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Interview with Alex HÝgh Andersen of "Vikings" on
TWO-HOUR SEASON FIVE PREMIERE OF HISTORYíS HIT DRAMA SERIES ĎVIKINGSí AIRS WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 29 AT 9 PM ET/PT
HISTORY Ė ALEX HōGH ANDERSEN ďVIKINGĒ Q&A
Moderator: Olivia Balog November 6, 2017 10:00am PT//1:00pm ET
Operator: Ladies and gentlemen thank you for standing by and welcome to the Alex
HÝgh Andersen ďVikingsĒ Q&A. During the presentation all participants will
be in a listen-only mode. Afterwards we will conduct a 30 minute question
and answer session. At that time if you have a question please press the 1
followed by the 4 on your telephone. If at any time during the conference you
need to reach an operator please press Star Zero. As a reminder this
conference is being recorded Monday, November 6, 2017. I would now like to
turn the conference over to Ms. Olivia Balog. Please go ahead maíam.
Operator: Hi everyone. I wanted to thank you very much for taking the time to speak to
Alex about Vikings especially in relation to the Season 5 two hour premiere.
Weíre all really excited to see it on November 29. So Alex is on the line right
now. As the operator said weíre just going to go around and take questions
and Alex youíre more than welcome to say hi.
Alex HÝgh Andersen: Hello everybody. Hey.
Operator: Thank you. Ladies and gentlemen if youíd like to register for a question please press the 1 followed by the 4 on your telephone. You will hear a three-toned prompt to acknowledge your request. If your question has been answered and you would like to withdraw your registration please press the 1 followed by the 3. If youíre using a speakerphone please lift your handset before entering your request. Our first question comes from the line of Stephanie Coats from 4 Your Excitement. Go ahead. Youíre now open.
Stephanie Coats: Thank you so much, Thank you so much Alex for joining us today. My question for you is Ragnar had told Ivar that he needs to use his anger differently but Iím wondering do you think that Ivar is capable of doing that?
Alex HÝgh Andersen: Yes. I think heís capable of doing that. But as you probably know what happened at the end of Season 4 when we killed his dear brother Sigurd he lost control of himself. He let his emotions take over. So yes you do have a point in the fact that he is challenged in terms of that.
I think he understands that is his massive weakness. That he is too driven sometimes by his emotions and that they can take over and make him lose control. And I think that is part of the reason why he is so much in remorse in the beginning of Season 5. Heís in remorse because he knows that the killing of his own brother created a wound between him and his brothers that I donít think he will be able to ever heal again.
And part of it is also him realizing that he lost control and he let everyone see it. He let everyone see his weakness and that he really struggles with. I think you will see him try his very best to control his emotions throughout the seasons. Yes.
Thank you. And our next question comes from the line of Rebecca Murray from Showbiz Junkies. And please go ahead. Your line is open.
Rebecca Murray: Good morning and thanks for doing the call.
Alex HÝgh Andersen: Thank you.
Rebecca Murray: So I was wondering without giving away any spoilers how do you think Ivarís really changed going into Season 5? I mean is he - do you think heís more of a leader? What do you think has really changed about his personality?
Alex HÝgh Andersen: I donít know if that much has changed. Of course he, being part of the leading group of the Great Heathen Army, has obviously matured him. And you will see a way more mature Ivar as much as it is possible. But he is still the same determined young man.
In the beginning well in Season 4 I would describe him as a boy. I think heís becoming a young man eventually throughout Season 5 because thereís a lot of things happening. And then this whole responsibility of maybe leading a Great Heathen Army takes a toll on a human being.
I think Ivar is really ready and up for the challenge but it is a challenge and heís going to learn from the mistake that heís going to make. But heís still the same determined guy who will never let anyone stand in his way of his goals. Heís so progressive. And heís not afraid of using violence to get his ways.
Rebecca Murray: Thank you.
Thank you. And our next question comes from the line of Lindsay Cepak with When Nerds Attack. Please go ahead. Your line is open.
Lindsay Cepak: Hi. I know earlier you were speaking about how Ivar lost control obviously and killed Sigurd and caused that riff between him and his brothers. Can you talk a little bit more about how Ivarís relationship is going to be with his brothers and how that kind of stands going into Season 5 and if thatís going to deteriorate without giving too many spoilers?
Alex HÝgh Andersen: Well obviously as you say thereís Ė there was a riff already and I donít think that heís capable of healing it again. But in the beginning of Season 5 you will see him being genuinely sorry. And he tells his brothers that. But is that again a way of him manipulating them and trying to make them feel sorry for him or bringing them in onto his team a little bit again to be able to control them or not making them be too hostile against him because I think heís aware of the fact that he needs them to reach his goals.
And I think you will see a lot of discussions between the brothers, a lot of unspoken things, a lot of love and also hate. Those are the scenes that I think all of us, all of the brothers, really love to shoot because theyíre very intense and thereís a lot of things happening thereís a lot of drama. But - do they still love each other or is that bridge burned? Thatís the whole thing about it.
I think itís our greatest goal as actors to always keep the audience guessing and for me especially with Ivar because he is such an extreme character and manipulative. And he can easily become one-dimensional. So my main objective is to keep him balanced and to have scenes like in the beginning of Season 5 where heís genuinely sorry for his actions and that he almost hates himself right? I think thatís the key of this whole relationship. Yes.
Lindsay Cepak: Thank you.
Thank you. And ladies and gentlemen as a reminder to register for a question please press the 1 followed by the 4 on your telephone. Our next question comes from the line of Curt Wagner from TV Show Patrol. Please go ahead. Your line is open.
Hi Alex. Nice talking to you again.
Alex HÝgh Andersen: Hey.
We talked in the past about how vulnerable Ivar can be. Then he turns around and is sort of sadistic and sort of a madman. Tell me about how that Ė is that - so is he going to get harder the more he tastes power and not be so vulnerable or the first episode heís pretty vulnerable but could you sort of talk about that difference in his two sides I guess?
Alex HÝgh Andersen: Yes. I mean he will always be vulnerable. He will always be three-dimensional. That is my main goal as an actor. And I can never ever judge him. I can do my very best to make people understand him because the last thing we want is a one-dimensional character. And then he did I mean Michael Hirst wrote this character so brilliantly that we canít do that to him. He doesnít deserve that as a character. He will always be vulnerable.
As much as I love the crazy scenes where Iím killing a lot of Saxons and Iím yelling old Norseman, Iím crawling around as much as I love those crazy, crazy scenes they are a lot of fun. What my heart really longs for as an actor is the vulnerable scenes where he is maybe alone in a room and you can see that a lot of these scenes where you see them being on top and heís quick, and heís smart, and heís intelligent, and manipulative and being Ivar you see that most of it is an act because he is so controlled on the outside. That is what people are when they are very broken on the inside and donít want to show people.
So he will always, always be vulnerable. And we will Ė and I will always do my best to show that. That is the most important thing of what I do with this character.
Okay great. Thanks.
Thank you. And our next question comes from the line of Katy Grace from Thatís Normal. Please go ahead. Your line is open.
Thank you. Thank you so much for talking with us today Alex I wanted to switch gears a little bit. Anyone who has been following the show for a while knows that your set is known for shenanigans among the cast members. And I was curious if the veteran actors welcomed all of you newbs, the younger generation, with any epic pranks? And whether with Travis gone if anyone has taken up the mantle of the chief merry prankster on set?
Alex HÝgh Andersen: There was no big special prank thank God because I would probably have been scared away. But, every day shooting with Travis is a prank in itself. So not that he is not phenomenal to work with and that he doesnít take his job seriously heís the quite opposite and he such a great actor to work with. Itís always fun when youíre around Travis.
That has also translated to the entire crew. I mean every single day at work is so much fun. We are throwing food at each other and itís horrible but itís so great itís so great. Itís a small family of 300 people and I love them to pieces. Theyíve helped me with so much.
The thing that Iíve achieved so far I could not have done without them. Itís also cheesy but it is so, so true. And part of it is because we were so good at keeping a light atmosphere on set which I think is very, very important
because itís such a dark show, itís such an intense show and thereís - itís some
long days in the worst conditions when weíre shooting in January, February and Iím crawling in the woods and itís snowing sideways, raining sideways. And I canít feel limbs I mean well some would say that itís forced method acting and it seems very, very organic.
And the reason why we look wild in those scenes are because we feel like it. So itís all good I guess. But itís very, very tough. And especially those days you need to just throw some food at each other. I mean you need to do that. But yes weíve taken upon us to keep that atmosphere there and I think everybody has. And itís just great so great.
Thank you so much.
Thank you. And our next question comes from the line of Tara Lynne from The Geekiary. Please go ahead. Your line is open.
Yes hi. Like everyone else has said thank you so much for talking with us today. What I would askÖ
Alex HÝgh Andersen: Hi.
Tara Lynne: Öwas Ivar is heís an interesting character because he is ambitious, and motivated to succeed in a system thatís built not to generally respect or honor differently abled people but he has for the most part, despite his flaws, seen a lot of success. And Iíd like to know why you think that is? And whether you think, heís going to continue to succeed despite his flaws and his weaknesses?
Alex HÝgh Andersen: Well I think most of it is since heís brilliant. Heís so smart. Heís so intelligent. People know that he has his flaws and he knows that he has his
flaws. But when he shows up on the day of proving yourself, on the day of battle and where everybodyís life is at stakes, heís the one organizing the whole thing. And heís the one more or less at the end of Season 4 we see that he is the reason why they get through it.
I think actions speak louder than words. Some of his actions are good and some of his actions are so very, very bad. But I think you also have to remember that this is in the Viking era where death is a way bigger part of life. Itís way more acceptable. I mean Vikings grew up only thinking about death right and how to die so they could get into Valhalla.
So even though it sounds horrible in contemporary minds the fact of him killing his brothers is probably not that big back in the dayís right? Of course itís horrible. But I mean people with no personal relation to him but only see him as this leader probably didnít give a damn I mean because all they care about buy the end of the day is winning the next battle or dying in a tremendous beautiful Viking way.
The Great Heathen Army and the troops of the Great Heathen Army understand that Ivar is probably the one that will get them there yes in the best way. I think that he understands that he is very, very confident. And especially after what happened in Season 4, at the end of Season 4 winning the battle against the Saxons there and trying to take over the Great Heathen Army. He just becomes more and more confident and rightfully so. That makes him very, very dangerous, very dangerous.
Tara Lynne: Awesome. Thank you.
Thank you. And ladies and gentlemen as a reminder to register for a question it is 1, 4 on your telephone keypad. Our next question comes from the line of Kyle Wilson from NerdRep. Please go ahead. Your line is open.
Hey Alex, nice to speak with you. Iím curious how going into the season Ivarís relationship with Lagertha will be affected? Now that heís rising to power is this Ė are they going to see a little bit of power struggle? Will that dynamic shift during this upcoming string of episodes?
Alex HÝgh Andersen: Oh definitely, definitely. I mean I think itís great because Lagertha is maybe the complete opposite of Ivar. She is such a great and perfect and humane character. And itís great to see those two characters clash together and see this wild and crazy guy whoís so determined and probably only thinks about himself against this power woman whoís all about the people.
Itís great to see those two characters clash. Yes thereís going to be a massive power struggle. But this whole Civil War as you can see itís going to be very, very intense and it is Vikings fighting Vikings. I remember when we shot this stuff and when we read the scripts and, where this whole thing was going when we started to realize that there was going to be a Civil War the biggest talk was like how are the audience going to take this because nobody really wants to see Vikings fighting against Vikings. They want to see Vikings against Saxons or whoever right?
So itís very, very interesting. Itís very interesting. Iím very excited to see how the audience is going to take this. But I mean we did our best and I have a great feeling about it. The stuff that we shot looks amazing. This season in particular is probably the biggest weíve ever done. And some of the executives Iíve heard are very pleased so no pressure but we are happy as far
as Iím concerned. So yes I canít wait to see that stuff myself. I havenít seen any of it.
Thank you. And our next question comes from the line of Courtney Vaudreuil from OHSOGRAY. Please go ahead. Your line is open.
Courtney Vaudreuil: Hi. Thanks for talking with us today. My question for you, is that Ivar is an antihero but also filling the void left by Ragnar. How do you approach marking him sympathetic or likable or is that even possible?
Alex HÝgh Andersen: Yes is that even possible? Yes thatís a big struggle with Ivar and has always been. Itís a great thing you mention Ragnar because I like to think of it this way. Ragnar is an antihero. And heís more of a hero then heís anti. I think Ivarís a bit more of the opposite. He is an antihero with an emphasis on anti.
And thatís a great thing about it because I love to challenge the audience. And I Ė thereís nothing more interesting I find to make the audience guess all the time and sit down and actually think do we like this dude or do we root for him and do we not because that just challenges the audience. Thatís the whole point of the art right to make people actually think and not to sit down and be relaxed.
Bet yes he is Ė heís quite a trouble to make him, make people feel sympathy for him. But so what I do is - and of course working with Michael all the time we have a great dialogue with him. And weíre both aware of the fact that we need him to have these small scenes once in a while where we see the real human where he is him and where heís not acting, heís not manipulating people.
And we need to - we really need to have those. Because otherwise you will become one dimensional and thatís the worst thing I know. But also the whole physicality of him, the visceral part of him is very important to me to keep in a crawling mode so to speak as much as possible because Iím a - I believe that every single time we see him crawl itís a constant reminder of what heís been through and what heís dealing with on a daily basis.
And I think itís hard for people to fathom what heís been through. Itís hard for me and Iím playing the dude. Every single time we have a chance where he can crawl or, heís not just sitting in on a chair because if heís sitting on a chair he looks like everybody else. But if I have the chance to either choreograph the scene in a way that makes it obvious that heís crippled or you create a reminder that this is what heís been through and what heís dealing with I think thatís one way to keep him as being an antihero so to speak.
But thereís still good in him thereís empathy in him - for him. But yes itís a challenge. It is a challenge. But Ė on the outside heís a controlled maniac but on the inside heís a poor boy. So for me Iíve never had trouble having sympathy for him. And I think that if I ever lose that I think the audience will as well and the opposite way I will always have sympathy for him I think the audience will as well.
Courtney Vaudreuil: Wonderful. Thank you so much.
Alex HÝgh Andersen: Thank you. Thank you.
Okay thank you. At our next question comes from the line of Benjamin Lindsay with Rotten Tomatoes. Please go ahead. Your line is open.
Benjamin Lindsay: Hey there Alex. Thanks again for taking the time. I wanted to follow-up on a question. I had spoken with Michael Hirst about the end of last season. He basically said that this new character Bishop Heahmund played by Jonathan Rhys Meyers heís this warrior Bishop and heís being introduced as kind of an adversary to Ivar. I was hoping you could speak to that a little bit and in what ways this character is a formidable adversary.
Alex HÝgh Andersen: Jonathan Rhys Meyers who plays Bishop Heahmund is just well Johnny, Johnny is phenomenal. So itís a great, great pleasure working with him. He is outstanding. And heís so intense. It was great to work with him.
And what his character is, is really what Michael and I talked about when well when Michael told me about the idea of bringing him in and creating this kind of an archenemy to Ivar because if Ivar didnít have someone who was as similar to him I think it would be kind of close to unbearable with me or close to a walk in the park for Ivar.
He needs to have some enemy that is just as extreme but for a different cause but just as extreme and determinant and such a powerhouse as well. And Johnny really, really brings that to the table. And having these two characters square off together is phenomenal and youíll see a lot of scenes with these two together.
I think whatís very interesting with the two characters is that they understand each other. You know that thing about you that even though itís your biggest enemy and you hate him you do understand him because you are very similar and you come from the same place. You have the same ideas. You have the same goals. So thereís some mutual respect. And youíll see that thereís mutual respect between these two guys.
The dynamic between these two strong characters I think are going to be very interesting. I believe that some of the stuff that we shot when they were squaring off is going to be very, very good. And I have a great feeling about it. And Johnny is just absolutely tremendous.
Benjamin Lindsay: Thatís great. Iím looking forward to it. Thanks so much.
Alex HÝgh Andersen: Thank you.
Thank you. And - thank you our next question comes from the line of Krista Chain with The TV MegaSite. Please go ahead. Your line is open.
Hi Alex. How are you today?
Alex HÝgh Andersen: Hey. Hi good.
Please tell us a little bit about how you got the role of Ivar?
Alex HÝgh Andersen: Okay. So back in Ė back when we started oh when I took on Ivar Ė when we did the last audition I didnít even audition for Ivar actually. I was auditioning for all of the other brothers until Frank Moiselle Casting Director poked me on the shoulder and told me that I should read for Ivar. And then after that I was sitting trying to remember his scene for half an hour. And I was sweating. I was sweating like Iíve never been before.
And then we did it. And when I got the part my agent well my agent called me and said that Iíve gotten the part. And I had to ask which one because I literally had no clue. So to take on Ivar was quite a thing in the beginning. I mean and just the fact that heís so - heís such a complicated character. I mean
thereís tons to the character. And Iím so privileged to have been able to
work with him on a daily basis. Heís a gift really.
Of course thereís a lot of research in terms of understanding his disease. Itís a very authentic show. And it takes pride in being authentic. So I need to when Iím portraying a character that suffers from a real-life disease I need to be as authentic as well. And that is - has been since day one in the back of my head with every single thing that I do. Not that long ago we started shooting Season 6 where I was like we had to change it because he wouldnít be able to do that physically whatever happened in that scene.
Iím so limited in my acting because of his disease. I just canít, go and do this or do that or anything because he first of all he canít walk. And second of all if youíve been crippled for your entire life youíre also used to the fact that, you would just sit down and you would get people, other people to do stuff for you. So it was Ė itís been quite frustrating actually in the beginning to not be able to choreograph your scenes.
And also the technique of acting is a bit different because you have to compensate with your upper body acting wise now that you canít use your full body. So what happened was just naturally and organically we just became about his eyes. And so I - and me being a fan of less is more and trying to act as much with the eyes instead of the entire body I think thatís a bit more interesting in some cases.
Thatís what weíve been trying to do with this character me and the directors. And itís a learning experience. It really, really is. Itís tough to be so limited but such a learning experience. And Iím very grateful for it actually.
Krista Chain: Okay. Well I wish you good luck in the next season.
Alex HÝgh Andersen: Thank you very much. Thank you.
Thank you. And our next question comes from the line of Mary Anne Butler from Aggressive Comix. Please go ahead. Your line is open.
Mary Anne Butler: Hi Alex. I wanted to go back and talk about San Diego Comic Con this year because History Channel did an amazing thing where they let the audience experience a Viking funeral for the character of Ragnar. And getting to watch you and the cast interact with the audience was really, really cool. Did you find the same catharsis experiencing that as the fans and the audience did?
Alex HÝgh Andersen: It was absolutely amazing. Iím so happy you bring that up because at this stage all Iíve been doing until Comic Con was working on this thing nonstop because Season 5 was 20 episodes. So we shot that for 11 months straight almost. I never had the proper interaction with the audience Iím so familiar with and thatís nothing compared to meeting people in real life.
And it was just an extraordinary, extraordinary experience to see how happy people were and how much they loved the show. It was very, very overwhelming. Itís a day that I will definitely never forget. I was a nervous wreck sitting at the panel, trying to sound clever, and smart, and charming and intelligent in English is a challenge alone for me.
To see 2000, 3000 people showing up just to the panel alone was just crazy. And then we went to the funeral oh my God that was almost even worse. It was phenomenal. It was such a phenomenal experience. And people were so nice, and happy and appreciative. And I was even more appreciative of that day and for all the people that showed up. It was a great experience. And what
it really does is it makes all the hard work that we do all the crawling through mud in February it makes all that stuff worth it. And it was just great. You really feel Ė I really felt alive that day really felt alive. It was extraordinary.
Mary Anne Butler: It really showed. Thank you so much Alex.
Alex HÝgh Andersen: No thank you.
Thank you. And our final question is a follow-up question from the line of Curt Wagner from TV Show Patrol. Please go ahead. Your line is open.
Hello again. I want to talk about Ivarís relationship with Floki and how much Floki leaving affects him and if we will sort of see that throughout the season?
Alex HÝgh Andersen: Yes. Was that - is that the end of the question Floki leaving and how that affects him?
Curt Wagner: Yes, yes.
Alex HÝgh Andersen: Okay perfect. Yes you see Floki has always been I probably think Ivarís only friend. And in terms of everything thatís happening in the beginning of Season 5 the aftermath of Ivar killing Sigurd he really needs that support and that friend in Floki. So it is the absolutely worst timing when Floki decides to leave.
And I think that is really, really, really for the worst for Ivar. And imagine losing a friend in the moment you that you need him the most and especially everything thatís going on I think it makes him more cold, and determinate, and hard. And thatís not, thatís rough on everybody else. But it is very much also rough on Ivar because I donít think that, that is what Ivar wants but that is
his way of surviving 100% sure of that. And itís a very, very tough, tough loss.
Curt Wagner: Okay.
Operator: I believe we have one more question also after this from April Neale.
Alex HÝgh Andersen: Okay.
Operator: Thank you. And Ms. Neale your line is open from Monsters and Critics.
April Neale: Thanks. Hey Alex Iím fascinated with your relationship with the actor, with Jordan Patrick Smithís character. Iím also fascinated with your arc with Floki this season. Do you take Floki leaving for Iceland as abandonment or do you cheer him on? And whatís your Ė how do you describe your relationship with Ubbe?
Alex HÝgh Andersen: So okay if you take Floki first. I think itís Ė I think he feels both ways. I think he feels abandoned but I - again thatís something that heís used to right? Itís just another damn person that he loves that left him. So it just adds to this horrible, horrible line of damaging.
Floki is also a friend. Ivar understands why he needs to do what he needs to do. He really wants him to stay but he also understands him. And I think he takes it as a sign that now heís on his own and now itís only itís the Ivar show from now on up in his head.
While that brings me on to Ubbe because that doesnít bode well for Ubbe. That is the great thing about what Jordan and I have talked about when went through these scenes and tried out what was their relationship we were pretty
agreeing on the fact that we both thought Jordanís character Ubbe was Ė has always been the bigger brother the more concerned bigger brother who is taking care of his little brothers and especially Ivar.
So we created this thing that Ubbe has always been Ivarís legs in a way. Thereís a great line in Season 5 where we actually got that line in. It was just great. But so I think also that Ubbe feels very betrayed. He also feels that he failed in terms of helping upbringing this kid and not creating a monster out of him and seeing him become one a very hurt monster - just really hurts him. And I donít think you can ever settle down with that. I think he feels very disappointed in himself and in Ivar.
He has his own goals and ambitions of course. So to see your younger brother just full on ahead and take over and donít care who was in his way I mean thatís got to hurt as well. So there is some very interesting dynamic between especially Ubbe and Ivar. Yes.
Well thank you.
Thank you. And there are no further questions at this time.
Thank you so much everyone for joining the call. AlexÖ
Alex HÝgh Andersen: Yes. Thank you.
Operator: We appreciate your time again!
Alex HÝgh Andersen: Very much indeed, very much indeed. Thank you guys, thank you guyís great questions.
Thank you. Ladies and gentlemen that does conclude the conference call for today. We thank you for your participation. And we ask that you please disconnect your line.
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