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Vikings: Valhalla: Frida Gustavsson underwent intensive training just to wear Freydis’ armor

Frida Gustavsson stars as Freydis Eriksdotter in Season 1 of Netflix's Vikings: Valhalla
Frida Gustavsson stars as Freydis Eriksdotter in Season 1 of Vikings: Valhalla. Pic credit: Netflix

Vikings: Valhalla is already a raging success for Netflix. Already, it has racked up a staggering 194 million viewing hours in the first nine days of landing on the streaming platform.

In addition to this, the network has already filmed Season 2, and production on Season 3 will commence later in the spring.

Heading the cast of Viking Age men is a woman, Freydis Eriksdotter (Frida Gustavsson), who is blatantly pagan in a time when Christianity is taking over from the older beliefs and she is not afraid to fight to the death in order to defend her honor.

However, before the actor who portrays Freydis could lift a sword and defend her virtue, she first had to learn how to carry its weight.

Vikings: Valhalla star Frida Gustavsson was surprised at how heavy her costume was

While it looks like fun and games to be on the set of Vikings: Valhalla and re-enact those battle scenes, the reality is that it is seriously hard work.

Prior to filming, Frida Gustavsson had to undergo special training for her back, shoulders, and arms in order to wear her costume thanks to the weight of it.

Speaking to Netflix, Gustavsson explained just how heavy her armor and weapons are — even though there are “merely” props.

“The weight of the armor is quite intense, and you’re fighting with weapons that are heavy, and you fight for a long period of time,” Gustavsson said. “Even though I think I was mentally prepared, it was still shocking some days how physically draining it is to be up to your knees in mud and just trying to strangle people to death.”

“It’s so incredibly heavy. It’s so beautiful to look at, but it’s a challenge. When you get knocked on your back, it’s a challenge getting up,” she says. “And when you do that for 10 hours, and you do that multiple times a week. For example, in Episode 6 I think I have two practice fights and the shieldmaiden test.”

Frida Gustavsson stars as Freydis Eriksdotter in Episode 6 of Netflix's Vikings: Valhalla Season 1
Frida Gustavsson stars as Freydis Eriksdotter in Episode 6 of Vikings: Valhalla Season 1. Pic credit: Netflix/Bernard Walsh

Frida was bruised and battered by the end of filming

In Season 1 of Vikings: Valhalla, Freydis trained to become a shieldmaiden under Jarl Haakon (Caroline Henderson), the current ruler of Kattegat.

During a training battle, she ends up removing her armor in order to fight more freely. And while this must have felt wonderful to not be under the strain of the heavy costume, it also meant the actor ended up particularly bruised in real life.

“I was bruised like a peach, like, bruised everywhere,” Gustavsson said, although she is particularly proud of her achievements while filming Vikings: Valhalla.

“It was just so incredible to learn how to fight like this, and feel that, now, I can really stand on my own as a fighter and also as a performer,” she added.

Season 1 of Vikings: Valhalla is currently streaming on Netflix. Season 2 will air in 2023.

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