BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — Actor Alexander Dreymon is a man without a country. And that’s just fine with him. He was born in Germany, but with his teacher mother, he lived all over the world.
“It sort of happened,” he shrugs. “There were family circumstances that made us move to France because my aunt had had a very grave horse-riding accident, and my mom wanted to take care of her. So that’s why we moved there.
“Then my mom got married at some point, that’s why I moved to Switzerland. I always had friends all over the world and family. I’ve got some family in Texas, in Bali, in New Caledonia, Brazil. I was really fortunate to be able to see these places and still feel at home because it was with my folks. It’s odd that I’ve grown up in so many different places because it wasn’t like an Army-thing or my parents weren’t spies.”
The actor is starring in BBC America’s “The Last Kingdom,” in which he plays a young Saxon who is captured and raised by the Danes.
And Dreymon knows what that feels like. As the displaced Saxon, Uhtred, he is replicating his own youth. “It’s a recurring scene for somebody like that to be searching for a father figure,” reflects Dreymon.
“Even though I have a great relationship with my dad, he wasn’t always there, and I’m always looking for people who I could take example from. And I think that’s a great parallel with Uhtred as well as the moving-around thing because the premise demands that his allegiance is either with the Danes or with the Saxons.”
Dreymon doesn’t hold with allegiances and doesn’t like it when people ask where he’s from. “The story’s about that dichotomy. Which way is he going to go? What is he going to choose? Who’s he going to be loyal to? What does he care about deep within himself? Exactly like me because when you move around a lot, you’re always a little bit of a stranger — anywhere you go.”
As a kid Dreymon spent time in San Francisco and even lived on an Native American reservation in South Dakota. “I really wanted to move there permanently and live there because I loved it so much,” he says.
“I was a little boy playing cowboys and Indians for real. I was … riding horses and hunting with my bow-and-arrow that I’d made myself. For a little kid that’s what you want to be doing. It’s complete freedom. You just run around in the hills and nobody’s going to tell you otherwise,” he says.
“And so I tried to do everything that I could to go and live there, but I was born in Europe and didn’t have a visa to live there and no reason for the authorities to give me one. And thank God I did not get one because I don’t know what would’ve happened. But I certainly wouldn’t be the person I am now.”
The person he is now is a determined and self-disciplined actor who’s planted roots at long last in Los Angeles. “It’s the first time I feel that I really want to stay here for a long period of time. My work demands I live in different places on and off, but I have established my base here,” he nods.
The 32-year-old trained in Paris for three years then studied at the Drama Centre in London for another three. But you can detect no singular accent in his speech.
“I always knew I wanted to be an actor. There were periods in my life when I wanted to be an astronaut, when I wanted to be a doctor like my dad. He took me to see an open-heart surgery and I said, ‘No way,’” he smiles.
Once he decided — even in the lean times — Dreymon never wanted to quit acting. He owes part of his temperament, he says, to a friend who lives in Laguna Beach, a seaside community about 50 miles from L.A.
“She taught me how important it is to take pleasure in the tiny things in life. I think it had always been underlying in the way I’d lived my life and the way I’d been educated. My mom always brought me up like that. But every now and then you meet someone who makes you realize things, or voices them, somebody you really care about, and you really respect, whose opinion you respect and who inspires you. She’s still a very important person in my life. But I haven’t seen her for a long time now.”
He has a sweetheart, who is a painter, and says he would like to do projects that send a positive message to viewers. “They may just influence one or two people, but that’s going to be a victory.”