“The Northman” opens in theaters this weekend, and Robert Eggers’ Viking epic has already attracted plenty of attention for its period accuracy, unapologetic maximalism, and Alexander Skarsgård naked on a volcano. The film culminates in a massive battle that takes place inside an Icelandic volcano that took weeks to choreograph and film, with Skarsgård spending much of his time wearing a skimpy thong on set. And apparently, he still owns it.
Appearing on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” Skarsgård revealed that he was given the used thong as a gift at the end of the shoot.
“The end fight takes place on an erupting volcano and we’re naked,” he said. “I mean, where else would it be set? So, that’s what I wore for a week, and my character’s quite wounded so he’s bleeding a lot, profusely, so that was my wrap gift.”
Skarsgård was a good sport about the gift, although he would probably be justified in feeling a little slighted. According to the actor, many of his co-stars received much more elaborate presents when the film wrapped.
“Nicole Kidman got a sword, Willem Dafoe got a longship — the whole ship. I might be kidding, but I think that’s actually what happened,” he said. “And Björk got three Icelandic horses.”
While the G-string gift makes for a funny late-night TV anecdote, the decision to be naked in the volcano fight scene is one that Skarsgård took seriously. In a recent interview with IndieWire, he opened up about the artistic justification behind the choice.
“It was essential to be naked,” he said. “There are a lot of stories about the Vikings taking their clothes off before a fight for many different reasons. One being to intimidate the opponent. When you’re completely naked, you’re completely vulnerable. It is a way of showing fearlessness, and also to potentially to shock your opponent. So that was always the plan.”
“In our puritanical society, it’s easier to portray violence on screen than nudity, which I find quite strange. So you can kill and chop heads left and right, but you can’t show any nudity. We had to figure out a way to do this long fight scene [nude], and at one point, there were conversations about, ‘Should we just do it shirtless?’ But I felt strongly, and Rob did as well, that it was imperative that they would take their clothes off.”
“The Northman” is now playing in theaters.