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In Britain it opened with more than two million viewers.Skarsgård says its appeal is that 'you can sit back and enjoy it, but it's also really intelligent.
We are going to see a lot more of him in the second series. He also starred as Brad 'Iceman' Colbert in Generation Kill, HBO's acclaimed drama series about the US invasion of Iraq.
'I realised that I was number 499 to audition for a small part in a bad horror movie,' he says. At first he didn't mention to his fellow actors that he had been in the military.
'I didn't want to show up for boot camp being like [puts on jock voice], "Yeah, I know this guys, I was in the Swedish marines for 15 months so I can tell you all about it." 'I was scared, you know.
Sweden used to be known for peace, Abba and long hours of daylight.
These days, from the novels of the late Stieg Larsson to the cult film Let the Right One in, its dark side appears to be taking over the world.
It seems an appropriate location for an interview with the vampire. It is not long before Skarsgård bounds up the steps to the lobby, showered and dressed in a simple grey T-shirt and jeans, looking very tall – he is 6ft 4in – and glowingly healthy.
At the gates of the 15th-century manor house where the cast are staying, a small group of Swedish autograph hunters tell me that Skarsgård went out for a run an hour ago and has only just returned. The contrast with Eric, whose deathly pallor projects cold menace, is heightened by his friendliness, but common to both are the most striking pale-blue eyes.
'I come from a family of pacifists, so it's not like I was going to join the war. There were a lot of really cool guys, but the mentality sometimes got a little too testosterone-fuelled for my tastes.' After he finished his national service in 1996, he and a friend left Sweden for Leeds Metropolitan University, where he studied English for six months.
Sweden is not like the States or England where you might get sent to Afghanistan next month. 'We wanted to see the real England, so we just looked at a map. I still support Leeds United.' Ever since his national service, though, Skarsgård had been thinking about trying to act again.
True Blood, created by Alan Ball, the Oscar-winning screenwriter of American Beauty and Six Feet Under, is based on the Southern Vampire Mysteries series of novels by Charlaine Harris.
Its dark tales of 'glamouring' vampires, who can hypnotise their human victims; fangbangers, who are addicted to vampire sex, and users who get high on 'V' – vampire blood – have made it the most watched series on HBO in the US since The Sopranos, as well as an internet phenomenon.
to another former girlfriend from this period in Sweden, whom he dated on and off for three years. If I feel a connection with someone, I'm willing to go there.' Is he attracted to extreme situations?