As it was in Norse history, Alex Høgh Andersen may only be 23 but his character Ivar the Boneless is slaying it in the new season of Vikings.
History Channel, with great help and artful writing from showrunner Michael Hirst, has dipped deeply into the Norse tales of the Viking warrior Ragnar Lothbrok and his noted sons.
Ivar the Boneless is the runt who would show them all up.
Ragnar’s sons with Queen Aslaug — Ubbe, Hvitserk, Sigurd, and Ivar — have nearly stepped into the shoes of big half-brother Bjorn, son of Ragnar and Lagertha, who has slain bears and sailed more seas than any of them so far.
Ivar is a psychopathic, violent and an extremist character nursing great hurts. You cannot turn your back on him.
Andersen emotes brilliantly with his face in ways that transcend Ivar’s lack of ability to use his legs, creating a more fearsome and wild-eyed antihero.
So far, we’ve loved every second of his horrible exploits and nuanced deviousness, even his dispatching of brother Sigurd, who shamed him in a crowd of Vikings.
In Ivar’s world, there is no inner circle, no fraternal cementing. He is the most lethal weapon in the Vikings arsenal.
We spoke to Andersen recently asked him about Ivar’s fraternal bonds, especially with Jordan Patrick Smith’s Ubbe, who seems to have a soft spot for his youngest brother, and also about Ivar’s story arc with Floki. Does Ivar see Floki leaving for Iceland as abandonment or does he cheer him on?
Andersen: “So, okay, if you take Floki first. I think it’s…I think he feels both ways. I think he feels abandoned but I…again that’s something that he’s used to right? It’s just another damn person that he loves that left him. So it just adds to this horrible, horrible line of damage.
“Floki is also a friend. Ivar understands why he needs to do what he needs to do. He really wants him to stay but he also understands him, and I think he takes it as a sign that now he’s on his own and now it’s only the Ivar show from now on up in his head.
“That brings me on to Ubbe, because that doesn’t bode well for Ubbe.
“That is the great thing about what Jordan [Patrick Smith] and I have talked about when went through these scenes and tried out what their relationship was. We were pretty agreeing on the fact that we both thought Jordan’s character Ubbe was — has always been the bigger brother, the more concerned bigger brother, who is taking care of his little brothers and especially Ivar.
“So we created this thing that Ubbe has always been Ivar’s legs in a way. There’s a great line in Season 5 where we actually got that line in. It was just great.
“But so I think also that Ubbe feels very betrayed. He also feels that he failed in terms of helping bring up this kid to not create a monster out of him. Seeing him become one, a very hurt monster, just really hurts him. And I don’t think you can ever settle down with that. I think he feels very disappointed in himself and in Ivar.
“He has his own goals and ambitions of course. So to see your younger brother just full-on-ahead and take over and don’t care who was in his way, I mean that’s got to hurt as well. So there is some very interesting dynamic between especially Ubbe and Ivar, yes.”
Vikings returns tonight and airs Wednesdays at 9/8c on History