Interview by Sally A. Edwards
Photography by Alex Høgh Andersen
Vikings is back and Ivar the Boneless is all grown up. Alex Høgh Andersen has taken on the demanding role and between scenes took some beautiful photographs from on set in Ireland for us to run exclusively, not far from those Jefferson Hall aka Torstein took of Travis Fimmel when we featured him on our cover back when Ivar was just a figment of Ragnar's imagination. Here, Alex talks to us about his experiences on such a successful show.
Please introduce yourself and tell us how exactly you're feeling at this moment in time?
"Alex Høgh Andersen, Danish actor and rookie photographer. Studied Film and Media studies at the University of Copenhagen before I booked Vikings. I feel good – surprisingly calm and collected. I feel it is because I have been working on “Vikings” for a year and a half now, so it is pretty much my every day life now. I am sure the other actors playing my brothers in the show feel the same. Honestly it is just so exciting to be so close to the premiere! The last months filming, we have all been looking forward to seeing our work air!"
You've taken on a pretty epic role not only by being in such a popular show, but by coming onboard as the new breed, there's quite the precedent set already. How did you prepare to join such an established "family”?
"You really cannot prepare yourself for that and the worst thing you can do is try to be somebody else to impress everybody. Trust in yourself and your skill set, chill out, but work hard to do your best. That is really all you can do. The outstanding crew on Vikings does their very best to guide and help you with everything you need. I could not have done half of the things I have accomplished without this extremely skilled, hardworking, and overly helpful crew on Vikings. And by ‘crew’ I mean everyone from co-stars and directors, to all the extras and drivers."
We've been lucky enough to visit Wicklow having given your on-screen Pops a cover already, how's Ireland treating you?
"You gave Travis a cover!? How much did he pay you for that? ;)
"Jokes aside, the Irish people are the friendliest people in the world. There is no bullshit and it's all smiles and a good “crack,” as they say. Oh and I forgot to mention the Guinness. I am all good!"
How would you describe your character, Ivar?
"Besides being crippled in tremendously physical Viking culture, abandoned by his legendary father (who also left him to die in the woods), suffocated with too much love from his mother, overcompensating for his disease and being schooled by an extremely religious lunatic in Floki, Ivar turned out better than you would expect. He has chosen to fight his disease every day, by being very independent, and dragging himself everywhere.
"Due to his disease he has always been the observing one—a lone wolf—but that has made him very intelligent. He is manipulative, skilled, religious and provocative, but most of all he is a sad, angry and vulnerable kid. All he really does in the beginning of this season is compensating for his disease and trying to prove himself, to be loved equally and rightfully."
Can you introduce us to your on-screen brothers and tell us their best traits?
"Ubbe is the family man. I think Ubbe has always been taken a bit more care of Ivar than the rest of the brothers —he has been his legs, so to speak. Ubbe is very considerate, thoughtful and sincere. Hvitserk is the adventurous and silent fighter. He’s likable, but also has a hidden dark side. Sigurd is the emotional and intelligent brother, who probably feels a bit stuck in the middle. And he is the only one who really challenges Ivar."
What has Ivar inherited from Ragnar?
"His quirkiness and a bit of his mannerism. Definitely his intelligence and his no-bullshit attitude with a little bit of his humor on top of that… and of course women problems."
We know everyone always brings up Travis Fimmel and his practical jokes, but we see via your Instagram you may have had that baton passed to you? What kind of trouble have you been causing?
"Ahh it really has not been that bad, just a few food and water bottles here and there. But we do try to keep the tone on set friendly and light. It is important when you shoot for 12 hours in pouring rain, strong wind, and such a tight schedule. Acting in general and working on set is really just an incredible playground, and I believe that good friends play the best."
On a serious note, what was it like working with him?
"Travis is an outstanding actor and a good man. It was huge learning experience just observing him work. He is very focused on every single part of the scene and understands them fully. He taught me to do that. He is full of smart, creative ideas, and also great at choreographing the scenes. He needs to cut down on the chips though."
And how about the other long standing cast members?
"Everybody is so friendly and lovely really. One big family. Great experience having scenes with them. Especially Gustaf and I had some great scenes together that we really enjoyed shooting. It is always fun to put two lunatics together in a room and see what happens!"
When I interviewed Jeremy Renner, he told me when he filmed The Hurt Locker, he created playlists for his character and scenes such as in the HumVee and the suit. I get the sense you might be similar. If you were to create your own playlist for Ivar, what tracks would you choose for what types of scenes?
"It is too stereotypical to pick some heavy metal for every single scene he in? I think he would go for some classic music when he is in battle. He is intrigued by violence and death and finds comfort in it. When he is provoking his brothers and having his confident badass moments, he is definitely listening to jazz. Sinatra and “Come Fly With Me” maybe? Just to be a bit ironic. When vulnerable I would not mind listening to something Hanz Zimmer or Jóhann Jóhannsson composed."
You have a real passion for photography which massively helps for filming. What's the best thing about it?
"Really just understanding what is going on. It saves a lot of time on wasted takes and miscommunication. It also helps when you are preparing and working on your scenes. You are able to help choreograph your scenes in a different and more creative way. Just your entire dialogue with the director, DOP, and camera operators get more profound and interesting."
We heard you may make a book of your work, can you tell us more?
"Haha, where did you pick that up?! Wow! Yes, I have been thinking about it, but that is really all it is. My main focus right now is trying to satisfy the coolest fan base ever by giving them bits and pieces from the set of Vikings. I hope they enjoy it, because I sure as well do and I am not thinking about stopping! ;)"
All photographs courtesy of Alex Høgh Andersen.