Alexander Skarsgard filmed his role as the father in The Giver in South Africa towards the end of 2013. The movie opened in the US on August 15 2014. It is now available on DVD in the US.
The Giver Official Synopsis:
An inside look.
Alexander spoke to Vulture about The Giver in August 2014.
What was it like being the baby whisperer on the set of The Giver?
In a way, it was difficult, but not because of the babies, who were adorable. Emotionally getting to that place, knowing what I had to do, it was difficult but it was also kind of what I found fascinating about the character, what drew me to the project. Obviously working with Jeff Bridges and Meryl Streep was pretty exciting as well, but in terms of the character, I thought it was really interesting to play someone who does what he does in the film — horrible things, but without being a bad guy. If you don’t know what you’re doing, what is the morality? Where does that come from? If you don’t understand the concept of death, is what he doing wrong? Of course it is, in a way, but at the same time, he doesn’t know — he thinks they’re going to a better place. He doesn’t know what “elsewhere” is, what that means. It was also a challenge to play someone who embodies “sameness,” as Father does in the movie. He’s a perfect citizen, in a way. But you also have to, as an actor, find something to not make him a robot. You just want to find a little spark, somewhere in the story beneath that, where there is a connection, where you kind of understand him. So when I first read the script, I thought, “Wow, to play someone who does what he does, but to try to find some sort of empathy from the audience …”
Because he seems like a caring, loving guy, but he doesn’t even know what love is.
Exactly! And how, under different circumstances, he would have been a fantastic dad. I think his instinct is to kind of take care of baby Gabriel and all the other babies at the Nurturing Center, but he doesn’t understand the concepts of love or what real feelings are. Being so sedated just takes the edge off of everything. But I do feel like toward the end of it, you do see a little something, at least.
Do you think he’s a little like Eric, during his amnesia? Since he’s deprived of the memories of humanity that the Giver has …
In a way, when Eric went through that, it was almost the opposite. Living the way he did for 1,000 years, having seen and gone through all that pain and suffering, he had almost shut down, emotionally. That’s why I thought it was an interesting love story between him and Sookie, because she was one of the few he ever let in. So when Marnie cast that spell on him, he suddenly opened up in a way. It’s the opposite of what Father does in The Giver, because Eric let his guard down and he was very open and very curious — he wanted to feel, he wanted to experience things in a way that I think, deep down, Father wants, but he’s medicated, and he’s not in touch with his emotions, at all. In the beginning of the film, it’s almost utopian, because it’s so clean, there’s no crime, and it seems perfect on the surface. But then once you get inside that home with them, you realize, “I would never want a family like that.” There’s no love. There’s no spontaneity. And there are no surprises. Everything they do, they’re assigned. They’re assigned spouses. They’re assigned children — those aren’t even their own kids. They’re assigned a job. They’re assigned playtimes.
But what’s so great about being alive is that you can make plans, and then just change them! And they’re in a society where you can’t. All your plans are made for you, by someone else. And he doesn’t know. He doesn’t know the concept of history. He doesn’t know what happened before “Sameness.” That’s why that comes as such a revelation for Jonas, when he feels what war is, and pain and suffering, but also love and beauty and the sunset and music. And for him to realize that, as painful as life is, it’s worth living. And because Eric kind of enjoys life and tries to milk everything out of every single second, so I think he would just feel sorry for Father, and he’d probably do his best to help him come out of his shell and teach him a thing or two. Eric’s been around for 1,000 years, so he’s seen a lot. If that didn’t work, he’d probably just drain him.