For years, most people did not know Travis Fimmel's name, yet they were intimately familiar with what he looked like in his underwear. The athletic, blond farm kid from Australia turned heads when he...
Bernard Walsh/History/A&E Networks
Vikings began its raid on the small screen last season, coming away with a bounty of ratings riches. Surprising everyone, the show became the number one new cable series of the year with an average of over 4 million viewers. Now Vikings is sailing back to the small screen with an ambitious, dark, and dangerous new season.
When we last left off our favorite raider Ragnar (Travis Fimmel) was battling with brother Rollo (Clive Standen) while complicating his love life. On a raid he spent time with the beautiful Princess Aslaug (Alyssa Sutherland) while at home his wife Lagertha (Katheryn Winnick) was dealt the crushing blow of seeing daughter Gita die. And former monk Athelstan (George Blagden) was finally starting to take to the Viking way of life.
Hollywood.com was lucky enough to chat with Vikings stars Travis Fimmel, George Blagden, and Alyssa Sutherland to get the scope on Season 2. Here’s what they let slip:
Athelstan has embraced the Viking way of life... or has he?As the season begins, Athelstan has seemingly thrown his lot in with the Vikings entirely. But has he really given up on his Christian faith?
“We leave Athelstan in Season 1 in a very conflicted place. The most interesting characters to play as an actor and watch as an audience are the ones that have deep conflicts running throughout. It would have been far too easy to make Athelstan a completely converted pagan and gung-ho into Viking life,” actor George Blagden said about his character.
“What you see throughout the first few episodes of Season 2 is an attempt and potentially a bit of a bluff on his part. Hopefully what we’ve been able to capture this season is the ongoing conflict that Athelstan has.”
Ragnar’s love life gets complicatedWith his relationship with the tough-as-nails Lagertha on the rocks, Ragnar spends some quality time with the beautiful Princess Aslaug. The repercussions of their momentary fling are far-reaching in Season 2, especially when Aslaug shows up in town pregnant.
“He wants it to be like the Brady Bunch, Ragnar does,” star Travis Fimmel said about Ragnar’s hope of combining both families. “People are putting 21st century values on it, but that stuff happened back then. He had to give it a shot anyway, you know?”
Bjorn grows upSometime in the first four episodes, we jump forward in time four years. This allows little Bjorn to grow up into The Hunger Games actor Alexander Ludgwig.
“We loved Nathan O’Toole, he’s such a great little actor and we were really sad to see him leave. But Alexander’s fantastic too, so he was very well replaced,” Fimmel said. “And he’s a big, big boy. He grows quick in four years.”
Lagertha changes in Season 2Her husband’s betrayal and her daughter's death lead to a much different Lagertha in Season 2.
“Lagertha seems to be chasing a bit more power now,” Fimmel said. “She wants to be Earl. She’s had a taste of power and she’s more about that now.”
Aslaug isn’t a homewreckerAslaug’s appearance on the scene broke up power couple Ragnar and Lagertha, a relationship fans were already deeply invested in after only nine episodes.
“I think it’s really cool that we get to bring this idea to modern audiences,” actress Alyssa Sutherland said. “It’s interesting to me how they struggle with the idea and dilute it down into Aslaug being a “homewrecker” or the other woman, and I question whether that concept would have even existed back then. I like the complication of that storyline.”
Sutherland points out that Aslaug’s goal wasn’t to break up Ragnar and Lagertha when she shows up in town pregnant.
“It seems like a bold move, but what other pregnant chick wouldn’t chase down the baby daddy?”
But Aslaug might have special powersThe world of Vikings has always been filled with mysticism and Princess Aslaug is no different. In Season 2, we find out she might have the power of second sight.
“What I love about the way [writer and creator] Michael Hirst does it is you’re not totally sure if these magical elements that he weaves in every now and then are really happening or if it’s just what they believed at the time,” Sutherland said. “I like that it’s left up to the viewer to decide. I certainly think that Aslaug, whether she was a seeress or not, she certainly believed it and the people around her believed it.”
The season starts with a dramatic battle sceneSeason 2 gets off to a action-packed start with a full-tilt battle between brothers Ragnar and Rollo. But they’re not the only ones doing battle.
“The director shouted ‘cut’ and there was silence and you could just hear this giddy laughter soaring over the forest. And it was me, standing amongst the shield wall, just off my face on some adrenaline high,” said Blagden of his first Viking battle. “Because there’s no pretending; when they smash into the shield wall they really smash into the shield wall.”
Series star Fimmel remembers the dramatic season-opening battle a little differently though.
“Those two days we shot it were some of the hottest days on record in Ireland. A lot of people passed out that day and there were a few injuries,” Fimmel said. “That’s what I remember most about that day.”
Things remain complicated between Ragnar and Rollo How do you fix a relationship like Ragnar and Rollo’s? The two brothers have found themselves almost consistently at odds since the series began, since Rollo’s jealousy often transforms into betrayal.
“It’s going to be pretty hard to ever trust Rollo again,” Fimmel says. “But he’s blood and that’s an important thing to Ragnar. There are certainly big obstacles to overcome with Rollo. The two brothers have a good arc this season, and it’s a lot different from last season.”
Vikings returns for Season 2 on February 27 at 10 PM on the History channel. Will you be watching?
AP Photo/Dan Steinberg
World of Warcraft is an MMORFG (for those non-nerds, that a Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game) that's been raking in the cash for video game company Blizzard for years, and courting many a potential movie deal. So far, Blizzard has demonstrated some good judgment, refusing to sell their Warcraft rights to Uwe Boll in 2008, when he was keen on adding the title to his long list of terrible video game adaptations. But it's five years later, Boll has moved on to other, no doubt crazier things, and now Legendary Pictures has made a deal with Blizzard to go forward with a movie version of one of their most valued properties. Though director Duncan Jones has been connected for some time, actors Colin Farrell, Paula Patton, Paul Dano, Anton Yelchin, Anson Mount, and Travis Fimmel were just announced via Deadline to be potential cast members. If you saw these names in a list, there'd be no way your first guess would be "cast of the new World of Warcraft adaptation," yet, here we are. It's a mix of bona fide stars, electic indie standbys, TV hunks, and, at the head of it all, a director who made two great, small movies (Moon and Source Code) about moral dilemmas and the effects of technology — a far cry from the elf and goblin set. Is there any way to make sense of these people being connected to this project?
Let's play Six Degrees of the Cast of the New World of Warcraft Movie and try to find out.
So there's Colin Farrell, the biggest name and thus probably the biggest or best part on display here. He's European, which is all that's required for anyone in Hollywood fantasy films. He's got some great movies (In Bruges) and some terrible ones (S.W.A.T., Alexander) under his belt, so no indication of quality there.
Then there's his costar in the underrated but still pretty bad Fright Night, Anton Yelchin. Yelchin will probably play second fiddle to Farrell, as the Frodo to his Aragorn. Yelchin does have some nerd cred, playing the current iteration of Chekov in Star Trek, but seems to prefer indie films like the much smaller Like Crazy.
One of the current kings of the indie scene is Paul Dano, whose small turns in bigger films and big turns in smaller films have made him a reliable "weird guy" for Hollywood. Maybe he'll be playing a wizard of some kind.
We start to head into the wilderness with the addition of Anson Mount and Travis Fimmel, who are both hunky TV stars on History Channel shows. Not much more to say than that, other than they should hope that one has to dye his hair bright pink or put on green makeup so we can tell them apart.
Then you have Paula Patton, floundering around by herself in the land of unendearing romantic comedies and being married to the song of the summer guy. There's no rhyme or reason to why Patton was pursued for this, but we can think of one reason why she's be eagar to accept: Angelina Jolie, who once was the star of Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, one of the less horrible video game adapations, went on to become an Oscar winner and all-around A-Lister and good person. Maybe Patton believes she's destined to the same.
Does that clear things up at all?
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Everyone knows those shows that are horrendously popular but that no one seems to watch, like Two and a Half Men and NCIS. But there are a whole different set of shows that are super popular that you may not even know that you're not watching, like Pawn Stars, Top Gear, and the miniseries Hatfields & McCoys. These are all on History Channel and they are all monster hits. On Sunday, March 3, at 10 PM they are going to add another sure-to-be-champion to their stable, the 9-part series Vikings.
This show is right in the channel's sweet spot: it has a nominal glean on history, it is virulently male, and it speaks to the states with square borders and Christian values. Yes, this last one seems strange considering how violent the Vikings are known to be, but a sequence of the warriors sparing the priests during raid on a monastery and the continued presence of one of the monks throughout the series shows that, just like in Ben Hur, Jesus is just waiting to bend down to lend a hand in an otherwise heathen epic. That's good because this thing debuts right after the premiere of Mark Burnett's much ballyhooed The Bible miniseries.
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History is really giving Vikings the best of both worlds, it gets to be as bloody as it wants to be because redemption is seemingly at the end. The series opens with our hero Rangar Lothbrok (Travis Fimmel) and his brother Rollo (two guys with names that sound like clearing phlegm and a candy treat) as they finish a raid on the Balkans, shoving their steel inside the guts of Eastern Europeans and getting a crimson spray all over their Nordic features. The next year Rangar gets his friend Floki (Gustaf Skarsgard brother of True Blood hottie Alexander), a ship builder who looks like he's auditioning for a role as Judas Priest's guitarist, to make him a vessel that will allow him and a crew to sail west, into the unknown territory, rather than follow the orders of their leader (Gabriel Byrne) and sail east to familiar pillaging grounds. They take the journey, find England, and the drama starts from there. That's no spoiler alert, he was a real guy, so some of this is historically accurate.
What is really interesting about Vikings is that you are rooting for Ragnar and his crew to be successful, but you are rooting for them to be better crooks and murderers. Ragnar is no Walter White or Tony Soprana or any of the other conflicted anti-heros we're used to on cable. He does not apologize for the way he is or his culture and is not at all conflicted about killing someone on his ship for disagreeing with him. He just wants to find new ways to screw people out of their treasure and take it home for his own. These people are, quite literally, barbarians who live to kill and screw and then maybe kill something after they screw or get killed while they're trying to screw. That's it.
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This is the problem with any Viking saga, their code of honor is so distant from ours that their fights and squabbles, their praying to far-off gods, their blowing their nose in a pitcher of water and then passing the pitcher to the next guy to wash his face with the snotty water, will seem nothing but comical to modern Americans. Still, when Ragnar goes off on the "most dangerous and stupid voyage ever," he is basically going on an historical version of The Deadliest Catch. This might be comedy for some, but it's going to be wish fulfillment for plenty, doing that libertarian thing where no man can tell him what to do and, if they disagree with him, he has a right to bear arms and cut off theirs.
For all of the schlocky sets and costumes and elements that look like they were lifted from an episode of Kevin Sorbo's Hercules: The Legendary Journeys this show desperately wants to be "good." This is the History Channel doing Game of Thrones. This a dark, dank, ancient world; there are ravens that carry prophesies; there are strange gods we don't entirely know; and there are giant sword fights. But Vikings is missing what makes GoT so awesome, the epic scope, the expansive cast of characters, and the political wheeling and deeling that makes allegiances and honor shift faster than an "imp" can fall into bed with a prostitute. Still, it just doesn't have, well, the same magic.
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But it's not like Vikings won't cast a spell on you. I don't know what it was, maybe the handsome actors, the foreigness of the landscape, or just the good old fashioned urge to see what happens next (or to figure out who Rangar's wife Lagertha looks more like: Ke$ha or Blake Lively) but I clicked on each subsequent episode on the DVD given the press for review. It comes on, well, like a Viking invasion, quick, bloody, and brutal without any finesse whatsoever. It's not good, but it's effective.
Follow Brian Moylan on Twitter @BrianJMoylan
[Photo Credit: History Channel]
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The actress, who plays teacher Will Schuester's manipulative ex-wife on Glee, has been added to the cast of U.S. cable network The History Channel's first scripted drama, titled simply Vikings.
Stellan Skarsgard's son Dustaf, Travis Fimmel and Katheryn Winnick will also join Irish actor Byrne in the mini-series, which is being written by Michael Hirst, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Byrne will play ruthless Viking tribesman Earl Haraldson in the period piece.
Patrick Swayze checked himself into the hospital today after coming down with pneumonia. The star was scheduled to promote his new show The Beast at the Television Critics Association conference in Los Angeles, but cancelled last minute. The Dirty Dancing star is battling pancreatic cancer.
The Beast , airing Jan. 15 on A&E, follows an unorthodox FBI agent named Charles Barker (Swayze) who takes on a rookie partner Ellis Dove (Travis Fimmel) to train in his unique methods.
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Obtained representation from the agency L.A. Models
Left home at 17 to travel through Europe and Asia before locating to Los Angeles
Began to model for Calvin Klein; some countries decided to ban the ads, reasoning that it is sexually suggestive and demeaning to men
Starred in the new series "Tarzan"
Raised on a farm in the Outback
For years, most people did not know Travis Fimmel's name, yet they were intimately familiar with what he looked like in his underwear. The athletic, blond farm kid from Australia turned heads when he appeared in provocative ads for Calvin Klein underwear in 2001, but he was a reluctant model who had only stripped down to his skivvies to finance acting lessons. Fimmel was well-received in his breakout role as "Tarzan" (2003-04) on the WB, but anxious fans would have a long wait to see him onscreen again, as several follow-up TV projects were short-lived and his first feature seemed destined to stay in the can. <p>Travis Fimmel was born on July 15, 1979, in a rural area of Victoria, Australia. The future billboard underwear model was the youngest of three brothers in a dairy farming family. He played soccer and was interested in acting when he was young, but always self-consciously thought he was too skinny and assumed his future would be on the farm. When he was 18, he moved to the nearest city, Melbourne, where he studied architecture and engineering at RMIT University. He also played with the Victorian Amateur Football Association. In 1998, a broken leg put an end to sports, but an encounter at a local gym introduced an entirely new career path. A scout for Chadwick Modeling Agency spotted Fimmel and spent weeks wooing the shy 19-year-old to join the agency. He eventually did, and appeared in several ads, quitting school and moving to London, where he worked in a pub and acted as a concierge and assistant for wealthy travelers.<p>After two and a half years in London, Fimmel took a chance and went to Los Angeles to try to become an actor. He arrived Stateside with a hundred dollars and a pillowcase containing a few t-shirts, going straight to a modeling agency. He rightly figured working as a model would help get his foot in the door and earn him enough to get set up. He was immediately signed, and for his first gigs, he appeared in music videos for Janet Jackson and Jennifer Lopez. When the agency wanted to submit him for one of the most high-profile modeling gigs that blues eyes and a six-pack can land - Calvin Klein underwear - the reluctant model was not easily sold on the idea. After some coaxing, he flew to New York, where CK execs immediately responded to his athletic body and his natural good looks. Fimmel was given a six-figure deal with Klein, and soon the 22-year-old in his "tightie-whities" would lord over Sunset Strip in Los Angeles, SoHo, and Tottenham Court Road in London - that is, until that particular billboard caused so much disruption in traffic that it was taken down.<p>Fimmel used some of his modeling money for acting lessons, and was eventually taken under the wing of renowned Hollywood acting coach, Ivana Chubbock, who had been crucial in building careers for Brad Pitt and Halle Berry. A good boy, he also sent some money home to the farm. After several years of modeling and studying drama, Fimmel was given the starring role in the WB's updated "Tarzan," where he leapt across traffic and swung through Central Park, a young man raised in the jungle after surviving a plane crash and growing up alone in the wild. The show earned an instant cult audience - largely made up of those who enjoyed seeing the billboard underwear guy come to life - but it could not keep up in the ratings game and was cancelled after eight episodes.<p>His obvious charisma and appeal in "Tarzan" was enough to land the promising actor in two pilots, "Rocky Point" (2005) and "Southern Comfort" (Fox, 2006), but neither was picked up for air. In 2005 Fimmel was called back to Australia where he starred in his first feature, the psychological thriller "Ravenswood," which showed no signs of being released. In addition to his onscreen work, Fimmel was known for rarely wearing shoes, appearing on talk shows and at other appearances barefooted. After several years worth of low-profile film and TV work, Fimmel returned to television as Ragnar Lothbrok, the main character of the historical drama "Vikings" (History 2013- )
"I have no style. I'm one of those guys who doesn't give a shit about fashion." - Fimmel Hollywood Life September 2003
"It's hard to live up to those photos. It isn't all really me. Thank God for computer editing and special camera lenses and lighting." - Fimmel