[If you want to read this article in Portuguese click here]
On the last two days of Comic Com Portugal 2019 we had the chance to hang out with Alexander Ludwig, known for his role as Björn Ironside on the TV show Vikings.
Alexander spent the whole press conference with an easy smile on his face. He started by telling us about the most difficult time he had while filming Vikings. He mentioned that filming the show on remote lands in Ireland for about eleven months in a row was incredibly tough as the climate conditions were of extreme cold and constant rain. Although Alexander recalls this as one of his most challenging experiences, he also says it was definitely one of the best and that he would – without a shadow of a doubt – go through it all again.
Vikings is known for its epic battle scenes and Ludwig said that he would have loved to have been the one doing all his battle scenes, but he wasn’t always allowed. He recalled one in particular where during the 4th season, Björn is hit with an arrow to the neck and falls and how much he would’ve loved to be the one going through that as an actor. The actor mentioned that one of the hardest scenes to shoot was also during the 4th season when Björn kills Aelle through the Blood Eagle torture method. While recounting all of these episodes, Alexander was always complimenting the stunt coordinators and choreographer – who had a lot of people to look after. Adding to this, Ludwig also mentioned that in some instances their fight scenes had more extras than the movie Braveheart.
In order to get himself ready to play Björn, Alexander met with two historians who were specialized in Nordic mythology and culture – who taught him a lot from customs to language – since a lot of the background of the real Björn Ironside isn’t known. The characters from Vikings, even with Nordic background, talk a very accented English, to which Ludwig commented that, like they did on Chernobyl, for TV shows that are not made for the native language, this is a strategy that worked out really well. When he was asked about Björn’s traits and mannerisms, very similar to Ragnar’s, the actor revealed that he sat down with Travis Fimmel (Ragnar Lothbrok) a lot of times to learn all the gestures that the other adapted to his character.
We had the chance to ask Alexander if, after Travis left Vikings, he felt the weight of the responsibility of the show’s success on his and Katheryn Winnick’s (Lagertha) shoulders. He was brutally honest and straightforward and told us that yes, he definitely felt that responsibility increase, especially because until Ragnar’s death the series was entirely focused on this character. This fast-paced changed on the script – which then started to focus on multiple characters – made Alexander say that if the showrunners knew that this was the endgame, they probably would’ve introduced the four brothers (Ubbe, Hvitserk, Sigurd and Ivar) earlier.
Always maintaining the tone of honesty, Ludwig continued his answer by stating that the new milestone set for the show (after Ragnar’s death) would require and rely a lot on viewership faith, as the public would have to believe in the quality of the narrative even after the main character died. Since Björn and Lagertha were already well known by the fans, these are the characters that the showrunners grabbed onto to give continuity to the show. Alexander also confessed that once he knew Travis was leaving the show, he didn’t believe “for a second that the show would survive”. Nevertheless, Vikings survived and the ratings went up – which Alexander attributes to the popularity that the show gained along the way.
As the conference starts gearing toward the last minutes, Alexander was asked to share a funny story that had happened on the set of the show. With a playful smile on his face, Alexander was quick to action by confessing that Travis Fimmel is a prankster and was always pranking everyone on the set, him included. He remembers one time when they were filming in a forest and Travis went to a portable toilet cubicle and, encouraged by one of the extras, Ludwig decided to get his payback by kicking the toilet cubicle down which made Travis get out from there completely dirty and nauseated. Ludwig finished the story by laughing and confessing that he felt really good about his vengeance and would do it again.
On Alexander’s second press conference that we had the opportunity to attend as well, we faced technical problems when suddenly the microphones and audio system stopped working and we couldn’t hear the actor, nor could he hear us. Without any hesitation, Ludwig took his chair closer to the press correspondents who promptly sat on the floor around him or alternatively tucked their chairs in closer as he kept answering all of the questions everyone had (to see a picture from that moment, click here). This is an attitude that only attests to Alexander’s humble and relaxed posture, which he always presented to everyone during his visit to this Comic Con.
Last but not least, Ludwig revealed that he hadn’t been shooting scenes for Vikings for two years as the two parts of season 6 of Vikings were filmed in a row; and he informed us that the last season of Vikings is due to premiere in December 2019.