It seems unthinkable to sign on to a television series based on what will happen several seasons in the future. There’s no guarantee a program will last one year, let alone several, so it’s a gamble. But that’s exactly what Alexander Ludwig did when he became part of Vikings.
“Season 4.B is what I signed on to Vikings for,” he says during a quick stopover in Toronto before jetting back to the UK to continue production on Season 5. “I was promised this season and now it’s finally coming and I could not be more excited. Viewers will freak out. It’s ridiculous the stuff that we’re doing. I’m so proud to be part of a production that has the balls to go for it and some of the stuff we’re doing has never been done before on television.”
With the latter half of Season 4 returning Wednesday at 9 p.m. ET/PT on History, Ludwig praises creator Michael Hirst with coming through on his promise big-time. Fans will follow Ludwig’s Bjorn Lothbrok as he sails new boats—designed, of course, by Floki (Gustaf Skarsgård)—into the Mediterranean and to Africa. He’ll also establish himself as an individual, distancing himself from Ragnar (Travis Fimmel) and evolving from the lovable dude we’ve seen into a more ruthless leader.
“I grew up with this character and people are so invested in him, it’s just cool to be a part of it,” he says. Ludwig jokes things could have been very different if anything had gone wrong earlier in production when Bjorn went toe-to-toe with a bear while on his lone survival journey. Whopper, his ursine co-star, was just feet away from Ludwig and just a clothesline between them. As the Vancouver native tells it, Whopper believed the clothesline was electrified. It wasn’t. Filming took place in March outside Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., and required Ludwig not only to battle the bear, but cut a hole in lake ice and go for a frosty dip.
“I was butt naked on the top of Lake Superior in front of all of the crew,” he says with a smile. “The actual dive itself was done in a pool, which ironically, wasn’t heated. I said, ‘Guys, we could have just done this in the actual lake!'”
Looking towards the next section of episodes, fans will see a changing of the guard, story-wise, as the grizzled, battle-worn Ragnar and Floki step back from the spotlight in favour of Bjorn and his brothers, Hvitserk (Marco Islø), Ivar (Alex Høgh Andersen), Ubbe (Jordan Patrick Smith) and Sigurd (David Lindstron) stepping into history. It’s five years since Ragnar abandoned Kattegat and not everyone is happy to see him back.
“There is an immense respect Ragnar and Bjorn have for each other,” Ludwig says. “But there is a lot they need to talk about. Bjorn’s main question is ‘Why has Ragnar returned after that long? I’ve finally got my shit together and am running this thing, and suddenly now you come back?!’ You’ll see an interesting power struggle between the two.”
Vikings airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on History.
Image courtesy of Corus.