We caught up with Vikings star Clive Standen ahead of his appearance at Oz Comic-Con’s Adelaide event to talk history, brothers, and what we can expect in Season 5…
Vikings fans know and love British actor Clive Standen as Rollo – the impulsive brother of Ragnar Lothbrok who betrayed his clan to become the Duke of Normandy.
The actor’s arrival Down Under is timely, given the most recent season of Vikings has just finished and fans are still reeling over the tumultuous events that saw a number of key cast members put to the sword.
“It’s crazy,” he agrees. “The last season has seen so many changes and so many characters gone.”
Rollo, however, appears safe for now. “The thing about Rollo is that most of his storylines and spoilers are all in the history books,” offers Standen.
He also confirms that he’s finished shooting his scenes for season five and promises more drama between Rollo, Bjorn and Lagertha. “I don’t want to say too much, but it’s an explosive return for Rollo and I’d like it to be a surprise for the fans.”
Playing a historical character naturally required a lot of research, and Standen was eager to delve into the real-life Rollo. “It was a prerequisite for the job,” he says. “You have a responsibility to get him as right as you possibly can within the realms of a drama series. It’s one of those things where you just immerse yourself into the culture and heritage of the Vikings. He’s become part of my life, having played him for the last five years.”
While the show adheres closely to the history books, Standen notes that some artistic license is taken to heighten the drama. “We try and take everything that happens to these characters as a starting point for the stories,” he explains. “The biggest artistic license we’ve ever taken with the series is making Ragnar and Rollo brothers, because they lived just less than 100 years apart and so never met each other. But they’re two very famous Vikings, so to get them in the same storyline is the sort of license we take in a drama series, because you want to give the audience the whole of Viking culture.”
The love/hate relationship between Ragnar and Rollo has provided ample drama over the course of four seasons. However, things couldn’t be more different on the set and Standen has nothing but praise for Aussie co-star Travis Fimmel.
“Working with Travis from the beginning, it’s given me the impression that Australians in general have a very good work ethic,” he says. “They get their hands dirty and if they’re going to do something, they do it well. That’s the mentality Travis brought to the show, and it’s been so refreshing – you don’t get that with every actor you work with. When your lead actor leads by example, then everyone else falls into line.”
The second half of season four focuses on the sons of Ragnar, with Rollo taking a backseat during the ten episodes. “The sons of Ragnar is just as incredible a storyline within the culture of the Vikings,” says Standen. “Sometimes you have to put some characters on the backburner to introduce new ones and tell other stories.”
One of those new characters is Ragnar’s crippled son – the brooding Ivar (Alex Høgh), whom Standen describes as being absolutely ruthless. “Of the brothers, I think Ivar is the most like Rollo,” he adds. “Taking the runt of the family, and not living in the shadow of your siblings.
“If you think Vikings is about the battles and the gods and pagans, it’s really not. That’s just the backdrop. It’s really about family and human beings, and how they haven’t really changed since the 9th Century.”