We are sitting in a spiffy bistro, just off the Bowery in New York's NoHo, and the incongruous presence of a celebrity vampire – Skarsgård's profile in the US rests largely on his role in HBO's lusty drama True Blood – is creating ripples of interest. At 6ft4in and shamelessly handsome, it's hard to ignore him. A young girl interrupts to ask his name. "Alex," he replies, "What's yours?" "Emma," she says, before racing off to confirm to her mother that, yes – it is the man from True Blood. A waiter approaches to congratulate him on the latest episode, before recommending the potato pizza with truffle oil and fontina cheese, a house speciality. We order one between us. There has to be wine, too, though Skarsgård agonises momentarily. "I got here two weeks ago, and I haven't been sober one day since," he says. "It's not like I'm wasted, but every single night there's been something. In LA you have to plan, like, 'All right, next Saturday, let's get drunk and let's not drive – we'll arrange a car.' In Stockholm or New York you go out, you have a late lunch, you end up ordering a bottle of wine, and someone shows up, you order another. I love that, just the flow of it."