The Vikings hiatus finally ends this evening with an action-packed premiere that sets several exciting storylines in motion. Ivar is feeling guilt for ending his brother Sigurd’s life, but it is not derailing his plans to lead an army into battle.
I sat down with Vikings star Alex Høgh Andersen on his recent visit to Toronto to discuss what’s coming up for Ivar in Season 5. He talks about the aftermath of Sigurd’s death, meeting a worthy adversary, and Ivar’s longing to be loved.
WARNING: MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD
We immediately see that Ivar is remorseful for killing his brother, but he’s still preparing for battle. His remaining brothers have other plans, though.
I don’t blame them at all. Ivar lost control and killed his own brother, and he hates the fact that he lost control. He’s aware of the fact that he created a massive rift when there was already a rift between him and his brothers. Now the bridge is burned. He will never be able to receive that brotherly love that he’s been searching for his entire life. From now on, he will always be the outsider. That’s the thing about the whole event that he hates — his weakness is that you can get to him. He’s trying to take over the Great Heathen Army and become the true leader. It’s not helpful when he does stupid stuff.
In the premiere, Floki decides to embark on a personal journey, and Ivar loses the remaining father figure in his life.
Floki is the only true friend that Ivar’s ever had. Now he’s gone and the timing is horrible. This is the moment when Ivar needs Floki the most, and yet he still understands what Floki needs to do. Ivar really lacks the guidance and the helping hand of somebody who actually listens to him and likes him although his determination makes him dangerous. How does Ivar respond to being all alone? He becomes even more of a lone wolf, more determined, more ruthless. It’s a combination of these different things that are happening that makes Ivar on the edge all the time.
I’m excited to see Ivar meet his match this season in Jonathan Rhys Meyers’ Bishop Heahmund.
It was incredible to shoot with Jonathan Rhys Meyers. He’s so intense and a brilliant actor. I was a little starstruck when I started working with him. We had great chemistry, and our characters are so well-written. Michael Hirst did a phenomenal job and understood that Ivar needed someone almost as good as him to square off with. Ivar needed a challenge. Bishop Heahmund is a great character; he’s just as crazy, driven, determined and progressive as Ivar, and religious as well. You’ll see them clash, but you’ll also see them have a mutual respect for one another.
So they see each other as equals.
They see through all the other stuff. They’re fighting for different causes but as people, they can easily respect the other because they are the same, and they understand each other. Although they just met, they open up to each other because they feel connected. Or because it’s a stranger who won’t judge you. They have a mutual respect.
Ivar has faced some challenges in the romance department. Do you think he is he capable of truly loving someone, or does he see love as a weakness?
Ivar’s an emotional mess, and it’s from a lack of love. He received a lot of love from his mom, but it was suffocating. Without spoiling too much, there’s going to be some romance for Ivar this season. I spoke to Michael [Hirst] and said that if any character on this show needs a real love story, it should be Ivar. Michael has melodramatic heart, so I knew that I was going to get my way. That bit of romance is a way to balance out Ivar and keep him three-dimensional. He can do horrible things, but when he’s with his loved one, he can be vulnerable and thoughtful, and let that wall down. It will balance him out, and the audience will understand why he’s doing everything that he does.
Ivar is a survivor in many ways.
He’s a victim without playing the victim role. He’s a victim of the Viking culture that doesn’t embrace or accept his disease. For him to survive is amazing, and where he is right now is absolutely incredible.
You have a background in musical theatre. How does that help you bring Ivar to life?
You’d think that not being able to walk demands less of you in terms of physicality, but it demands a lot more. My upper body needs to be strong, and I have to do a lot of cardio to keep up with all the takes we have to do. I remember a scene where I was crawling for 10 meters, and they couldn’t get the focus right, so I kept doing that until we hit take 10. Crawling 100 meters is not healthy.
It even goes beyond that because you’re wielding weapons at the same time.
Every single time it’s a challenge, that’s when it’s fun. I’ve always been physically oriented in my theatre career, so Ivar is a dream role for me. It forces me to be extra creative because I can’t just stand up and do whatever I feel. I have to compensate by acting with my upper body and eyes while keeping it “show it don’t tell it.”
Given how dark the subject matter gets, there is some lightness on set. I hear that you are responsible for some of that.
That was established before I got there. Travis [Fimmel] is a massive prankster, and I learned from the best. I was privileged enough to work with him for 2 or 3 months before he left the show, so I picked up where he left off. Because the show is so dark, we need to balance it out by having a lot of fun on set.
Photo Courtesy of History