It was a dangerous alternative when “Vikings” killed off its protagonist, Ragnar (Travis Fimmel).
However the Historical past drama’s viewers has grown exponentially because it’s reshaped its narrative round Ragnar’s son, Ivar the Boneless (Alex Høgh Andersen), who was born with out the use of his legs.
“There was inevitable pushback with the concept I would kill off Ragnar,” says creator Michael Hirst (“The Tudors”). “Ragnar was the middle of the present, and if I received rid of Ragnar, then nobody would watch.”
That didn’t occur. Following Ragnar’s Season Four demise (he was dropped right into a pit of toxic snakes), scores for the second half of the fourth season jumped from 2.2 million to 2.5 million viewers every week.
Because the second half of Season 5 kicks off (Wednesday at 9 p.m.), “Vikings” finds Ivar because the king — and has discovered an viewers that’s confirmed it would stick round with the brand new man in cost.
“I by no means believed [the audience would leave],” says Hirst. “I knew … that Ragnar’s sons have been as well-known as he was. There was an awesome Viking chief referred to as Ivar the Boneless who may need been [handicapped] — what a unprecedented Viking hero that might be! It appears so unlikely, and but it was true. So I wished to determine how this man might have been so value following, so spectacularly well-known. We’re following Ivar’s trajectory and he’s such an uncommon, compelling lead character. We needed to forged somebody for Ivar who was extraordinary.”
Enter Andersen, a 24-year-old Danish actor who was unknown to worldwide audiences earlier than he grew to become the antihero on “Vikings” in Season 4. Since then, his recognition has grown (he at the moment has over 1 million followers on Instagram).
“I had just a few thousand followers [before ‘Vikings’] as a result of I’ve finished some stuff again in Denmark, however nothing in comparison with this,” says Andersen. “It’s been overwhelming in some ways. Coming from a small city in already-small Denmark, it’s been a large journey to this point.”
Half of that journey entails acclimating to the worldwide highlight.
“I’ve gotten just a few love letters which I’m very fond of, thanks very a lot,” Andersen laughs. “I don’t know the right way to reply to them and I’m a little scared by this complete factor — take note, I’m only a Danish dude. This is an entire new world to me. However individuals are so good, actually. When you made an enormous deal out of it, it would develop into an enormous deal. I’m chill with that stuff. You’ll want to be, in any other case you’ll go insane.”
Hirst says Andersen captivated him proper from the beginning.
“Simply earlier than his studying, he mentioned to me, ‘I solely have one query: Is Ivar in ache as a result of he [can’t use his legs]?’ ” says Hirst. “I mentioned, ‘I feel he’s in ache on a regular basis.’ And he went and did the studying, and also you couldn’t see any ache. All the opposite boys who have been studying for [Ivar] have been exhibiting agony. After which the man who was taking pictures, mentioned ‘Do you wish to look via the digicam?’ There was no ache in Alex’s efficiency — however after I regarded via the digicam, his ache was in his eyes.”
Andersen teases a “darkish” season forward for Ivar.
“He is an antihero with emphasis on ‘anti.’ It’s attention-grabbing to have a personality who is changing into the lead character and but he’s virtually the villain,” he says. “Good characters don’t consider they’re dangerous. So long as you as an actor consider in them and attempt to perceive them, it’s not laborious to have empathy and sympathy.
“[Ivar] had a tough upbringing in a society that doesn’t embrace him in any respect, and an excessive amount of love from his mother that finally ended up suffocating him, his dad abandoning him,” he says.
“It’s a privilege as a younger actor to work on a personality that has a lot meat to it.”