The ferocious world of Vikings returns to the small screen with the epic new historical series Vikings: Valhalla, with the Netflix series dropping on streaming service Netflix on February 25, 2022. We spoke to two of the stars of the new TV series, Frida Gustavsson and Caroline Henderson, about their strong connection on and off the set, and the role of powerful women in the violent show.
Vikings: Valhalla is a spin-off sequel series to the original Vikings series which first aired in 2013. Set 100 years after the events of Vikings, Valhalla picks up where that show left off, telling the brutal real-life stories of rival warriors and monarchs in the Anglo-Saxon period.
In the show, Gustavsson plays Freydis, a fierce warrior and the sister of Sam Corlett‘s character Leif. Henderson plays Jarl Haakon, the leader of the Kattegat and a mentor to Freydis. We spent some time with the co-stars to discuss their roles in Vikings: Valhalla, and how their friendship away from the production informed their character’s relationship on screen.
The Digital Fix: Frida, you are actually friends with the actor Edwin Endre, who starred in the original Vikings show. I wondered, did he give you any advice going into the shoot for Valhalla?
Frida Gustavsson: He did! He is actually my best friend in the whole world! We always work together on self tapes and stuff like that, and he was so helpful. When I first read the part of Freydis I was like ‘I need this! I am Freydis! If anyone else gets this I will kill them!’, which is probably a very Freydis response, actually.
And Edwin was like ‘Don’t worry, I’m gonna help you, I know what they like.’ I guess it went well, because I got the part, so I think Edwin and his blessing helped me, absolutely.
TDF: Caroline, your character in the show is something of a mentor to Freydis. Can you tell us a little bit about this relationship and the advice you will give to her?
Caroline Henderson: I think Frida and I, in real life, we have such a good connection, and that reflects on the characters that we play. So it was like instant love. And Frida, I am so sad to know Edwin was your best friend, what about me!?
No, we had an instant connection. We are both Swedish, we have both travelled the world, we have a lot in common and I think we really felt the characters, as fierce strong women – because we are in our personal lives too. We really worked together on this, it came very easy and it wasn’t difficult to find that connection with Frida.
TDF: Frida, you did a lot of reading and research in preparation for the role, what were the main things you took away from this studying before taking on the role?
FG: Being Swedish, growing up, we learned so much about Viking history – but it’s mostly focused on men. I realised that for me, I needed to fill the gaps of what daily life was like for Viking women. You hear about they’re strong, and before Christian times they were allowed property and the keys to the house, but I wanted a fuller scope.
So I read this incredible book by an Icelandic scholar called Women of the Viking Age. It really chronicles the life of a Viking woman from birth through to death. It was really instrumental to me, we talked about it a lot. There’s a lot of interesting things on everyday routines, that really filled out the colour palette for me.
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I also spent a lot of time reading the poetry too; the old sagas, the Greenland saga. It was lovely. Even though they’re written down hundreds of years later, taken from oral stories – they painted a picture of what the world was like back then. This magical world we were able to dive into.
TDF: Brilliant! And Caroline, you have previously worked in a lot of family comedy movies before, what was it like jumping into an action-packed show like this?
CH: It was amazing! To horseback ride, to fight! Well, actually, I don’t really fight that much myself. I don’t want to spoil it but my character is more the kind of person who has people who go off and do the fighting for her.
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.