At the New York premiere of Sony Pictures Classics’ coming-of-age drama “The Diary of a Teenage Girl” on Wednesday evening, the red carpet was still buzzing about the film’s star Alexander Skarsgard dressing in full drag on Monday for the movie’s San Francisco screening. Photos of his jaw-dropping makeover have gone viral online and readers are collectively praising his versatile looks.
The 6-foot-4 Swedish actor revealed that he enjoys dressing in drag so much that he has own drag name. “It’s Lady Libido Lushbody,” Skarsgard, 38, told Variety at the Cinema Society hosted screening at the Landmark Sunshine Cinema. “It’s a good name!”
The “True Blood” alum explained that he went drag for the night to celebrate “The Diary of a Teenage Girl’s” special friends and family screening and party held at the Castro Theatre hosted by the local drag queens who worked as part of the film’s crew. The movie was shot in San Francisco in just 24 days with a budget of a little over $1 million. “I got really excited about the party and wanted to come in drag and be part of the fun,” said Skarsgard. “I didn’t want to be excluded and be in a stupid suit. They were kind enough to get me the outfit and the hair. It took about four hours to get dolled up.”
As for donning a big Farrah Fawcett-inspired blond wig, fake eyelashes, heels and a gold gown, he confessed, “Emotionally it was a lot of fun, and physically it was incredibly painful. It was so painful to wear high heels. They were incredibly tight and I just couldn’t walk. So I had to be assisted. It looked like I was drunk. I was wobbling down the red carpet. The situation with my balls — I had to tuck it in. I wore a custom-made thing where you tuck it in. It’s like a medieval torture device. And the fake nails, I couldn’t do anything. I felt like Edward Scissorhands. I now have a different level of respect for drag queens. In a weird way, I miss it already.”
In “The Diary of a Teenage Girl” — based on the 2002 graphic novel by Phoebe Gloeckner, and directed by first-timer Marielle Heller — Skarsgard plays a naïve and lovable 35-year-old man who gets involved in a complex affair with his girlfriend (Kristen Wiig)’s 15-year-old daughter (newcomer Bel Powley) in 1976 San Francisco after she initiates the first interaction. Through their relationship, she loses her virginity and he ultimately helps her to learn to love herself. Moviegoers may find Skarsgard’s character despicable and some may find him to be a good guy — qualities that enticed Skarsgard to play the role.
“That was the reason why I was attracted to the project. It was an interesting challenge to play my character not as a good guy or not as a bad guy, but like a real guy, like all human beings are,” he said. “It is so easy to judge him because he’s 35 and has a relationship with his girlfriend’s daughter. At first, people may feel uncomfortable watching it, but I think people will say, ‘I really wanted to hate him, but I kind of root for them. I want them together.’ That’s when it becomes interesting. I think we all just want to lean back and label all the characters in the movie because it’s so easy and convenient. Then we can relax and eat our popcorn. It’s more interesting if you have to engage and not know who’s good or bad and to try to do that in a way without condoning what he does. What happens to their relationship was tricky, but that challenge really intrigued me. It’s really an honest depiction of a young girl discovering her own sexuality. There are good aspects and bad, which I really think is refreshing.”
For Powley, 23, the charismatic British actress who makes her feature film debut as a sexually precocious teen girl, taking on a role that required multiple sex scenes and being nude onscreen wasn’t too daunting.
“Initially it was a scary prospect, taking off my clothes in front of a bunch of people I didn’t know and simulating sex, but I felt more proud that this film was conveying sexuality in a way that hasn’t been shown on film before, especially for teenage girls,” Powley told Variety. “For teenage girls to be sexually curious and using sex for self-discovery is not a negative thing and my want to convey that to young women overrode my fear. The film is so much more than about the sex. It’s more about being a teenager. You make mistakes and the world won’t implode. You will move on and you will be fine. You just need to learn to love yourself before you can love anything else. “
However, the one thing that she felt apprehensive about was viewing the movie with her father.
“I watched the film with my mum, and my dad has seen it without me because that would have been too weird,” she said with a laugh. “I’m his little girl and sitting next to him while he sees me simulate sex onscreen would be too much. But, they both have been very supportive and loved the movie.”
“The Diary of a Teenage Girl” opens on Aug. 7.
(Pictured: Bel Powley, Alexander Skarsgard and Marielle Heller at “The Diary of a Teenage Girl.”)