Stars of Sundance: Bill Skarsgård

Stars of Sundance: Bill Skarsgård

The star continues to astonish with his performance in 'Assassination Nation'.

The star continues to astonish with his performance in 'Assassination Nation'.

Photography: Sharif Hamza

Styling: Andrew Mukamal

Text: Paul Schrodt

A version of this spread appears in the pages of V113, The Music Issue, on newsstands now. Order your copy of the issue today at shop.vmagazine.com

Bill Skarsgård is the first to admit he doesn’t exactly come off as cheerful on-screen. “I might be a pretty intense performer,” the 27-year-old Swedish actor laughs. That’s a bit of an understatement. Best known for his ghoulish take on Pennywise the clown in the 2017 movie adaptation of Stephen King’s It, Skarsgård brings a heightened, almost non-human quality to his characters, aided by his towering 6'4" frame and angular features. “It’s easy for me to tap into that state of mind, which lends itself pretty well to darker, more sinister things.”

In Assassination Nation —which sold for over $10 million in Sundance’s biggest sale—Skarsgård plays Mark, a “clueless, out-of-touch boyfriend who’s also a piece of shit,” he explains. The movie centers on a group of high school girls who are violated and, in a violent turn, take up arms against the men who’ve wronged them. Playing the villain is easy enough for Skarsgård, son of Stellan and brother of Alexander, famous actors in their own right who are equally capable of gravitas. But one scene during filming made him squirm. “It was very disturbing,” he recalls. “My character wrestles down Odessa Young’s character with two other guys, and they pull down her pants and take photos of her. It’s very aggressive; you can only fake it to a point. She’s not really acting anymore.”

He hopes the final product offers a catharsis for young women. People at the Sundance midnight screening were “screaming and root - ing for the girls” as they carried out revenge. “One of the film’s goals is to be a release of teenage girls’ frustrations,” Skarsgård says, adding that a 16-year-old who recently watched it started bawling. “That’s, in a sense, the best review you can get.”

BILL WEARS COAT PALM ANGELS, TOP GUESS, JEANS BURBERRY, BELT VINTAGE
Credits: Makeup Ciara O’Shea (LGA) Hair Rubi Jones (Julian Watson) Producer Ashley Herson Local producer Kate Holland Digital technician Casey Richardson Photo assistants Tim Hoffman, Shen Williams-Cohen Stylist assistant Jermaine Daley Hair assistant Megan Gorley Production Assistants Tom O’Meara, Rique Carroll Retouching Hempstead May Location Park City Peaks Hotel

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