Why Bill Skarsgard Didn’t Want People to Know He Was from a Famous Family
With a unique and recognizable last name like Skarsgard, it’s difficult for up-and-coming Swedish actor Bill Skarsgard to avoid instant comparisons to his famous family members.
Skarsgard, 25, is son to Stellan (Thor) and brother to actors Alexander and Gustaf (TV’s Vikings) but he wasn’t exactly dying to join the family business.
“I wanted to be an actor ever since I was a little kid,” he tells PEOPLE in the magazine’s new issue, on newsstands now. “But as I got into my teenage years I thought, is it really me wanting this or because I want to follow in my dad’s footsteps?”
Skarsgard studied science in high school before deciding he couldn’t deny his own passion for acting any longer and that he wanted to pave his own way.
“I’ve always felt a very strong need to do it myself,” he says. “The association with my brothers and my father is already so big, I didn’t want them to have anything to do with what I did. I needed them to feel that I am completely responsible for what I do.”
After breaking out on his own in Sweden, Skarsgard booked a small role on the Netflix series Hemlock Grove and has a supporting role in the upcoming film The Divergent Series: Allegiant as mysterious new character Matthew.
For more from Skarsgard, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands now
“Now that I’m a little bit more established and secure in myself as an actor, I do communicate with them,” Skarsgard says of leaning on his family for career advice. “We can have an open dialogue about situations at work and it’s immensely helpful having them there.”
Bonus Skarsgard fact: their family name is wholly original and relatively new.
“We’re the only ones with our last name,” says Skarsgard. “My grandfather and his brothers came up with it, so we’re the only ones who are named Skarsgard, our family and our cousins and stuff like that. A lot of people think that Skarsgard happens to be a common last name, but it’s just us.”
The Divergent Series: Allegiant arrives in theaters March 18.