Maude Hirst’s Helga certainly doesn’t have it easy on The History Channel’s hit show, Vikings. She’s married to the quirkiest viking of all, Floki (Gustaf SkarsgÃ¥rd), whose idealistic theology spurred him to kill Ragnar’s beloved friend Athelstan (George Blagden). They had a cute little family thing going in Kattegat; Ragnar (Travis Fimmel) trusted Floki, especially after double-crossing King Horik (Donal Logue) for him in season 2. But when Ragnar kept turning to Athelstan, and the priest was born again, Floki could not take it. He felt it was being disloyal to the real gods in Valhalla.
Geeks of Doom got invited to participate in a roundtable telephone interview, where Hirst provided insight to her character and her relationship with her off-the-rails hubby.
Check out the interview with Maude Hirst below.
Q: Is Helga 100% behind Floki in all his decisions, or does she have doubts about what he’s doing, and does she think maybe he’s just a little bit crazy?
Hirst: Interesting question. I think up until the end of season three, up to obviously, what you guys have seen, I think she genuinely was 100% behind him, and I think it’s so complex, and he’s definitely – he does struggle with mental health. In real life, dealing with some dude that is problematic, and I think she really wants to be 100% behind him but until the very end of three, actually, it’s even too much for her, and she does have a switching moment that she questions what he’s doing and how far he’s willing to push himself and the people around him. That’s going to be continued to explore this next season. Whether she does stay loyal or not is to be revealed.
Q: What do you relate to so strongly with Helga?
Hirst: I think Helga and I are both – I feel very empathetic towards people. I’m fascinated with how human beings work. I try and always look for the positive in people rather than jump to conclusions. I think Helga’s quite like that and quite an observer. She has relationships with people but it’s almost silent. She bonds with people without having to – it’s not necessarily about big dialogue moments, but I think the empathy through both of them is what connects us. I definitely think we differ in some ways. I’m not sure I would’ve been able to bite my tongue as much as Helga has done here throughout the years, especially when Floki, last season, properly lost it. I think I would’ve been slightly more vocal, but yes, we definitely are similar in a few ways.
Q: Shooting the series is always physically challenging, but was there anything in particular this year that you had to go through that was a little worse than previous seasons?
Hirst: Just with the corsets and extended season this year, it’s just been through all the months of the year, and Irish weather is so unpredictable, so instead of it – we normally filmed over the summer which had its problems anyway, but this – we’ve been coming through the winter here as well, so just weather here is crazy and having whole days outside and on boats. When you’re out in a boat, you’re out for a whole day, and that really just means all you have to cover you is just your costume, really. Yes, it’s hard, it’s freezing cold. That’s mainly the problem, it’s weather in Dublin, really.
Q: I am really enjoying what Helga is going through because she has her rose-colored glasses on all the time, and she still having to struggle keeping those on. Why is she still loyal to Floki? You said she’s still always loves him. Is there something that will cause her to not be able to be there for him?
Hirst: I think they have a real fundamental bond. They both connect in a real spiritual level, and they have ever since they met. I think that’s something that she can’t walk away from and something that keeps pulling her back. I think there is a lot of love there. I know that his internal craziness has no relation to their relationship. I think it’s in his own head. I don’t think he’s ever necessarily treated Helga badly, and I think she feels almost as she can fix him by being there, she makes him better. I don’t know how far he’d have to go to push her away, but it’s definitely a complex relationship, but I think fundamentally, there’s just a lot of love between them.
Q: Did you ever see Helga as an outsider herself, and that’s part of the reason she might have been attracted to Floki? It seems like it would take a certain kind of person to even live the way he lives.
Hirst: Yes, absolutely. I think that’s why and how they met, actually. I don’t know if you remember back in the first season where they first met. We were just in the hut, in the middle of the woods that later became our home, but to have found that place, and Helga’s definitely a bit of an outsider. That’s, I think, one of the bonds that they have over the years that they are both just a bit different from everybody else. All the other female ladies in the show are different to Helga and it’s what connects them together, I think, is that they see something in each other, even if it’s not discussed, that’s different from the rest of them.
Q: I’m curious to know, as you continue to explore the character, is there anything you found that you’re surprised to learn about yourself as an actress?
Hirst: Yes. I think going through all the ups and downs that I have, and suddenly on a day being able to portray it. It’s always terrifying when you read a script, and you’re confronted with something that in life, you haven’t actually gone through and wanting to do it such justice, especially when it’s things about children and what real people go through and how much their lives would be affected by it, so you need to probably really do your research and try and get into the places. Yes, it is. It’s always shocking and then when you do it, you feel it so much, and it’s amazing that humans can understand other humans like that and get into a different headspace.
Q: We’ve seen the fan base for Vikings grow and leap some bounds over the years. What do you feel is about the series that it resonates well with viewers?
Hirst: I think it brings two different things. It brings the family aspect of Vikings which is never been seen before, and I think it still has the fighting and it still has all the brutality of what the life that would’ve been but also humanizes all the people, and it’s a world that I don’t think has really been discovered that much. I think that and also think each of the characters has a lot of complexity and growth every season, and I hope that all the fans have seen that and grown to love each of the characters and wanted to continue following their journeys.
Vikings season 4 returns tonight, February 18th at 10pm ET on The History Channel.