One of our favorite shows of the past few years has been the History Channel’s first scripted series, Vikings.  Coming from the creative mind of series runner Michael Hirst (Tudors), the production value is second to none, the cast is gorgeous, and historical tinted stories entertaining and exciting.

We were lucky enough to be able to talk to one of the stars of the series ahead of Vikings‘ third season’s premiere.  Alexander Ludwig (The Hunger Games, Lone Survior) plays Bjorn Lothbrok., the eldest son of Earl Ragnar Lothbrok (Travis Fimmel) and his first wife, Earl Lagertha Lothbrok (Kathryn Winnick).  Ludwig joined the cast halfway through the second season, when a multiyear time jump in the storytelling brought us a grownup version of the Lothbrook’s and their family.

Q:  We’ve seen the first three episodes, and they were great.  Can you talk a little bit about what Bjorn’s aspirations are in this season?  We see that he’s getting more into the fighting, but does he have a bigger plan?

Alexander: I think yes, he’s totally been inspired by his father’s accomplishments.  I think like any son of a father, he wants to make his father proud.  Especially, you know, amongst this family, the accomplishments are big.  The one thing they really prided themselves on was their fame, because it was how their legend would live on.

Bjorn and his lady Porunn, played by actress Gaia Weiss.
Bjorn and his lady Porunn, played by actress Gaia Weiss.

Q:  From your point of view, it would appear that your father, Ragnar, does not approve of your choice of mate.  It’s been exacerbated in the last few episodes to where Ragnar has blatantly stated his disappointment.  What lengths do you think Bjorn is willing to go to redeem himself in his father’s eyes? Or conversely, do you think he needs to?  Has Bjorn done anything wrong?

Alexander:  No, I think he does know he’s done something wrong, I think he’ll go to the end of the earth to regain his father’s trust.  You can look forward to seeing that.  I think he always knew in his heart that she doesn’t LOVE him, not the same way he loves her.  Bjorn was so focused on the goals the family and his father had, to colonize Paris, that he forgot what the real important thing was, which was family.  He forgot that it was his responsibility to let her know she clearly wasn’t ready for battle.

Q:  The two prominent male figures in Bjorn’s life betrayed the family in one way or another.  How do you think it has affected who he is now?  Do you think it made him more sensitive towards women since he saw his mother went through?

Alexander:  Absolutely, yeah.  I also think he’s found a medium between the two, he’s found a certain ruthlessness, but able to keep a poise and confidence in his decision making that was lacking in the influential people in his life.  I almost feel that Bjorn has become the perfect mix (of his parents), and we’ll see him learn to become powerful, learn to command, and be a presence amongst these people that you have to have a certain ruthlessness to be around.  He’s really become his own man, and you’ll see he’s about to learn a very valuable lesson.  He’s also VERY smart, and that is why so many people looked up to him at his young age.

Q:  What do you think your character needs to learn this season?

Alexander:  I think he needs to learn that to be a leader, you really have to encompass a sense of ruthlessness.  To be that leader, sometimes you have to make decisions that are not in everyone’s best interest.


Q:  How did you originally get the part?  What attracted you to Bjorn?

Alexander:  Yeah, it’s actually kind of funny how it happened, a woman named Sherry Marsh who is one of the executive producers on the show had seen me in The Hunger Games.  She saw that I had a strong resemblance to Nathan, the younger Bjorn, and that I resembled both Travis and Kathryn as well.  She contacted my team, and brought up the show.  I had just finished Lone Survivor at the time, and we had a talk.  I had never thought I would do a tv show.  So I started watching Vikings, and called some of my friends and told them what was happening, and they said I would be an idiot NOT to go on this show, because they were huge fans of it.  So I went in and met with the President of the company, and with everyone involved on the show.  I did a reading with Travis and Kathryn, and next thing I know, I was offered the role.  It was still up in the air until Sherry pulled me aside and said ‘You know Alexander, this is going to be a huge experience for you’.  I am so glad I did, because this has been the biggest creative experience of my life so far.

Bjorn and his mother Lagertha, played by actress Kathryn Winnick.
Bjorn and his mother Lagertha, played by actress Kathryn Winnick.

Q:  What can your fans look forward to seeing this season as far as your relationship with Lagertha?

Alexander:  I think you can look forward to more of a camaraderie, as opposed to a mother and son relationship.  This season is a very big one for my character, in that his parents start coming to him for advice.  They realize he’s always been a bit of a wise soul, and he’s always speaks when he needs to, but he’s a very good listener.  He’s very intelligent and calculating.  You’ll see down the road a bit further that both his mother and father seek his help, you’ll see him really come into his own towards the end of this season.

Q:  What was it like to be on a show that is not so made up, that’s heavily based in history?

Alexander:  It has been the creative experience of my life so far, and one that I may never fully grasp the gravity of.  Usually people ask “were you happy this was such a success”, and I knew this show was great, but I never realized how much it would mean to me, working with such great actors.  And i love history, it was always one of my favorite subjects growing up.  So getting to be a part of this, getting to explore how our civilization started and growing as a young actor has just been phenomenal.

Bjorn and his father Ragnar, played by Travis Fimmel.
Bjorn and his father Ragnar, played by Travis Fimmel.

Q:  Michael Hirst teased in his Reddit AMA that Bjorn will become a challenge to Ragnar as the story progresses.  Do you feel there has been a big shift in Ragnar and Bjorn’s relationship from the end of season 2 into 3?

Alexander:  Absolutely.  I’m very excited for fans to see this season, almost more so than I was for the second season.  But now, you’re gonna see Bjorn as he was always intended to be, he’s not a boy anymore.  He has gone from seeking his parent’s help to the otherway around, from being a big part of the team rather than the rookie.  He’s setting up for the end of the season, and I can’t wait to see everyone’s reaction because the end of 3 is just….insane.

I've been lucky enough to sit with the cast of Vikings many times in pressrooms now, they are always wonderfully nice, thoughtful, and so so funny!
I’ve been lucky enough to sit with the cast of Vikings many times in pressrooms now, they are always wonderfully nice, thoughtful, and so so funny!

Q:  Many of us where with you guys in the pressroom at SDCC, and there were all kinds of antics going on with the water throwing.  You and Travis seem to get along really well.  Are there any of the newer crazy pranks you can talk about?

Alexander:  *laughs*  Oh man, always.  There are so many I can’t talk about, *laughs* but most mornings, first thing on set, I’d find a way to tackle him to the ground when he wasn’t paying attention.  He’ll usually throw something at me half way through the day.  Always, everyday, you have to watch your back.  One day we had ice cream on set, and I took a cone and threw it in his face *laughs*  but really, it just makes everything more exciting.  I will say, for all the crazy antics, when it comes to working, we are all really professional, no one more than Travis.  We all love each other, and I love everyone I work with.

Bjorn and his uncle Rollo, played by Clive Standen.
Bjorn and his uncle Rollo, played by Clive Standen.

Q:  How much do you think Rollo’s guidance makes an impact on Bjorn this season?  We get to see a little bit of their interaction this season, but is there more we can expect to see?

Alexander:  Oh yeah absolutely.  Bjorn was very much in need of a father figure, and Rollo stepped into that role.  Rollo came to Bjorn’s aid, and you’ll see Bjorn come to Ragnar’s aid.  He’s learned all he can, and he still values everyone’s opinion, but he knows he has a voice now, that his voice should be heard.


Q:  I was curious, out of all the weapons you’ve been working with during Vikings, what has been your favorite?

Alexander:  Oh I love the axe, because it’s so Vikingly awesome.  It’s probably one of the hardest, but I force myself with it, because of how real and different it is.  I mean the easiest is probably the sword.  The worst is totally the shield, I always try to get rid of that first *laughs*.

Q:  Will there be a continued peace between Aslauug and Lagertha?

Alexander:  Circumstantially, something happens that will deter from that entirely.  And when they are all back together, no.  I don’t believe there will be peace forever, I think something has to happen, but I’m just as in the dark about that as the fans are.

Q:  Will we be seeing Bjorn interact with Aslauug’s sons, or will they be perpetual children in the story?

Alexander:  Wow, yeah, only a really true fan of the show would ask that.  Historically, they all had a very close relationship, so much so that after their father passed, they teamed up and declared war on the world.  Depending on how long the show goes for, it’s something the fans can look forward to, the brothers coming together.  That is really when the Vikings became well known around the world, people knew these brothers who were coming for vengeance.  What’s really fun is those boys have sort of become my little brothers when I’m around on set, I love them.  I see them all the time, and we hang out, and they are some of the most adorable kids on the planet.

Vikings  returns to History Channel on February 19th, 2015.  Check local listings for times, and check out this awesome teaser:

ABOUT >> Mary Anne Butler
  • BIO >> Mary Anne Butler (Mab) is a reporter and photographer from San Francisco California. She is a lifelong geek, huge music nerd, occasionally cosplays at conventions, does Renaissance Faires, and in general lives the life of a True Believer. She may be short, but she makes up for it with a loud voice.
  • CONTACT >>

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *