Alexander Skarsgard Explains the ‘Brutality’ of Playing Tarzan 

The handsome leading man and his co-star chatted about breathing new life into the classic character.

Although this movie a remake, the cast and crew were determined to break new ground with The Legend of Tarzan. Instead of telling an origin story, they decided to begin with Alexander Skarsgard’s character as a civilized Londoner, then allow the story to devolve into his primal past.

“He’s a celebrity,” Skarsgard told ComingSoon.net. “He’s the Ape Man. The man who grew up in the jungle. He doesn’t like being famous. He doesn’t like being called Tarzan. He doesn’t like who he was and he’s afraid of who he was back in the jungle and what he’s capable of. He made some powerful enemies back there. He’s afraid of what he’s done back there. He used to be a very violent man and he doesn’t want to revert back to that.”

The 39-year-old actor explained that the journey to his wild, brutal nature is revealed slowly throughout the film.

“It’s not about the beast sort of learning how to civilize himself and how to function with human beings,” Skarsgard explained. “This Tarzan has already done that. He’s perfected it. It’s about the beast inside. He’s an animal, but he’s in a three-piece suit drinking tea with the Prime Minister. You start out with John Clayton, who is resisting who he is, in a way. Then you go back to the jungle when he’s convinced by Jane and George Washington, Sam Jackson’s character. Slowly, he reverts back to who he is and the more animalistic state that is Tarzan. It was fun, as an actor, to explore going from being civilized to that brutality that is kind of who he really is.”

Christoph Waltz, who plays Captain Leon Rom, put it another way: “It’s not necessarily skipping over [Tarzan’s origin]. It’s just not the predominant narrative in this tale.”

As far as Waltz’s character…well, moviegoers are going to have to wait to learn more about him.

“I can’t tell you anything,” Waltz said, smiling. “Not necessarily because it’s top secret, but because the movie is fantastic. The movie is entertaining. The movie is relevant. The movie is, for me, painful and sad and suspenseful all the way through. There’s no reason you shouldn’t go and see it. Why would you want me to tell you what it’s about?”

The Legend of Tarzan arrives in theaters July 1, 2016.