The original Vikings TV series, which first aired in 2013, has created an incredible legacy, built a huge following of fans, and has now paved the way for the exciting spin-off sequel series Vikings: Valhalla. All eight episodes of season 1 of the new Netflix series land on the streaming service February 25, 2022. Ahead of its release, we spoke to stars of the show, Sam Corlett, and Leo Suter.
The young actors play key roles in the epic action series, which is set over 100 years after the events of the original Vikings series. Corlett plays Leif Eriksson, a famed Scandinavian explorer, while Suter plays Harald Sigurdsson, a character based on the real-life King of Norway Harald Hadrada, whose death ultimately marked the end of the Viking era.
We spent some time with the two stars ahead of the show’s debut on Netflix, to discuss the legacy of the original series, the violent and bloody warfare that goes on in Vikings: Valhalla, and how the new show compares to their previous work.
The Digital Fix: Sam, I hear you used to watch the original Vikings show with your father, before joining Valhalla. How does it feel to go from watching that series, to now leading the new series?
Sam Corlett: It’s an absolute honour to continue the legacy of that show. What that cast did, and what Michael Hirst did as showrunner, was so inspiring for me as a youngster.
TDF: Leo, I’m told you did a lot of reading and research on the period and the real-life people involved before taking on the role. What were the main things you took from that study?
Leo Suter: What became clear, was that this was a period of history that was so ruthless and so bloody. It’s defined by feuds, so many personal, family feuds. Those struggles for power were really intense and personal. It set the landscape really well for this vicious and ruthless world that Harald, as an ambitious prince, finds himself in.
TDF: I’m curious about your character’s fighting style. You wield an axe, but you fight with the handle rather than the blade. Can you tell us a little bit about why Leif made that decision?
SC: It stems from how he grew up. I tend to go to childhood a lot when I’m exploring the character, and growing up as the son of one of the most notoriously violent Vikings that ever lived, Erik the Red, there was obviously a lot of violence around Leif. For him, he had encountered that everywhere he had gone.
He was very resistant to contribute to that way of being that has caused so much harm to those around him. Leif is very economic in what he does; he only takes fatal strikes when needed.
TDF: Fascinating. And Leo, I’ve had a look through your career so far and you have been involved in a lot of period pieces and historical dramas. Is there anything about this idea of going back in time with a character that really appeals to you when selecting roles?
LS: Well, one of the fun things when doing a historical drama, as you mentioned before, is the homework you get to do. You get to dive into a period of history that you otherwise as an actor you wouldn’t study. The element of research and homework is fun.
But then again, this is a historical drama, but a very different one to what I’ve previously done; you know regency dramas with romance and flirtatious glances across ballrooms. This is a different kettle of fish, which as an actor, to have that variety, is the spice of life.
TDF: Yeah, I’m sure it’s a real contrast to the others! Sam, looking at your career too, you have worked with Netflix before, on Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. How does that production differ to this one?
SC: Oh they’re both so well run! Netflix does an amazing job. But in terms of location, I was in Vancouver doing a lot of studio work [for Sabrina], and this was in Ireland, in the amazing landscapes that we got to work in. That was the main point of difference, and a pleasure.
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.