Alexander Skarsgård: ‘I spend hours thinking: “What kind of shoes would this guy wear?”’

The actor talks about 90s style, itchy jumpers and how he pays much more attention to his characters’ outfits than his own

This is a suit I wore while filming On Becoming a God in Central Florida. The guy I play, Travis Stubbs, works in an office cubicle in the early 90s. He is stuck in a job he hates and not happy about where he is in life, but he has aspirations. He wants to look like a successful businessman but he doesn’t have much style or taste. Bad style in the early 90s gives you a plethora of horrible, horrible outfits. It was one of my favourite characters to create in terms of the look and the hair. It’s always fun when you create a character who looks different from the way they feel. He has bought into a pyramid scheme, so in order to recruit more people he wants to look important and successful. We had a lot of fun putting together some ostentatious and quite tacky outfits, culminating in a very ill-fitting tuxedo.

Going to costume fittings is always instrumental, for me, in finding the character. I spend hours thinking: “What kind of shoe would this guy wear? What kind of jacket?” It’s always a collaboration between me and the costume designer and I will agonise over an outfit – if I find a great pair of shoes, but they are slightly the wrong colour, that can bother me a lot.

In my personal life, I don’t pay much attention to what I wear – it’s the other end of the spectrum and I like to just switch off. I don’t have the energy to spend more than two minutes thinking about it in the morning and so I pretty much wear the same thing every day. That is not to say I’m not interested in clothes – it can be fun to dress up for an event – but that’s a special occasion. I never “put together an outfit” if I’m just running around New York or Stockholm. I have always been allergic to clothes that are not comfortable – as much as I love the look of a wool sweater, I can’t wear them because they’re too itchy. I gravitate towards soft fabrics.

Alexander Skarsgård is the face of the new global campaign from Clarks shoes.

As told to Leah Harper

The GuardianTramp

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