Geeks Of Doom interviews Vikings actor George Blagden, who plays the priest Athelstan, about his character’s journey and fate after Thursday’s Episode 3.6 “Born Again.”
SPOILERS for Vikings if you haven’t seen Episode 3.6 “Born Again,” which aired on Thursday, March 26th, 2015 on The History Channel.
Athelstan is gone. Without giving us time to mourn Siggy, Vikings killed off our beloved priest, depriving us of one of our two central characters. At times, I forgot the show was about Ragnar Lothbrok (Travis Fimmel), and by the time Episode 3.6 “Born Again” aired, I had come to think that Athelstan was the main protagonist, as he affected most of the storylines. Even when Ragnar was carrying him for burial, I kept hoping it was a mistake, or maybe he would pull a Lazarus.
George Blagden, who played Athelstan, gave GoD (appropriate) and other media sites a Q&A treat yesterday, March 27, 2015. The running theme of “email [Vikings showrunner Michael Hirst] … please, tell him” was pervasive throughout the interview.
On Blagden’s and Athelstan’s future — flashbacks, visions, perhaps as his son Alfred, the actor is open to it all. Check out what Blagden had to say during the interview here below, and be sure to check out the images and videos embedded, too.
I asked George Blagden what was up next for him – his next project so everyone can find him again. His accent was very perfect and very real, and his demeanor was much like Athelstan – kind, charming, polite, and reflective.
George Blagden: “I have just finished filming a television series in France, in Paris, believe it or not.” He laughs, “Ended up going to Paris. It’s called Versailles. It’s about how Louie XIV decided to centralize his government and build this monstrosity of a palace, Versailles, that we know and love today. It was very very different, to Vikings. I actually finished filming Vikings on the Friday at 6pm. Got on a plane on Saturday. Had hair and makeup on Saturday. Rehearsed all day Sunday with the director of Versailles, and we turned over on the Monday morning in Paris, so I had a weekend to prepare for Versailles. It worked out quite well with the scheduling. The main difference is that weekend, I spent most of it having my hands manicured… like crazy. I just spent 3 months in Ireland, in the field, in mud being as pagan as I could be. Yeah, that was the main difference between the shows, the hand care, honestly, like nail care. It was extreme. No there was obviously a lot more amazing, different things. It was an amazing project and I can’t wait for the world to see it. It’s very different to Vikings and yeah, I’m excited to see it.”
On keeping Athelstan’s death under wraps: “I’ve been biting my nails since August.”
On Judith: “It was first love.”
On Ragnar’s potential mindset now going to Paris: “Leaves Ragnar very very open and potentially weak.” He admited he has not seen any of the scripts past “Born Again,” but would love to see what happens when he finds out who the murderer was and if Ragnar will take the pagan or Christian view.
On his favorite or most challenging scene: “The whole sequence when Athelstan is visited by God in the form of the light… quite emotional and quite kind of um… scary.”
On Ragnar’s eulogy: “I welled up.” And, “It was really lovely, really really lovely to watch.”
What he misses the most: “The group of people I got to work with.”
During the future conflict between Ragnar’s children and Alfred, Athelstan’s son, would he be willing to play Alfred: “Absolutely!”
On comparing last season’s loss of Yarl Borg and King Horik to this season’s deaths of Siggy and Athelstan: He thinks last season was extremely violent because Ragnar became very dark and the deaths reflected that, and in season three the deaths are more spiritual, reflecting character development. “It’s very clever how its all interwoven.”
One of the last scenes he had to film on the show: Director Helen Shaver directed him to be as open and loving as he could towards Travis and not be afraid to overdo it. It was not easy to do that towards Travis Fimmel, to “give him the loving eyes.” Fimmel is not that type of person.
On what he would say to encourage those to continue tuning in: “They should tune in next week.” Blagden spoke to Michael Hirst about this and Hirst reassured him that it would be very difficult to not have Athelstan as a very strong presence and a central theme going forward, and even after affecting all of the characters relationships. “I would like like to think maybe that he’s still a driving force in the narrative.”
On a potential Athelstan resurrection: “I’d love to.”
Vikings: Floki and Athelstan’s Religious Conflict (S3, E6)
George Blagden, Travis Fimmel, and Gustaf Skarsgard discuss their characters’ differing religious beliefs in this web exclusive from “Born Again.”