All three teams made it to the finish line, and here we see Alex (far right) and his team celebrating in the cold. Flashback to Eric Northman's scene on a mountain top, anyone?
18 The men are all over 6ft tall
Many Swedish men are known for being big and tall, but this family really puts everyone to shame. It's pretty obvious at a quick glance what two people in this picture are not a part of the biological Skarsgård family - and it all comes down to height.
From left to right we have Gustaf (6’4), Bill (6’4), Valter (6’3), Eija (5’10), Sam (6’5), and Stellan (6’3). The two women to the right are Sam’s wife and Stellan’s second wife Megan. The only one missing in this family photo op is Alex, who stands at 6’4.
Stellan’s gene pool is apparently meant to breed a tall, attractive, talented bunch. All of his sons, and himself, are over 6ft fall, and even his only daughter Eija is tall for a woman, being 5’10.
We’re not sure if Stellan was trying to create a power family, but he definitely did.
Stellan also has 2 more young sons who he had with his wife Megan when he remarried - Ossian and Kolbjörn. It will be interesting to see if these two kids grow up to be just like their brothers. Clearly if Stellan’s strong genes have anything to say about it, we’re sure they will catch up in no time.
17 There is sibling rivalry
With any siblings comes some form of sibling rivalry. Whether it’s all in good fun, or whether things get serious sometimes, brothers are going to butt heads at some point.
Luckily with the Skarsgård brothers their sibling rivalry is more like a friendly competition since they are in the same industry. Gustaf especially admits to having those feelings early on when Alex was just getting serious about acting.
He told Café Magazine, “As a 17-year-old and a pretentious acting school applicant, it was very easy to dismiss Alex as a superficial bimbo... And I did for many years. It took a very long time before he was able to win my respect as an actor.”
Those may be some harsh words for Alex, but Gustaf now admits that their rivalry is more like friendly motivation than actual competition. They never let their acting careers get in the way of what comes first – family.
Bill, who is about a decade younger than his two oldest brothers, says that being younger, he “never really put [himself] in the same kind of category” as his older brothers or his father. When being interviewed by his father Stellan for Hero Magazine he said “I’m doing my thing and you guys will always be doing your thing.”
16 Alex thought he lost the Tarzan role because of a video
The Skarsgård family may seem like the perfect specimens, but even they mess up now and again. One of Alex’s less proud moments happened in Stockholm when he turned up to a Hammarby football match heavily intoxicated.
As any hardcore fan after a few too many would, he started chanting to the crowd, trying to get them to join in. As is the way of the world today, someone filmed the incident and put it on YouTube. Not only was Alex completely embarrassed, he thought the incident might actually lose him the role of Tarzan he had recently gotten.
The video got over half a million views, so there was no hiding it.
Interestingly enough, the video ended up solidifying him in the role even more. Alex recalled, “Warner Bros. had said they needed someone primal and animalistic … so my agent sent them the video, saying: ‘Isn’t this [guy] primal enough for you?’”
It didn’t end there – another person who saw the clip was writer-director John Michael McDonagh. The video inspired him to cast Alex in the film War On Everyone. Alex joked about this strange turn of events, saying, “the moral of the story is: Make a fool of yourself and people will love you. Remember that, kids.”
15 Bill almost didn't play Pennywise
Believe it or not, Bill Skarsgård almost didn’t land the one role that shot him into mega stardom. In Hollywood things are always changing – one minute a director and star are attached to a project, and the next two completely different people are taking their places. This is more or less what happened in the case of the blockbuster movie IT.
Originally, IT was to be directed by Cary Fukunaga, who had cast Will Poulter to play Pennywise. Fukunaga was attached to the project for several years before artistic differences that couldn’t be worked out caused the director to leave the project.
Andy Muschietti, the director who replaced Fukunaga, spoke candidly about why Poulter didn’t stay on the project after the change of directors. It had nothing to do with Muschietti being the replacement, but moreso to do with Poulter losing interest in the character after so many years of waiting. Muscietti told Deadline, “Will basically expressed a feeling that he had slowly disengaged from playing that character, that was so dark and terrifying.”
That was it for Poulter, and the way was cleared for Bill. The IT remake went on to gross over $700 million worldwide, breaking multiple box office records. It was a lucky break for Bill, but we have to wonder if Poulter regrets backing out.
14 Only one brother isn't famous
While it may seem like the Skarsgård family is a family full of entertainers, one brother is the odd man out. Sam Skarsgård is the only brother who followed in his mother’s footsteps and became a doctor. He practices in their hometown of Stockholm, Sweden as a physician in the Intensive Care Unit. His mother My, Stellan’s first wife, is also a doctor.
Though Sam may be the only brother not in the spotlight, Bill sees things differently. He has admitted to thinking that himself and his brothers get too much attention for what they do.
When being interviewed by his brother Alex for Interview Magazine, Bill said, "there's definitely a sense of embarrassment about what it is artists really do, at least for me in terms of acting. We have a mom and a brother who literally save lives.”
It seems if you’re a Skarsgård you either go into one of two professions – entertaining or medicine.
The two couldn’t be further from each other in terms of a career path, but all siblings seem to be happy with the routes they’ve taken in life. Clearly Stellan and My’s career paths had a huge impact on the directions their children took.
13 Eija is the only girl of 8 children
Eija Skarsgård is 26 years old, and yes, the only sister of the entire family. You would think growing up with a bunch of massive brothers around would be intimidating, but apparently it was quite the opposite.
Alex told Elle how even though Eija was the only girl, she basically ran the house. “When my sister Eija was maybe two and a half years old, she and my brother had an argument. Eija couldn't write, so she said, ‘Dad, write this down: Girls are always right.’ He taped that up on the kitchen wall. It's still hanging there.”
Stellan also admitted that Eija never wanted another sister, and believed she really loved her position as the one daughter of the family. Stellan, like Alex, confirmed Eija’s tough girl status in the family.
While all of the men, save Sam, have gone into acting – Eija took a bit of a different path. She didn’t go into acting but instead another facet of the entertainment industry, modeling. Eija also made a name for herself on social media as a public figure for – you guessed it – her famous family name. She dabbled in modeling for a while, but we haven’t seen much from her in the past couple years.
12 Alex's tattoo was drawn by his brother Valter
The Skarsgård brothers definitely don’t flaunt their family for show, they are the real deal. They have big love for each other – so much so that Alex decided to get his younger brother’s drawing tattooed on his leg.
When his youngest brother Valter was only 7 years old, he drew a bird on Alex’s leg in green marker.
Alex decided to take a picture of it, and ended up getting it tattooed onto the exact spot. He remembers waiting to show off the tattoo for almost 2 years, and the hilarious reaction he got from 9 year old Valter.
Alex recalls, “I wanted to show it, it was maybe two years later, I had worked up such… I mean it’s a big thing, to tattoo a beautiful picture that your brother drew as a child, so I thought he’d be delighted as hell.”
While we’re sure little Valter didn’t mean any harm by his reaction, Alex remembers it perfectly. “He was like, ‘What’s that? Why did you do it? What, did I draw that? Wanna eat pancakes now?’ Haha! Then again, he was only nine.”
Valter may not have gotten it at the time, but we’re willing to bet now at the age of 22 he has a better appreciation for Alex’s tattoo.
11 They are slowly taking over Hollywood
It’s one thing to be a family of actors, but it’s another thing to be a family of highly successful actors. Stellan Skarsgård, the monarch of the family, definitely left some big shoes to fill. He was in tons of Swedish films, but wen it comes to American movies you may recognize him from Good Will Hunting or The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. He also played Eric Selvig in Thor, Bootstrap Bill Turner in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, and Bill in Mamma Mia.
Probably the most recognizable of Stellan’s sons is Alexander Skarsgård, who got his big break in America playing Eric Northman in the hit HBO show True Blood. He recently played Perry in Big Little Lies which garnered him multiple awards, including a Golden Globe. Of course, we can’t forget his role as Tarzan, and the crazy training he did to sculpt his body for the film.
While Gustaf Skarsgård recently joined the Westworld cast, he is best known in America for his role as Floki in Vikings. Vikings is a massive hit TV show on the History Channel.
Some fans may have known Bill Skarsgård from his Hemlock Grove days, but it was the Stephen King movie remake IT that put him on the map in a huge way. IT quickly became the highest grossing rated-R horror film of all time, solidifying Bill’s place in the spotlight with his family. Next up for Bill is another Stephen King project: the Hulu series Castle Rock.
10 Alex played a male model in Zoolander
If you ever find yourself rewatching Zoolander, you’ll probably have one of those “oh my god, is that who I think it is?” moments when Alexander Skarsgård comes on the screen. Although much younger and leaner than we’re used to seeing him, there’s no mistaking the tall Swedish hunk.
Alex plays Meekus, one of Derek Zoolander’s three air-headed model friends.
One of his most memorable moments in the movie includes dancing in the jeep slurping an orange mocha Frappuccinos while the pals are trying to cheer Derek up. Then, of course, we have the infamous gas station scene. The male models are playfully – and stupidly – dousing each other in gasoline. When one of them lights up a cigarette, well, you remember the rest.
Though Alex has gotten plenty of attention for his more dramatic roles, it’s clear that there’s a comedian in there somewhere as well. His role as Meekus is completely unique and will forever stay in our vaults as one of the best parts of the original Zoolander.
Even though Alex’s character passed away in the first Zoolander film, he still made a cameo in Zoolander 2. He appeared to Derek in a vision of Adam and Eve – in which, of course, he is Adam.
9 Bill worried he scared children on the set of IT
When filming the movie IT, Bill Skarsgård said that it was sometimes difficult to handle the on-set dynamic. Director Andy Muscietti admitted to distancing the children from Bill so that they wouldn’t get too used to Pennywise – and it seemed to work.
Bill recalls, “It was my first day of shooting and we deliberately kept me separate from the kids. There was this one scene, very intense, and my first day so I needed to get into character… and in the scene I walk out and approach him and it’s very intense, I’m right in his face, drooling all over him and he’s crying.”
It’s got to be hard to get into character when you can’t tell how much of the kid’s reaction is real, and how much he was actually scaring the crap out of him.
While this is clearly is the entire point of the movie, Bill still found it hard to separate real from fake. And judging from how terrifying Pennywise looks, we can understand his concerns. He admitted that “in the back of my head I’m like, ‘oh my God, I’m traumatizing this child! What am I doing?’"
Thankfully Bill’s terrifying performance paid off, and IT was one of the biggest movies of 2017.
8 Alex joined the Swedish military
While Alex got his first big role as a child, it wasn’t all acting for him at first. In fact, he didn’t like acting at all when he first started out. His first big role that garnered him fame in Sweden was in a TV movie called The Dog That Smiled. Alex got so much attention from the role that he decided to quit acting all together.
He saw a chance to live a more normal life by enrolling in the Swedish military. He did so at the age of 19 which was “unheard of” in his family.
In a family full of free-thinking artists, the straight and narrow path to the military was definitely out of left field.
Alex served in the military for 18 months in the Stockholm archipelago, a large chain of islands off the coast of Sweden. When he left, Alex got back into his studies in London. After 7 years away from acting, he finally started considering it again. In 1997 he moved to New York City and attended Marymount Manhattan College where he took theater courses.
While he appreciates his time in the military – as do we – we’re happy Alex decided to come back to acting after all those years.
7 Gustaf is the most like Stellan
As many actors often do, the Skarsgårds got their start in the theater – particularly Stellan. His father, Jan Skarsgård, was a theater director and had a huge influence on Stellan’s acting beginnings. He encouraged Stellan to try out for everything he could – starting small with local children’s theater and eventually even playing in Shakespeare. He eventually joined the Royal Dramatic Theatre, Sweden’s national stage for “spoken drama.”
Stellan made the move to TV, and from there his TV and movie roles grew. Similarly, his son Gustaf has experience both on stage and on camera. Gustaf, of all the acting sons, in particular followed in his father’s footsteps.
Gustaf started at Teaterhögskolan, an acting and mime school in Sweden. He then joined the Royal Dramatic Theater the same as his father. Eventually Gustaf also joined the Stockholm City Theatre. He played in many of Shakespeare plays as well as Chekov and Soderberg.
Older son Alex has less of a theater background. In fact, he quit acting for 7 years and only after that did he attend Marymount Manhattan College where he took a theater course. Bill, on the other hand, has the least theater experience of the bunch. Thankfully he isn’t too intimidated by his father and brothers’ expansive careers.
6 The family interviews each other
There must be something about Bill! The Skarsgårds seem to jump at any opportunity to interview the newest family sensation. In June of 2017 Alex interviewed Bill for Interview Magazine, and back in August of 2016 Bill was also interviewed by his father Stellan for Hero Magazine.
In his interview with Alex, we learned that Bill’s first role was actually playing Alex’s younger brother in the Swedish film White Water Fury. And even in the interview, Alex made sure to remind Bill who is the older brother.
“Did you take out the trash this morning?” Alex asks, to which Bill replies, “no, why?” And as any teasing big brother would say, “Well, as your older brother, I think I should make sure you do that. Routines, or lack thereof, are a pretty good way to get to know someone.” The banter goes on this way for most of the interview, giving us a look into what everyday life with these two must be like.
In Stellan’s interview for Hero Magazine, the father and son talk about Bill’s new career moves. Similar to the interview with Alex, a lot of time is taken up simply catching up on daily life. We just love how real this family is, even during interviews!
5 Child stars
It probably isn’t a huge surprise that most of the Skarsgård children got incredibly early starts in their careers. Stellan himself started acting young as well, and quickly became a sensation in Sweden - which he attributes to there being only one TV station at the time.
Similar to Stellan's child star days, Alex, Gustaf, Bill and Valter all got their first acting roles before they were 10 years old.
The family definitely owes their success to the smaller Swedish film market, seeing as how they all started out acting in Swedish films. Though Stellan clearly guided his children on this path, he also never pressured them to continue with it if they didn’t want to. Thanks to his relaxed parenting, all of his kids chose their own paths - they just so happened to mostly choose the same one.
Alex almost decided otherwise when he realized child stardom wasn't for him and he quit acting for 7 years. “I was desperate to be normal and blend in,” he recalls. It was actually the part of Zoolander that got him back into acting when he was 20. It took him another 7 years after that to land his next big role. If this family shows us anything, it's that hard work eventually pays off.
4 They're ridiculously famous in Sweden
While the Skarsgårds may be new news to some people, in Sweden they've been popular for years. They're basically the Royal Family of acting, and their status only keeps growing. With roles in multiples films and TV shows it's almost impossible not to see a Skarsgård.
Many people in Sweden have followed the Skarsgårds' careers from the beginning, so the family is loved in Sweden. Even more so, the family loves Sweden back. They spend a lot of time there: Stellan has a home where he hosts his family, including sons Alex and Bill, who primarily live in the U.S.
The family can't get enough of their homeland. Stellan makes sure to cook family meals fresh from the shore. “There is some incredible produce in Sweden,” he told Men's Journal. “Of course, because of the location the seafood is all top notch.”
There will always be a strong connection between the Skarsgård family and Sweden. They represent Sweden in an incredible way in Hollywood, where very few Swedish actors have reached the same level. Even the lesser-known younger siblings Valter and Eija are very well known at home, and judging by Valter's growing IMDb page and his talented genes, he'll be joining his brothers in no time.
3 Daniel Day-Lewis is a fan of Gustaf
As if we really needed another reason to love the Skarsgårds, Daniel Day-Lewis gives his approval too. Gustaf revealed that he has it on good authority that Daniel admires his work. That good authority is none other than his father Stellan who heard it from Jim Sheridan. Sheridan is a director who works closely with Daniel. It clearly helps to have family friends in the industry!
Gustaf, however, is the one who is in disbelief. He told Fox News, "if it is true, it’s like the most honorable thing I’ve ever heard because I’m a huge fan of his. I’m just going to cling on to it as if it’s true."
Interestingly enough, a costume designer who has worked with both actors noted similarities between them.
She said of working with Daniel, "the costumes are a total extension of what he does. He is, for all the finesse of his work, one of the most generous people I’ve ever worked with in terms of appreciating what you bring to it." She went on to say, “Gustaf Skarsgård, also has that kind of thing."
Maybe it's just a coincidence, or maybe these two really do have similarities. If Daniel Day-Lewis says something is right about acting, we definitely believe him.
2 Stellan's hands-off parenting
If there's any reason the Skarsgårds all turned out so well, much of it can be attributed to Stellan. His parenting approach allowed his children to try many things by a young age. In fact, he has a specific age when he thinks parents should be totally hands off when it comes to their kids choices - 16.
“From the age of 16, it's not your business what they decide to do in life, you have to let them make those decisions themselves,” says Stellan - and his reasoning is more than fair. He says wants his children to be their own people, and doesn't want them attributing anything to him. “Otherwise," he says, "they will probably accuse you of ruining their lives, or think that they have a good life thanks to dad, and that would be equally horrific.”
Stellan's honest approach to parenting and life has definitely carried on to his kids. This family is a huge lesson in how there are many different ways to be raised. Even though Stellan's parenting may seem crazy to some, whatever he did clearly worked. Admit it: you would love to go to a family dinner at the Skarsgård house in Sweden!
1 Alex was Sweden's #1 man 5 years in a row
It's no big surprise that Alexander Skarsgård was named the most attractive man in Sweden for five years straight. The only question is, why not even more than five years? But Alex himself doesn't relish in the dreamboat status.
"I think if vanity becomes a part of who you are as an actor… it's important that you let yourself be true to the character."
"If you're vain and you're like, ‘Oh my fans won't like it if I'm a little chubby or if I'm pale or if I look older than I really am, I'm not doing my job then.'" He has a point. Great actors like Christian Bale and Leonardo DiCaprio are known for changing drastically to play a role.
Alex himself has done his part in dedicating his body to a role. To get his body in Tarzan shape, Alex had to follow a crazy diet and workout routine. Proving just how much of a superhuman he is, this trainer was actually impressed. “I’ve never seen anyone more hardworking," said celebrity trainer Magnus Lygdbäck. "I had to force him to take days off sometimes. He was eating food out of a box for about eight months, and not a drop of alcohol.”
Alex's dedication paid off and he made one awesome Tarzan.
What else do you know about the Skarsgård family? Let us know in the comments!