Set over a thousand years ago in the early 11th century, Vikings: Valhalla chronicles the heroic adventures of some of the most famous Vikings who ever lived – the legendary explorer Leif Eriksson, his fiery and headstrong sister Freydis Eriksdotter, and the ambitious Nordic prince Harald Sigurdsson. As tensions between the Vikings and the English royals reach a bloody breaking point and as the Vikings themselves clash over their conflicting Christian and pagan beliefs, these three Vikings begin an epic journey that will take them across oceans and through battlefields, from Kattegat to England and beyond, as they fight for survival and glory.
Is Vikings Valhalla based on historic facts? Did Leif, Freydis and Harald really exist? Where was the show shot? Why were the Vikings a threat for the King of England? How many religions did the Vikings have? Discover 27 facts about Vikings Valhalla.
TRAILER VIKINGS VALHALLA & BEHIND THE SCENES VIDEO
VIKINGS VALHALLA BEGINS WITH THE ST BRICE’S MASSACRE IN 1002
Vikings Valhalla, set over a hundred years after the end of the original Vikings series, is a new adventure that blends historical authenticity and drama with gritty, immersive action. The Netflix show premiered on 25 February 2022.
Vikings Valhalla, like the original series, was filmed in Ireland and is incredibly sweeping and
epic in scope.
In Norse mythology, Valhalla is the great hall where heroes slain in battle are received. Valhalla is inherently tied to the end of the Viking era. It is the Vikings’ version of an afterlife, a warrior’s paradise.
The film project started three years ago when Morgan O’Sullivan, an executive producer on the original Vikings show and now on Vikings Valhalla as well, approached showrunner Jeb Stuart (Die Hard, The Fugitive). Morgan and Michael Hirst, the creator and writer of Vikings, didn’t want to do a seventh season of the previous show. They wanted to push the story into the future, and asked Jeb Stuart to figure out a home for that narrative.
“Michael Hirst was the sole writer on Vikings,” explains Morgan O’Sullivan. “He wrote 89 episodes and, understandably, was ready to do something else.”
The story of Vikings Valhalla is set in 1002. It returns to familiar settings like Kattegat, and also explores entirely new settings and lands. Episode 1 starts with the St Brice’s Day Massacre on 13 November 1002, when King Aethelred II of England ordered the killing of all Danes in England. The Saxon king and Saxon nobles felt threatened by the Vikings who had been living in the British Isles and had settled into big areas called the Danelaw, which had started to grow – not just with Danes, but also with Swedes, and Norwegians, and folks from all over Scandinavia. At the same time, back in Norway and Denmark, the Viking groups were in an undefined religious civil war with each other.
The eight episodes of Vikings Valhalla were written by four screenwriters. Jeb Stuart wrote the two first episodes (The Greenlanders & Viking), Vanessa Alexander wrote episode 3 and 6 (The Marshes & The Last Daughter of Uppsala), Declan Groghan was in charge of episode 4 and 7 (The Bridge & Choice), and Eoin McNamee wrote episodes 5 and 8 (Miracle & The End of the Beginning).
RELIGIOUS CIVIL WAR BETWEEN PAGAN AND CHRISTIAN VIKINGS
Religion was extremely important in the Viking world. “This religious civil war is between the pagan Vikings, who still worshiped Odin and the old gods; and Christian Vikings, who had converted in this huge tide of Christianity that was coming up from Western Europe,” explains showrunner Jeb Stuart. “When our story is set, Christian Vikings were mostly very sincere, very tough, and very focused on absolute and total conversion to Christianity – or violently
wiping paganism off the map entirely.”
The three key new characters are all based on real historical figures. Leif Eriksson, the famous Viking explorer, eventually becomes one of the first Europeans to set foot in North America. His sister, Freydis Eriksdotter, is a fierce pagan warrior. Harald Sigurdsson, who becomes Harald Hardrada, is one of the last great Viking kings. “The three of them become triumvirs through which we weave the story,” says Jeb Stuart. “For me, they each embody different elements of the Viking spirit. Bringing Leif and Freydis, who are both Greenlanders, to Norway, to Kattegat, and embedding them in the Viking story just seemed a very natural place to go.
It took many behind-the-scenes teams about four months to build multiple versions of the London Bridge and strategically plan all the elements needed to achieve the big battle and collapse scenes.
DID THE VIKINGS HAVE A WRITTEN LANGUAGE?
“We don’t know a whole lot about the original Vikings, they didn’t have a written language,
so the documentation is tricky,” says the showrunner. “They left us the sagas, but the sagas were written 200 years after the end of this story, and they were written by Christians. We know archeologically what has been dug up, but we’re still discovering new things about Viking culture.”
IDENTICAL NAMES IN THE FAMILY OF SWEDEN’S MOST SUCCESSFUL TOPMODEL
Swedish actress and topmodel Frida Gustavsson, who plays Freidys, was a fan of the original Vikings series, and is close friends with actor Edvin Endre, who played the character Erlendur. She’s also an accomplished equestrian and loved getting to ride horses for the show.
Gustavsson’s real-life father and brother are named Erik and Leif, just like in the
show, and her real-life nickname is Freydis.
THE HEAVIEST COSTUME WAS NOT DESIGNED FOR A MAN
Of all the lead characters in the show, Freydis’ costume weighs the most. Her shieldmaiden armor has more than 2,700 hand-cut decorative leaves.
Sam Corlett is vegan, so costume designer Susan O’Connor Cave made him vegan
leather armor to wear as Leif.
The Greenlanders’ costuming took the longest to make. From colors to textures, all of the pieces are meant to reflect a connection to the earth and natural environment.
The Vikings, similarly, have a more organic look with lots of wools, linens, and furs. The Saxons’ costuming contrasts with lots of velvets, silks, and brocades with heavy embellishment
Every character’s fighting style is specific to their personality and story arc. Because Leif doesn’t want to be like his father, he uses the handle of an axe when he fights so his blows aren’t lethal.
VIKINGS VALHALLA CHARACTERS AND CAST
Leif Eriksson, a Greenlander raised on the outer fringes of the known world, comes from a tightly-knit family steeped in pagan beliefs. An intrepid sailor and physically tough, Leif is thoughtful and often quiet, and new to the Viking world, which is in the throes of violent change.
Sam Corlett, who plays Leif Eriksson, is a 26-year-old Australian actor. He’s best known for his role as Prince Caliban in the latest season of the Netflix show Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. The actor recently designed a limited-edition men’s jewelry capsule Corlett Exclusives for Merchants Of The Sun. All pieces feature hand-drawn symbols by Corlett and all profits of this range are donated to the Cancer Council. Sam has 881’000 followers on Instagram.
Freydis Eriksdotter, a fiery and headstrong young woman, is a staunch believer in the old gods and a fierce pagan. Like her brother Leif, she reaches Kattegat as an outsider but becomes an inspiration to those of the old ways.
Frida Gustavsson, who plays Freydis Eriksdotter, is a 28-year-old Swedish topmodel and actress. Prior to her acting career, she had a very successful international modelling career. She hit the catwalk in New York, Milan and Paris for Valentino, Chanel, Elie Saab, Gaultier etc., posed for international campaigns of Prada, Marc Jacobs and Nina Ricci, and graced the covers of prestigious fashion magazines like Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Elle and Glamour. Frida landed her breakthrough role in 2018 as the lead in the Swedish film Swoon by Måns Mårlind & Björn Stein. Since, she has appeared in various productions, including The Witcher and Tigers by R. Sandal. Frida has 197’000 followers on Instagram.
Born into Viking nobility, Harald Sigurdsson is one of the last Viking berserkers and a Prince of Norway intent on becoming King of Norway. Charismatic, ambitious, and handsome, he is able to unite both Christian and pagan Vikings.
Leo Suter, who plays Harald Sigurdsson, is a 28-year-old British actor. He’s best known for his role as James Stringer in the British series Sanditon and for his portrayal of Sir Edward Drummond in the successful historical television drama Victoria. He also played the co-lead in The Devil’s Harmony and the leading role of Daniel Beecham in the series Beecham House. Leo has 36’000 followers on Instagram.
Canute, the King of Denmark, is a wise, savvy, and ruthless Viking leader. He keeps his friends close and his enemies closer. Canute’s ambitions will mold the course of history in the 11th century and make him a defining figure of the Viking Age.
King Canute is played by Bradley Freegard, a 39-year-old Welsh actor. He is best known for playing the leading role of Evan Howells in the BBC drama Keeping Faith.
Olaf Haraldson is Harald’s older half-brother and Prince of Norway, and first in line to become the next King of Norway. Ambitious, unforgiving, and a physical force to be reckoned with, Olaf is also an extremely devout Christian Viking.
Jóhannes Haukur Jóhannesson is a 42-year-old Icelandic actor. He starred in Game of Thrones and The Last Kingdom. In 202 he played a lead role in the film Infinite opposite Mark Wahlberg. He also played minor roles in various films alongside film stars like Vin Diesel (Bloodshot), Cate Blanchett (Where’d You Go Bernadette), Joaquin Phoenix (The Sisters Brothers), Charlize Theron (Atomic Blonde) and Helen Mirren (The Good Liar).
Jóhannes is an accomplished chef, and would bring baked treats for the stunt crew whenever he had rehearsal. He has 6900 followers on Instagram.
A great warrior and tolerant leader, Jarl Haakon (Caroline Henderson) rules Kattegat with a steady hand. Though pagan, she has managed to keep Kattegat a city open to all faiths in a challenging time. She will become a powerful mentor to Freydis, who is drawn to her wisdom.
The young, ambitious Emma of Normandy is from the Norman court in France, and of Viking blood. She is now married to King Aethelred II, the current King of England. Politically astute and one of the wealthiest women in Europe, Queen Emma is a sharp and capable leader.
Laura Berlin, who plays Emma of Normandy, is a 32-year-old German actress and model. She was discovered by a model scout at the age of 15. She played in various German TV series and films like Hexenjagd and Immenhof. Laura has 65’800 followers on Instagram.
King Athelred II’s son with his first deceased wife and now Emma of Normandy’s stepson, Edmund (Louis Davison) is first in line to inherit the English throne. Edmund is nervous to lead, but will play a vital role in deciding England’s future
The ultimate survivor. Chief counsellor to the King of England, Earl Godwin (David Oakes) was born on the political fringes and is haunted by his late father’s mistakes. Cunning and savvy, he knows how to make powerful allies.
Photos: Courtesy of Bernard Walsh / Netflix © 2021
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