Alexander Ludwig on his 'Vikings' role: 'It came out of the blue'

Bill Harris, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:17 AM ET

Some timely age discrimination worked in Alexander Ludwig's favour.

In the second season of Vikings, which airs Thursdays on History, the 21-year-old Ludwig is playing Bjorn Lothbrok, son of Ragnar Lothbrok (Travis Fimmel) and Lagertha (Katheryn Winnick). But in the first season of Vikings, Bjorn was played by a younger actor, Nathan O'Toole, who is now 16.

I joked with Ludwig that when the second-two scripts came out, O'Toole must have said, “The story jumps ahead several years? I'm screwed!”

“I know, that really sucked - I mean, it was good for me, but I felt really badly, especially when I met him,” said Ludwig, a Vancouver native.

“Kudos to (O'Toole), he is a great actor for a kid his age. I studied the way he did it, because I wanted it to be realistic, for it to seem as if I were this same character, now more grown up. But at the same time I was given a lot of freedom to do what I want.

“Bjorn has gone through a lot. A lot has changed for him. I'm not the same person I was a year ago, so there definitely is some leeway there. But I kept the sincerity of his character and the intensity of his character.”

To put a 21st-century spin on it, Bjorn is the product of a broken home. Not to mention all those regular Viking problems, like, you know, virtually everyone trying to kill you all the time.

“It goes to show what (having your parents split up) can do to a kid, but as the season progresses, Bjorn starts to find himself as a man,” Ludwig said. “He's still young emotionally, but by the end of the season he has grown immensely, and a lot happens to make him a bad-ass character, very much a man.”

Prior to Vikings, Ludwig played Cato in The Hunger Games and Shane in Lone Survivor. Ludwig's upcoming film projects include When the Game Stands Tall with Jim Caviezel and Final Girl with Abigail Breslin.

“(Vikings) literally came out of the blue,” Ludwig said. “I got a call from my reps and they said the makers of Vikings wanted to meet with me. I had seen publicity for Vikings all over Los Angeles, but I hadn't actually seen the show, because I was working so much.

“I met with Travis and Katheryn, and loved them. I went back, watched the show, fell in love with it. I called my buddies and told them I'd had a meeting for a part in a show called Vikings. And they were like, 'Oh God, that's our favourite show.' So apparently I was the only person out of all my friends who hadn't seen it.

“Doing this TV show, I've grown so much as an actor. It was the best decision I've ever made in my life.”

Well, that and being born in the right year to play Bjorn in season two of Vikings.

You don't have to be the Norse God Odin to know that some things are just meant to be.

Bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

Twitter: @billharris_tv


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