On Friday after their panel at Comic Con, the cast and crew of History Channel’s Vikings sat down for roundtable interviews. Travis Fimmel, who plays Ragnar on the show, and Clive Standen, who plays Ragnar’s brother Rollo, talked with us about the events of the second season and what it’s been like filming Vikings season 3. They also spoke about the strong female characters on the show, their own character’s motivations throughout season 2, how they feel about the popularity of the show, and the perils of jumping off boats. Hit the jump for the interview and be aware that season two spoilers lie ahead.
Travis Fimmel: Oh, did they really? Oh, that’s funny. I don’t know if I’ve held a goat. I held a lamb one time, it was a lamb. I dunno, I just walked past and I grabbed one. I needed something to hold because the two girls sitting next to me weren’t very happy with me. It got comforting that way.
Q: The Internet loved it.
Fimmel: Oh did they?
Q: The important thing is, did you want actually want to be a farmer?
Fimmel: Yeah, for sure. Yeah, I’m from a farm. I definitely want to do that. I’m just trying to make some money.
Q: Let’s talk a little about Season 3. So, the brotherly love is coming back a little more, but we saw how when Ragnar became Jarl, Rollo did not take that very well. And now that he’s become the king, has he learned his lesson, or are some of those feelings creeping back up?
Clive Standen: Yeah, he learned his lesson at the end of episode 1 of season 2, he traded everything to be king for a day. That was what Rollo thought he was going to achieve by making an alliance with Jarl Borg, but he realizes very quickly that he’s just incapable of killing his brother, he’s incapable of doing what his ambition tells him. So yeah now they’ve made amends, Ragnar’s taken him back, I think Rollo knows he’s got a mountain to climb to regain his brother’s trust, the relationship is strained and will never be the same again. But that ambition is still there, it’s never gonna go away, so there’s an ugliness still in Rollo, and every time he sees Ragnar progressing with his station and his name, his travels within Viking society, it’s only gonna hurt Rollo more. So maybe it’s not now about betraying Ragnar, it’s about, is this Rollo’s destiny? Has he come to the end of his life, he’s always gonna be second fiddle, that’s just what he was meant to do on Earth? But there’s a reason why he gets trampled on by horses and survives, he’s confused, the gods have kept him alive for something, why do they keep letting him survive, why does he go through all this turmoil, this destruction, he goes through all the pain and Ragnar gets all the benefits. But the gods are keeping him alive for some reason.
Fimmel: He has anger management issues.
Standen: He does!
Standen: He had it coming. And headbutts a man to death.
Q: Yes! How was that filmed?
Fimmel: We actually had a dummy of it. He was headbutting a dummy.
Standen: It was an incredible scene, though I didn’t see him film that. I was on my deathbed and then that last episode I wasn’t around much in that episode, so I saw that for the first time on TV and I was just so impressed. He’s just an incredible actor.
Fimmel: There’s one scene with Donal Logue, I stop short every time because my ponytail kept hitting him in the face.
Q: How do you feel about the fans of the show? They took to it so quickly and so courageously, they just love it. How do you feel about the popularity of the show?
Standen: I think a lot of people have been trying to copy Game of Thrones for far too long, and Vikings never tried to do that. We kind of exist in our own little sphere, and it’s not a fantasy show, it’s a historical drama, but there’s also subject matter that’s never really been explored before. And I think that’s why people have grasped onto the show, they’ve realized there is a place in the marketplace for Vikings.
Fimmel: History did a fantastic job with Hatfields & McCoys, too, and this is another historic moment in the world, the Vikings’ reign, if you can call it that. True stories are way more interesting.
Standen: And with the belief system, the gods that they believed in, the pagan way of life, it’s almost fantastical. The gods themselves, people before thought that Thor was a Marvel hero that flew around throwing his hammer at people, and now we’ve explored those different inner depths in the gods and the way that pagans lived their lives, it’s fascinating. When we get back to the Uppsala episodes, 7 or 8, season one? Human sacrifices? It’s never been done on TV before, educating through history as well rather than just the shock value.
Q: The women on this show are so strong, both physically and emotionally strong. How did it feel to be on a show with an ensemble that has these women who are on somewhat equal footing as its male characters?
Standen: There’s no problem with that, there shouldn’t be a problem, the problem lies with other TV shows. It’s been too long with cop dramas, having cops come into a room and get a biro pen and pick up some knickers, exploiting women, women are always murdered and maimed, they’re never given their rightful place as characters. Mike has just written what should’ve been written a long time ago, there shouldn’t be anything that different about Vikings, but there is because too many shows haven’t stepped up to the plate and given female actors and female characters equal footing.
Q: I know you’ve done some pranks on the cast.
Fimmel: I’ve done nothing good this year, though. No. I’ve just succumbed to the little dumb stuff, water on the door when you walk into a room, yeah. Talcum powder on top of the fan. This is how dumb my ones are now. I’ve gotta think of something good. I’ve got a couple of ideas actually, I’m gonna get ‘em.
Q: What about all the fighting on the show? Did you guys already have a background in that, or what’s the training like? How’d you learn to fight?
Fimmel: It’s all make believe.
Standen: We got a great stunt team, they were brilliant from the beginning, but now they know what they’re doing, they know what’s required of them, and now it’s more about making the battles original, not making a moment where you can go put the kettle on and make a cup a tea because it’s another battle scene, that’s their challenge, and every time we go and learn a new battle it’s amazing.
Fimmel: We try to avoid the general hacking and slashing. We have a great Normandy thing this year, some great fight scenes, some great jumping off the boats. It’s gonna be fantastic.
Standen: We just filmed an incredible boat battle, having all these boats come into land and people jumping in the water and fights, cameras underwater filming people dying and maiming from underwater, we’ve never done anything like that before. They’re always coming up with original and crazy ideas to make it fresh.
Standen: There’s a moment where Rollo’s gonna be the first guy out the boat, so we’ve rehearsed it and there’s, and this is a lake where if you jump off at the wrong time, you’re gonna be diving, you’re gonna be holding your axe up above water like it’s a submarine, and some of the guys got a bit overexcited, one of the boats is coming in ahead of my boat, and they all just leapt off, so I was like, what am I going to do, I’m gonna be the first guy off! So I just leapt in, and BOOMF! I tell you, the costume people didn’t like me that day.
Fimmel: And then I jumped off where I was meant to, but then I fell backwards in the water.
Q: When it goes right, you get to have that moment where you’re like, I’m a badass.
Standen: That’s the thing. I jumped off and I was wading through the water, the boats were actually going quicker than me, I was like, what was the point of jumping off?!
Fimmel: We weren’t on that boat, he was on a different boat, oh shit, he’s gone right under there.
Standen: I was using my axe like a periscope.
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