Actress Katheryn Winnick talks to Aref Omar about her role in epic TV series on the lives of medieval Norse warriors
SHE may look like your typical blonde beauty but Canadian actress Katheryn Winnick is no pushover. The 35-year-old from Ontario began her training in martial arts at the tender age of 7. She earned her first black belt at age 13 and when she hit 21, had already established three martial arts schools.
Having appeared in many TV series — House, Law & Order, Bones, CSI, Nikita and Criminal Minds — over the years, Winnick’s latest role is one of beauty combined with the beast.
In the new historical drama series Vikings, she is Lagertha, the wife of legendary Norse warrior Ragnar Lodbrok, whose heroic exploits and travels have survived the test of time. Played by Travis Fimmel, Viking chieftain Ragnar is a farmer with a thirst for travel and adventure. Aided on his journeys by his wife, brother Rollo (Clive Standen) and fellow warriors, he gains notoriety as the scourge of France and England.
The US$40 million (RM128 million) Canadian-Irish production follows his gripping story, and delves into family and brotherhood during the little known period of the medieval Viking saga.
Created by award-wining director Michael Hirst, known for his work on the The Tudors and Camelot, the epic nine-part series also stars Nathan O’Toole, Gustaf Skarsgard, George Blagden, Jessalyn Gilsig, John Kavanagh, Donal Logue and Alyssa Sutherland. Aside from Vikings, Winnick can be seen on the big screen in this year’s comedy heist film, The Art Of The Steal, alongside Kurt Russell, Matt Dillon and Terence Stamp.
Currently wrapping up shooting for the second season in Ireland, Winnick took some time off to talk about her kickass role.
Is there any aspect of Viking life that should be incorporated into modern life?
What’s great about this show is that it really celebrates women and how strong women can be. Lagertha is an example of a strong and powerful woman, and based on a real Viking at that. As a shield maiden she fought alongside her husband and his men but she also had a feminine side as a mother who took care of the home. The fact that Lagertha has many fans shows that there’s an appetite for women with a strong voice.
Favourite moments in the show so far?
Just being on set, working in beautiful natural landscape and environment out in the middle of nowhere, dressed in highly detailed costumes with a great cast and crew. The crew have been working together for the past 25 years — on Braveheart and The Tudors — so there’s a sense of family there, where everybody supports each other.
Name a misconception about the Vikings that you found out while working on this show.
There are lots of stereotypes. People thought that these Vikings were just barbarians with horns coming out of their helmets. That’s so not the case. They were smart and strong warriors, very strategic in how they approached different battles, and they were civilised. For them, everything had a purpose and meaning.
As a martial arts exponent, what was the Viking battle experience like?
I love the action side of it. My character goes through so many changes during the season and gets the chance to really do some serious damage (laughs), which is a lot of fun as an actor. I was a tomboy who grew up in a taekwondo dojo at the age of 7 (she also practised karate). It’s a different style of fighting — with a sword and shield, as opposed to using hands and feet — that I had to learn and I’m still learning. The fights here are more raw in a sense and I try to do as much of the stunts myself. We’re not trying to glorify the fights on the show but just to portray a very instinctual and realistic way of going about it. Sometimes I just want to go and whip out a spinning back kick but that’s not what would have happened back then, and I have to hold myself back. Lagertha’s not just someone who can defend herself physically but also a fighter as an individual.
Tell us about your Ukrainian background.
I have a strong Ukrainian background. Although I was raised in Canada and my first language is English, there’s a strong Ukrainian culture and community here as well, and we support each other. I did Ukrainian dancing and learnt the language, among other things, and went to a Ukrainian school every Saturday. I hated it initially but I’m grateful for that grounding now since it helped to broaden my view of the world. It also helped me as an actor.
Where did you draw inspiration for your character?
I didn’t base her on any anyone specific but I sought out other strong women I could use as reference points. Catherine the Great and Elizabeth had faced many challenges, and they had a strong voice. I see Yulia Tymoshenko, the former Prime Minister of Ukraine now serving a prison term, as a modern woman facing different struggles. I also try to bring a bit of myself to the character and I’m still learning. Every day is a new day and I discovered a lot about myself playing this role.
Holly Sep 8th, 2013 Art of the Steal, Video 0 Replies
So sorry for the lack of updates, work has me very busy at the moment. You can view the trailer below for Art of the Steal which was released a few days ago.
Holly Jul 20th, 2013 News & Rumours, Vikings 0 Replies
Season two of Vikings is sailing onto the History Channel in 2014, and the number one new cable series made its first appearance at San Diego Comic-Con this year. Cast members Travis Fimmel, Katheryn Winnick, Clive Standen, Jessalyn Gilsig, Gustaf Skarsgård, and George Blagden were in attendance as well as creator Michael Hirst and senior VP of development and programming Dirk Hoogstra. They are in the midst of production for season two so almost all of them had beards.
Michael Hirst said characters really get to dig their feet in next season. “In season one of any show you’re establishing characters. By season two we know a lot more about who our characters are just as our audience does.” That gives them more freedom. He continued, “In season two all of the major characters have to make huge choices and huge sacrifices. They realize whatever dreams they have, whatever expectations they have will involve sacrifices, sometimes terrible sacrifices.”
He emphasized that it gets bigger and better. “The stakes get higher. The armies get bigger. There are more boats.” George Blagden said they’re even taking their viking ship out to the ocean for the first time next week instead of just filming in a lake or on set. Viewers can expect the scale to be on another level next season.
Katheryn Winnick’s character Lagertha has to a lot to recover from next season. She’s faced not only the loss of her children but also Ragnar’s betrayal. When asked about what her reaction will be she said, “You’ll have to wait and see when she finds out the news in season two. I do know it was hard for her. Her sense of identity will be tested and it will be interesting to see how these circumstances make her a better person or a different person in one way or another.”
Every character will evolve. Blagden’s Athelstan has to choose between life as a monk and a viking. He mentioned he’s learned some viking moves in preparation. Jessalyn Gilsig’s Siggy doesn’t have a love life, but she’ll keep busy. She’s ready to knock down whoever she has to in order to get back on the chair. Clive Standen’s Rollo has reached a point where he can no longer stand in his brother’s shadow. A lot is going to change.
Vikings will make a jump forward in time, but they’re not saying exactly how soon that will happen. It doesn’t seem like it will occur in the season premiere. Hirst knows there are loose ends. “I left a lot of cliffhangers at the end of the last episode. Those were immediate issues that needed fairly immediate resolution and that has to happen before we can move forward in time.”
Holly Jul 19th, 2013 Gallery Update, Public Appereances 0 Replies
Katheryn was out and about today at Comic Con and I’ve added high quality images of the events she went to for today, as always she looked absolutely stunning.
Public Appearances > Public Appearances from 2013 > July 19: The Nintendo Oasis On The TV Guide Magazine Yacht At Comic-Con – Day 2
Public Appearances > Public Appearances from 2013 > July 19: All Hail Vikings at San Diego Comic Con 2013 – Vikings Media Room
Public Appearances > Public Appearances from 2013 > July 19: All Hail Vikings at San Diego Comic Con 2013 – Vikings Panel
Public Appearances > Public Appearances from 2013 > July 19: All Hail Vikings at San Diego Comic Con 2013 – Vikings Party
Public Appearances > Public Appearances from 2013 > July 19: HISTORY – The Vikings Experience at San Diego Comic Con
Season 1 gets a greenlight for a October 15th release. You can view the details below as well as the box art for the season.
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios and Fox Home Entertainment have officially announced and detailed their upcoming Blu-ray release of Vikings: Season One. The release will be available for purchase online and in stores across the nation on October 15th.
Vikings follows the adventures of the great hero Ragnar Lothbrok (Travis Fimmel), a Viking chieftain seeking to fulfill his destiny as a conqueror, alongside his ambitious brother Rollo (Clive Standen) and loyal wife Lagertha (Katheryn Winnick). Throughout his quest, Ragnar faces a path of betrayals and temptations to protect his freedom, family, and life. When Ragnar teams up with his boat builder friend Floki (Gustaf Skarsgard) to craft a new generation of intrepid ships capable of conquering the rough northern seas, the stage is set for conflict.
Vikings: Season One Blu-ray Special Features will include over 9 hours of exclusive content including:
- Includes 9 episodes with extended and alternate scenes.
- The Armory Of Vikings – an interactive feature that allows viewers to learn more about the history and legacy of Vikings armory and weapons.
- Conquest and Discover: The Journey Of The Vikings – an interactive feature that allows viewers to learn more about the locations and places Ragnar traveled to in his journey through Season One
- Warrior Society: Viking Culture & Law – featurette that takes a closer look inside the fascinating system of laws, practices and rules employed by Vikings.
- Birth Of The Vikings: featurette that provides an all-access look at the creation of VIKINGS.
- Forging The Viking Army: Warfare And Tactics – featurette that takes a behind-the-scenes look at the process of casting and creating the epic battle scenes of Vikings
- Deleted Scenes
- Commentary from Michael Hirst