When we last saw the Björn character in Season 1 of "Vikings," he was just a little boy. In Season 2, Björn is all grown up -- well, he's a teenager -- and he's now being played by Alexander Ludwig ("Hunger Games"), who brings a whole new dimension to the character.
As it happens with boys his age, Björn now has to deal with his emerging identity, his desire to be a something more, and, of course, his major daddy issues. Along with all the bloody battles, we as viewers are also witnessing change on the homefront, as Björn's father Ragnar tries to put out innumerable fires -- including how to deal with his grown-up son.
HuffPost Canada TV sat down to talk with Ludwig about taking on this role, how he's decided to play Björn and obviously, that hair.
HuffPost Canada TV: I'm going to get to the important stuff first -- let's talk about that haircut.
Alexander Ludwig: [Laughs] I knew it was going to look crazy, so I said do it. It'll get me more in character. I've always wanted to do something like that for a role. And let me tell you something: I'm going to make it more crazy as the seasons progress. I don't know if I'm allowed to, I'm just going to show up on set with it!
Other than the hair, why else did you want this role?
I was contacted by History, and at that point I had seen the posters and billboards all around the city - I thought the show looked so cool. I met Travis and Katheryn (who play Ragnar and Lagertha, respectively), who were great, and I talked with my buddies, who apparently all loved "Vikings." I watched it and fell in love with it immediately. It's so edgy, but also really intelligent. I signed on like that! [Snaps fingers]
I think the casting is great -- you almost look like a grown-up version of Nathan O'Toole [child actor who played Björn].
Thank you! I think Nathan really left me with some big shoes to fill. He did an excellent job for a kid his age, and he's a very young talent. I told him, "Nathan, I'm going to look out for you, buddy! I looked like you as a kid and you're going to look like me when you're older."
What were your thoughts about "Vikings" after watching Season 1?
There are two things about this show that I love. One, it's very raw and edgy. It's character-driven and the violence is a by-product. Every battle scene tells a story. The second thing is, and I don't think a lot of people realize this, is that Viking culture is actually a very progressive culture. For such an animalistic society ... I mean, they fought alongside women. If you're a slave, you're screwed [Laughs], but if you're a female Viking, you can be a shield maiden. I think that's why a lot of women enjoy this show.
Did you approach playing Björn in a specific way?
Well, the great thing about coming in with a character that's already been established is that the foundation has been set. However, four years have passed since the Season 1 finale, so a lot can happen in that time. When Björn first comes on the scene in Season 2, he still has a lot of issues. He's very much a young man still, at least emotionally, even after these four years, because he hasn't had that father figure in his life. I kept his sincerity and intensity. He hates the person he's with and wants to find the purpose in his life. He doesn't like being catered to, and I love that. I can really relate to that - wanting to do things by myself. I think in this season, you're going to see Björn come into himself as a man, and I think you're going to like it.
So it's definitely fair to say he has daddy issues, and mommy issues, too.
Definitely. He has a lot of issues. [Laughs] He's one messed-up guy.
As Season 2 goes on, his relationship with Ragnar obviously changes and grows. What are we going to see this season?
It flourishes, and you're going to see a great dynamic duo.
What sorts of cool things have you learned on the show?
I didn't learn this, but I grew up riding horses. That was the one thing I could do better than anybody else. I went on and ... oh my God, the horse wranglers were so upset. I would take the horse and just gallop away. And you're in Ireland. It's literally the most incredible thing.
Also, I've done so many dinner scenes on "Vikings" because they always feast after they eat. By the time I got back home, I was eating with my mouth open and burping loud, and my mom was threatening to kill me.
"Vikings" airs on History, Thursdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT. The Season 2 finale is scheduled for Thursday, May 1. "Vikings" was just renewed for a third season.
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