'The Legend of Tarzan' Star Alexander Skarsgard Talks Iconic Role

There are at least 200 Tarzan movies in the entertainment universe.

— -- There are at least 200 movies in the entertainment universe with Tarzan in the title.

And just to reinforce that this is not your typical jungle hero, this Tarzan is missing his signature loincloth.

“It was very clear in reading the script and knowing the journey that the character is on that a loin cloth wouldn’t make sense,” Skarsgard said. “When he returns to the jungle he is still in his Victorian British safari outfit. And then very slowly these layers come off and it’s emotionally and literally like layers come off when he’s on this adventure with George Washington, Sam’s [Samuel L. Jackson] character in the jungle.”

Once the layers are removed, fans will quickly note that it appears Skarsgard was made for the role. But getting fit enough to comfortably play a nearly naked Tarzan and pull off a few stunts wasn’t easy.

“And he was kind of egging her on behind the camera, screaming Margot claw him, punch him, beat him, scratch him, so I walked away with a few bruises,” Skarsgard joked.

But there are those tender moments too, particularly reflecting Tarzan’s relationships with some of the animals. They seem so real, yet no real animals were actually used in the film.

“They [animal scenes] were more difficult to shoot than the fight sequences in a way,” Skarsgard said. “Because the fight sequences are very technical, choreographed and I fought stunt men in body suits.

“But the emotional stuff was tough because it was basically a tennis ball on a C-stand. And I had to pretend that this tennis ball was an old beautiful elephant that I’ve known since I was a little child. And so that was quite interesting when you you’re standing there like, ‘Oh, my old friend,’” he said, mimicking his caressing an elephant trunk.

When filming finally wrapped, just after the last scene was taped, the crew had prepared a special surprise for Skarsgard.

“We were on a sound stage, it was a little pickup shot, and then they dropped this curtain they had behind me,” he said.” And they had on a table an ice cold beer, a pint of lager and a massive banoffee pie. It’s this English, caramel, banana cream pie.

“It was incredible. So I pretty much ate the whole thing, drank the beer, got in the car. I felt amazing.”

Skarsgard’s famous father, actor Stellan Skarsgard, took it from there.

“My dad was shooting this mini-series called “River” in London at the time, and he loves to cook,” Skarsgard said. “He was renting a house in East London. So I went straight from set, after eating this whole banoffee pie, to my dad’s house, and spent four days on his couch just being fed.”