Expect more Viking intrigue and action, more Viking drama, and a realistic historical look at Viking life in Season Two of Vikings, premiering tonight at 9 p.m. Central/10 p.m. Eastern on the History Channel. The series introduces new characters and shakes up the very fabric of the universe centered on the legendary Ragnar Lodbrok. Based on Viking sagas and characters from Norse mythology, Vikings is a series filled with both political posturing, hand to hand combat, giant sailing vessels, and a realistic look at the Viking world.
Last week I interviewed series lead Travis Fimmel, who plays Ragnar, and series newcomer Alyssa Sutherland, who has a key role in Season Two as Aslaug, a princess who drives a wedge between Ragnar and his family.
Fimmel sees his role as the Viking warrior as the best project he has yet taken on. “It’s definitely my favorite. It has a lot to do with Michael Hurst, who created [Vikings].” He credits his positive experiences on Vikings to the crew for the show. “The Irish people do a tremendous job. They’re very talented and very efficient and really make the best of the budget we have.”
The series is filmed an hour south of Dublin, Ireland. During filming Fimmel lived in the country on a lake near one of the Vikings sets. Although he plays the leader of the Viking tribe, he sees himself as just one of the crew off the set. “I don’t let them treat me any differently–We all make fun of each other… We all get on very well.”
As you’d expect, filming the epic Viking longboat scenes is as much fun as it appears. “We had a lot of tremendous fun on the boats. This year we go out on the ocean–and it’s just beautiful. Beautiful landscape. The boat stuff’s really enjoyable.”
Fimmel confirmed that full-scale longboats are used for the series, created based on historical research, and not just filming models or CGI creations. “They’re made to scale. They definitely float and definitely work and definitely sail.”
Alyssa Sutherland, who was introduced in the last episode of Season One as a temptress of sorts for Ragnar, portrays a princess from Norse mythology who played a pivotal role in the legend of Ragnar. Sutherland also gets some scenes on the Viking longboats in Season Two. “This season I got a bit of boat time, she said. ”We were really lucky. It was this gorgeous day. The perfect day to be out in the boat in the islands. You really do feel a part of it.”
As the daughter of Sigurd and the shield-maiden Brynhildr, Sutherland’s character Aslaug is decked-out in beautiful, historically drawn ninth century costumes.
Sutherland said it was a treat to be able to work with the talented Vikings costume designer, Emmy Award winner Joan Bergin. “Right at the beginning of the season when I went in for my first fitting, before I went in to see her I knew [the costumes] were going to be stunning… She just knocked my expectations right out of the park. It was fabulous.”
The authentic costumes help inform Sutherland’s character and performance. “Working in these costumes–it’s so much easier to get into character when you have something on you that makes you feel so much a part of it… Costumes are a really important part of your character and feeling you really are that person… They really are gorgeous.”
Working on the set of Vikings brought some authenticity to the experience for Sutherland, and that authenticity helped her to portray the character of Aslaug. “Everything–every detail, from the sets, the costumes, the hair and the make up, the props… Absolutely everything has so much detail in it. I’ve been on other sets and it feels a little bit like a set.”
She says with the Vikings series, it’s a different experience. “Everything is so realistic. It’s really hard to describe unless someone sees it. It just makes being in character and being a part of the story so much easier for an actor.”
Catch the Season Two premiere of Vikings tonight at 9 p.m. Central/10 p.m. Eastern on the History Channel.