The old Vikings ways will cross paths with the newer age that is the early 11th Century, picking up the action 100 years on from the original series.
From series creators Jeb Stuart ('Die Hard', 'The Fugitive') and Michael Hirst ('Vikings', 'The Tudors') comes a brand new age of Viking leaders, most of whom are based on real-life heroes from a thousand years ago. 'Vikings: Valhalla' will follow some of the most exciting Vikings who ever lived as they fight for their people's place in an ever-changing world. But sometimes, the most worrying of enemies than be those standing alongside them...
The series stars Sam Corlett ('Chilling Adventures of Sabrina') as Leif Eriksson; Leo Suter ('Beecham House') as Harald Sigurdsson; Frida Gustavsson ('The Witcher') as Freydis Eriksdotter; Caroline Henderson as Jarl Haakon; Bradley Freegard ('Keeping Faith') as King Canute; Jóhannes Jóhanesson ('Infinite') as Olaf Haraldson and David Oakes ('The Borgias') as Earl Godwin.
We chatted with the cast about their time spent filming in Ireland and what we can expect from the first season of 'Vikings: Valhalla' on Netflix.
What was it like to film the series in Ireland - had you been here before?
Sam Corlett: It was such a pleasure. Me and Leo (Suter) did our chemistry test together there and it was the first time I'd been to Ireland at all. Your country is very beautiful and it was such a gift to work there and collaborated with Irish artists. Being an Aussie, a lot of our lineage is Irish so it was nice to connect to roots.
Leo Suter: It was such a joy. People from our crew and other actors and artists were so welcoming in general. I had my car with me so I drove my car up and down the Wild Atlantic Way and went to Cork and Dingle, and I like to think I went out and explored a bit, which was very special and very beautiful - so thanks for having us!
Sam: I ended up creating a little family where I was staying in Greystones that village really opened me with open arms while I was feeling homesick. It was beautiful.
'Vikings: Valhalla' features real-life figures from history - what was it like for you to play these people?
Caroline Henderson: Jarl Haakon is not a real-life character. That being said, she is very inspired by big male and female leaders in Viking history. And that felt very good, thank you, to play that part of such a strong, fierce leader, especially a woman.
Frida Gustavsson: For me, Freydis is a historical character. Maybe because she's a woman she's not as well-recorded as her very famous brother Leif, so there were little things to use from history, it's always nice to have something historical to fall back on. But it also gave me the freedom to really develop the idea of Freydis myself and to use the writer's ideas and make that into a physical reality. I found that incredibly liberating.
David, are there parallels that would be seen between your character Earl Godwin and Thomas Cromwell?
David Oakes: Yeah, I think there very much could be. I would also suggest that those parallels highlight the fact that Godwin achieved more than Cromwell did. I think that's exactly what drew me to the role - you look at the historical arc that Godwin did, coming from where he came from and where his children ended up, it's not a little impressive. It's pretty incredible things for a guy who was basically ousted. But during that time he flip-flops between different Royal families willy-nilly! There are people like Godwin in multiple periods across time and across countries and they're always the most fun characters to get. So when you read a script, you go "Yeah, I'll give that a go".
Leo, you give quite a touching and rather risky speech in the opening episode to hundreds of feuding Vikings - had you ever done anything like that before?
Leo: It was super cool, man! It was in a valley in the Wicklow mountains on a night shoot, moonlit with stars gleaming and a field of Vikings baying for blood. There are moments in that speech where the crowd reacts, and to hear the echo of them all coming back to me was very, very cool. And the other cool thing about that scene was it was my very first bit of fight choreography and I had been psyching myself up for that element for the character but it was so cool to combine the physicality of that moment plus the oratory of the moment - it was a great feeling.
Sam: I had goosebumps being there! Watching it while filming and even watching the final product, that moment in Leo's performance. The extras welcomed so much energy, and we were shooting that at around 3am and there was no need to take a coffee because you were pumped.
Leo: I remember Bradley (Freegard), who has a big speech just before me, turned to me afterwards and said, "Would you like a sweet?," because we both had to bellow out and he had these menthol sweets - and clearly that was the secret!
There's a lot of action in the series. How was it - training-wise - for you?
Bradley Freegard: That's one of the perks of coming with age, that you might walk into the first rehearsal and think, "My God, I'm the oldest one in here!", but the perk of that is that you get a big comfortable throne or a large Irish horse to sit on, and you get to watch the youngsters running around in the mud for 12 hours. The stunt team in Ireland are second-to-none - the battle scenes are just epic and so well done.
Jóhannes Jóhanesson: They work us out in that stunt shed on the days we're not working, for hours going through the fight sequences over and over and over again, to the point where you're like, "My God, I've got this already!", but they want to work on it more. And on the day you're very thankful for them pushing you, because it really pays off.
Were you a fan of the original 'Viking' series?
Frida: I was a huge fan of the original series as I had a few of my Swedish friends who were on it (Edvin Endre, Gustaf Skarsgård). I loved it, especially Katheryn (Winnick) as Lagertha who did an incredible job. When I learned that I got the part, it was a pretty cool experience to know that you're passing the torch on from someone that you really respect. Hopefully, I can carry the legacy of a strong, bad-ass woman forward!
David: I certainly knew of it, had seen quite a lot of it and even had friends who had been in it. Interestingly, I was on a show called 'The Borgeois' which was once co-written by Michael Hurst who then left the project to go and write 'Vikings', so I've sort of been alongside it for a long time. Indeed, some of the producers are the same too, so I'm a little offended they didn't ask me to join the universe sooner!
All eight episodes of 'Vikings: Valhalla' season one hits Netflix on February 25. Season two has already been filmed.