It seems streaming service Netflix has another hit show on its hands, as Vikings: Valhalla, the sequel series to the original Vikings TV series, reigns supreme on the platform since its release on February 25, 2022. We spent some time with two stars of the show, Laura Berlin and David Oakes, to talk about their experience on the production.
The epic new Netflix series is set 100 years after the events of the original Vikings show, and tells similar tales of bloody violence, brave warriors, and warring monarchs. Laura Berlin plays Emma of Normandy, a powerful Queen of England during the Anglo-Saxon period. David Oakes plays Earl Godwin in Vikings: Valhalla, a cunning consultant to the monarchy.
In a recent interview with The Digital Fix to promote the new series, we discussed the grand costume design on Vikings: Valhalla, the joys of getting stuck in to the physicality of a period drama, their character journeys, and why being able to ride a horse will always serve you well on a production like this.
The Digital Fix: David, you did all your own horse-riding in the show. Would you say this gave you a particular advantage when immersing yourself into the role?
David Oakes: Absolutely. I mean, if you don’t have to worry about falling off a horse, it means you can concentrate on acting. What’s really nice is, on Valhalla, and on other shows beforehand, when they find out I can ride horses, they write me specific sequences.
Once Jeb and the team found out I was a competent rider, then they wrote the role accordingly. Once they know what you can do, and if you’re in the show long enough – which, the kill rate on this series is particularly high, so that’s not many people – everything starts to feed into your hobbies and skillset.
TDF: Laura, your costumes on the show are very elaborate and very impressive. How do those costumes inform your character?
Laura Berlin: When I first came to the studio, I met Susan O’Connor Cave, the costume designer, and she had some beautiful ideas for Emma’s look. But she was also very open to my ideas and my interpretations.
We worked together really well, and tried to add little extras here and there, details you might not even notice, but you feel them; they help to create a real human being. Susan and her whole team are amazing! It seemed like everyone was very jealous when my costumes came to the studio!
TDF: David, in your career you’ve worked on a lot of period pieces and historical dramas. Is there anything about the concept of going back in time for these projects that entices you to select these roles?
DO: Basically, I’m allergic to green fabric. The joy of a period drama is you’re usually on a horse, up a mountain, in a castle, on a bridge, in a swamp, plucking pheasants. In these dramas you actually get to be there and do it.
With sci-fi and fantasy, I’m making love to a tennis ball; you can fill in the blanks. Basically I’m not a very good actor, I need to be able to see what I’m doing and can’t see that gap.
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TDF: Very honest! And, Laura, is there any particular episode of Valhalla that stands out for you as a favourite episode?
LB: I think my favourite episodes of the first season are any one of the last four episodes. This is where we see Emma change in a way, she leaves her old path behind and discovers a new side to herself in the second half of the season.
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.