Did Bill Skarsgård Learn Martial Arts for ‘Boy Kills World’?

‘Boy Kills World’ is a bloody action comedy film directed by Moritz Mohr that follows a young man’s revenge story after he loses his mother and sister to the Van Der Koy family’s totalitarian regime. Featuring heavy martial arts and long hand-to-hand combat scenes that accentuate the film’s appeal, the titular Boy goes on a huge action-fueled romp as he tries to take down enemy after enemy to get to his ultimate goal. Bill Skarsgård dons a red half-jacket and employs his fists and physicality to tell the story of Boy in this action epic. Impressed by his transformation into a killing machine looking to serve up a cold dish of revenge, the martial arts credentials of the actor are something worth exploring!

Bill Skarsgård’s Training to Become Boy

Bill Skarsgård underwent a two-month martial arts crash course under the tutelage of fight choreographer Dawid Szatarski. The trainer aided Skarsgård’s preparation to play the physically demanding Boy by imparting his knowledge and experience from years spent practicing kung fu, taekwondo, Muay Thai, and Filipino martial arts. Skarsgård is no stranger to body and physical transformations. In the past, he lost around 33 pounds for his role as Pennywise in the 2017 horror film ‘It.’ However, for ‘Boy Kills World,’ he needed something different to embody the raw skill, tenacity, and strength of the film’s titular protagonist.

Szatarski explained the inspirations behind the martial arts featured within the movie’s action sequences in a behind-the-scenes segment. He employed taekwondo, heavy boxing, stick fighting, Muay Thai, Indonesian martial arts Pencak Silat, and knife fighting from Filipino martial arts to give the characters a blend of variety that enhanced their prowess on camera and made for a more visually striking fight style. The idea was to take from everything, as it helped build a solid base and brought fluidity to the rhythm of the action.  Szatarski further praised Skarsgård for his commitment to the training and said that he had never seen an actor move like him in a movie.

Skarsgård and Szatarski’s training ended with the latter developing a unique movement style that would fit the actor perfectly. The fight choreographer hailed him as an “unconventional new-age action star.” Divulging his own experiences about training for the film, Skarsgård said, “I would like to think of myself as a physical actor, I like to perform physically, and this was a huge challenge for me with all the action moves. So I watched a lot of martial arts movies. It was sort of like learning a completely new language. We trained for 6 weeks, transforming my body to fit the role, then on top of that, learn how to fight not only the action but the physicality of how the character moved.”

Director Moritz Mohr was initially doubtful about bringing Skarsgård on board because he was unsure about the actor’s action movie credentials. Skarsgård was not his first choice for the role of Boy, but the director was impressed with his transformation into the part. The Swedish actor’s selling point was the expressiveness he could convey with his face, which was a major part of playing Boy.

“[On] that first call with him, he [Skarsgård] was amazing and I was like, ‘So yeah, we got the acting part covered, of course, you would knock it out of the park and I know that, but are you up for doing action?’ and he’s like, ‘Absolutely. Big MMA, UFC fan. I want to get in shape. I want to train. I want to do this the right way.’ I was like, ‘Okay, if you say, so I’m inclined to trust you there,'” Mohr said while appearing in the podcast, ‘Inside Total Film.’

Mohr expressed his astonishment at Skarsgård’s physical transformation after he completed his physical training. The result was seen in his muscular tone and shift in body weight. This was the second part of embodying the physicality of his character in ‘Boy Kills World.’ The animalistic movement embedded in a protagonist who had spent nearly all his life training in the jungle could only be brought to life by mixing the hard-edged elements of grueling martial arts training and a jungle athlete’s physique.

Read more: Boy Kills World: Where Was Bill Skarsgård’s Movie Filmed?