A Guide To The Skarsgards: The Latest Family To Take Over Hollywood

The new Hemsworths?


Move over, Hemsworths! There’s a new showbiz family in town and they’re having a cracking 2017.

The adaption of Stephen King’s It is out today and there’s a Skarsgård under the creepy makeup of Pennywise the Clown. But it’s not acclaimed Swedish actor Stellan Skarsgård, or his talented son and five-time Sexiest Man in Sweden winner, Alexander Skarsgård. There is another.

Oh shit no.

Meet Bill Skarsgård. Early reactions to It are heaping praise on Bill’s performance as the clown who terrorises children in a small American town. This is all the more impressive given the last actor to enter our nightmares playing Pennywise was Tim Curry in the 1990s television mini-series — a performance often praised as iconic

With Bill about to breakthrough, it may feel like there are a few too many Skarsgårds to keep track of. We’re here to help you avoid any confusion with this handy Skarsguide (sorry).

The Patriarch: Stellan Skarsgård

Stellan is the one who began the Skarsgård screen dynasty. He has been acting since his early twenties and became a mainstay of Swedish film and television throughout the 1970s and 1980s. He made the leap to Hollywood in The Hunt for Red October and has worked steadily since.

You might have seen him in Good Will Hunting, Insomnia, Amistad, Ronin, Deep Blue Sea,and The Pirates of the Caribbean. He’s also a long-time collaborator with director Lars von Trier, having appeared in five of his films including Melancholia and Nymphomaniac.

Stellan has an authoritative presence and mostly takes roles as academics and powerful men. But he can play the clown too, letting loose a little in Mama Mia, Thor and The Avengers.

Stellan has a commanding voice that immediately draws your attention and makes dialogue sound like the fate of the universe rests on everything he’s saying. With a resume like Stellan’s, it’s easy to see why his kids wanted to follow in his footsteps. He has six children with his ex-partner, My. Alexander is the oldest, followed by Gustaf, Sam, Bill, Eija and Valter. Stellan remarried and had two children (Ossian and Kolbjörn) with his new partner.

The One You Recognise: Alexander Skarsgård

The Greg Brady of the Skarsgårds has been acting since he was a kid and became a household name in Sweden in the late ‘80s. He quit acting at the age of 13, finished school and served in the Swedish military. Once done with his army boots he went to university where he got bitten by the acting bug again.

Alexander played a male model, Meekus, in Zoolander (killed in a freak gasoline fight accident). A role in the HBO series Generation Kill followed and he then stayed in the HBO family using his ridiculously good-looking face to play Eric, a Viking turned vampire/bar owner who lusted after Sookie Stackhouse in True Blood.

Alexander also notably played Lady Gaga’s boyfriend in the ‘Paparazzi’ video, co-starred with Rihanna in the blockbuster adaptation of the board game Battleship and swung into a box office flop with Tarzan.

I mean… far out.

Away from the bombast of Hollywood, Alexander has been making a name for himself with fine performances in the indie films What Maisie Knew and Diary of a Teenage Girl. He also recently returned to TV with a stunning performance in Big Little Lies that earned him an Emmy nomination for outstanding supporting actor in a limited series or movie.

Alexander is not just a pretty face… but hot damn is he a good-looking human being.

The Up-And-Comer: Bill Skarsgård

Bill is the new Skarsgård on the block! Alexander’s brother came up through the Swedish film and TV circuit like his papa and bro before getting cast in the short-lived Netflix supernatural series Hemlock Grove. Bill went on to appear in The Divergent Series: Allegiant and Atomic Blonde.

Now he’s set to scare the shit out of us as Pennywise in It. The pictures of Bill as Pennywise are nightmare fuel and the trailer broke viewing records online earlier this year. Box office experts are predicting It will be a monster hit, which is weird because we usually tend to avoid the child murdering clowns, not run toward them.

Bill will return as Pennywise in the sequel to It (Chapter Two will feature the kids from the first film as adults) and he’ll stay in the world of Stephen King with a role in the upcoming TV series Castle Rock.

Bill’s keeping his perfect bone structure hidden behind monstrous performances, for now, but he’s on track to rival Alexander as the Skarsgård of the year at their next family picnic.

The Other Skarsgårds

Gustaf Skarsgård has been working just as hard as his siblings but hasn’t had his big Hollywood break yet. Gustaf appears on the TV series Vikings and can be seen in the films Evil, Kon-Tiki and The Way Back. And recently he was cast in the upcoming second season of your favourite sci-fi robot drama, Westworld! Perhaps his big break is just around the corner… 

It’s early days for the last actor in the family, Valter, who still has the Swedish showbiz training wheels on. As for the rest of the Skarsgård clan, Samuel is a doctor and Eija is model. Ossian and Kolbjörn are still super young, but in a few years time they should look probably look into those family connections.

And thus concludes our time in a blessed gene pool.

L to R: (Top) Alexander Skarsgård (middle) Sam, Gustaf, Eija, Valter, Bill, (front) Ossian and Kolbjörn.

Cameron Williams is a writer and film critic based in Melbourne who occasionally blabs about movies on ABC radio. He has a slight Twitter addiction: @MrCamW.