Tonight, “Vikings” premieres on History at 10/9c, and below, ShockYa has some insight as to what you can expect from the series with information we gleaned from conference calls with Travis Fimmel, who plays Ragnar Lothbrok and Clive Standen, who plays Rollo, the brother to Ragnar.

Rollo is a dark character that also has tons of layers for an actor to get lost in. Standen said that getting at all of those layers was one of the challenges he had when approaching the character.

“Well, what I love about Rollo is that just like any human being he’s kind of very multifaceted and what I always look for for a character is the flipside of the coin. You know, the character seems heroic on the surface, what are his fears, what are his insecurities, what are his hopes? Just as if someone’s a villain the same thing applies,” he said. “And I think with Rollo I kind of get a free reign to kind of – to really play with the many layers that he has and that just comes from, you know, the great writing of Michael Hirst. He’s, you know, he’s a sociopath, but you never really know what’s going on behind his mind. You know, he’s capable of great things, but is he in his brother’s shadow?”

The cast seemed to help Standen with his tough task by giving the set a lighter feel. “It is tough. I mean it’s, you know, we have a lot of fun on “Vikings” as well and it sometimes can be hard to kind of pull yourself back from that when you’ve got a day where you’re playing Rollo and Rollo’s being Rollo,” he said. “But we made a bit of a joke about it. There was, you know, people were very good at giving me my own space and they’d see when I was, you know, I was having to do something and I was having to get myself in the right mind frame for it and it became known as ‘Clive is giving you the deadeye,’ rather than the stinkeye.”

Fimmel talked a bit about his character and what it was like to learn more about historical vikings.

“Well, the creator Michael Hirst and writer was amazing. He gave us a lot of background on everything. And I guess it’s just our job as actors to humanize it and make it relevant to people today and give them something that they can grab a hold of, you know?” he said. “It’s like everybody’s got families and brothers and every family has their own conflicts and that – my character Ragnar is very ambitious like a lot of people and he’s just trying to make a better life for himself[.]”

To play vikings, the cast had to look like skilled fighters. Luckily for some cast members, like Standen, they were already familiar with fighting.

“…I’ve been sword fighting since I was 14 years old,” said Standen, talking his days as a stunt team member for Sherwood Forest tours. “…And I did a lot of Thai Boxing as well…[T]hat was a very big part of my life when I was younger. And so I’ve done, you know, I’ve done a lot of horse riding; and sword fighting; and martial arts and things beforehand, but one thing I hadn’t done before I got the role of “Vikings” is we did a very big boot camp before we started filming to man the boats.”

Standen talked more about what their sailing training was like. “History were very adamant that we, as actors, would be able to sail these boats ourselves,” he said. “And so every time you see the actors on the boat we’re really rowing, we’re really manning, you know, the boat, we’re sailing. And that was a very long process where we’d go out in the sea and many actors would get seasick and it was a grueling process.”

Fimmel also discussed what it was like to train for fighting scenes. “There are a lot of fighting scenes in the series…[W]e had a great swordsman that showed us a lot of different styles of fighting. And we all sort of took in our own little style. It was very fun and it’s great when you don’t have to remember lines. So I really enjoyed the action stuff.”

What do you think about “Vikings?” Give your opinions in the comments section below.

Legendary World of Vikings Told in History Channel's First Scripted Series

By Monique Jones

Monique Jones blogs about race and culture in entertainment, particularly movies and television. You can read her articles at Racialicious, and her new site, COLOR . You can also listen to her new podcast, What would Monique Say.

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