×

Remote Controlled: Alexander Skarsgard on Being Hated for ‘Big Little Lies,’ and His Idea for Season 2

Welcome to “Remote Controlled,” a podcast from Variety featuring the best and brightest in television, both in front of and behind the camera.

In today’s episode, Variety’s executive editor of TV Debra Birnbaum talks with Alexander Skarsgard, star of HBO’s hit show “Big Little Lies.”

In the critically acclaimed series, which finished its run back in April, Skarsgard played Perry Wright, the abusive husband of Celeste (Nicole Kidman). “It was a pretty intense shoot,” acknowledges the actor, who says he apologized to Kidman on a “daily basis” during filming. He also apologizes to the audience as well: “Yes, America, I’m sorry.” He admits he hasn’t yet watched it: “I had no idea how hated I was!”

Skarsgard says he signed on for the project immediately when it was presented to him. “It was a pretty easy decision when you have a great director, great co-star, and beautiful script, and a very interesting character,” he says. He wasn’t intimidated by the prospect of playing the villain. “I was really intrigued by their relationship and I thought it was an interesting opportunity to maybe try to play an abusive husband in a way that at least felt real,” he says. “Sometimes I feel like it can be a bit stereotypical and a bit cliché. And this was so rich and so layered. It’s a man who’s conflicted and he has these demons inside.”

Alexander Skarsgard photographed exclusively for the Variety Remote Controlled podcast
Dan Doperalski for Variety

The actor says he tried to find some humanity in Perry, who has deep secrets that get revealed over the course of the series. “It was important to find some core of humanity, I think, in order for the audience to at least understand this character, not to empathize, but to understand him,” he says. “And at least acknowledge that he’s struggling or that he’s conflicted. And that he is in a lot of pain. Because otherwise I don’t think it’s interesting if you don’t get in there.”

Filming the fight scenes with Kidman was incredibly difficult, he says. “We had to check in with each other constantly,” he says. “And especially at the end of the day after a tough day like that to just hug and make sure that we’re OK. Because it’s incredibly tough to shoot those scenes for 10 hours, and then jump in the car and go home. You can’t shake that off.” He stayed with friends who had young children, who were like family to him. “That loving environment was tremendously important for me to have,” he says.

But while the fight scenes were tough to shoot, he says, he loved shooting the finale. “I love how physical it got because it’s at that point where it’s very, very primal,” he says.

And he’s got an idea for a second season: “Perry’s got a twin sister called Terry and she shows up and she’s pissed off that they all killed her brother,” he says. “So, it’s basically a badass revenge story about this six foot four woman named Terry who’s there to avenge the death of her brother.”

You can listen to today’s episode here:

New episodes of “Remote Controlled” are available every Friday, and you can find past episodes of Remote Controlled here.

More TV

  • Hasan Minhaj

    Nahnatchka Khan, Hasan Minhaj, 'Just Mercy' Cast Talk Inclusion

    “Always Be My Maybe” was “satisfying” to create because it gave focus to two characters that wouldn’t typically be portrayed as romantic leads, said director Nahnatchka Khan of her Netflix film at the CAA Amplify conference in Ojai, sitting on a panel with comedian Hasan Minhaj and NBA star Chris Paul. “We’re all big fans [...]

  • Sebastian Maniscalco

    Sebastian Maniscalco to Host MTV VMAs

    MTV has announced that comedian, actor and best-selling author Sebastian Maniscalco will host the 2019 “VMAs” live from the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey on Monday, Aug. 26. Last year, Maniscalco published his best selling book “Stay Hungry,” followed by a stand up tour of the same name. The comedian has also sold out [...]

  • T-Pain, Faheem Rashad Najm. T-Pain performs

    TV News Roundup: 'T-Pain's School of Business' Sets August Premiere

    In today’s roundup, “T-Pain’s School of Business” sets an August 6 premiere on Fuse, and OWN greenlights a new talks series. EXECUTIVE NEWS Matt Brodlie is leaving his role as director of original film at Netflix to join the Disney+ content marketing team as senior vice president of international content development. In his new role, [...]

  • Songs for Screens Powered by Mac

    Songs For Screens: Labrinth on Scoring HBO’s Drake-Produced Drama 'Euphoria'

    British singer-songwriter Labrinth (née Timothy Lee McKenzie) has been having one of the biggest years of his nearly decade-long career, from the April release of his collaborative album with L.S.D. (a.k.a. Labrinth Sia & Diplo) to his starring role in the latest campaign for MINI, where he reinterprets Cole Porter’s cowboy classic “Don’t Fence Me [...]

  • The Office

    'The Office' to Stream Exclusively on NBCUniversal Service Beginning in 2021

    NBCUniversal announced Tuesday that it will begin streaming “The Office” exclusively on its standalone streaming service beginning in 2021. The popular comedy series will leave Netflix once the current deal with NBCU expires at the end of 2020, the same year that NBCU plans to launch its ad-supported streaming service. All nine seasons of the [...]

  • 'Lincoln Lawyer' Series in Development at

    'Lincoln Lawyer' Series in Development at CBS from David E. Kelley

    David E. Kelley is returning once more to the court of legal dramas. CBS has issued a series production commitment for “The Lincoln Lawyer,” with Kelley in position to pen and executive produce. Based on the series of bestselling novels by Michael Connelly, the show hails from A+E Studios in association with CBS TV Studios. [...]

  • Patrick Somerville'Maniac' TV Show premiere, London,

    'Maniac' Creator to Helm 'Made for Love,' 'Station Eleven' for WarnerMedia

    “Maniac” creator Patrick Somerville has signed on to helm two new series, “Made for Love” and “Station Eleven,” for WarnerMedia’s upcoming streaming service. “Made for Love,” which will be executive produced and directed by S.J. Clarkson, is a 10-episode, straight-to-series adaptation based on the novel of the same name by Alissa Nutting. The half-hour comedy [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content