While it’s not nice to pick favorites, the cast of the History Channel’s first live action television series, Vikings, pillaged their way into my heart during this year’s San Diego Comic-Con and offered up one of my favorite experiences of the the entire show. On deck this year were Travis Fimmel (Ragnar Lothbrok), Clive Standen (Rollo Lothbrok), Katheryn Winnick (Lagertha), Alexander Ludwig (Bjorn “Ironside” Lothbrok) and Michael Hirst (creator/writer).
Vikings, written and created by Michael Hirst (The Tudors), is the somewhat-true tale of the exploits of Viking hero Ragnar Lothbrok and his clan during the 7th and 8th century C.E. (most of the records of the Vikings were altered or destroyed). With increasingly impressive action sequences and beautiful cinematography, the hyper-addictive tale of pagan shenanigans is currently mid-way through shooting its third season, which is set to air in 2015.
As if they were partying in Valhalla, the cast of Vikings were in incredibly high spirits and seemed to really be enjoying their time at Comic-Con. At one point during the interview Travis Fimmel (Ragnar) paused to hurl some food at his ex-on-screen-wife Katheryn Winnick (Lagertha) which actually marked the first food fight I’ve ever witnessed during a press conference. The cast all spoke passionately about the series and dropped some big hints as to what we should expect from the upcoming 3rd season. Quick note to other casts: You’re not having as much fun as these guys.
Katheryn Winnick (Lagertha), Alexander Ludwig (Bjorn “Ironside” Lothbrok) join the table.
How are you enjoying Comic-Con? – “We just got here from Ireland, so we’re pretty much in and out. We flew here to just say hi to the fans. We’re excited to be here and it has been a GREAT turnout.” -Winnick
Can you talk about the new season? What it’s like being an Earl and having your own kingdom? “Definetly, I’m glad to talk about it. Lagertha goes through some major changes in season two and even more in season three. She’s now in a position of power and has her own earldom and a lot more responsibility. She’s come into her own in season two and we’re half way through [filming] season 3 and I feel like her [character’s] dynamic will change. People will see her in a different light. She discovers her sexuality in a way, not just [in terms of] power, but also as a woman. It’s really a challenge, not only playing [a woman] in the Dark Ages, but also [playing Lagertha] as a modern women who has position, power, and responsibility. There is always going to be conflicts; conflicts with other men [and] other women. A woman in power has a lot more to deal with. I feel so blessed to be able to represent that, and explore what that means to her and what it means to the modern woman today.” – Winnick
As you continue to delve into the character [of Lagertha], is there anything you’ve been surprised to learn about yourself? “What’s great about acting, and not even just acting, is that I see it all as a test. I started acting much later and came from the martial arts world and thought I was going to be running martial arts schools. I started my own business at sixteen and I started acting specifically just to learn more about myself because martial arts [makes you] very hard, where you can’t show tears and you can’t show vulnerability. I had a hard time relating to people in my late teens and early 20s. I would literally punch boys because I liked them but I didn’t [really] know how to show that I liked them (Ludwig chimes in that she still does that). I still do do that… I took acting more as a way of discovering [and] understanding myself. There is definitely a challenge in [acting], It’s a way of testing yourself and keeping yourself as authentic as possible. It’s not easy.” – Winnick
Alexander, as we read through history books, we know that the story doesn’t end with Ragnar. We know that Bjorn eventually becomes [even greater than his father]. Has Michael Hirst talked to you about how your role would [eventually] become more prominent? “Michael is an exceptional writer as we all know and I really leave that up to him. It’s so great because I don’t have to try to do anything. He’s got these great scripts and he’s already [starting to] implement [Bjorn’s growth] slowly in the third season. Bjorn was a boy in the second season, I really tried to [play him that way]. -Ludwig
“Not so much in season three, you’re a MAN now!” – Winnick
“You see him learning and taking after his father and his mother and he’s learning.” – Ludwig
“I think season three is really Bjorn coming into his own.” -Winnick
Travis Fimmel (Ragnar Lothbrok), Clive Standen (Rollo Lothbrok) join the table
Can you tell us more about your relationship with Bjorn? Because historically he eclipses his father. “This year we’re trying to toughen him up. I want him to take over [because] I’m getting old. I huff and puff when we do the fight scenes. We’re trying to really toughen him up and teach him how dangerous power really is. Does he really want it? Does he really want to have all that pressure on him? All that responsibility? Alex is wonderful on the show, [he is] so great.” – Travis Fimmel
Do the fight scenes get easier as time goes on? “No! It gets HARDER. They make [the fight scenes] more challenging. It’s an overused phrase when people say this season is going to be BIGGER and BETTER. The money for a show goes into making it bigger and therefore the battle scenes get a lot more grand and there is a lot more expected of us as well. We obviously have gotten better at it, but you reach a plateau and you’ve still got another mountain to climb. I suppose it’s a really long way of saying [that] the battle scenes in this season are incredible.” – Clive Standen
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