From the African forest to the Nordic seas.
Alexander Skarsgård, who played the legendary tree swinger in “The Legend of Tarzan”(2016), is returning as a similarly muscular and heroic figure, this time in Viking garb.
The story of his new film, “The Northman,” is of the bloody vengeance variety, with Skarsgård’s as a conflicted Viking named Amleth, banished from his native land and vowing revenge on the uncle who killed his father.
The actor's “Big Little Lies” co-star, Nicole Kidman, who played his wife in the HBO series, now joins the passion play as Skarsgård’s distraught mother, Queen Gudrun, who is held captive back home.
If the plot sounds a little Shakespearian, that’s because it is, as director Robert Eggers explained in a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly.
"It's basically the story of ‘Hamlet’ or ‘The Lion King,’” said Eggers, “which was originally an old Norse story where the Hamlet character was called Amleth. We've told it in our own way. It is a Viking saga with magic, and swords, and mysticism, and all the stuff that you'd want from that."
Eggers, who has previously directed smaller indies like “The Witch” and “The Lighthouse,” said this sprawling saga is "by far the hardest thing I've ever done, and by far the most ambitious."
After previous efforts to get a tale of this scope off the ground, the director found kindred spirit Skarsgård who’d been wanting to do a Viking epic. Once he met the bugling actor, Eggers knew he could pull of an imposing Viking.
"I mainly remember how tall he was," Eggers said. “At the end when we got up to shake hands, it took him about 30 seconds to stand up completely. He was so tall."
"Alex totally transformed his body," Eggers continued. "He's bigger than he is in Tarzan, and that's no small feat. He completely became this character.... There are moments where his rage is as powerful as anything I can think of in cinema. I'm not trying to toot my horn, but it's intense."
With “The Witch,” Eggers said he wanted to make witches scary again, and he hoped to do the same with Vikings this time around.
"People think that they know Vikings,” said the director. “They think cartoon guys with horn helmets or certain TV shows where Vikings dress like science-fiction rock stars. This is something very different."
Kidman is currently gaining raves for her portrayal of comedy legend Lucille Ball in the new film, "Being the Ricardos."
The rest of the impressive cast of “The Northman” is rounded out with Ethan Hawke, Willem Dafoe, Anya Taylor-Joy (who Eggers brought back from “The Witch”), and musician Björk, who hasn’t been seen acting on screen since an episode of the Icelandic TV series, “Dagvaktin” in 2008.
"The Northman" arrives April 22.
Lights, camera, action! Get the latest updates on movies and television from The Reel Buzz on Audacy.com.
LISTEN on the Audacy App
Sign up and follow Audacy
Facebook | Twitter | Instagram