Reinventing the Lord of the Jungle for a new generation, the sight of Alexander Skarsgård’s naked torso is, in itself, a good reason to see The Legend of Tarzan.
However, when STACK meets with the actor, he is unfortunately fully clothed, despite a futile attempt to mess with the hotel thermostat prior to his arrival, resulting in us both just being rather hot and sweaty.
His father, the veteran actor Stellan Skarsgård, was almost more thrilled about the role than Alex, having been a lifelong fan of Johnny Weissmuller’s Tarzan.
With pressure both from the studio and his fans, but also his dad, he set out to sculpt the most badass Tarzan the world has ever seen, working out twice-daily, living like a monk on a restricted diet, and shunning all company, including his girlfriend, British fashionista Alexa Chung.
“It was very physical and intense,” explains the actor who first sent pulses racing in True Blood. “I am not at all agile and I can’t even touch my toes, so there was a lot of yoga and pilates and stretching and trying to become more limber. I wanted to put on some weight, but I also didn’t want to look like a bodybuilder. This is a guy who grew up in the jungle, so it’s important that he can move like an animal through the jungle.
“Fortunately I had the best people in the world working with me, from the stunt coordinator to the trainer to the choreographer, Wayne McGregor. But here’s the biggest secret: it’s a trapeze artist doing most of my stunts. One of the best trapeze artists in the world came in and did that and then they put my face and my body on his movements. So I can’t sit here and take credit for all the crazy stuff.”
With Jane portrayed as a damsel in distress in most of the previous Tarzan films, Margot Robbie‘s twist on the character is quite different: “You don’t cast Margot if you’re looking for a damsel in distress,” laughs Skarsgård. “Margot has this amazing energy and is very confident. We didn’t want it to feel like Tarzan is just saving her because, in many ways, he needs her more than she needs him. He is vulnerable when he is not with her.”
They instantly clinched the sizzling on-screen chemistry. “She is the most energetic and lovely human being, which is important because we get separated early on in the movie, so you need to be invested and root for us to get back together, because if the chemistry doesn’t work, then we don’t have a movie,” he says.