Continuing our coverage of Borg vs McEnroe, which opens in UK cinemas this Friday, we sat down with Stellan Skarsgard to discuss the film and his role as Borg’s legendary trainer Lennart Bergelin, who coached him before his famous rivalry with John McEnroe (Shia LeBeouf).
Like many, Skarsgard remembers the final being broadcast on television and the excitement around the event and says that the memory coupled with a few other sources helped him prepare for the role:
“Marianna (Borg’s wife) wrote a rather nice diary kind-of book about her life with Borg and Bergelin that I took a lot from and then from interviews and stuff as well. I actually concentrated on trying to solve and create this triangle between Borg, Bergelin, and Marianna that we have in the film and make sure that we got a tone that indicates total intimacy… the way we both around each other so I took a lot of time with that. Then I slapped on a combover and a bald cap and there he was!”
You’d be forgiven for thinking you were watching actual footage from the 1980 Wimbledon Mens Final given the compellingly real performances from Svennir Gudnason and LeBeouf as the headline characters – and such was their convincing performances that Skarsgard had nothing but praise for the pair, saying:
“Yeah, it was great. with Svennir we worked a lot together and he has a very difficult role in that he doesn’t have that much to say and he’s also playing someone who doesn’t say much so he had to build up this internal pressure and put a lid on it – the pressure cooker – and you could feel it almost until the eyes pop! You can see things happening inside him – he’s done a fantastic job.”
Next for Skarsgard is another trip down disco lane with Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again, the sequel to 2008’s hugely successful musical where he starred alongside Meryl Streep, Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth, Amanda Seyfried and more and while he is happy to be back, he’s still not a fan of all the 70’s dress, saying:
“I’m not sure I’m excited to either sing or dance or putting on platform shoes but the rest of it is great and I’m excited to work with Colin again. I got a text from him that said ‘Are there goats in Croatia?’ because we are filming there and I assured him that yes there were. Not sure what he meant by that!”
Another big film series for Skarsgard is Marvel where his Dr. Selvig has been part of Thor and Avengers thus far so will he return again? He joked about why you might not see him again just yet:
“They still have one option on me because I had a five-film contract but I’m not sure they are gonna use that option because I’m getting more expensive for each film and they’re pretty tight!”
Borg vs McEnroe opens in UK cinemas on September 22nd.