Alexander Skarsgard on Christian Grey and Calvin Klein
Elizabeth Holmes, Wall Street Journal

Alexander Skarsgard doesn’t know where the rumors about him playing Christian Grey started, but he’s not doing anything to squash them.

The Swedish actor, best known as a vampire on HBO’s True Blood vampire, is among the Hollywood hunks suggested to star in the film adaptation of “50 Shades of Grey,” the first of three S&M-themed books that women flocked to read on Kindles this summer.

Fueling the buzz is a new short film Skarsgard did as the face of Calvin Klein’s new fragrance for men, Encounter. The two-minute video was shot in a dark, film-noir-type style. It opens with Skarsgard driving through a rain storm to a house on a cliff. As waves crash below, he makes his way to the all-glass top floor, where longtime CK model Lara Stone awaits. The clip cuts just as they are about to kiss. “Alexander Skargard (sic) should totally play Christian Grey!!!” reads the top comment on the video’s YouTube post, with 34 “likes.”

Skarsgard did press interviews for the new fragrance in a two-story loft at swanky the Greenwich Hotel. Clad in all black, the tall actor lounged on a white sofa and, knowingly or not, played the part of the dominating-but-charming-yet-removed fictional Christian Grey. (When this reporter went to smell the fragrance from the bottle on the table in front of him, he thrust his wrist up as an alternative.)

The blonde-haired, blue-eyed actor shared his fragrance-wearing philosophy, mused about his True Blood alter ego and played coy about “50 Shades.”

Edited excerpts:

The Wall StreetJournal: Why did you want to be a part of the fragrance?

Alexander Skarsgard: It’s my first kind of campaign. This felt like the right one because of a combination of things. First of all, Calvin is a great house. I was very flattered. Creatively, it felt interesting. I worked with [French art director and director of the short film] Fabien Baron, who is arguably one of the greatest art directors of our time and he’s behind all of their legendary campaigns. I’ve also worked with Lara Stone. Peter Lindbergh shot us two years ago together for Vogue and she is so great—so great—so much fun to work with and laid back and no ego, just very cool girl.

Are you a fragrance kind of guy? Do you like wearing it?

Yeah, I do. I think the trick is in moderation. I think what’s very sexy is we all have our personal scent, kind of like our fingerprint, so unique. The trick is not to overpower that. You want the marriage between your scent and the fragrance. That creates something very sensual to me. As a young teenager I made the mistake of going all in and it was like a cloud. I was going to this disco when I was 13, like a school dance, and I just discovered fragrances. I had five different bottles and I thought they all smelled great so I figured that combining them was a great idea. I ended up alone, in a corner of the dance. People were 50 feet away because I was just a cloud of perfume walking around. I learned the hard way that less is more.

How do you wear it now?

One spray of the fragrance, that’s kind of it. Wrists [dabbing his writs] and then bottom of my ears I do that [moved one wrist to one ear]and then like that [moved other wrist to his other ear].

Your character on “True Blood” was redeemed in an unexpected way this season. Did you like the twist?

AS: It was an interesting direction that Bill went to the dark side and not [Skarsgard’s character] Eric because Bill has always been this southern gentleman and kind of the good, sweet guy and Eric has been the darker one of the two. Instead of doing the obvious easy choice, instead of letting Eric go even darker and turn to some sort of villain again, if he ever was, and it’s cool that he now has to protect Sookie and that Bill has gone bat shit crazy.

How does shooting “True Blood” compare to this Calvin Klein short film?

This was different on one level because there’s no dialogue. That was a cool challenge of telling a story with no words. But that’s what I love about this job. One day you are covered in blood shooting True Blood and the next day you are doing this. I just wrapped this film in Vancouver called “Hidden” about a family in a bomb shelter. So from this to like dirty bomb shelter with rats and smoke and soot and fire, that’s what so great about this job.

You seem drawn to dark places.

I know. I need to talk to my shrink about that. I don’t know what that is about. What’s wrong with me?

This is a great segue into the Christian Grey rumors. Are you interested in that part?

I haven’t read the script. I don’t think there is a script out yet.

Have you read the books?

No, are they good?

Uh, they’re something.

I like something.

They’re really graphic. The S&M world is laid out for all to read about. Does that appeal to you?

I haven’t read the books. I know how tremendously successful they are and how people are obsessed, so of course I’m flattered if some people out there wants to see me do that. But it’s difficult to say. Step one is always read the script for me. I get the script, I read it and then I feel something or I don’t. You either connect and you feel like this is a character that you want to spend a couple of months with or you don’t. Or you feel like I’m going to learn something about myself in working on creating this character. Or you’re not challenged by it. Or you’re not intrigued. So it’s so difficult to say before having read the script whether you are interested in it or not.