We Shine the Spotlight on VIKINGS Star Katheryn Winnick

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Having helped usher in the series premiere of VIKINGS with an interview with star Jessalyn Gilsig way back in February, we here at theTvaddict.com thought it was only fitting that on the eve of the hit History Channel’s first finale we would close out the season with a few words from the another star. Cue, the equally epic Katheryn Winnick, who during a recent one-on-one in Toronto shared what attracted her to the series, how it’s unlike anything she’s ever shot before and what it was like playing the original Teen Mom! See for yourself, after the jump.

What was it about the pilot script for VIKINGS that had you itching to audition for the role?
Katheryn Winnick: Ten pages in I knew that I wanted to be a part of this show. I’m a huge fan of [VIKINGS creator] Michael Hirst who created THE TUDORS and wrote Elizabeth with Cate Blanchett and it’s so smartly written. Michael has such an understanding of who the vikings were as a culture, as people as warriors. That, and I fell in love with the character of Lagertha, who is based on a real person. She was not only a mother and a wife in love with her husband, but a warrior and a strong character that I could relate to and look up to.

Was another thing that attracted you to the series the fact that the Viking culture was such uncharted territory for television. More to the point, you weren’t going to be playing another vampire or zombie!
One hundred percent! At the start of this whole audition process, I started to read up on who the vikings were and there were so many stereotypes. Barbarians, dirty, horns on their helmets. Yet in reality, it’s quite the contrary. Vikings were very intelligent, civilized, clean and amazing human beings, there was just so little information out there on them. Michael Hirst worked with historians to get everything as accurate as possible. Their mythology, their paganism and the system of different Gods they worshipped. From the bones in our hair to the charcoal used as makeup, the production took a lot of pride in trying to make it as authentic as possible.

Were you at all concerned that the show’s goal of authenticity would be somewhat less than flattering for the actors?
Actually, coming from shows that shot in Los Angeles, where an emphasis was put on lip gloss, powder and ensuring everyone looked so annoyingly perfect, shooting VIKINGS was a breath of fresh air. To be able to be so raw on camera, let [fake] blood splatter everywhere, no touch ups throughout the day, it was so refreshing. I got dirtier and dirtier as my character fought throughout the day and we just let it happen.

How important was it for the show to shot somewhere that didn’t include a soundstage in Los Angeles?
It was a necessity in the sense that we shot in untouched territory. VIKINGS is a world of no buildings or towns, so everything was shot on farms and untouched land. And I think it helped a lot in terms of delving into character. Because when you’re shooting in these remote locations, without wifi and cell phone reception, you’re forced to take the time to slow down and really allow yourself to imagine what it would be like without technology. The cast emerged ourselves in nature and with one another and I think it helped us create camaraderie and a strong bond akin to Viking clans in their day.

Your character isn’t afraid to get her hands dirty! Was the physical nature of your role another appealing factor when considering the show?
Oh for me it was really exciting. I come from a martial art background. I started training in martial arts at seven, got my first black belt at thirteen and opened my own school at sixteen. So it was great to be able to incorporate my love of storytelling and creative side with the action elements that come with being a warrior. I’ve been looking for a role like this, with the right writer, because you read so many scripts that are so one note, where she’s just an action hero with no depth and this is it.

Were you at all concerned with playing a mother!
I’m not a mom yet, but it was little interesting for me because of the whole cast process. At first, people thought I was a little too young looking, until they realized that in Viking culture I would have been married at 14 and pregnant by 15!

And finally, as a long time BONES fan I can’t let you go without one Booth and Brennan related question! Did the producers warn you what you were getting into when you signed on to play a speed bump on the road to Booth and Brennan’s happily ever after?
You know, I knew that going into it. The creators sat me down and said, “Are you ready to be the most hated woman on television? But I take it as a positive, because it showed the dedication of the show’s fans. They were really rooting for these two amazing actors played by Emily and David to get together so much that they would despite anything or anyone that would get in their way. I’m a big fan of BONES and it’s nice to have them so devoted to the storyline and their relationship as a couple. I think my character had a purpose of creating more of a conflict so they would end up together and that is what eventually happened! I’m a big fan of the show and very proud to have done a season on there and I hope fans who saw that will hopefully realize that I was just playing a character and may take a chance and tune into VIKINGS… On the History channel!

VIKINGS airs Sundays at 10PM on History.