Exclusive Interview: Travis Fimmel on “Vikings” and “Warcraft” Film
Actor Travis Fimmel is known to millions of fans as Ragnar Lothbrok, the star of History Channel’s Vikings. Season 3 of the hit show, which is averaging over 4.3 million viewers, runs through April 23, and Season 4 will commence filming this Spring with an anticipated 2016 return.
That same year, Fimmel will become known to a much larger audience. On March 11, 2016, Legendary Pictures will bring Blizzard Entertainment’s World of Warcraft universe to the big screen, and Fimmel will star as Anduin Lothar in the movie co-written and directed by Duncan Jones.
In this exclusive interview, Fimmel talks about the evolution of Vikings, and how that show helped prepare him for the video game adaptation of one of the biggest, massively multiplayer online games (MMOG) in the world.
What impact do you feel the popularity of the first two seasons of Vikings has had on what you’ve been able to accomplish with Season 3?
There’s a lot more characters this year. We’ve expanded a lot. There’s a lot more boats. Paris is amazing to see because nobody’s really seen Paris in the 800s. Paris was originally built by the Romans. Paris was the most daunting task the Vikings faced and was very impenetrable. It had great walls around the whole city and it was on an island. The Vikings really had to show some initiative. It’s not as easy as it was in England.
Will you be able to use those Paris sets for Season 4?
I’m not exactly sure what the full story is when we go back this year. You’d have to ask Michael Hirst about that, but Paris is going to play a big part next year as well. The last four episodes (in Season 3) are all about Paris and our endeavors to get in, but it’s the most daunting task we’ve ever had and Ragnar doesn’t give up. Then we’ll still be trying to get into Paris next year.
I heard you’ll be filming earlier this year in Spring for Season 4.
Yeah, so we can do more episodes. They’re hoping to do maybe six more episodes. So it better be good for the audience because it gives them a lot more to watch.
What’s it like battling the elements of Ireland during those fight sequences in the show?
It makes it pretty tough. The first year was a lot worse than the last two years though, to be honest. It has been mild summers and winters in the last couple of years, but it definitely makes it harder. They make us look good on the show. We always fall and slip in the mud. What’s the funniest is the battle stuff with the horses. There’s like ten actors on horses and nobody’s the most confident horse rider in the world. Everybody’s always talking to the horses.
Have you gotten pretty good on a horse?
I should be a lot better than I am. I’ve ridden a lot, but because I’m king I sit on my horse in front of everyone. I always hear the girls whispering to their horses, “please just stand still,” and the boys will be cursing at their horses, trying to keep a straight face. I think the Vikings are more confident in the boat. It’s just amazing. It’s like 100 boats this year when we attack Paris.
How is it being in those boats?
They’re great fun, but they make shooting very difficult. We’re shooting in about eight boats. You get those boats lined up in a row and it’s very difficult. They have a great crew there and they really pull it off.
What do you think of the Vikings having to travel so far in those small boats?
I respect them so much. The courage of the people to set across the sea without knowing if you’re going to ever reach land in these little boats that you sit in. In the show we’re attacking Paris with four or five boats and 40 men. That’s why the Vikings were so good at strategy, because they couldn’t fit that many people in the boats.
How do you feel all of the action and fighting from Vikings helped prepare you for Warcraft?
It certainly helps. It’s very different. Warcraft is very motion capture-oriented and special effects-orientated and we wear costumes that I couldn’t get through a door with all the armor. You can’t lift your arms above your head with that on, but Vikings is a bit more natural with the fighting.
Were you aware of the whole Warcraft phenomenon before you stepped into the role of Anduin Lothar?
No, I wasn’t at all. It’s amazing how many people play the game. I saw all the visuals. The movie is so close to Warcraft. They really kept it true to the game and you get a pretty good sense of the game just from what we’re doing on set.
Did you ever go back to try to play the game after being in the movie?
No, to be honest, I haven’t. I’ve never been much of a gamer.
Do you see any potential crossover once Warcraft comes out for gamers who might try watching Vikings?
I think it’s a great show for the mentality of gamers. They like the games that are full of action, they like strategy. That’s so much what Vikings is about, the strategy and how they can overcome great obstacles. And there’s action everywhere, and women that are very easy to watch.
Speaking of women, were you surprised at the equality Viking women had in that society?
Yeah, I guess back then it’s a bit surprising, but I’m so proud of having women that are equally as strong as our fellas on the show. It’s a great thing, and there’s so many strong female characters on our show. It’s not just all about the boys.
What’s it like living in Dublin?
I don’t live in town. I don’t live near a lot of the other actors from the show. I’ve got a little cottage right where we shoot. I’m a farm boy, so I like the country more than the city.
The History Channel website has a lot of video games but none for Vikings. What would the Vikings video game be if you were in charge?
Oh, geez. If I was in charge of a video game it’d certainly be fun and an adventure. We’ve always had a chess game element in the show, especially with Linus Roache who plays King Ecbert, it really comes to light this year. I think Ragnar enjoys the mental battle more than the actual battle, and there’s some great scenes with Linus Roache. It’s a real push and pull between us, and we’re the adversaries. That chess game is the most important battle for me, so hopefully there’s chess in that video game as well.
Alexander Ludwig said there’s a lot of FIFA and Mario Kart gaming going on with some of the cast.
Alex is so enthusiastic. I’ve never met somebody with so much energy. I mean he can have fun punching himself in the head, you know what I mean? He’s a great fella.