It’s been a good minute since Alexander Skarsgård appeared in a huge tentpole film. We’ve constantly seen him flourishing in indies and on television of late, but big movies haven’t really been his priority for a long time.
That’s about to change now that Skarsgård is confirmed to star in Adam Wingard‘s Godzilla vs. Kong. As reported by Deadline, the Big Little Lies alum joins an already stacked cast that’s frankly bursting at its seams. Skarsgård will get caught in the kaiju crossfire alongside Millie Bobby Brown (Stranger Things), Kyle Chandler (Bloodline), Julian Dennison (Hunt for the Wilderpeople), Danai Gurira (Black Panther), Demián Bichir (The Hateful Eight), Brian Tyree Henry (Atlanta), and more.
So, what’s the plot? Save for the fact that we clearly know what the particulars of the film’s main showdown will be thanks to its title, Godzilla vs. Kong is kept tightly under wraps. That’s understandable, given that it’s the fourth movie in Legendary Entertainment’s burgeoning MonsterVerse and meant to follow Michael Dougherty’s upcoming Godzilla: King of the Monsters, which is only due out in the first half of 2019.
As prior installments of the MonsterVerse — namely Gareth Edwards’ Godzilla and Jordan Vogt-Roberts’ Kong: Skull Island — demonstrate, we can at least bank on the fact that these movies are looking for a good dose of humanity to balance out all the action. In actuality, such plans have thus far panned out to some extent. Truthfully, both films are fun popcorn fare, but there are still issues with their storytelling. Godzilla doesn’t have enough notable women, while Kong: Skull Island is guilty of portraying less grounded characters in favor of fast-paced action.
Nevertheless, their attempts to create a diverse roster in each MonsterVerse film is definitely much appreciated. And Skarsgård, charming performer that he is, is certainly capable of holding his own among acting greats. He has come a long way from being blown up in the first Zoolander film, having solidified his status as a standout performer on film as well as TV.
I first came to know of Skarsgård (apart from recognizing his name thanks to his similarly famous father) through the small screen. Generation Kill and True Blood premiered on HBO in 2008 and they really put him on the map. Thankfully, these shows are so drastically different from one another that it feels easier to trust in Skarsgård’s versatility after watching both.
True Blood is a very silly vampire series that relies heavily on melodrama and exaggerated love triangles, but Skarsgård’s portrayal of Eric Northman quickly made him a fan favorite. Comparatively, his steely but cheeky interpretation of Sgt. Brad “Iceman” Colbert in Generation Kill is legitimately a career best. By virtue of playing a biographical role, Skarsgård gets to ground his performance in imperfections in ways that depicting a 1000-year-old vampire wouldn’t otherwise allow.
Skarsgård continued to supplement his regular role on True Blood with a plethora of film work. This includes early voice acting roles in Metropia and, adorably enough, Moomins and the Comet Chase. Importantly, Skarsgård kept finding ways to subvert his own beefcake image that was encouraged by his vampiric days. He was horribly squirmy in Rod Lurie’s remake of Sam Peckinpah’s Straw Dogs before turning around and being a winsome powerhouse in What Maisie Knew.
Skarsgård has frequently displayed more show-stopping turns in variable projects since. His captivating and menacing anarchist leader in The East, creepy narrative catalyst in The Diary of a Teenage Girl, and amoral drunk in War on Everyone — among others — are inspired onscreen efforts that fully showcase an effectively chameleonic persona. When Skarsgård won his Outstanding Supporting Actor Emmy for Big Little Lies, it wasn’t surprising in the slightest.
In spite of all that, something notable remains: his blockbuster selection hasn’t been very good. I enjoy both Battleship and The Legend of Tarzan, but they are films of inconsistent quality, to say the least.
The aliens in Battleship really ask us to suspend disbelief. The film ambitiously takes the premise of a simple strategic board game to ridiculous heights and luckily, director Peter Berg’s penchant for emotional characterization makes the experience somewhat enjoyable. The Legend of Tarzan, gloomy as it is in exploring the classic character, is more narratively sound. However, the end result comes across like an inferior version of Disney’s The Jungle Book, which is more technically laudable and thematically impactful.
I hope Godzilla vs. Kong turns out to be Skarsgård’s best tentpole feature. Between the legacy of the film’s beastly namesakes, the generally positive reception and financial success of that the individual Godzilla and Kong movies received, and the caliber of each indie director turned blockbuster helmer behind the wheel, it’s possible. We could be looking at an assuring cinematic cocktail.
So much about Skarsgård’s acting slate is totally memorable, but the blockbuster portion of his filmography desperately needs a facelift. Godzilla vs. Kong feels like a step in the right direction toward making that happen.