'Vikings' Exclusive Interview: George Blagden on Differing Religions and the Shocks of a New World
'Vikings' Exclusive Interview: George Blagden on Differing Religions and the Shocks of a New World
Carla Day
Carla Day
Contributing Writer, BuddyTV
On tonight's Vikings, Ragnar (Travis Fimmel) and his men sail across the sea and prove Earl Haraldson (Gabriel Byrne) wrong by finding land to the west. The men come across a monastery to rampage where Ragnar meets Brother Athelson (George Blagden) and is immediately curious about this robe-draped man.

BuddyTV had the pleasure of speaking with George Blagden about the show, his character, and the dichotomy of religions. This is part 2 of the interview. If you missed the first installment, check it out. 

When Ragnar heads west, the Vikings come across Christian monks, how does the dichotomy play out between those two very different religious beliefs?

Massively. Speaking to [Executive Producer] Michael Hirst in our pre-production week ... the biggest aspect of their society that he wanted to convey was religion and what better character in a way to experience [the pagan] religion than someone who had a completely conflicting belief system in Athelstan. 

You'll see how very, very difficult it is for Athelstan to fit in the very pagan society and it does create a lot of the drama and a lot of the conflict of the show is these very differing religions.

When the Vikings and monks interact, do they try to convert the other or respect the differing religions?

You have to remember Athelstan is captured by Ragnar and he is Ragnar's slave at the beginning of the series. Athelstan is this complete outsider. This Anglo-Saxon christian monk is the alien, if you like, in this completely foreign landscape and society. So, I think it's more of a challenge for Athelstan to integrate himself within the society rather than the Vikings accepting his religion.

What is Athelstan's first reaction to the non-monastery "real" and new world he is taken to by Ragnar?

Athelstan is based on a real historic figure, a monk, that lived at the time. A lot of the travelling that he would have done would have mainly been throughout the UK and possibly what we would now refer to as France, that area across from what we now refer to as the English channel. 

I think what's so dramatic for Athelstan in arriving in Scandinavia at the start of episode 3, is that this landscape is unlike anything he's ever seen. There just aren't mountains in the UK or in mainland Europe like there are in Scandinavia  And, sailing [there] for him must have been terrifying really. If you've never seen land that quite literally towers above you or dense forests that go on for miles and miles, it's something that I guess in our modern society we travel so much we can't really relate to. It must be something like being an astronaut and landing on the moon. It was so different than anything else he ever experienced. So, yes, it's terrifying for him.

What's the relationship between Ragnar the warrior and Athelstan the monk?

The relationship is master-slave which is a very complex relationship because although Athelstan is being kept as a slave by Ragnar, Ragnar did ultimately save his life and he saved his life because he thinks Athelstan may be useful to him in the future, which you may discover is the case or you may not.

I think Ragnar also is fascinated by Athelstan because this society is completely different for Athelstan from anything in his frame of reference. Athelstan is completely different from Ragnar as well.

It's two aliens or foreign entities meeting each other and trying to negotiate a way for them to interact effectively which it's very enjoyable to do and hopefully it enjoyable to watch. It's the source of quite a lot of drama.

Vikings airs Sundays at 10 pm ET on HISTORY.

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(Image courtesy of HISTORY.)