First making its way onto the small screen in 2013, the History Channel series Vikings has captured the attention of viewers across the globe. From its authentic set designs and costumes to the extraordinary storylines and acting, fans everywhere rave about its portrayal of the legendary fierce Scandinavian warrior civilization. But who are the actors and actresses that bring this series to life? We’ve got the inside scoop behind the scenes.
1. Aslaug by Alyssa Sutherland
Ragnar’s second wife, Aslaug, may not be the most respected woman in Kattegat. That’s especially after she decides to give all of her attention to her disabled son Ivar, and in turn neglects the rest of her children. But one thing she does have going for is she’s considered to be somewhat of a psychic. She possesses an ability to receive glimpses of the future through visions.
In reality, the actress who plays Aslaug, Alyssa Sutherland, isn’t a future-teller, nor is she a mother tasked with deciding which children to give attention to. Sutherland is an Australian model-turned-actress who has appeared on screen in films such as The Devil Wears Prada and Day on Fire.
2. Björn Ironside by Alexander Ludwig
Vikings fans have watched Ragnar Lothbrok’s eldest son Björn change quite a bit over the course of five seasons. While he starts out in season one as a meek mama’s boy, he quickly transforms into a combative and loyal warrior like his father. We suppose the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree, does it?
In reality, the person who plays Björn is far removed from a Scandinavian king or a Norse Viking chief. He’s Canadian actor Alexander Ludwig, known for his role as Cato in The Hunger Games. In addition to being an actor, Ludwig is also a country singer and released a love song in January 2020.
3. Torvi by Georgia Hirst
Torvi is a strong-willed shield-maiden who will do anything to protect the ones she loves. This is evidenced in the way she takes out her second husband Erlendur, after he threatens to kill her son and tries convincing her to kill Björn. In addition to this, Torvi gets recognized as Lagertha’s right-hand woman.
Believe it or not, playing Torvi is British actress Georgia Hirst’s first breakthrough role. And if you’re thinking she looks just like another former Vikings cast member, that’s because she does. Her sister Maude Hirst played Floki’s deceased wife Helga. But this isn’t the only familial tie worth noting: the women’s father, Michael Hirst, also happens to be the creator of the entire show.
4. Rollo Sigurdsson by Clive Standen
Fearsome, impulsive, animalistic, and outright berserk — that’s how most viewers would describe Vikings‘ Duke of Normandy, Rollo. As Ragnar’s older brother, Rollo is someone who not only struggles internally, but who also helps turn the battlefield into a bloodbath, especially in the beginning of the series.
Luckily, the actor who plays Rollo, Clive Standen, isn’t nearly as combative as his on-screen character. Standen may be an expert in Muay Thai boxing and fencing, but he considers himself a major softie. The British actor is a father of three, and told People that not only does he know everything about American Girl dolls, but he’s also an adept tickler. Adorable!
5. Judith of Northumbria by Jennie Jacques
Judith of Northumbria has quite the love life on Vikings. After having an arranged marriage to Aethelwulf, cheating on him with Athelstan, and getting her ear cut off in return, she seduces her father-in-law King Ecbert. She then dies of cancer. Oh, Hollywood.
Jennie Jacques, the actress who played Judith in the series, is a seasoned professional when it comes to acting in historical dramas. The English actress also played the main role of Annie Miller in BBC’s Desperate Romantics. Apart from her television roles, Jacques is a devoted epilepsy advocate. She is said to have a family connection to the disorder, and participates in charity swims and Spartan races to raise money for charity.
NEXT: We didn’t realize these Vikings actors were also in this.
6. Floki by Gustaf Skarsgård
Devoted Viking and skilled boat-builder, Floki is arguably responsible for aiding in his best friend Ragnar’s ascent to power. That’s because he is the mastermind behind the new longboats, which are durable enough to cross the North Sea. Aside from this role, Floki is also a prophet who discovers Iceland, which he believes to be the Land of the Gods.
Floki actor Gustaf Skarsgård is basically a real life Viking hailing from a rather famous Scandinavian family. His father Stellan Skarsgård is known for portraying Bootstrap Bill Turner in the Pirates of the Caribbean film series, and brother Alexander Skarsgård is recognized for playing Eric Northman in HBO’s True Blood.
7. Astrid by Josefin Asplun
The ex-lover of Lagertha and a skilled shield-maiden in her own right, Astrid is introduced to the Vikings series towards the end of season four. She joins Lagertha’s court at Hedeby, and they expect her to learn from the best about all things love and war. Her life is riddled with catastrophes, until she dies at the hand of Lagertha in battle.
Playing the role of Astrid certainly helped Swedish actress Josefin Asplund solidify her place in Hollywood. But before she joined the Vikings cast, Asplund appeared in the 2011 crime thriller The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. There, she played Mikael Blomkvist’s teenage daughter who became religious to the dismay of her father.
8. Aethelwulf by Moe Dunford
King Ecbert’s son Aethelwulf succeeds his father to the throne following the Battle of Repton, where he leads the Great Heathen Army to storm the royal villa of Wessex. As a very adept and strong warrior, it is a shame that he doesn’t die from something more noble. What ends up taking Aethelwulf’s life is a bee sting.
Moe Dunford, the Irish actor who plays Aethelwulf, first burst onto the scene in 2010 when he appeared in the historical fiction series The Tudors. But it wasn’t until he starred in Patrick’s Day as Patrick Fitzgerald, a young schizophrenic man, that he got his big break. The film garnered a lot of praise, earning Dunford an IFTA for Best Actor in a Lead Role in Film.
9. Siggy by Jessalyn Gilsig
The widow of former Vikings chief Earl Haraldson, Siggy is a heavily-admired woman in Kattegat. She is precise and perfect when it comes to carrying out her duties, and puts on a very trustworthy front to those around her. But behind closed doors, Siggy proves herself to be dishonest and manipulative.
Canadian actress Jessalyn Gilsig has appeared in series like Nip/Tuck, Boston Public, and Glee. She’s worked hard in Hollywood to stay true to who she is, taking to Instagram in February 2020 to discuss how when she first moved to Los Angeles, she was offered a film role with a condition. She was told to get a nose job and change her last name to something less “ethnic.” She decided to give up the role.
10. King Ecbert by Linus Roache
King Ecbert is one sneaky fella, and that’s just putting it lightly. While the King of Wessex and Mercia projects himself as being trustworthy and good-natured, behind closed doors he is deceitful and conniving. He goes to the ends of the earth to achieve his goals, whether that’s sacrificing his son Aethelwulf, ordering a massacre at the Norse settlement, or planning to overthrow his fellow rulers like Kwenthrith and Aelle.
Vikings isn’t Linus Roache’s first time playing a king. The English actor also took the lead role of King Richard II at the Royal Exchange’s Richard II play. However, most Roache fans can immediately recognize him as Law & Order‘s executive ADA, Michael Cutter. More recently, he starred as David Wellington in the spy thriller series Homeland.
NEXT: You didn’t realize your favorite Vikings castmembers have these hidden talents.
11. Princess Ellisif by Sophie Vavasseur
Ellisif isn’t around for long, but while she is, she stirs up quite a bit of drama on the series. Not only is she the Danish princess and wife of Earl Vik, but she’s also the love interest of King Harald. The Princess promises to stay by King Harald’s side as he works to become a ruler, but later pulls a knife on him, leading to her own death at the hands of Halfdan.
Fortunately, the life of the actress who plays Ellisif, Sophie Vavasseur, is not nearly as harrowing as that of her on-screen counterpart. Hailing from Dublin, Ireland, she famously appeared in the leading role of Evelyn Doyle in the 2002 drama Evelyn.
12. Athelstan by George Blagden
Ragnar took him as a slave, and as such, Christian monk Athelstan struggles to keep his faith. He spends his days caring for the powerful warrior’s children, and has a hard time trying to maintain his religious beliefs and traditions while living in the foreign, merciless realm of the Vikings.
The actor who played Athelstan, George Blagden, hails from England. He’s graced the screen in several grand roles, most notably as French King Louis XIV in the television series Versailles and Grantaire in the musical film Les Misérables. Most recently, Blagden said “I do” to fellow British actress Laura Pitt-Pulford in September 2019.
13. Thorunn by Gaia Weiss
Originally a servant, Thorunn is expecting to deliver her and Helgi’s son when she mysteriously vanishes without a trace. She later appears to Floki in spirit form with a message. She tells him that Rafarta summoned her away and that Asbjorn murdered her because of claims that her baby was an abomination.
Ballet dancer and model Gaia Weiss is the actress behind Thorunn’s character in Vikings. The multi-talented Parisian entertainer uses her spotlight to advocate for change. In February 2020, Weiss took to Instagram to announce that she is vowing to improve the way she lives in accordance with the “ethical, societal, and ecological” challenges the world faces today.
14. Therese by Karen Hassan
A noblewoman who lives in Emperor Charles of Frankia’s court, Therese is also the mistress of Count Odo. She ends up betraying Odo by entering into a relationship with her own brother Roland, whom she later dies alongside at the hands of Emperor Charles’ guards.
The woman behind Therese’s character is Northern Irish actress Karen Hassan. Hassan’s latest work is in the 2018 Irish film Cellar Door, where she plays Aidie, a young girl who wakes up to find herself in a Magdalene Laundry, a type of orphanage for unwed mothers. With no recollection of being pregnant, she is rightfully baffled.
15. Ivar by Alex Høgh Andersen
Nicknamed Ivar the Boneless due to a disease that renders him unable to walk, Ivar assumes the throne following his father Ragnar’s death. He is wholly committed to seeking revenge on Lagertha for murdering his mother Aslaug, and proves himself to be a contentious and fearsome warrior.
In real life, the Danish actor who plays Ivar, Alex Høgh Andersen, spends most of his time studying photography, having pursued Film and Media Studies at the University of Copenhagen. When he’s not impersonating a Scandinavian warrior, he’s said to be using his knowledge of cameras to direct short films. What’s more, Anderson is also allegedly a trained dancer, singer, and fencer.
NEXT: These women are among Vikings fans’ favorites.
16. Kassia by Karima McAdams
Byzantine nun Kassia is first introduced to the series in season five. Though her job description would suggest she remains celibate, news of an affair with the North African warrior Emir Ziyadat Allah eventually gets out. The two of them end up escaping the Vikings together during a sandstorm.
Outside of Vikings, Kassia actress Karima McAdams is the face of Lara Croft in the famed video game Tomb Raider. Landing this role meant she underwent a great deal of training in martial arts — something that no doubt could have helped her Kassia counterpart survive in the Viking world. McAdams can also be seen in the television series Fearless and Deep State.
17. Ubbe by Jordan Patrick Smith
The first son of Ragnar and Aslaug, Ubbe takes after his father’s mastery in battle, and is wise beyond his years. Not only does his acumen help him track down Floki in the wilderness, but his maturity also leads him to treat everyone with compassion — even slaves.
Even off camera, the Scottish-Australian actor who plays Ubbe, Jordan Patrick Smith, enjoys hanging with his Vikings castmates. (That is, when he isn’t busy surfing waves at the beach.) On New Years Eve of 2019, Smith traveled all the way to Copenhagen, Denmark to surprise Marco Ilsø, the actor who plays his on-screen brother Hvitserk.
18. Queen Kwenthrith by Amy Bailey
Provocative Queen of Mercia, Kwenthrith has a short run on the Vikings series. While she is first introduced in the second season, she is taken as a prisoner by her nobles in season four. Kwenthrith refuses to be held captive and escapes to King Ecbert’s chamber in an attempt to kill him. But before she can, she is taken out by Judith.
Portraying Kwenthrith, Amy Bailey is more than just an actress. The Texas native is also a former professional ballerina, acrobat, and aerialist who even trained in Cirque du Soleil for more than five years. An avid improvisator, Bailey is also highly involved in the comedy improv scenes of both Los Angeles and London.
19. King Harald by Peter Franzén
One of Harald’s most recognizable traits is perhaps the sadistic grin he displays each time he kills an enemy in battle. An unrelenting warrior, we always see him at the front lines of any fight, and he’s considered one of Ragnar’s biggest threats. He dreams of becoming Norway’s king, and finally fulfills this dream in season six.
Finnish actor Peter Franzén does a lot more beyond his role on Vikings. In 2013, he wrote a semi-autobiographical book called Above Dark Waters, which chronicles his troubled and painful relationship with his stepfather. He has also tried his hand at screenwriting and directing. In most recent news, Franzén is said to be working on the Amazon Prime Video series, The Wheel of Time.
20. Lagertha by Katheryn Winnick
Katheryn Winnick may not be Scandinavian, but she’s one of the most recognizable Vikings in the bunch. Her character, Lagertha, is a well-respected shield-maiden known for her fighting prowess and unbeatable strength. Such traits help her win affection from the likes of Kalf, Astrid, and even her brother-in-law Rollo, before she takes the crown as the second Queen of Kattegat.
It seems the Canadian actress of Ukrainian descent has more in common with her on-screen counterpart than what meets the eye. In an interview with StarPulse, Winnick revealed she started training in martial arts at the age of seven. She has a black belt in both tae kwon do and karate.
21. Ragnar by Travis Fimmel
One of the most famous Viking warriors is Ragnar Lothbrok, played by actor Travis Fimmel on Vikings. As the protagonist of the series’ early seasons, Ragnar is known for his pillaging and warring ways until his untimely death in season four. He is also the first one to go out into the open sea and explore other lands.
Ragnar actor Travis Fimmel wasn’t raised in southern Norway like his character, but instead hails from Australia. He was at the gym when he was scouted by a talent agent, who told him to fly to California with only the $60 he had on him. From there, Fimmel landed a modeling gig with Calvin Klein before dipping into the acting world.
22. Thyri by Elinor Crawley
Viewers first meet Thyri in season one when her father, Earl Haraldson offers Rollo her hand in marriage so long as he testifies against Ragnar in court. After Rollo declines the offer, Haraldson pays an elder Swedish lord to marry his daughter. Thyri is visibly upset by this but then later dies at the end of the season from the plague.
Thyri is played by Welsh actress Elinor Crawley. Not a stranger to historical dramas, she played Cecily of York on The White Queen. Outside of acting, Crawley is a dedicated supporter of the Diabetes UK charity. She was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at the age of nine and has since become a voice for those with the same condition.
23. Yidu by Dianne Doan
Yidu first appears in Kattegat in season four after being captured in Frankia and taken to the southern peninsula as a slave. Despite not being the only person of East Asian descent among the group of captives, her rare appearance grabs the attention of Aslaug. He buys her as a servant, and later Ragnar takes an interest in her.
The Canadian actress who plays Yidu, Dianna Doan, has appeared beyond Vikings in more light-hearted projects, like her role as Lonnie in the 2015 Disney film, Descendants. The actress made recent headlines in November 2019 after she got engaged to The Good Place star Manny Jacinto.
24. Emperor Charles II by Lothaire Bluteau
The complex, authoritative, and somewhat opportunistic emperor of Frankia, Charles II believes his mission on Earth is to go to battle with the Vikings. Although some of his nobles, like Count Odo, believe him to be weak, there is no denying he is actually a cunning and merciless politician.
Portraying the character of Emperor Charles II is Quebecois actor Lothaire Bluteau, who, outside of the Viking world, has appeared in roles as Marcus Alvers in 24 and Charles de Marillac in The Tudors. Prior to television, Bluteau also acted in a number of drama films like Being At Home With Claude, Orlando, and I Shot Andy Warhol.
25. Gisla by Morgane Polanski
Strong-willed, determined, and loyal, Gisla is the most trusted adviser of her father, Emperor Charles. She is not afraid to stand up for what she believes in and is later appointed the Duchess of Normandy. As the wife of Rollo, Gisla is also the mother of Celsa, William, and Marcellus.
Playing royalty is French model and actress Morgane Polanski. As the daughter of a renowned filmmaker and actress, Polanski made her first Hollywood debut in her father Roman’s Oscar-winning film The Pianist back in 2002. Since then, she has appeared in both Oliver Twist and The Ghost Writer, even following dad’s footsteps into directing. In 2016, she directed the short film The Stroke, then directed and wrote The Understudy two years later.
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