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Calvin Klein Taps Alexander Skarsgård

The “True Blood” actor has been signed as the face of the brand’s new men’s fragrance, Encounter Calvin Klein.

TV vampire Alexander Skarsgård is about to sink his teeth into an encounter with Calvin Klein.

The “True Blood” actor has been signed as the face of the brand’s new men’s fragrance, Encounter Calvin Klein, which is expected to hit department store counters in the U.K. in late August, followed by a September global rollout. Skarsgård will appear in advertising with Lara Stone, who is the face of the brand’s Euphoria women’s scent.

It is the first time Skarsgård has done an endorsement. Past jobs with Steven Klein, who shot the Encounter ad campaign; Fabien Baron, its creative director, Stone and the Calvin Klein fashion house drew him to the project, said Skarsgård, speaking to WWD exclusively Wednesday evening.

“Their idea for their concept was very intriguing to me — it was almost like a short film, and very film noir. It felt interesting to me,” he said of the TV campaign and print ad. “I wanted to be involved with something where you tell a story — even though it’s a short story.”

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The Encounter juice, concocted by Firmenich’s Honorine Blanc and Pierre Negrin, has top notes of mandarin, cardamom and rum; a heart of pepper, Egyptian jasmine, patchouli and cognac, and a drydown of agarwood, atlas cedarwood and musk.

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Eaux de toilette in three sizes — 1 oz. for $40, 1.7 oz. for $58 and 3.4 oz. for $72 — will be sold, as will a 3.4-oz. aftershave spray, $50; a 75-g. deodorant, $20, and a 152-g. allover body spray for $15. An aftershave balm and hair and body wash will be sold globally except for the U.S.

While none of the executives would discuss sales projections, industry sources estimated that Encounter would generate first-year retail sales of $125 million globally, with about 20 percent of that figure expected to be generated in the U.S.

The ad campaign will break in September. “The Encounter Calvin Klein campaign tells the story of unresolved tension and desire between a man and a woman,” said Thomas Burkhardt, vice president of marketing for Coty Prestige, the fragrance licensee of Calvin Klein. “It’s meant to be open to interpretation. It also makes you a bit uncomfortable, which is a trademark of advertising this brand.”

Catherine Walsh, senior vice president, American Fragrances for Coty Prestige, noted that the scent is intended to be “a new interpretation of the contemporary, confident man. Alexander Skarsgård perfectly reflects the Encounter attitude — modern, stylish and unapologetically masculine.”

Added Tom Murry, president and chief executive officer of Calvin Klein Inc.: “Encounter Calvin Klein is a strong and pivotal addition to our men’s fragrance offerings.”  

Skarsgård is wrapping up season five of HBO’s “True Blood,” on which he plays Eric Northman. Those episodes will begin airing Sunday, and the cast will be done shooting the season in a month, he said. “We’re shooting the last two episodes of the season right now. It’s been a fun year — it’s been quite different. My character hasn’t been in Shreveport much this season — he’s been down in New Orleans with Bill [played by Stephen Moyer]. It’s been fun and different because after four years of us butting heads and fighting over Sookie [portrayed by Anna Paquin], this year is influenced by the fact that we killed the wrong vampire at the end of season four. We’re in deep trouble,” he stops to laugh, “and we’ve got to learn how to work together in fighting a common enemy.”

Skarsgård noted that the dynamic is especially interesting because the two men are good friends offstage and, up until this season, were the opposite on-screen. “It’s been kind of fun developing that odd friendship between Bill and Eric — Eric is discovering that he suddenly cares about this guy that he never cared about before. [He saw him as] a young, naïve vampire that he thinks is pathetic. And suddenly, he’s in a situation like, ‘Oh man, I kind of like this guy.’ And it’s uncomfortable for him. Steve and I have had so much fun this year. Almost too much fun. We have to remind ourselves on set sometimes that there still needs to be tension underneath all of this.”

Skarsgård has also been keeping busy when not on the “True Blood” set. “I did three movies last hiatus, so it was busy,” he said. While release dates have not been set, he said they likely will be out this fall. “As much as I love working on the show, it’s great when you creatively get to go off and do other things and play characters that are completely different from Eric Northman. I need that break creatively to get away — that gets me rejuvenated and excited for coming back after a hiatus. The combination of all three projects I did last year — the characters are all really, really different from Eric Northman, and from each other. It was an intense year, but I love working with the right people on a character I’m excited about. I’m more than willing to work 24/7.”

On his hiatus this summer, Skarsgård plans to do a Warner Bros. movie called “Hidden.”

“We’re heading up to shoot in Vancouver,” he noted. The story, he explained, is about a postapocalyptic family — a couple and their seven-year-old daughter — who are surviving in a bomb shelter. “When the movie begins, you don’t know why they’re down there, or how long they’ve been down there — but slowly you get bits and pieces of information, and learn why they’re down there,” he said. “It’s almost like a little play, because most of it takes place in this very confined room with my character and Andrea Riseborough, who is a fantastic British actress who plays my wife in the movie. I did a lot of theater back in Sweden, but I haven’t been on stage in awhile — and I’m very excited to do something with Andrea, who is a dear friend of mine.”

The only downside? “That I have to spend my whole summer in a bomb shelter,” he said. “Creatively, I’m superexcited about it. But I wish it took place outside in Hawaii or something.”

Skarsgård’s dream project? “I have a couple of things that I’d love to do. I would love to do Eugene O’Neill’s play ‘Long Day’s Journey Into Night’ — it’s one of my favorite plays and something I’ve been thinking about for a long time. It’s about finding challenges, so it doesn’t feel repetitive or redundant. I wouldn’t be able to do a good job if I wasn’t motivated and challenged.”