If you haven’t been watching the first scripted drama from The History Channel, you are missing out.  Vikings is the brainchild of show runner-writer Michael Hirst, but don’t let the historical missteps of The Tudors turn you off.  This show has something for everyone, and is one of the most beautiful productions currently viewable on television, with half the budget of the ‘big’ fantasy shows.

Vikings follows the raids and exploration of Ragnar Lothbrok and his family, who were all real existing people in the early 800 ADs.   It returns for it’s third season on February 19th, and introduces some new characters.  One of which is Harbard, a strange traveler who appears to the three wise women (Queen Aslaug, Siggy, and Helga) of Kaditcat in dreams before showing up in the village.   He is a storyteller, a healer, and a rather mysterious person in general.  Harbard is played by Kevin Durand (LOST, The Strain, X-Men Origins: Wolverine), who we were lucky enough to participate in a conference call with.


Question:  Hi Kevin. Thanks for taking our call. It’s great to talk to you again.

Kevin Durand:  Hi. [Laughter] How’re you doing?

Question:   Good. So can you first just talk about how you got involved in the project and what you like about it?

Kevin Durand:   I’m a big fan of the show. I’ve watched the first season before I first heard of Michael Hirst. I was interested in coming and applying in the character and when I started hearing that I just didn’t watch the second season and become one of my favorite shows on television. They started sending me some pages and – I mean the words were so alluring that we’re on the page and I thought, wow, this is really interesting. I’ve never played anyone like this and how great to be a part of this great show.

Q:    We’ve seen you come in to the village now in the first couple of episodes. Can you tell us a bit about whether or not you’re going to have any contact with the men when they come home and kind of what we might see with that interaction?

Kevin Durand:  You know I think the interaction with the men from the show is more something of a reverberation of the action that will take place in the next episode which I cannot divulge to you at this point, but I can guarantee you that all the major characters in this show will definitely feel the impact of Harbard’s actions.

Q:   All right. I’ve seen the first three episodes. So I know you can’t divulge everything but it’s obvious Siggy is not a fan of yours and from what we’ve seen and Princess Auslag of course is completely enchanted. Do you win Siggy over to your side or was she prescient about the nature of your character?

Kevin Durand:  You know I think she remained quite skeptical of what Harbard’s intentions are. She’s a soft one. She assumes he’s right or wrong, you’ll probably find out in the next episode. [Laughter]

Q:   I’m a huge fan of the show.  As a fan and an involved cast member now, what do you think separates Vikings from all the other shows on TV right now? Like, what makes you stand out?

Kevin Durand:  Well you know it being the type of period piece it is, all of this mysticism and it almost feels sometimes like it’s completely fantastical kind of like Game of Thrones would be but then this is all like rooted in true beliefs and the Vikings believed such – had such grand beliefs about the world that they’re living in. It teaches you to kind of get behind the looking glass and see how they actually fought and how they lived in this pagan way of life and Ragnar especially struggling with this newfound Christianity and struggling with his beliefs above. I think it’s just a really interesting take, a really interesting angle on that time and these people, you know. Michael Hirst has been such an incredible showrunner and creator of this show. He always has a history like right there at his side. He’s not straying away from historical facts. They stretch a couple of things but it’s more of like kind of timeline. Ragnar in different times but these people all truly existed and it’s just a really amazing trip.

Q:  I was wondering – you’re known for playing the villain. I wonder if you can tell us how you feel about playing a villain, what the challenges are of that and how you feel about in a more romantic or comedic role?

Kevin Durand:  It’s not in regard to this show I guess, just kind of overall, is that what you mean?

Q:  Yes or can that develop in the person of this show?

Kevin Durand:         You know for me, I think when I was younger I would categorize characters maybe as a good guy or a bad guy but now I don’t really judge them that way. It’s not really my job to judge them. All of us human beings have the potential to do great things in life. We have the potential to do horrific things. For me, it’s just really about trying to bring truth and sincerity to whatever it is I’m asked to do. Hopefully it ends up being compelling. [Laughter]

Q:  So you’ve mentioned working with Michael Hirst, can you talk about your interaction with him and what kind of guidance he’s given you about the character?

Kevin Durand:   Yes. You know, in our initial conversations we talked a lot about the characters. The influence that Rasputin has on these characters while the couple of others that I can’t really mention because as you know you if you have to watched the first three episodes and you’ve read about him, he’s a mysterious character and nobody at this point knows who he is. I can’t divulge who [Laughter] the other people are but Rasputin was definitely a big influence in his creating this character and then me playing him.

Q:  I was wondering what is the – what episode should people really look forward to as far as your character and why? I mean if you could give us a hint. [Laughter]

Kevin Durand:         Well I have to say the fourth [Laughter] episode is probably the most impactful one. Harbard’s actions will pretty much change the course of action for all of the other characters in that episode and he leaves a pretty deep kind of a wound I guess – a deep mark and I would say that that’s probably the one that probably has that – has the most impact.

Q:  I have a question about your – the dialogue in the sort of cadence of the dialogue and the way you’re doing your voice and how – is there discussion – was there discussions with Michael or anything because it sort of matches what others are doing on the show or have been doing for two seasons and I was wondering if that is something that was conscious or – and set up or if you just went with that yourself or…

Kevin Durand:         You know I’m really kind of experimental. That stuff I love – I love accents and voice and I love what these characters are doing on the shows. So I think Harbard’s speech is very, very strongly influenced by Floki and Ragnar and at times he kinds of veers off and becomes a little more Floki at times. Sometimes he sounds a little bit more like Ragnar. It’s kind of a part of who this fellow is which you’ll kind of find out in due time. [Laughter]   So thank you for noticing that. [Laughter]

Q:  Yes. I really heard the Floki in there.

Kevin Durand:         Awesome. Awesome. Thanks.

Q:   Lagertha, Kathryn Winnick said that she has some really challenging but inspirational lines in Norse. Did you have anything like that?

Kevin Durand:         I didn’t have any Norse lines. I mean I spoke of different places that the enunciation of these words took a couple of runs that – before I could get them right but I didn’t have any or no parts of my speeches or anything where I really had to dig in to the Norse itself.

Q: Did you have really memorable lines that kind of stuck with you?

Kevin Durand:         Well there’s really lot of – the speech that Michael wrote for Harbard when he’s first taken in by Princess Auslag and when I basically kind of tell the them story and kind of enchant them – well, at least I enchant Auslag and Siggy’s still a little bit skeptical of me but that speech that – when I first read that I was so excited to get a chance at saying those beautiful words that Michael wrote. [Laughter]

Q:  Well, you did an excellent job. Thank you. [Laughter]

Kevin Durand:  Thank you so much. Thank you. I appreciate that.

Q:  I just wanted to compliment you real quick when we spoke during The Strain. You were brand new to Twitter.

Kevin Durand:         Yes.

Q:  I just want to say you’re kicking ass on Twitter right now.

Kevin Durand:  Are you serious? My god, I’m…

Q:  Yes, we’re loving all the updates and all the stuff.

Kevin Durand:  That’s good.

Q:  I just wanted to ask real quick what was it like joining this crew – you know the cast? Because we hear there are a lot of jokesters and pranksters on set. Did they get you? Is there any memorable story?

Kevin Durand:   [Laughter] You know what? They didn’t get me because most of my work was with the girls. So the guys didn’t get a chance to torture me but the one thing that I did notice is that I hadn’t really experienced before was this crew and this cast they’re so tightly woven and so tightly knit and have such a great chemistry. It’s really like kind of being accepted into a family and it was [Laughter] really kind of – just such a wonderful experience to kind of be welcomed in and what a pleasure to work with such a great bunch of folks. Yes.

Q:   Awesome. I love when you keep popping up on all my favorite shows.


Kevin Durand:    [Laughter] Awesome. Awesome.  I’ll keep doing my best, pal. [Laughter]

Q:    So your character Harbard, is he – would we describe him as a Laplander – as a native indigenous person to the Nordic – you know Norway of Sweden. Is he a Laplander?

Kevin Durand:   Well, there’s an element to Harbard that I think he can be many different – I can’t get too far with that without divulging too much information and getting in trouble – getting my hand smacked – but he’s kind of mystical. He’s – Man, I don’t know how to get around this without – just spelling it out for you and getting in trouble but I am not what you just said. [Laughter]

Q:  Okay. How many episodes are you in as this character?

Kevin Durand:   I am in three.

Q:  Three episodes. Excellent and now the last question, does Dee Corcoran ever braid your hair like she does the rest of the cast? [Laughter]

Kevin Durand:         [Laughter] Pardon?

Q:  The hairdresser. I interviewed her. She does all the braiding of all the hair of all the Vikings. Do you get braided?

Kevin Durand:  Yes. My gosh! It’s amazing. It’s amazing what they did. I don’t have – like that’s not my regular beard either. I can’t grow a beard like that in a hundred years so when they take the beard off at night and I kept those extensions – my huge braids, I felt like I was like – I feel like I was in Avatar or something that I was going to plug it into some magic dragon and fly away. It was kind of incredible – just amazing group of artists over there, you know.

Q:  One word to describe your character. What is it and what is he? Just one word to tease people.

Kevin Durand:         You know at this point? You know it’s exactly the way that each show has been pushing it. It’s mysterious. I mean even for me – I’m not even 100% sure. You know what I mean? I have a very, very good idea but it will be interesting to see what you think as the episodes move along and I’m really interested in seeing what people think. [Laughter]

Q:   I know you probably have a really awesome workout routine already but did you have to do anything special to prepare for this role or were you already Viking-ready? [Laughter]

Kevin Durand:  [Laughter] You know what? I… I kind of live Viking-ready to tell you the truth.  Yes. I kind of – it’s been part of my life. You know, out of the 365 days a year I’d say that I’m probably doing my Viking workout probably at least 320 of those days. [Laughter] It has more to do with the – my obsessive nature and just overall – just kind of always striving through good health. [Laughter]

Q:   Nice. That’s awesome. So just to add on, did – I know a lot of the characters have awesome tattoos. Will you be sporting an awesome tattoo too during this season? [Laughter]

Kevin Durand:  Yes. I haven’t seen the episodes. So I don’t know if there’s ever – if you ever actually see them. I actually kind of added to some of my own tattoos and covered some of mine. They gave me some new ones. Yes. They’re quite – they’re gorgeous. They’re really interesting.

Q:   So Vikings is – you know, just kind of by its nature a violent culture. Is that something that Harbard comes into contact with? Do you get to have any fight scenes?

Kevin Durand:   At this point, no, but it doesn’t mean that we don’t feel that violence is a part of his nature as well which I guess you’ll [Laughter] see more often in episode four. No, I don’t take out an axe and go into the field and charge against a bunch of – yes, a bunch of the English or the Norsemen or anything like that. Not yet. [Laughter]

Q:  That sounds interesting. I’m looking forward to it.

Kevin Durand: Yes. Thank you. Thank you. It’s really fun. I hope you enjoy it. [Laughter]

Q:  So I wanted to ask about – Michael loves the mystical side and exploring the mysticism that the Vikings believe in and your arrival is sort of foretold through the three women’s dreams. I was wondering what you think about the power of dreams and whether…

Kevin Durand:  Yes. Yes. I mean those dreams were obviously foreshadowing my arrival. He’s kind of a – he’s a mystical character. He’s a healer. Where do these powers come from? Why does he seem to have kind of a hold over some of these characters and as you’ll see in episode four that mysticism I think plays into why he ends up being so impactful on many of the lives of the main characters. So yes, I really enjoyed that aspect of it and Michael does it so brilliantly.  I’m so glad that I could help them tell that side of the story.

Q:  Well he seems to have even rattled the regular seer that they go talk to the blind guy and I was wondering, do you have any scenes with him?

Kevin Durand:         No. No. No. I get so excited when people are asking questions like that because a lot of that stuff will be answered in due time but literally – I so don’t want to ruin anything.  Yes, it’s more of dealing with that mysticism with Harbard definitely and hopefully more in episodes to come. Hopefully.

Q:   You had said earlier that Rasputin was kind of an influence on the character. Did you do any additional research on that or any other research on the timeframe the Vikings is set in?

Kevin Durand:   Most of what I did was read about Rasputin and along with a couple of other figures that I cannot mention. Yes, I read about his life. I read about – he’s such an interesting character and such a walking circus of contradiction. [Laughter] It was really fun to get to play with those extremes with Mr. Harbard here.

Moderator:  Any final remarks, Kevin?

Kevin Durand:   Thank you for your time and thanks for your questions. I’m so excited to see you. I wish you all think of Harbard in the episodes to come and hope you enjoy the show.

Vikings returns for it’s third season February 19th, 2015 on HISTORY, check local listings for times.

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 *

One thought on ““Vikings”: Interview With Kevin Durand