Stellan Skarsgård is Hrothgar
Hrothgar is played by Stellan Skarsgård, whose ancestors were, in fact, Geats. “Hrothgar is a poor king who has been unfortunate enough to run into a troll that destroys his life and his kingdom and I don’t think he ever recovers from that,” the actor says. Skarsgård had read the original poem. “It’s pretty boring reading, actually. Many long speeches and very repetitive, but it is beautiful. I not only had the translation, but also the Anglo-Saxon original because as a Swede, I could read a lot of the old text. I’m interested in languages.”
Skarsgård liked the script and liked the role. “It’s a juicy one that allows for a lot of things. I thought Hrothgar would be very hard to over act which would allow me to do this pretty big – and that’s something I enjoy.”
Gunnarsson and Skarsgård were on the same page with this character. “Hrothgar is every woman’s nightmare,” says the director. “He was a great warrior and now he’s getting old and he’s cranky, he’s drinking and he’s facing his mortality and he doesn’t like it. He’s haunted by one action in his past that’s brought his entire kingdom to ruin. He keeps turning it over and over in his head and trying to bargain with his destiny. I love and understand this character.”
Stellan SKARSGARD was born in Gothenberg, Sweden. He became a teen star in 1968 after playing the title role in the TV miniseries Bombi Bitt och jag. From 1972-88, he was employed at The Royal Dramatic Theatre in Stockholm, where he starred in such productions as Vita rum (1988), August Strindberg’s Ett drömspel(1986) and Mäster Olof (1988).
He has appeared in over fifty films since 1982. His performance in The Simple-Minded Murder (1982) garnered the actor both a Guldbagge (Sweden’s Oscar) and a Silver Berlin Bear. He also played the lead in the Oscar-nominated Oxen (1991) directed by the world-famous cinematographer Sven Nykvist.
Stellan made his foray into American film with The Unbearable Lightness of Being (1988). His role as Captain Tupolev in The Hunt for Red October (1990) was supposed to be his biggest part in a Hollywood film, but unfortunately it was edited down. Instead, his breakthrough came with Lars von Trier’s Breaking the Waves(1996) opposite newcomer Emily Watson. He made two more films with Von Trier – Dancer in the Dark (2000) andDogville (2003).
Following Breaking the Waves, Stellan landed several supporting roles in high profile American films such asGood Will Hunting(1997), Amistad (1997) and Ronin (1998). He has also taken on leading roles in both American and international cinema, such as Insomnia (1997), Aberdeen (2000), The Glass House (2001) andExorcist: The Beginning (2004). Recently, Stellan has played Cerdic in King Arthur, opposite Clive Owen’s Arthur, Father Merrin in Renny Harlin’s Exorcist: The Beginning, Father Lankester in Paul Schrader’s Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist as well as starring opposite William Hurt and Holly Hunter in Downloading Nancy, and Bootstrap Turner in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest and Pirates of the Caribbean 3, both opposite Johnny Depp.