Interview: Viking’s George Blagden: “There’s no set journey and always surprises in store”

Vikings returns to History for its second season on 24th March.

If there’s one thing we Brits love it’s a home grown success story. Whether it’s Royal Blood taking over the rock world or Benedict Cumberbatch seemingly being in every movie ever these days, it’s great to see the Brits representing the best in the business.

Another British name on the rise is George Blagden who you may have noticed in Les Miserables or Wrath Of The Titans but more than likely you’ll know him better as Athelstan in History’s Vikings. Written and created by Michael Hirst, Vikings has been a successful addition for History and returns to the channel for its second season on 24th March.

DIY chatted to George to get the gossip on what’s happening with Athelstan and where he hopes his career is going in the future.

So Vikings has not only taken off on History but on Amazon Instant Video as well. What’s it like to be part of a show that’s at the forefront of a new way of consuming media?

Well I must admit I wasn’t that aware of streaming beforehand so it’s really been fascinating to see that format take off. People are consuming in vastly different ways these days. Anything that gets the show seen is good!

For those that haven’t seen the show yet or can’t remember where we left off, where do things sit with Athelstan as we start the second season?

At the end of the first season he has been uprooted and he’s trying to find a way of survival with a new lifestyle. He certainly feels a bit betrayed. So the second season sees him continuing the journey of working out how to survive in a new world for him. The surprising thing is the jump into the future that we do at the end of the first episode. At that point he’s far more comfortable and knows how to navigate. It’s a complete transformation.

How challenging is a narrative jump like that for an actor to work with?

There wasn’t much information given to the actors about the gap at all. The writers know where it’s going and they just tell us to run with it really. It’s almost my prerogative to play it how I see fit. We only get the scripts a few weeks before so there’s not much room there. I’m discovering new things all the time! There’s no set journey and always surprises in store.

You didn’t have a huge resumé before taking on the role in Vikings. Was it hard coming in with no experience?

I just felt blessed. I’ve been lucky to work with the people that I have and especially on such huge productions. The writers didn’t actually know where the character was going, and I think he was potentially intended to die early on. Thankfully he didn’t! There’s no pre determination, and the character seemed to work well so I’m still here.

As with many shows these days, Vikings gets a lot of chatter on social media like Twitter etc, and you’re on there yourself. How do you find putting yourself out there for the fans to interact with?

Social media really has changed how people in the industry manage their shows. I don’t think anyone really knew how big Vikings would become or the positive reaction we ended up getting. It’s really a new thing for me and I’m still adapting to it. That instant feedback can be good or bad. One fan complained about my lack of accent! But on the whole it’s a fun thing to do.

What is appealing about working on a historical drama show like Vikings and how did you prepare for it?

Oh it goes all the way back to your seven year old self that enjoys dressing up. That’s still enjoyable to this day! You don’t get people walking down Regent Street dressed as vikings these days. Michael finds the balance between history and entertainment and does it very well. We’re all clear that we’re not making a documentary. For prep I did a few things like taking a research trip to Lindisfarne and learning more about the vikings there. It’s all about working within your means but there’s certainly an element of education there too.

You’ve got another show Versailles coming up soon where you play the lead character Louis XIV. Is it a deliberate choice to be in historical dramas?

Haha no a lot of people ask me that! I’m not in a position to have a choice. I’m only just starting out and I’ll go and audition and see what I get offered. As long as the project is creative then that’s what I’m interested in.

Vikings, Series 2 is on HISTORY on Tuesday 24th March at 10pm.


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