Okay you guys who is ready to meet the Vikings okay let's bring them out first we have Travis Fennell as Ragnar lothbrok next we have Katheryn Winnick as Ragnar's beautiful and tough wife lagertha way up to the stage we have george Blagdon who plays the monk apple stan and finally the man who very kindly .

Brought this show to television dirk Hoekstra who is the executive vice president of development and programming for history channel the show to TV so everybody have a seat I want to start by asking jerk you know when you guys decided to do Vikings you were coming off this smashing success of Hatfields and McCoys which got 17 Emmy nominations .

Well deserved so so why did you decide to go with the Vikings as your first scripted drama series you know it's actually read about it in the trades I was just kind of looking around and saw you know Vikings Michael Hearst is writing and I immediately said I should have thought of that you know I couldn't believe I hadn't thought of that and the .

Reason is because you know history's been around about 17 years and in that time we've done documentaries on the Vikings we've done episodes of series on the Vikings and it always pops a ratings number so we knew as a subject matter it was perfect for us and with the right actors and the right you know scripts and the right execution you know I think .

You see the kind of quality that we're getting right now speaking of the right actors I'd love you to go down this line of amazing talent and tell us why you cast them in these particular roles if we could start with Travis and and Dirk tell us what why you cast Travis I'll get it done for ya he he just you know it was actually .

Interesting because we had we were struggling a bit in finding that role such a you know key role and we were getting close to having to start production and the folks at MGM called me and said you've got to see this guy names Travis minimal he just read for it and you know he's Ragnar and we we looked at his read .

And just everyone sort of knew and clicked and was like wow this is the guy okay great very good shirt that's very popular show and tell us about Katherine well you know uh being a shield maiden is not easy to do uh you know you've got you got to be you know we wanted somebody who could be you know play the role of a mother you know play the role .

Of a wife and also you know be that really strong warrior you know and Katherine grew up on Taekwondo you know knows how to take care of herself and you know you really had to have somebody who could you know wield the sword around and and and you believe it and she definitely pulls that off oh yeah I think we believe fast don't we okay I'm .

Just last tell us about George you know that it's another key role and and it's it's um you know when Michael first explained it to us what was great about this role is it's kind of the the go-between between these two worlds you know and and he's has to interpret for the Vikings you know this other culture and you know belief system and you know .

Locations and it's a really important so it has to be kind of this person that you can identify with and connect to and we just saw that was George you know it was he really embodies that that you know being between two worlds and being able to bridge the gap there and we'll see how long he can resist temptation the offers still on the table – coming – .

You heard that you join us yeah now Travis um when I met you on set in Ireland it was pouring down rain you were covered with mud you had an axe in your hand and you actually saved me from walking smack into a horse I don't know if you remember that but um so you are a true hero to me but what attracted you to this role of .

Ragnar why did you want to play this guy from such a tough gritty world well um when I heard about it Michael Harris is amazing creative person any scrips was so good and I don't know him a bit of a kid at heart I want to run around with an accent I have a different haircut and he wouldn't want to be married to this lady but um no it's such an amazing .

Script you know and um I was so lucky to get it I'm so grateful yes so you mentioned Michael Hurst the writer on this in case you guys don't know I'll so the writer of tutors really well known for creating incredible historical dramas so um Ragnar has gotten himself into a lot of danger so far this season is he equipped .

To get himself out of it um he's got his axe that's about early years negative I want to get in trouble she's got me back and we can always sell the monk for some money how much he's worth Wow we haven't slept with in here okay well Katherine what would you you two playing this particular role besides the fact that you get to work with these lovely men oh .

Um when I read the script just like Travis I was just blown away just the historical reference and the fact that it's based on real characters and I'm sure many of you guys know at this point lagertha and Ragnar and appleson were real people and I was fascinated with the Viking culture and I there's not that much information out there so as .

The mythology and learning how they live there was really fascinating and it was such an amazing opportunity to get cast in something like this and what do you love about lagertha what do I love about her what do I not love like I learned so much about myself playing that role she's not only a strong individual but .

She's also shot with her husband kill you and she could um yes I love also the fighting aspect in the spirit of combat the fact that she was grown and raised as a shieldmaiden and how that would be interesting to play in her day-to-day life and how she deals with her husband and everybody else so um okay I like that okay great .

Well now George Travis has already made reference to a scene for which you are now very famous and I'd like you to tell us all cuz I think we all want to know what does it say about Apple stands character that he could resist being seduced by these two he's a frigid what does it say that his character uh well um it was actually it was the first .

Scene I filmed on Vikings first time yeah there was not really any acting required I was terrified and and these two amazing lovely people half-naked in front of me asking to sleep with me it was some yeah I don't know but it was kind of uh I guess he's a really devout religious anglo-saxon monk and this is I mean this is the .

First time he's even really seen a woman at all this close to him because the the monastery Lindisfarne is an all-male environment so and the fact that she got a blanket barely wrap around her is I think it's kind of just so alien he wouldn't even know where to start this is a very good place to start though you have to start somewhere it's .

A very good place system so yeah it just he's very religious that would be having gonna be a big jump going from beginner to advanced yes exactly no intermediate is happening here okay so so Travis you know we've been talking about the historical accuracy that's gone into this series and there were two Viking ship replicas .

Built those amazing dragon boats they're each 56 feet long and they weigh two and a half tons and one of them is seaworthy it was put in the water in Ireland the other one was used on a soundstage so Travis tell us a little bit about what it's like to work on these boats I really uh makes you feel like you actually a Viking you know where you .

Know there's one
not seeing where roller and I are in the boat and we actually row it by ourselves just with tools this huge boat so they really made it you know it's a real working boat we had amazing scenes when we showed us the storm stuff that were dumping water on us from huge running loaders and in the wind machines and I think the gimbal .

Broke one night when we're doing the night shoot and we all fell to one side you know it makes it fun I like that stuff but um I don't think these guys George was on the boat for a little bit yes but you didn't get the dynamite tied up eyes now yeah yeah but uh you didn't get to do the storm so that was a funnest night .

I had shooting it was a coldest night too but um floki such a great character you know it was fun watching him do his little thing but it was very wet and very cold and I loved it I knew what I was getting back to you know well Catherine as as George mentioned you are a martial arts champion and you're also .

I don't know if you guys know this she is a certified bodyguard so do not mess with her we're all very safe here but I I'm curious about what attracted you to the art of fighting and what new skills you had to learn for Vikings um my first love was martial arts I started when I was 7 years old and I got my first junior black belt at 13 and started a .

School at 16 so for me I loved the the physical side of the training of martial arts but also the mental side which is it's very much goes hand in hand you can be physically very strong but it's a bit of a it's a huge mental strength that you achieve when you train four or five hours a day so for something like this the being a shieldmaiden was completely .

Different I can't I couldn't throw a side cake or a round house kick or jumping spinning back-kick like it's the shield made and wouldn't necessarily do that so I had to learn how to fight with a shield and a sword which was brand new for me and and it was it was fun I think I was the first girl like the only girl on set for the first three months with .

These hunky Viking men poor thing was not not not hurt I was definitely a big tomboy growing up so is I went back to my roots on that was it was it tough fighting in that armor did that was that was it restrictive at all oh no Joan is a costume designer and she also did Tudor she's so incredible in terms of the details of using different .

Leathers and making a personal ball and you know as Vikings you only had one or two outfits so she would create an armor within our costumes by different leathers and that was a bit of a challenge but also you really felt that this is what they would have made a warrant or had so we that was great gift for us and you two have actually thought .

You and Travis yeah and yeah it seems did you have instant fight chemistry you can try it I don't know that's what it was just a big long sex scene I've been a little funny no that's full a Viking so I just read this thing it says please be aware that members of the audience may be under 18 get out if you're under 18 yeah .

Know what that's have fun it makes our relationship so interesting you know and uh yeah yeah when I first screen-tested upset him it was a chemistry test and as soon as he walks in the room I'm like I could mean not I have chemistry with him and his piercing eyes so is that yeah was nice George is actually uh .

At least George you wanna tell them about your romance at the moment we're actually gonna ask George about something else we won't put him on the spot for that right now but almost like but George when I interviewed you before when we were in Ireland you told me about some of the .

Personal research that you had done to play this role and something that was very emotional for you you said was actually going to the site in Lindisfarne in in northern England where this raid really happened so tell us a little bit about that experience and how it was for you um yeah so I went to then de-spawn Island in our pre-production .

Weeks I kind of passed if I could have three or four dates going explore it because I didn't really know what the atmosphere was like and I didn't I couldn't really imagine what this environment would be like for these monks I mean I I went to boarding school got a kid so I kind of have some idea of what it's like to being in an isolated .

Way I thought you know I'm going to go and explore and it was so different how I imagined it had its this I kind of thought it was just going to be this little piece of land off the coast that you walked over a bridge to that's how I Michael made it out to me or you know I've heard about and it's this it's about three or four miles wide the .

Island minutes a mile and a half out to sea and you drive across this causeway when the tides out but 1,200 years ago there wasn't in tarmac the driver you have to literally wait until you saw this I going out and then pay across often people die because they didn't run fast enough the tide is some two mile run after the .

Ice so really dangerous place and when you go on the island kind of felt like you might be stuck there forever I think yeah there you had to be over the island by four otherwise you stay the night and they had these emergency hold schools and rooms that you could sleep in and it was a it was a lot scary that I thought it it might been just off .

The coast of Northumberland in England but yeah it was a it was amazing and you got to see where the monastery was and actually that they've got the ruins of the abbey which was built a few hundred years after we're off as soon as is set and it's kind of up saying set out and if there's this ruins staircases and climb and look out directly heaps and .

It's kind of where you see in the show the window that we're looking at and seeing the storm raging it was the same kind of view so just to sit there I am kind of goose bumpy it was really a yeah really a good impact for me and my character it's good to get into it yeah and he and he will change a lot as we head through the .

Season from that from that scare guy looking out the window yes yeah well he's around these two so just Travis do you do you think Ragnar's a good influence on uh Athelstan or a patent no of course a good influence yeah I never say no we're gonna maybe teach him how to fight and and now that sort .

Of stuff and hopefully one day maybe would take him on a rate you know I think we'd like to see that would you guys you're still gonna do one thing yeah see that um okay I want to ask you guys just to tease a little bit without giving away spoilers but I want you guys to tease a little bit about what's gonna happen with your characters for the .

Second half of the season coming up so Travis if you give us just a few hints about what's in store for Ragnar um hits the fan really hello I don't know obviously you can feel a lot of tension between Ragnar neo so that's certainly gonna be um a big climax um my characters and nothing's ever enough so he's gonna keep .

Raiding for sure and he gets in some pretty bad environments and bites off a bit more than he can chew and um yeah there is that same coming between us three and Episode nine yep rock on Katherine does he speak the truth okay um you know I think all our characters and I could speak for myself like are those .

Character is definitely challenged and there's a lot more struggle with her as well as a relationship is is tested I would say and there's a lot more responsibility with lagertha has in terms of dealing with the community and the Vikings and in society and how do you make decisions within the community so I don't know how much I'm allowed to .

Actually say yeah it's hard to you know answers I will in spoiled but I think I th
ink you guys will enjoy it the show gets so good and we're talking yesterday about what our favorite episodes were mine 7 listen Ally that the yeah the finale episode is my favorite episode and priest what were you yeah I was seven or eight .

Yeah so can you hint for us a little bit George about what's going to happen to your character um absolutely not taking a vow of silence yeah he's really into them on character another vows um no i yeah it's uh what I will say is such a gift to be given a character like Athelstan by such talented writer like michael who gives you a massive arc to .

Play with a third stan is so so different at the end of the series to what he is at the start and to be able to play a character like that who goes through so much change so many changes and and has lots of exciting adventures is a really good okay well Dirk we were talking about favorite episodes and earlier you told me that you had one .

Coming up so what what can you choose to us a little bit well you know what I think my favorite episode is is 9 but I think that I can talk a little bit about eight because I was just was speaking with Michael Hurst and it's by that's his favorite episode and what he really wanted to do in that episode is explore the pagan .

Belief system and within in a much deeper way and and I would say that it's especially for George's character it's a it's a it's there's a lot of sort of conflict there and it's a very different episode than the rest of the series in a really good way and you know he when he said he sent me an email after that episode was cut and he just wrote it .

With that exclamation point this is paganism you know he just he really feels like it's something that that people haven't seen before you
Travis Fimmel (Ragnar), Katheryn Winnick (Lagertha), George Blagden (Athelstan) and Dirk Hoogstra, EVP HISTORY Development & Programming take part in a panel about Vikings at WonderCon on March 30, 2013, moderated by Kate Hahn of TV Guide. #Vikings Subscribe for more HISTORY: http://histv.co/SubscribeHistoryYT Check out exclusive HISTORY content: Newsletter: https://www.history.com/newsletter Website – http://www.history.com Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/History Twitter – https://twitter.com/history HISTORY®, now reaching more than 98 million homes, is the leading destination for award-winning original series and specials that connect viewers with history in an informative, immersive, and entertaining manner across all platforms. The network’s all-original programming slate features a roster of hit series, epic miniseries, and scripted event programming. Visit us at HISTORY.com for more info.