SET VISIT: Vikings sails into second season

Brioux (right) hamming it up on the set of Vikings

DUBLIN, Ireland–Ah, ya can’t beat the luck of the Irish.
Or of a small group of Canadian reporters invited to cross the pond to visit the set of Vikings. The big-budget Canada-Ireland co-production is winding down work on its second 10-episode season. Look for these Vikings to row back in the new year on History.
Vikings was a monster hit on specialty last season, drawing over 1.1 million a week on History. That was better than The Bible!
The series is a true two-country effort with many Canadians involved before and behind the camera. An Australian, Travis Fimmel, is the main lead but Toronto-raised Katheryn Winnick, Montreal’s Jesslyn Gilsig, Ottawa original Donal Logue and Vancouver boy Alexander Ludwig (The Hunger Games) are all part of the inner cast in this sprawling, epic, historical drama.
Reporters were bused about 40 minutes outside of Dublin to acres of remote farmland. There among the green fields and rolling hills was this detailed Viking village, fashioned out of a cluster of centuries old horse barns.
Canadian director Ken Girotti (Being Erica, La Femme Nikita) was back for a second season shooting two episodes, including this one featuring several cast members on horseback. The scene did look like a cross between Vikings and The Magnificent Seven. Technicians waved smoke machines out in the field to add a little atmosphere to what was a sunny, blue-sky October day.

Outstanding in her field, Gilsig is presented with a red chair

It was good to see Logue again after our chat several months ago on the set of Copper, already announced as not returning for a third season on BBC America and Showcase. Logue was his usual talkative self and helped explain his co-star Travis’ baffling interview style. The Australian is apparently a mischievous lad and basically took the opportunity to liberate his feet from his socks and large leather boots as I double teamed him with TV Guide Canada’s Greg David. Pieces of paper emerged from the boots amid other unidentified bits and pieces.
Fimmel was very funny on the subject of Logue. He pointed out that everyone on the set looks like Logue which was true enough to be hilarious. There were quite a few background extras wandering around with long hair and beards.
Fimmel also said Logue never shuts up on the set. Logue in turn told us Fimmel never says anything. Logue also said he wishes he were more like Fimmel.
We heard that there are plenty of pranks on the set, usually instigated by the Aussie. He and Ludwig apparently took it upon themselves to leave something nasty in each other’s trailers. “They are such boys,” confirmed Gilsig.

Director Girotti (with cap) checks the monitors from one of the stables

Others are more verbose on the subject of Fimmel. Ardmore Studios co-founder Morgan O’Sullivan calls him, “our Brando.” Series creator and writer Michael Hirst fought for the actor to lead his series, recognizing the actor’s gift for nailing the quieter moments as well as seizing the battle scenes.
Was lovely to catch up with Gilsig, too. The former Glee star, who plays “Siggy–the Lady MacBeth of the series–continues to express her artistic muse between takes, posting her latest paintings and sketches on her tumblr account.

Craft services on the Vikings set offers Meade, pig faces, M&Ms

Ludwig, 21, is one to watch. This lad has movies coming out with Mark Wallberg and Michael Chiklis, among others. He is having the time of his life wielding axes on Vikings.
Vikings really does have that “cast of thousands” look. Around 15,000 locals answered calls for background extras at the beginning of the season. If you spot a long-haired Irishman with a scruffy beard walking the streets of Dublin these days, chances are he’s working on Vikings.

Between takes outside in the sunshine. The plaza scene is rich in detail
Horses hit their marks better than actors. All agree Fimmel is the top rider

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