TALK about being glamoured. HBO's "True Blood" may be an ensemble show, but this season there's only one character everyone's talking about: Eric, Eric, Eric.
Alexander Skarsgard, a Swedish actor previously seen on "Generation Kill" and in "Zoolander," has been stealing every scene he's in on the campy drama, in which he plays Eric Northman, the local vampire sheriff and bar owner with Viking origins and a yen for Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin).
In last Sunday's episode, he brandished a rifle while wearing a housedress and referred to children as delicious "teacup humans." Earlier this season, he tricked Sookie into (very suggestively) sucking bullets out of his chest, disemboweled a man while wearing highlighting foils in his hair, and masqueraded as a Southern hillbilly.
And fans clearly can't get enough of him.
Robert Pattinson, who plays heartthrob bloodsucker Edward in the "Twilight" films, may be breathing a sigh of relief right about now -- the fan-phobic star is fast losing his status as world's sexiest creature of the night, thanks to Skarsgard.
In a poll titled "Who makes the hotter pretend vampire?" on Hollywoodgossip.com, the 33-year-old Swede beat Pattinson 66 percent to 33 percent. (Comparatively, Stephen Moyer, the ostensible romantic lead on "True Blood," lost to Pattinson by the same margin in an Us magazine poll.)
So what is it that makes Skarsgard so irresistible?
"I think there's a flexibility in his masculinity, and a vulnerability," says writer Jacob Clifton, who recaps the show on the Television Without Pity Web site. "He's a lot more unilaterally flirtatious, and expresses emotions in a very different way than an American actor."
Also, he adds, "He catches the light in a very nice way."
Lady Gaga thinks so, too. She cast him as the traitorous lover in her video for "Paparazzi," which required them to film a lusty opening scene in bed and then on a hotel room balcony.
"Alexander is a very good kisser," she recently told a Swedish magazine. "I don't know how other people do [it], but we were kissing for real."
She's preaching to the choir. Skarsgard's native country has reportedly voted him Sexiest Man in Sweden five times.
Recently, a scene from the 2002 Swedish film "Hundtricket" ("The Dog Trick") has been making the rounds on YouTube and elsewhere. It's a minute-long sequence of Skarsgard and two other actors showering. ("Possibly with subtitles," said one site. "We couldn't tell you.")
At the moment, he's shooting a remake of the 1971 Sam Peckinpah movie "Straw Dogs." Subject-wise, it's a weighty contrast to his vamp rival Pattinson, who was last seen on-screen wearing a silly mustache as Salvador Dali.
A TMZ film crew recently caught up with Skarsgard in an airport and asked him what he thought of the "Twilight" vampires. "I think they're cute," he said with a mischievous grin. "They're adorable.