It's not always easy being a viking, you know. Everyone loves to glorify drinking potent wine from freshly-pillaged goblets, feasting on whole boar legs and braiding beards in all the latest medieval styles. But no one wants to talk about the not-so-glamorous aspects. Like having to drag yourself around in the freezing cold mud because wheelchairs haven't been invented yet.
Ivar the Boneless, the cunning but crippled son of the great Ragnar Lothbrok, is set to play a key role in History's #Vikings when Season 4 returns later this month. In a recent interview, Danish actor Alex Høgh Andersen spoke about the "very, very horrible" challenges of playing a viking warrior unable to use his legs:
"The most frustrating thing actually was not being able to choreograph your own scenes. That’s so frustrating that as an actor you want to do something but you just can’t do it. A lot of the time we’ve just been settling down with, ‘Where’s Alex going to sit?’ I’ll try to act clever and find a good spot to sit. Usually the toughest challenge is actually just crawling around, physically, that’s the biggest challenge, really."
But Anderson isn't the only one to suffer for his art. The other cast members of Vikings have certainly been through the wars— and not just the fictional kind. Check out these painful on-set stories from some of your favourite characters:
Alexander Ludwig Really Had To Face That Bear
For his character Bjorn's epic solo initiation into manhood, Alexander Ludwig actually trekked deep into the freezing Canadian wilderness, in the middle of winter, with minimal crew to accompany him. Keep in mind that in those Northern parts of Canada, temperatures are known to drop below 20 degrees celsius. That might seem manageable with the right winter gear— except for the fact that Ludwig had to jump in to an ice hole, completely naked. No wonder the look of shock on his face is so convincing.
But the scariest part? The only thing separating Ludwig from that very huge and very real kodiak bear was a clothesline. Ludwig says that he "was just waiting for them to rewrite the fact that Bjorn actually doesn't survive the bear attack". Yikes.
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Travis Fimmel Suffers From Seasickness
The creators of Vikings like the show to look as genuine as possible, ensuring that the cast are well trained in the art of sword-fighting and grow their own beards. They even made the actors undertake sailing lessons, according to cast member Clive Standen:
“History were very adamant that we, as actors, would be able to sail these boats ourselves. 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 gruelling process."
One of the worst-affected by seasickness is Travis Fimmel, the actor behind main character Ragnar Lothbrok. Which is painfully ironic, considering King Ragnar is the biggest sailing enthusiast Kattegat has ever seen— the guy probably spends more time in a longship than a longhouse.
Clive Standen Got Stabbed By A Spear
Despite having over 20 years of prior sword fighting experience, Clive Standen— who plays Rollo— is probably the most accident-prone person on set. He's injured himself so many times during battle scenes that it's become a running joke. Standen has copped everything from a shield to the face, to smacking himself with his own axe. He even got stabbed by a rogue spear, which makes you wonder how much of that blood is actually fake.
Vikings Season 4 will return November 30. Check out what Ivar the Boneless has in store for Kattegat: