VIKINGS is a new show on the History Channel that takes a look into the world of the Norseman and how they learned to travel to different places looking for treasures to bring back to their people. The series looks at how they worshipped ancient gods like Odin, Thor, Freya and Loki.
The main character Ragnar Lothbrok played by Travis Fimmel feels that he is a direct descendant of the Norse god Odin, who, as well as being the god of warriors slain in battle, is also the god of curiosity. The nine part series centers on the curious and compelling Norseman who is always looking to break through barriers and discover new worlds to conquer.
Lothbrok has a family and is a farmer, but he is deeply frustrated by the unadventurous policies of his local chieftain, Earl Haraldson, who is played by Gabriel Byrne. Haraldson continues to send his Vikings raiders east every summer, to the Baltic States and Russia, whose populations are as materially poor as themselves. VIKINGS looks at Lothbrok’s stand against Haralson and his mission to go west and explore new lands.
I was able to chat with Travis about the show and talk about his character and that he hopes fans will love the show as much as he loved filming it.
Art Eddy: First off can you tell me a bit about your character Ragnar and what viewers can expect from the show?
Travis Fimmel: Well Ragnar is based on a historical character. He is very adventurous and he is one of the first people to sail west and discover England and do what Vikings do when they discover places. Say good hey to the ladies and beat up people.
AE: Your character is based on the real life Viking leader Ragnar. What type of research did you do for your character?
TF: Well I was very lucky, the writer and creator, Michael Hirst is an amazing guy and he gave me a lot of information. My job as an actor is to make it relatable to the audience. He has got a family, brothers, and he had got his wife and his children and has the same conflict that any family does even in this day and age.
AE: Ragnar’s brother, Rollo seems to be a wild card in the show. He takes whatever he wants and he looks to have eyes for Ragnar’s wife Lagertha. How would you describe the relationship between Ragnar and Rollo?
TF: It is a real power trip between Ragnar and his brother Rollo. Both of them want to be the leader, but there can only be the leader and that causes conflict between them and jealousy. You know I am sure at one stage they certainly will be against each other.
TF: We shot in Ireland for five months. It is an amazing country and it is so beautiful. Very bloody cold there man, very cold. The people were amazing. The crews are amazing. It was a really good experience. We all enjoyed making it, so hopefully the audience will sure enjoy watching it.
AE: You challenge your local chieftain Earl Haraldson, played by Gabriel Byrne, who always wants to travel east, while you think going west is the way to go. Why is Ragnar so curious about the east?
TF: He is so curious. He thinks he is a direct descendant from a god named Odin, who was a god of slain warriors and curiosity. Legends say that the god Odin killed himself just to see what death felt like. Ragnar has that same curiosity about stuff. Nothing is good enough for him. He wants to know what is out there. It is not just for the raping and pillaging stuff. He wants to learn about people and the gods they worship, what the look like, and their customs. He is just a curious person and his curiosity doesn’t end.
AE: I love the character Floki, who is played by Gustaf Skarsgard, and how he sees himself as the Norse god Loki. Gustaf seems like he would be cracking people up on the set. How was working with Gustaf and shooting the scenes with him?
TF: He is just a great actor in a role that he was playing. He is a funny guy and he made a great character and he is very interesting to watch. I think my character really enjoys his company so you will see plenty of Floki.
AE: In one of the upcoming episodes you guys raid a monastery in Lindesfarne and these monks get a firsthand look at what the Vikings are all about. You also save the life of Athelstan played by George Blagden. What does Ragnar see in the young monk to save his life?
TF: I think they definitely will and they do actually. He is very intrigued by Athelstan the priest. George is a great actor. He can learn so much from him. He can learn where the other settlements from the priest. The priest is a wealth of knowledge for him and it would have been silly for him to kill him.
AE: What can we expect to see in future shows of the Vikings series this season on the History Channel? Will there be a second season?
TF: There are nine episodes. It really keeps building. It gets better and better and I look forward to seeing the finished show. For the second season I don’t know. That is the producers job and I stay out of it.
To listen to the interview, click here.
VIKINGS premieres Sunday, March 3 at 10 p.m. (ET) on the History Channel.