VIKINGS: A Look Back with the Lothbroks

Michael Hirst, creator and executive producer

Travis Fimmel

Katheryn Winnick

Alex Ludwig

Clive Standen

Jordan Patrick Smith

Moderator Kate Hahn

Katheryn: It’s a bummer that we can’t see the fans this year.

Clive: It was the highlight of my year each year. Remember the first year we didn’t think anyone would show up? That was the first moment where I realized there was an audience for this.

Katheryn: There were people waiting for hours just to get in. One of my favorite moments was year two or three and I had to wear a mask and there where people dressed in character and how invested they are in making their costumes. We know how labor intensive those costumes are.

Travis and Katheryn are in Valhalla since both Ragnar and Lagertha are gone from the show.

Katheryn: It is bittersweet being so long on the show. It was harder than I thought seeing my death and watching her transition over. It was a bittersweet moment in a lot of ways. It was sad to see it end. Michael wrote me such a great death.

Michael: It was over two amazing episodes and both you and Travis, these deaths were brilliant and highly emotional and no one will forget them.

Katheryn: When I said ‘in my dreams we are always together’ was my audition line when I auditioned for the part.

Alex: It’s like the environment of our show felt like such a family. I’ve yet to work with such an incredible crew that was in synchronicity all the time. It was so much fun.

Jordan: I think that’s what I enjoyed about the show, there was no hierarchy, it didn’t matter who you were working with, a grip or a producer, it was one big family locked in together. You get to know everyone and their personal lives and what’s what I miss about the show.

Katheryn: When you step away its crazy how you miss things. When your in the rain and covered in blood you want to go home and when your home you want to go back to Vikingland.

Alex: Bjorn’s greatest love? {spoiler alert}, he’ll never be able to repeat it. After Thoren kind of left, I think he kind of had written off everything. He used his sexual exploits to self medicate this feeling of never being good enough. I think he saw so much with Lagertha and saw bits of her in other women that he really connected with. I don’t know if there is anything that came close to that kind of forever in Valhalla kind of love.

Travis: The goodbye scene with Geeta, it was written so beautifully and I don’t know why it took three minutes for me to remember that scene. The best writing I can memorize like that but other stuff that isn’t quite as good I have a difficult time memorizing lines.

Michael: You don’t have kids and I was writing literally thinking about a father talking to a dead daughter and it became very powerful and meaningful to me. From the start it seemed very meaningful to you to. That’s what really struck me that it was very interesting and fascinating like a moment cut out of time. It’s a very simple scene but very emotional and I felt you were totally inside the scene and I was aware of that.

Clive: I think everything Rollo does is justified from his point of view. When they first agree to go west together they agree to be equal but in Rollo’s eyes some are more equal than others. When Ragnar becomes an Earl I think that’s the start of it, it gnaws at him. He always feels in the shadow. In Paris he stays in the winter camp, it wasn’t Ragnar’s, he took Paris first and took it before Ragnar could get their first.

Michael: The fight in Paris was intense.

Clive: The stunt team came up with a fantastic fight, it was all swords. It was a beautiful fight. It had to be between the brothers and we arranged to get ride of the swords as quick as possible and just hit each other. I think its brutal and tragic when you watch it but Travis said lets make this as simple as possible and have the brothers just go at it. It’s really hard to watch.

Travis: For the character, even to that very moment he was hoping that Rollo wouldn’t fight him back. Maybe there was a glimmer of hope that his brother wouldn’t betray him. When it did it devastated his world and it was the end of his drive. I think he really regretted his life and just wanted to be back home and wished he never went against the Earl. He was sort of broken. I think breaking with Lagertha was the climb to power as well, it broke his heart and he always had hope for that. I think it was the first time in his whole life that he lost hope and he had to get away. I think at the end, after that, he decided that he couldn’t go out like that. Michael wrote such a great ending and it was a bit of the old Ragnar. It wasn’t written good with a great arc. Being in a show that we could age as well, there aren’t many shows where you could do that.

Jordan: I remember my first day on set because Travis slapped me on the face five times. It was big shoes to fill and I walked down the hill the first day and I was told not to mess it up. It was the first time in Ireland together and everyone was so welcome. Like the scene where Travis smacks me in the face he kept doing it and doing it and doing it. My ear was ringing for days after that, it definitely was a Viking introduction. I studied Travis to start with, I noticed that if you’ve got a big character in your family you have some characteristics. Michael wrote part of Ragnar’s personality to each of the brothers. I watched how he held his head and such things you take from your dad over the years. I think my characters curiosity is part of Ragnar but he’s thinking about the people and where the world is going in the future and where he fits in that. In the second half of season six, Michael wrapped it up really well. The way he has written it the family dynamic is involved and my character goes on an incredible journey. I don’t’ want to say anymore.

Michael: The big decision to kill Ragnar obviously when I first wrote the outline he actually died at the end of season one and making it I realized we were only on the start of his journey. There were plenty of doom laden warnings to kill off your major character will damage the show and it was a risk. Travis had such a huge reputation but I sold the show on the bases that this was about Ragnar and his sons. This show also allowed the show for these characters to grow up and there were children and animals in it as well. I just stuck to that. What actually happened was that Ragnar continued to be a presence in the rest of the show. He never really went away. So it wasn’t a huge risk after all. It was great to see these young actors as well coming along and taking their chance and Alex being a conduit between them. Alex was in the show for the longest and the show in the sense is about his character if anyone else. Everyone involves into their character and into their fate was an important part and experience of the show.

Katheryn: One of my favorite fights scene is the first one where Lagertha is at home and these two guys come in and she grabs the poke from the fire and fights them off. Another would be that Ragnar tells her not to go raiding and they have a bit of a lovers quarrel.

Alex: Your last fight scene was tremendous.

Katheryn: It was emotionally exhausting 100% and most emotionally draining.

Michael: It was absolutely brilliant and difficult to watch. I don’t believe anyone who was watching that really thought you could win. There was something in your eyes at a certain point where you, for the first time thought you wouldn’t survive that fight. It was beautifully done but it was really tough to watch, very emotional. The very first one, we didn’t cast Vikings in the conventional way, we took a chance on both you and Travis. People pay a lot of money who pays for these things get jittery if you’ve made the right decision. In terms of you and your performance, all those jitters and anxiety went away, melted away as soon as the guys in suits saw that scene dealing with those robbers.

Jordan: The battle scene in season five, yea, its all about the story. Fighting always have an underlying story. That fight was Ubbe willing to hand over his life. That took six weeks to rehearse and it was physically draining for me. The stunt guys put to much effort and personal time as well into the choreography and created a story through the whole thing.

Michael: That was one of the reasons I liked one particular battle scene, a battle isn’t one event. It’s hundred of thousands of events coming together. Each person has a battle in a different way. We would cut back to their memories, their own battles and something happened to the lead characters. Each individual was having their own intense experience. I think the audience found that confusing but that’s part of the principle I’m working on. It’s a story of these individual people and having their individual experiences all the time.

Alex: For me the one that stands out is the end of Season Five when they’ve lost and he is outside the gates. Michael wrote an amazing speech where he pleads with his friends and neighbors and it’s heartbreaking. Credit to everyone making that because I lost my voice screaming the day and the day before and we were trying to crash down the gate. I had no voice by the time of the speech. When sound is messed up you have to re-record it. We thought we should keep it the way it was because it was so heartbreaking seeing how much he’s given and on his last leg. It was a huge moment  for the show and I’m proud to be part of that.

Michael: Honestly, Alex and Travis before, all of you, I was blessed to have such an intelligent cast. These are deeply thoughtful people and actors and its not always true. So, they excavated their characters to an extraordinary degree and makes me feel extraordinarily proud.

Alex: I think I speak for everyone when we say how lucky we are to have story time, dinner with Michael was story time. He is so incredibly talented and so willing to dive into the character with you.

Katheryn: We are spoiled because we have the best show running out there because we feel like we are building the character with him. We are so invested and with Michael with how warm and thoughtful your minds words and add that to our characters. After six season we wouldn’t be here without you, the godfather of it all is you Michael.

Clive: I don’t know how you could take any more, you were like a sponge. You listened to all my crazy ideas and sometimes they ended up in the script and you threw away the crap ones. I never had that experience again where the showrunner listened to what I had to say.

Michael: I took on board concerns and things and one of the most radical ideas was Travis’ we would have a meeting before and we were going to discuss the last episode of season two and Travis said ‘do you think that perhaps it would be a good idea if I don’t say anything in this episode accept the lord’s prayer?’, and it was a radical idea. I went away and looked at the script and thought other people could say those words and it was a cool idea and may get away with it. I told him, ‘don’t tell anyone’ because no one would allow it. Your lead character is not saying what’s on the page? So we did it and I don’t think anyone noticed, no one noticed he didn’t say anything because he was still in the scene and because he has such a presence they thought he had said something.

Clive: I remember there was a day for some reason we were doing a scene and one of the Vikings was to be beheaded on a block. They set it up and we said ‘no Vikings wouldn’t do that’ and I remember the director said ‘its just a t.v. show’ and I remember we all went ‘not to us it isn’t’. It was a polite argument but we wanted to make it different because we care about these people.

Katheryn: I think it was all living away from home and living in Dublin making friends into family and make us bond quicker and it is evidence on camera.

Alex: Yea, we probably won’t be allowed back.



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About the Author

Jeri Jacquin

Jeri Jacquin covers film, television, DVD/Bluray releases, celebrity interviews, festivals and all things entertainment.