Vikings (History Channel) WonderCon 2013 Panel

Saturday morning of WonderCon 2013 got started with a panel for the series Vikings featuring cast members Travis Fimmel, Katheryn Winnick and George Blagden as well as Dirk Hoogstra, Executive Vice President of the History Channel.

The panel got started with a clip reel of events that have taken place in the first four hours of the series followed by freelance writer Kate Hahn, acting as moderator, introducing the cast member to the stage.

The first question was lodged to Dirk, asking what made the History Channel to decide to present Vikings as their first scripted drama, especially after the hit-sensation that was Hatfield and McCoys. Dirk answered that the network had done documentaries about Vikings and the subject matter just seemed perfect for them to launch a show about the Norse legends.

Of course, the key to making the series work was getting the right cast with Dirk sharing that they were actually struggling to find the right actor to play the lead role of Ragnar until MGM brought Travis to them. After taking one look at Travis’ screen test, they knew they had their leading man. He went on further to share that to play Lagertha (Katheryn’s character) was not going to be easy either; and they had to find someone who could play the wife and mother but also be strong enough to be a shield maiden. They found that in Katheryn, who not only has a long background in martial arts but is also a certified bodyguard.

Katheryn went on to share that her first love was martial arts, starting at the age of 7. She also shared that she earned her junior black belt at the age of 13 and she loves the physical side of training so the work involved in preparing to play Lagertha was very different from what she has done in the past. This was also the first time she had ever worked with a sword and a shield so that was quite new to her; but she did share that for the first three months on set, she was the only woman on set, and that was quite fun for her.

George then shared that the first scene he filmed was the proposition scene between Ragnar, Lagertha and his character, Athelstan, where they ask him to join them in bed; and he said that he was quite “terrified” by that; and, of course, Travis gave him a hard time about that. But then the conversation veered to George sharing that he actually visited the island where the original raid took place (in which the Vikings abduct the priest from the English abbey) for about 3 to 4 days during pre-production and how it was “a lot scarier than he thought it would be”.

While the cast could not share too much reveals on what it to come in the remaining episodes of the series, they could share that episode seven is a personal favorite for several of them and that the final episode is quite strong. Episode 8 will also explore the pagan belief of the Vikings, which will prove to be a conflict for Athelstan.

Soon enough, the panel was opened up for audience questions with several questions about the language that is used in the series and how the actors learned the language. Katheryn shared that they have a dialect coach as well as a bible of sounds from which to use on a regular basis; but obviously since there is no concrete knowledge of the Norse language, as much research was done to make it as authentic as possible.

As the panel came to an end, the audience was thrilled to see a teaser clip of what will happen in the next new episode that is set to air on the History Channel tomorrow night, March 31 at 8/7c.