Aslaug will fight for power and to regain her identity on Season 4 of Vikings, says Alyssa Sutherland

  • Maria Nayef
  • February 10, 2016
  • Comments Off on Aslaug will fight for power and to regain her identity on Season 4 of Vikings, says Alyssa Sutherland

“A woman will one day rule Kattegat” but will it be Aslaug? The daughter of Sigurd and Brynhildr and wife of King Ragnar Lothbrok did seem adept at ruling solo when we saw her last on season three of Vikings.

The epic, historical drama, created and written by Michael Hirst, returns to SBS with a brand new season in two weeks.

Aside from having two Aussies in lead roles (Alyssa Sutherland as Aslaug and Travis Fimmel as her husband and main protagonist Ragnar Lothbrok) the show is also a huge hit Down Under. Last year on SBS the premiere of season three of Vikings was watched by over 2.5 million people in Australia, and it was the most watched Drama program for SBS during the time the season was broadcast.

I spoke with Sutherland in January while she was home for a well-deserved break after spending ten months filming season four of Vikings in Ireland.

We talked about Aslaug’s loss of identity, her devotion to her sons, and Ragnar’s double standards.

I trust you’ve had a nice break being home for the holidays?

Oh, of course. It’s been really lovely.

Have you finished filming season four?

Season four is actually still going, there’s still a little bit left to be done, because they’re doing an extended season of 20 episodes this year. It’s pretty exciting, there’s double the fun for everyone! (laughs)

You are always so enthusiastic when you talk about the show!

It’s such a good one to be a part of. I love the role. I’m very lucky Michael (Hirst) writes stuff for my character that I really love – he isn’t afraid to join me in showing the uglier side of vanity.

Can we talk about the new, more fierce Aslaug, who we got to see a bit of last season? Where she was more behind the scenes, perhaps even timid, it looks like we’re beginning to see a different side to her?

Absolutely yes, going into season four Aslaug is in a position of questioning who is going to be in charge of Kattegat in the event of Ragnar’s death. If he doesn’t survive his latest raid on Paris, what happens to Kattegat? And there’s an interesting kind of power struggle between her and Bjorn (Alexander Ludwig) in the beginning of season four, because I think the natural assumption to make is that he would be the ruler.

I think before, I didn’t really have the opportunity to show what Aslaug was really like. I don’t think she was timid, especially when she was trying to keep her children safe when she had to flee Kattegat. And not long before that, a plague went through Kattegat while she was overseeing it, and people lost children. A few episodes later Aslaug is fleeing to this dirty, dirty place, and her children are sick and malnourished. I honestly think a lot of the judgement comes because Aslaug was in direct opposition to Lagertha (Katheryn Winnick) but she’s had different challenges to face. She has a different kind of strength to Lagertha.

Vikings Season 4
Sutherland in Season 4 of Vikings. Photo: Jonathan Hession/HISTORY

The title of the second episode of season four is “Kill The Queen.” Anything we should be worried about?

Really? (laughs) It’s not referring to me, I can tell you that much!

Well that’s good to hear! What will shock us the most about Aslaug this season?

I’m trying to figure out a way to tell you without giving anything away…there’s a really shocking…it’s a really quick moment…and it’s one of my favourites for Aslaug.

What was your favourite thing about filming season four?

One of the things I really liked about working on season four was Aslaug’s relationship with Ivar. That was some really gripping stuff for me. That is actually my favourite relationship for Aslaug – it’s probably my favourite relationship Aslaug has! I think it’s really interesting and complex, and there’s lots to it.

In the key art for season four Aslaug is sitting with Ivar on her lap, the son she saved from certain death. Is she still trying to protect him, even from Ragnar?

She’s constantly trying to protect Ivar from everything around him. I think Ragnar has finally come to terms with him being alive, I don’t think Aslaug was afraid that Ragnar would keep wanting to kill him, but Aslaug is very protective of Ivar and she only wants the best for her son – all of her sons.

Why did Aslaug sleep with The Wanderer? Was she craving attention, or was she compelled to do it?

Oh, I think there were a lot of different reasons. First and foremost she’s never felt fulfilled and satisfied by her relationship with Ragnar. He has never, really, shown her love. And I think for a woman to feel like all she is to him is a person to give him sons, I think she was emotionally neglected – she was very neglected –  and I think after having four children, and spending her day taking care of them, even though she loves her sons deeply, there’s a loss of identity there for her. And then a man came along with his own power, and to actually understand Ivar, to ease his pain…

Yeah, that was a big thing for her…

It was a huge thing for her. Especially as she has a husband who turns his back on his son when he is in pain and gets frustrated by it. So to have a man that wanted to help, and was actually able to, was a really big deal for her. She also had someone paying her attention and finding her attractive, and I think that’s where the humanity lies in her. She hadn’t had that from Ragnar, and I know how I feel as a woman when you get attention, and it’s a lovely feeling, and I think she really needed it. At the same time, there was sort of a level of obligation for her as well, I mean, this man had done a wonderful thing for her son who was in so much pain, and I think there was a part of her that felt like she owed it to him.

Vikings Season 4
Ragnar (Travis Fimmel) and Aslaug (Sutherland) in a scene from Season 4 of Vikings. Photo: Jonathan Hession/HISTORY

One of my favourite moments from season three was when Aslaug stood up to Ragnar and slapped him out: Was this motivated by her guilt over Siggy’s death, or his double standards regarding infidelity?

Absolutely double standards. I mean really, absolutely double standards. I thought it was really uncool for him to be saying those things to her when he was going out and sleeping with other people, and I was furious.

Let’s talk about the wardrobe this upcoming season…

Oh yeah.

I’ve seen some pictures. Just stunning.

Yep, and it continues to get better and better. It’s fantastic. Really, really cool stuff, and I can’t wait for the fans to see it. Our costume designer, Joan Bergin, is incredible.

How do you unwind after a long day of filming in Ireland?

Normally I’m pretty cold (laughs) so I get in the bath, and then I go to bed. I love my job. I’m one of these annoying people that when I finish a scene I’m pretty damn cheerful because I really like what I do. The satisfaction that I have from acting in this show is awesome.

What was the main focus for you this season, and where to now for Aslaug?

For me as an actress, when I watch a show as a viewer, I like watching people and situations I can put myself in, and wonder what I would do in that situation. It’s what I strive for, so people can understand the motivation.

What we now see of Aslaug is like what she’s been about from the beginning, and you know, it takes time to develop a story line, but she’s always wanted the best for her sons, and to have power, and to leave them a great legacy.

Vikings, season four, is a 20-part series to be aired as two 10 episode parts on SBS in 2016. Part one begins Wednesday 24 February at 8.30pm and continues every Wednesday at 9.30pm. 

In the US, season four kicks off on February 18 on The History Channel.

The second part of the series will conclude in later in 2016.


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