This week, we check in with George Blagden, who plays Athelstan, about his favorite moments from Season 1, his first time on set and that shiny bald spot!
Question: You have a brand new haircut this season. How do you prefer it to your last one? Do you miss the bald spot?
George Blagden: To be honest, I don’t miss the bald spot, no! As my hair grew through Season 1, because obviously we move quicker in time in the series, my hair had to grow quite fast, but my bald spot wasn’t growing the right speed, so they had to keep shaving the bald patch to stick on a toupee. Now I have another haircut this season—hair extensions!
Q: It’s looking well.
GB: Yeah, I don’t know what’s going on under all these extensions. Hopefully, when the job’s finished, I’ll have a normal haircut. The hair extensions take about seven hours to put in all over. They take three or four strands each individually and fuse them to the strands. They keep falling out. It’s disgusting.
Q: What was your favorite moment filming on Season 1?
GB: Probably Episode 8 at the Uppsala festival that all the Vikings go to. It’s sort of Athelstan’s first real initiation into the Viking society and some trippy stuff goes down. The director of Episode 8, Ken Girotti, did some really cool techniques filming things in reverse—making you walk backwards and then playing it back in reverse, so you’re walking forwards in a weird way.
Q: Does Athelstan have any similar trippy scenes in Season 2?
GB: Yes, much more trippy! We just received the scripts to Episodes 7 and 8, so I still don’t know what happens in the end of Season 2, but so far the story has just been incredible. The way [writer and creator] Michael Hirst expanded all the character arcs, it’s quite amazing to be able to go on a journey like that with a character.
Q: How alike are you and Athelstan?
GB: It’s funny you ask that, because on my first week on set last year that was my note from the director and Michael—just be as much of George as possible. It’s quite hard actually to play a character that is so near to you or to try to represent yourself. You find when you’re analyzing your character you start analyzing yourself. There are a lot of things of course about Athelstan’s character that are different to mine, but I’d say his essence is quite close to who I am.
Q: Did getting notes to just be George come in handy?
GB: Yes, the first scene I shot was the scene in Episode 3 where Ragnar and Lagertha proposition Athelstan. They had been filming before, but it was my first time on set and there was no acting required! It was just pure terror on my face that I had a half-naked Katheryn Winnick and a half-naked Travis Fimmel in front of me asking if I wanted to sleep with them. It was the easiest scene I’ve ever done!