On Sunday, a new, epic drama, Vikings, will premiere on History. The show follows the adventures of Ragnar (Travis Fimmel), a warrior, who wants to set sail to the west in conflict with his chieftain, Earl Haraldson’s (Gabriel Byrne) wishes. Though, the series is about much more. It’s about Ragnar’s family, the Viking society, religion, and the aftermath of Ragnar’s first journey.

BuddyTV recently spoke with George Blagden who plays the Christian monk, Athelstan. He discusses why he was drawn to the project, the brutality and humanity of the Vikings, and the role of women in this culture.

What was it about this show or role that inspired you to take on this project?

I wanted to be part of something that I thought, “Why has this not been done before?” The Vikings story must be such an exciting one to tell and why have people have not done this yet. 

And, when we actually got on the project and started filming, I had no idea the educational experience I was going to have in learning about these people. It’s very epic. It’s everything I dreamed the Vikings would be and more. I loved learning about them.

Was there anything in particular you learned about the Vikings that really shocked you?

I think the misconception about the Vikings is that they were this barbaric race of people destroying Northern Europe over the course of a couple centuries and raping and pillaging. That these Norsemen were these violent psychopaths. The most exciting thing for me was getting to learn about their very, very human nature, the very sort of soft side of their personalities, of their communities. In many ways, they are very much like we are now. It’s a family drama, as well as, being a show with battles, sword fights, and exciting epic drama stuff. 

What is the big selling point of this drama?

The big selling point about Vikings is that there are some preconceived ideas about what the Vikings were and how they operated in society. And, what [Creator] Michael Hirst has brilliantly done is to bring you a very dramatic story that you will not have seen before and you will not know about because we don’t know that much about that period of history. So, it will be very educational for people, and I can guarantee that when people tune in every week and they watch a Vikings episode that on Monday Monday morning they will be saying, “Did you know that? I had no idea about that part of their society. Did you know they wore those and not those?” So I think … the big talking point is how very wrong everyone has been about what they thought the Vikings were and have so much fun in discovering who they actually are.

The first episode is quite brutal. And, in the second, Ragnar’s men kill without any thought. Will we get a more humanized look at them? As we get to know them, does their humanity come out?

Absolutely, that’s brilliant thing about the characters that Michael has created. They really feel like real people that you, as a viewer, will have a relationship with. And, I’m sure everyone will have a different favorite character every week that they want to tune in and watch because there are so many different diverse personalities in this community. As the series goes on you obviously learn more and more about their personalities.

And, I think the first episode is very brutal, but even in [that] episode you still get aspects where you get to see a family interact with each other in a very loving way. And, it just builds and builds and builds, very character driven relationship that you get to watch.

In the relationship between Ragnar and his wife, Lagertha, she is very dominant within the family. Are strong women a norm within the society?

It’s actually the norm within that society  Women were very much treated as equals in their culture and often went to battle with the men. Lagertha is actually a shield maiden primarily that’s who she is. She’s just as fierce and courageous in battle as any of the Viking men. 

The fact that she is Ragnar’s wife, it’s more a case that she’s actually his life partner. I think couples in the Viking society became partners and companions for life. Rather than being the wife of the brave, courageous warrior and looking after their children, they were very much equals in marriage, the Vikings.

Check out this sneak peek of Athelstan warning of the upcoming Judgement Day.

Check back next week for more from George Blagden on his role as a Christian monk and the  religious dichotomy between Christian and Pagan beliefs.

Vikings premieres Sunday, March 3 at 10 pm ET on History.

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(Image and video courtesy of History.)

Carla Day

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV

Contributing Editor and Writer for Collider, BuddyTV, TV Fanatic, CliqueClack, and other publications. TV criticism, reviews, interviews with actors and producers, and other related content. Founder of TV Diehard.