Season 4 of History’s Vikings is in full swing, bears, Francian Royalty and Mercian murder oh my!  Ahead of Thursday’s (March 3rd) airing of episode 3 of season 4, we were lucky enough to talk to series regular Bjorn Lothbrok, played by Alexander Ludwig about what we can expect to see for his character.

Ludwig (The Hunger Games) joined the cast during the second season, taking on the role of Ragnar and Lagertha’s son Bjorn, grown to manhood over the hiatus.  Things have been tough for him these past two seasons; his parents split up, invading Mercia and Paris, and his chosen woman was horribly wounded in battle before giving birth to their daughter.

In episode 1 of season 4,  Bjorn arrests Floki for the murder of everyone’s favorite Priestly Viking Athelstan, and decides the time has come to strike out on his own, leaving Kattegat to possibly find and bring back home his wife, Poruun. His journey this season seems to be one of self worth, as well as regaining the light and passion we used to see in Bjorn Ironside.



Question: What does Bjorn have to learn before he can become  a leader this season?

Alexander Ludwig: The main part of this season is him learning to trust his instinct, and that power corrupts.  That it’s important to trust himself.  It’s really about him learning that, and learning to take more control.

Q: Do you think his father is sort of hard on him because he wants to make him a better leader or because he fears how strong Bjorn may get?

AL: I think it’s the first one.  I mean my father is like that.  But Ragnar is trying to harden him up.  Bjorn didn’t have to work as hard as his father did, coming up from a farmer basically to this position of a Prince now, being thrown into this lavish lifestyle.  It’s definitely about him growing up.



Q:  Man, that CRAZY bear fight!  How much of that was real and how much was CGI?

AL:  I think the most challenging part was the weather, it was pretty rough of cold.  In terms of the bear, most of it is real.  We don’t have a budget like the Revenant, so we can’t make a CGI bear.  In a really exciting way we got to use a real one.  It was an incredible experience to get to work with such a beautiful and amazing animal.

Q:  What is the future like going forward for Porunn and Bjorn?  There was kind of a heartbreaking scene at the beginning with Bjorn leaving his daughter with Aslaug, is he going to come back?

AL:  The idea behind that is, and it’s done very subtly, that vikings lost their children a lot.  And I think Bjorn, when he sees his daughter for the first time since Porunn has abandoned them, it’s just a constant reminder of how hurt he was.  I think you’ll see a darker side to Bjorn as the season continues.  He slowly starts to become hardened by life’s cruel circumstances, and also becomes more selfish.


Q:  We see the conflict between Ragnar and his brother Rollo this season, is this something Bjorn is going to experience with his own brothers, because right now they all seem to be fairly close.

AL: That’s one thing that I try to never forget.  Bjorn has no real allegiance to his brothers in terms of blood line, they all share the same father.  But Bjorn being of Lagertha, and the others being of Princess Aslaug, it doesn’t matter as much when they’re young.  But you’re definitely going to see certain brothers siding with others, and those who do not as the season progresses. It gets very intense.

Q:  You’ve done movies in the past, this is your first television series.  What drew you to the role?  And what, if anything, is how you approach this from the other things you’ve done?

AL:  I never saw myself doing a tv show, ever.  It’s not where my passions lie, and I’m kind of too ADD to stay with one character.  But as we’ve all seen, there has been a change in the industry, with these amazing storylines on television, they’ve just been so exceptional. When Vikings came around, I was very reluctant to take the role at the beginning, because it’s quite a commitment.  I found solace in that I’d only be there for 4 months out of the year with the 10 episodes, and now, with this double season order, it’s definitely taking it’s toll.  But it’s been nothing short of the best decision i’ve ever made, and the most incredible experience.  And what you’ll see with the character work this season is the promise made to me when I joined the show, a promise you’ll see in season 4, which is I get incredible growth with the character.  I myself grew from this also.  This is Bjorn’s big season.  You’re going to see a huge shift in power.



Q:  There seems to be a new woman in Bjorn’s life, is there anything you can tell us about your relationship with Torvi?

AL:  It’s sort of a powerplay at the start for Bjorn, him just taking what he wants.  He becomes more ruthless, as a character, and he just takes what he wants and doesn’t think twice about it.  I wouldn’t say it goes much further than a sexual attraction, these vikings had so many partners, it definitely grows into something.  He’s gone for so long, he’s going to have a few romances this season.

Q:  It seems like a bold choice, because Earl Ander is not a fan of Bjorn already.

AL:  And that’s kind of what the thought behind it was.  ‘I can take anything from you, I can put you in your place, I can take your life, I can take your wife’, and he starts with his wife.  Maybe we’ll see something else after.

Q:  What do you think the biggest challenges are filming this show?

AL:  Probably the weather.  When you’re out on the boats, brutal conditions.  We’ve never experienced this, being on the show in Ireland during the winter, it’s got immense repercussions to the show.  But it looks SO GREAT, but it’s been brutal. Being in front of the camera so much, you learn from everything.  From the directors, the writers, other actors, you learn, you experience, so it’s really been it’s own reward for me.


Q:  Have you ever gotten injured while filming or on  set?

AL:  Surprisingly no.  There were definitely a few times where I should have been, but no, nothing yet.

Q:  The show is an incredible mix of the real and spiritual worlds, Ragnar has really been the character at the nexus of those two worlds, but Bjorn’s vision quest and his fight with the bear, which could be read as a fight with Odin, how do you see Bjorn’s spiritual growth this year?  With everything else going on, with Floki and his traditional viking ways and Ragnar and his sort of moving towards modern Christianity?

AL: I think Ragnar has always been the curious type, and Floki has been the fundamental extremist, and Bjorn is sort of on his vision to find his own way, his trek in the woods is his search for that.  He believes in the gods, the powers they have over their people, and Floki’s beliefs, but at the same time shares his father’s curiosity.

Q:   What do you love about the strong female characters in the show?  You mentioned Bjorn going after Torvi, and it not being a romantic thing.

AL:  Oh, just because it’s not romantic doesn’t mean he doesn’t respect her.  I think that’s part of why he’s drawn to her actually.  Because of where he is, after his wife has left, there’s no way he’s ready to go back into something like that.  He’s been hurt, and not just by that but with his father almost dying and having to take over for him, there was so much pressure on Bjorn.  In terms of the female leads, ITS ABOUT TIME we started to see more of that, it’s happening more and more in our everyday lives, and it’s interesting because historically the vikings were so progressive in terms of respecting their women.  They had their own say, they were just as equal, if not better in some senses than the men. I think it’s amazing, and the women we have on the show are fantastic, and seeing the female following we have for the show is great, I hope it continues.  It’s not what I expected at all, I think it’s so sexy when a girl comes up to me and says she watches the show, I love that.

Q:  Do you have a favorite scene you’ve done this season, or something you’ve been really proud of?

AL: I really take pride in the scene in Kattegat on the rocks, when I address everyone for the first time as the leader while Ragnar is incapacitated.  But a lot of the stuff I’m really excited for people to see, comes in episode 15 and onward.  You’re going to see a pretty crazy event and Bjorn is gonna do some pretty amazing things.


Q:  How isolated were you in preparing for your vision quest?  Did the cast know what was going on, did they have any knowledge about it or did they get to view any of the scenes while filming?

AL:  Dude, lemme tell you, I was so isolated, it was ridiculous.  They never saw anything we did out there, they were jealous that I got to go out there and do this.  I mean we were pretty much out in the middle of nowhere, we had to take snowmobiles to set, just for me personally, it was one of the most beautiful and spiritually awakening things I’ve ever done.  It’s something I think the show needed, you can’t fake that stuff, you know when it’s real.  Everyone took the risk and did it, and it was definitely worth it.

Q:  In terms of reintegrating back into the cast, did you keep all that secret, or did they even get to see the script?

AL:  Everyone gets to read the scripts, but what ends up getting shot is sometimes completely different from what was in the script. And sometimes things happen while you’re there, things that weren’t in the script that happen that are just too great to pass up.


Q:  Do you think that Bjorn’s spiritual quest is more to prove something to himself or to prove it to Ragnar?

AL: He said to his father, in the first episode of this season, it’s because “you don’t think I can survive”, and of course it’s my belief at least, that all sons try to make their fathers proud.  For Bjorn, I think it’s more for him, he needs to do this, he needs to get away, for everyone to see he’s come into his own. More importantly, he’s testing himself. He doesn’t even know if he can do it, he needs to prove to himself that he deserves his position, not just because of his father.  That he deserves to be a leader.

Q:  We saw Bjorn studying a map when they take Paris, a map showing Italy and Rome, is that foreshadowing his future?

AL:  100%.  Yeah.  That’s something we’ve known about since the beginning, it’s a very very cool addition, and I’m excited for you guys to see where it goes.

Q:  Are we going to see a reunion between Bjorn and Lagertha this season?

AL:  Yeah you will, and he’s all about Lagertha achieving her own dreams.  They’ve always had such a strong bond, and he’s excited for her.  He’s learned so much from her.  You’ll see a really cool shift with them too, where they become more companions than her just as a parental figure.


Q:  Was there any particular cast member that helped you, the actor, get through your scenes this season?  You all seem so bonded, we know there are connections there.

AL:  Oh definitely.  I love working with Travis (Ragnar), I learn so so much from him every time.  And Gustav (Floki), who is my best friend, I mean we live together while filming so.  Thanks for saying that, we really try.


Q:  The Vikings panel from last year’s ComicCon was something to see.  Your prank on Travis was….epic.  (Here is a short vid of it, check at 1:10 marker for the prank).  Are you planning anything for this year?  Are you worried about payback?

AL:  Oh man, I’m ALWAYS worried about payback.  I expect it.  I mean, I already got payback for that one on the way home at the airport.  Travis stole one of my shoes at security, and I had to fly all the way to Ireland with one shoe because he threw it away in the trash. I mean this year, everyone is a willing accomplice to get Travis.  I just have to pick my moment, he’ll be expecting it at the panel now.  I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who watches, I appreciate it so so much.  

Make sure you catch up on all the Vikings goodness on History, and check back for more interviews and goodies.



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.
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