‘The Northman’ Star Alexander Skarsgård Received His Thong From the Volcano Scene as a Gift After Filming

It is not uncommon for actors to receive wrap gifts at the end of production with cast members often receiving glitzy mementos reflecting their time and experience during filming, however, Alexander Skarsgård’s gift of his own bloody thong from The Northman was certainly unusual.

The Northman brings to screen the Norse Viking story that inspired Shakespeare’s Hamlet, and, as if the playwright’s famous play wasn’t dark and moody enough already, Robert Eggers’ film takes things even further with his Icelandic setting and long, bloody battle scenes. It was one of these battle scenes—set atop a volcano nonetheless—that led to Alexander Skarsgård’s thong wrap present.

Alexander Skarsgård plays Amleth

'The Northman' Alexander Skarsgård as Amleth shirtless covered in blood holding a weapon in each hand
Alexander Skarsgård as Amleth | Focus Features

Set in 10th-century Iceland, The Northman follows Prince Amleth (Skarsgård) on his quest to avenge his father’s murder. Like in Shakespeare’s Hamlet, the King (Ethan Hawke) has been murdered by Amleth’s uncle and Amleth’s mother, Gudrun (played by Nicole Kidman), then becomes Amleth’s uncle’s wife.

The Northman’s haunting trailer reveals Amleth’s threefold objective with his lyrical mantra: “I will avenge you, Father. I will save you, Mother. I will kill you, Fjolner,” however, Terry Gross from NPR points out that Eggers’ The Northman is more than just a “revenge drama. Amleth may look like a righteous avenger on par with the warriors of “Conan The Barbarian,” “Braveheart” and “Gladiator,” but he also turns out to be a more misguided, more deluded hero than he appears.” 

‘The Northman’ cast was exhausted after filming Robert Eggers’ movie

Rebert Eggers is known for his intense dedication to realism in his films and The Northman is no exception. Using long, unbroken shots to lend to the authenticity of the film, Egger’s battle scenes were among the hardest to shoot, with Skarsgård telling Interview of four-minute-long takes involving dozens of stuntmen and horses all doing intense, intricate combat choreography.

By the end of filming The Northman, Skarsgård said, “You’re so exhausted that you want to cry. You feel like you finally got all the choreography of the fight worked out, but then you have to go again and again and again.” 

The True Blood star was not the only one to suffer during filming, however. Along with Skarsgård, who was shackled and dragged through the mud during filming, The Northman’s Anya Taylor-Joy (known for her role as Beth Harmon in Netflix’s The Queen’s Gambit) was made to stand barefoot in freezing mud until she begged for filming to begin and the shot to be accomplished so she could get help, reports Total Film.

Alexander Skarsgård’s thong and other wrap gifts from ‘The Northman’

A rather unconventional wrap gift, Skarsgård’s thong was an essential Amleth costume piece for the final battle in The Northman. While on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Skarsgård told Stephen Colbert, reports Entertainment Weekly. “It wasn’t a choice, it was a gift,” before revealing a photo of Amleth’s blood-soaked thong.

He then joked, “That’s how much they valued my performance, my contribution to this movie… The end fight takes place on an erupting volcano and we’re naked. I mean, where else would it be set? So, that’s what I wore for a week, and my character’s quite wounded so he’s bleeding a lot, profusely, so that was my wrap gift.”

Other The Northman wrap gifts include a sword given to Nicole Kidman, three Icelandic horses bestowed upon the Iceland native, Björk, and one full-sized Viking longship which now belongs to Willem Dafoe. However, despite the prestige of the other gifts, Alexander Skarsgård’s thong is likely the most memorable memento.