Netflix has unleashed a new epic TV series which looks set to take the world by storm, as Vikings: Valhalla finally hit the streaming service on February 25, 2022. The violent sequel series to the original Vikings series is here, and will undoubtedly be the latest binge-worthy Netflix series to capture the imagination of popular culture fans and get us all hooked!
We were able to spend some time with many of the stars of the new show recently, including leading men Sam Corlett and Leo Suter, and two of the most powerful women in Vikings: Valhalla, Frida Gustavsson and Caroline Henderson. Now, we turn our attention to co-stars Jóhannes Jóhannesson and Bradley Freegard, who play Olaf Haraldsson, and King Canute respectively.
We spoke to the actors about the real life counterparts of their characters in the show, how the production of Vikings: Valhalla compared to their previous experience on other TV series, and how they collaborated to achieve historical accuracy during filming.
The Digital Fix: Bradley, in Vikings: Valhalla you play King Canute, an real-life historical Monarch who I actually remember learning about when I was younger, particularly the story of King Canute and the tide. Did you do much research into the man you were playing on the show?
Bradley Freegard: Yes! I read a couple of good books in and around the history of Canute, who is a fascinating character. What’s perhaps most interesting about Canute is, when you compare him to other kings of England who came before him, and after him, is really how little there is written about him. This is simply because he died so suddenly, and so did his ancestors.
Within a matter of 15 years, his entire lineage was gone. So what evidence we have of him that remains is so small, especially when you consider what he achieved in such a short space of time. It was an incredible achievement to build the empire that he did.
TDF: Jóhannes, you previously worked on Game of Thrones. How did the Valhalla production compare to that? Were there any particular similarities, or differences?
Jóhannes Jóhannesson: Well similarities, for a start the two shows were shot on the same island; Game of Thrones was in Northern Ireland, and Valhalla was shot in the Republic of Ireland. But both productions are very well-oiled machines, as it were. I was in season 6 of Game of Thrones, and you sort of step into this machinery. The scale, the amount of equipment, and things being produced – two camera crews filming simultaneously. It was all in place and functioning so beautifully.
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The same was with Vikings: Valhalla. Even though this is a standalone show, and you don’t need to have seen the original Vikings show to enjoy Valhalla. We still had the luxury of having all the old crew, the same studio, the same production team. It was the same feeling of stepping into this thing, where these people have been doing this thing for years. They’re just doing a new show now, and it’s so great to work with people who are so well-versed in what they do.
TDF: Bradley, as a Welshman did you find it difficult at all to step into this very Nordic-heavy environment with Valhalla?
BF: Not really. I mean, obviously, the accent was a real concern to me and I was very keen to get it right. I’m sure Johannes can tell me if I do get it right or not.
JJ: Your accent is my favourite one! I love the way you go for it, how you roll your Rs!
BF: Well, see I was only copying you Johannes, so if there’s anyone to blame if I did get it wrong, it’ll be you for not having a good Nordic accent for me to copy.
JJ: I love the way Bradley says ‘friends’…’frrrrrrriends’; it’s perfect!
TDF: And finally Jóhannes, you were in the Netflix movie Eurovision. I have to ask you, is Jaja Ding Dong the best song ever?
JJ: I think it’s quite entertaining! And in Húsavík, where they filmed the scenes from the film, they have opened up a bar now that is called Jaja Ding Dong. So we welcome the whole thing! It should be our national anthem.
You can now watch the entirety of season 1 of Vikings: Valhalla with a Netflix subscription, with all eight episodes dropping at once on February 25, 2022. You can also catch all six seasons of the original Vikings series with a subscription to Prime Video.