Q&A: Clive Standen

March 3, 2014     By: Conor Hamill

Clive Standen (Rollo) talks about Season 2, Rollo’s journey and why he loves filming on the Viking ships.

Question: Being a trained swordsman, do you ever bring sword elements to Rollo’s fighting style?

Clive Standen: Well this season is about Rollo’s redemption and everything is changing within his personality just as much as his fighting style as well. As the Vikings start their raiding they realize that the Saxons’ swords steel is stronger and a lot of us now have started using swords in combat, which is what naturally happened in the time period. Vikings were farmers and grew up with their axes as part of their daily life and work. So, the sword is coming back into it, yeah, and I’ve done lots of sword training, so it’s quite nice to get a sword back in hand. It’s a very different fighting style to an ax.

Question: How was your first experience of San Diego Comic-Con? What did you make of the huge reception you got from fans?

CS: It’s been phenomenal! I’ve always wanted to go to Comic-Con because I’m a big geek at heart! The fans were fantastic and it’s great to see people who are that invested in the show. They’re really in it for the long haul.

Question: Any crazy fan stories from San Diego?

CS: There’s nothing too crazy when you invest in a character like Rollo. You have to expect the good and the bad. Someone might want to come up to you on the street and try to pick a fight. You have to take the rough with the smooth. Just as many people hate Rollo as much as people love to hate him.

Question: You always say the scenes where you’re out on the long ships are your favorite. What is it about them that you love so much when they’re so difficult to shoot?

CS: I think because you have to be on your game when you’re out on the boats. The old cliché is never work with animals or children, like, whenever you’ve done a period drama you know how hard it is working with horses. Horses don’t necessarily stand where you want them to stand for the camera—it can be frustrating and the day gets away from you. It’s just the same with the boats. If the current’s too strong or if the weather is different or if the sails are up or down, you have to be able to adapt and overcome those problems. And it’s just being out on the ocean and being able to get to grips with the new technique. They were great at teaching us how to be sailors—to man the rigging, to work the sail, to row the boats. I think we all got a great sense of achievement out of that. So every time we have to go out on the boats, we take it very seriously and we want to get it right.

Question: Does shooting on the long ships make it difficult to record dialogue?

CS: We always try to record as much dialogue on the day as we can but sometimes when the weather is bad, there’s going to be some dialogue recorded in ADR [Automated Dialogue Replacement]. The only time it really becomes a problem is when were out on the Gimble. The Gimble is the hydraulic boat. The noise from the mechanics of the boat moving around can drown out some of the dialogue and you have wind machines to simulate the wind in the sail, so undoubtedly there’s going to be some dialogue lost and we’ll go and redo the dialogue again.

Question: If you could change one thing about your character, what would it be?

CS: The best drama is never giving the character what he really wants because that’s what creates the conflict. I think Rollo needs to have recognition and admiration in his life. He needs to feel needed and wanted and as long as he doesn’t get that he’s capable of doing the most outrageous things. I’d like to be able to give him the acknowledgment to say, “You know you are capable of being a great man,” but unfortunately, the way the series has gone in Season 1, he’s never been able to prove himself because he’s always in his brother’s shadow.

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