Please make every effort to watch History channel’s ambitious nine-part drama series from Michael Hirst, creator of “The Tudors” is called "Vikings." Vikings premieres on History Sunday, March 3 at 10 pm and 9 Central.
Vikings follows the exploits of Ragnar Lothbrok (Travis Fimmel), who plays the legendary Norse adventurer Ragnar Lothbrok, leading his crew after landing in the West.
History channel has unveiled another trailer of the series which stars Travis Fimmel as restless farmer Ragnar Rothbrok, who yearns for more adventure and spoils, and Gabriel Byrne as the Chieftain over these poor Northmen who sail and plunder for his benefit.
You will meet Rollo (Clive Standen), Ragnar Rothbrok’s sexually charismatic brother whose loyalty can be questionable but whose warrior skills are lethal.
Athelstan (George Blagden), is a young Christian monk who becomes a prisoner of war slave to Ragnar, learning to navigate the raw culture of the Vikings.
Floki (Gustaf Skarsgard), is my favorite character, an energetic design genius and close friend of Ragnar’s who helps him fulfill his dreams of discovering new lands and civilizations through his visionary boat designs.
Hirst also brings great female characters to life. Katheryn Winnick is cast as Lagertha, Lothbrok’s wife, and she can dispatch as kill as effectively as a man.
Jessalyn Gilsig is cast as the sexy wife of Byrne, who is also physically drawn to Rollo.
These rugged men and women lived over 1,300 years ago, and their skills as seamen and navigators were legendary. They were driven by curiosity and greed for spoils, armed to conquer an uncharted world, the possibilities of which could not be conceived.
History is jumping headfirst into period drama again after their wildly successful “Hatfields & McCoys” mini-series last spring and with "Vikings" they will also capture the "Spartacus" and "Sons of Anarchy" action-oriented young male demographic who loves a visceral, lusty tale.
Note that Hirst brought us Showtime’s popular series “The Tudors” and “The Borgias,” as well as the 1998 film “Elizabeth” and other historical dramas. Trust that you are in very good hands with this series, as the crafts such as production design, wardrobe and hair/makeup are spot on and accomplished in their accuracy, and the writing is exemplary for this effort.
Jessalyn Gilsig plays Siggy Haraldson, a wife of Viking Earl Haraldson whose character is played by Gabriel Byrne.
She spoke to reporters on a conference call about her role as a seductive women married to the powerful chieftain.
On why History wanted to make another period scripted series:
Jessalyn Gilsig: It seems natural that The History Channel seeing so many period dramas that are doing so well on other networks, let’s say hey we have this open audience of people who are passionate about history, let’s marry that with scripted material and kind of give everybody the best of both worlds and it just seems like a good, natural evolution for television and one I think we all benefit from.
On her character Siggy:
Jessalyn Gilsig: I play Siggy Haraldson who is the wife of Earl Haraldson, played by Gabriel Byrne as we mentioned and it’s such a fantastic gift this character, she comes in with a lot of backstory having lost their son in battle and having only a daughter and they haven’t been able to produce an heir. She is in an incredibly vulnerable and precarious position but that the way that we conceived of her was that she was also really has always lived a life of privilege and a life of power and status and it’s incredibly natural to her, it’s something that she feels she’s inherently born in to.
There are many obstacles that she encounters as the series goes forward as perceived but she’s driven by this really inherent belief that she’s a woman of importance and a woman who needs to survive and has incredible strength and conviction and I just felt very lucky to play her.
On learning about Viking culture
Jessalyn Gilsig: I had to throw out all my preconceived ideas. From the vantage point of my character, one of the resources that they gave me was there had been a burial sight that they had found that would have been - they believed were the woman’s - who would have been in my position, the wife of an Earl or somebody of great importance and a lot of what we learned was first of all that there’s this stereotype of Vikings as if - that they’re sort of this filthy, ruthless, totally unkempt people.
We saw a lot of evidence that they practiced really good hygiene and this woman....they always had a change of clothes, they were buried with a change of clothes and that a woman in her position had very intricate and complex hairstyles and that there was evidence that they had used kind of very primitive kind of make-up.
For me that suggested that as the day, a woman had a public face, that there was something very deliberate about her appearance and that she was communicating through how she chose dress and ordain and what she wore and how did her hair and sort of that sense of there being a public self was really helpful for this role and that all came out of artifacts that they had found in burial sights and information that was shared with us.
On any challenges of being a chieftain’s wife
Jessalyn Gilsig: There were great challenges. I mean anything from the period to the accent to as you say playing a role that doesn’t even exist in modern society. And so to kind of find a way into the character but then to also make sure that these were human beings that had all the complexities of any mother, wife, woman and to kind of marry those two things.
I felt like Michael gave so many great markers for me to hit because I feel like the relationship with the Earl was so specific and wasn’t just sort of man on a throne and the woman who sits beside him but more that there was a deliberateness and a specificity to what their relationship was made of.
And then they had a lot of touchstones with the character having lost her son and the vulnerability of her daughter and how the daughter becomes...to marry her would be significant to how our position would evolve but then also, the love of your child, you want to put your child in a healthy, respectful marriage.
And so I love finding the balance of the culture, which was born from ours, but then the humanity, which is universal.