Stellan Skarsgard on ‘complicated’ challenges of filming in the Covid-19 era

Stellan Skarsgard has revealed the challenges of making a film in the Covid-19 era, saying it is “complicated” because of the number of restrictions.

The Mamma Mia star can currently be seen in the gruelling war film The Painted Bird, shot before the pandemic, about a lone Jewish boy wandering through a cruel obstacle course of survival and abuse in Eastern Europe at the end of the Second World War.

His next movie is the eagerly-awaited sci-fi epic Dune, in which he plays the villainous Baron Vladimir Harkonnen.

He told the PA news agency: “We will see how it will be received but I really wanted to do it for the joy of working with Denis Villeneuve (the director) who is such a wonderful man and also such a great filmmaker.

“I had one job, be horrifying, and I think I can do it. But it’s also fun because I had to look like I had a body of about 400lb or so, there is a lot of prosthetics, I think I spent far more time in make-up than I spent in front of the camera.

“Five or six hours a day in make-up and it’s pretty hard on you, but I didn’t film more than eight or ten days or something like that.”

Skarsgard’s native Sweden did not lock down during the pandemic, but he has only recently been able to start work.

He said: “The first thing I did was two weeks ago, when we did an additional scene for Dune in Hungary, and it is complicated because there are a lot of tests you have to go through.

“On the set they test you every second day, and they take your temperature every day and there are a lot of restrictions.

“I can’t wait to get back to work and I think the next thing I will do is the Star Wars TV series (an untitled show about Cassian Andor, due to film in the UK).

“That was supposed to go in June and now they are saying November, but of course it depends on if Britain has more lockdowns.”

Skarsgard said he was keen to take on his role as a German soldier in The Painted Bird to help the gruelling movie get made.

<figcaption class='imgFCap'>Skarsgard in The Painted Bird (Eureka Entertainment)</figcaption>
Skarsgard in The Painted Bird (Eureka Entertainment)

He added: “I was contacted by the director 11 years ago when, after years of struggling, he finally go the rights to the book that I had read before, and I knew this was a film that was absolutely impossible to finance because who would invest in a film like that? Nobody who wants his money back, right?

“And it’s truly a dark story about a poor child during the Second World War in Europe, in black and white with almost no dialogue, there is no sugar on this cake so it’s the kind of film that rarely gets made any more.

“It resembles more Eastern European films from the 60s or early 70s than anything that is made for today, but I really want those kind of films to be made, they are very cinematic, it really shouldn’t be watched on your iPhone.”

The Painted Bird is available digitally and in selected cinemas in the UK and Ireland now.