Clive Standen is Rollo
Rollo is the brother of Ragnar Lothbrok. A fearsome warrior with an axe and an impulsive streak, Rollo is wrought with internal struggles. Though Ragnar has promised Rollo they will always be equals, tensions and jealousy often threaten their relationship, with Rollo often easily assumed by Ragnar’s enemies to be willing to turn on his brother for power. In later seasons, these internal struggles become less of an issue as he realizes his importance within the community and eventually makes peace with himself and his brother.
Rollo accompanies his brother Ragnar on his first raid to England, which was done against Earl Haraldson’s orders. Rollo makes no secret of his attraction to Lagertha and his regret that she chose Ragnar instead of him. On a subsequent raid to England, Rollo attacks and beats Knut, the Earl’s half-brother and spy, for making advances on Lagertha. When Lagertha later kills Knut for trying to rape a Saxon woman and her, Ragnar falsely claims that he killed Knut so as to protect his wife and is put on trial by Earl Haraldson. Despite the Earl’s attempts to bribe Rollo to turn against Ragnar, he testifies in support of his brother, who is then acquited.
When Haraldson attempts to kill Ragnar and his family, they escape and go into hiding. As a way of finding them, Haraldson has Rollo captured and tortured to make him reveal Ragnar’s location, but Rollo refuses and remains steadfast. When Ragnar learns that Haraldson has tortured his brother, he challenges the Earl to a trial by combat which the Earl accepts. When Ragnar wins the duel and kills Haraldson, the Earl’s steward, Svein, yells for the other guards to kill Ragnar. At this, Rollo quickly throws an axe into Svein, killing him with satisfaction. Svein was one of the men who had tortured him.
Despite his treatment at the hands of Earl Haraldson’s men, Rollo does not bear a grudge against the Earl’s widow and daughter, and even vouches for them so that they do not have to leave Kattegat. Siggy, the Earl’s widow, then enters into a relationship with Rollo.
During a raid into Northumbria, the Vikings are invited into the castle of King Aelle in order to negotiate. Ragnar offers to return the King’s captured brother and leave Northumbria in return for a ransom payment. Aelle agrees to pay the ransom, but adds the condition that one of Ragnar’s men must become Christian first, because he can only negotiate and make peace with a fellow Christian. Although Ragnar and his men laugh and balk at this stipulation, Rollo agrees to do so, to surprise of his companions. Rollo is baptized in the river by the Northumbrian bishop and given the Christian name Rolf. Although Rollo has little understanding of the ceremony and does not take it seriously, Floki takes considerable umbrage at Rollo’s action and berates him for offending their Norse gods. Though Rollo seems to remain as staunch a pagan as any of his comrades, Floki’s rebuke still unsettles him. While helping fight off an ambush from the Northumbrians, Rollo eagerly slays as many enemy soldiers as he can. He then yells at Floki “How many Christians have I killed!”
Rollo, Siggy, and her daughter join Ragnar and his family for the pilgrimage at Uppsala. During the festivities, Rollo engages in the customary riotous behavior, such as drinking, celebrating, and having sex with other women, much to Siggy’s disapproval. Rollo insists that he will be a great man someday and that Siggy would regret leaving him just because he sleeps with other women. Siggy tells him that his brother Ragnar is negotiating with King Horik. She complains to Rollo that because of his feckless behavior, he was not invited to these negotiations and is missing out on an opportunity to raise himself and improve his position.
Despite Rollo missing out on those discussions, Ragnar brings him along anyway on his mission to Jarl Borg, whom King Horik had asked Ragnar to negotiate with in order to settle a land dispute. Jarl Borg discerns that Rollo is jealous and resentful of Ragnar’s success, and connives to divide the brothers against each other. While Ragnar is away courting Princess Aslaug, Borg allows Rollo to stay at his hall and offers him lavish hospitality, such as food, wine, and the sexual use of any of his serving wenches. He flatters Rollo and suggests that he deserves to be greater than his brother. Borg promises that if Rollo fights with him against Ragnar and King Horik, then he will be a powerful and important person. After quietly considering these offers, Rollo agrees to join Jarl Borg against King Horik and fight against his own brother.
In Brother’s War, Rollo fights with Jarl Borg against his brother Ragnar and King Horik. During the battle, Rollo critically injures Floki and kills Arne, impaling him with a spear and almost superhumanly lifting him skyward above the fray, although Arne’s death struck Rollo with some guilt for striking down his former comrade. When Rollo is confronted by Ragnar for face-to-face combat, Rollo can not bring himself to fight his brother and surrenders, thereby ending the battle between the two forces. Ragnar, King Horik and Borg then strike an uneasy alliance to go on raids together in the West, and Rollo is taken captive, to be judged for his betrayal of the men from Kattegat. “Not that you’d care, brother,” declares Ragnar coldly to his captive brother, “but your niece, Gyda, is dead.”
Although the villagers want him to be sentenced to death, the Law-Giver, bribed by Ragnar with a piece of Saxon gold, announces that he has decided to spare Rollo, reasoning that if the Gods had wanted him dead, he would have died already in battle. Rollo indirectly apologizes to Ragnar by explaining that he merely wanted to step out of his brother’s shadow, yet found no sunlight when he did. Humiliated, Rollo decides to leave Kattegat, although Siggy, his lover, convinces him to stay.
In Invasion, four years later, Rollo has descended into self-destructive behaviour. He is found by Siggy sleeping outside in the snow, apparently more the worse for wear from drinking. She wakes him up by throwing cold water in his face. She tells Rollo that he has become a disgrace. She urges him to seek redemption of his honor by asking forgiveness from Ragnar and permission to be included in the next raid on England. Ragnar acknowledges that Rollo has suffered, but other people have suffered much more because of what he has done. Ragnar needs to consider the matter. King Horik and Jarl Borg arrives in Kattegat to meet with Ragnar with regard to their planned raid of England. During the conclave, Ragnar publicly acknowledges and accepts Rollo back as his brother, but forbids him to go raiding with them. Rollo is grateful for Ragnar’s forgiveness, but is disappointed at but accepting of his exclusion from the raid. At the feast in the hall of Earl Ragnar with Horik and Borg, Rollo is sitting solemnly with them. Jarl Borg, having been told King Horik does not want to raid with him, tries to lure Rollo back to his side but is only met with a punch in his face. As the Viking fleet sails down the fjord on its way to England, a frustrated Rollo watches from the clifftops, longing to be off raiding once more.
In Ragnar’s absence, however, his decision to exclude Rollo turns out to be as prophetic as it is wise. With Jarl Borg also excluded from the raid due to Horik’s mistrust, Kattegat is regarded by the angry Borg as easy pickings while Ragnar’s off raiding England with almost all of his most capable warriors. With Borg’s forces sailing up the fjord, Rollo quickly rouses himself from his frustration and self-pity to organize and mount a hurried but worthy defense of Kattegat. Jarl Borg ultimately captures Kattegat, but not as easily as he’d anticipated. Rollo’s resistance, meanwhile, has bought him the time and opportunity to evacuate Ragnar’s wife, Princess Aslaug, and young sons, saving them from Jarl Borg’s wrath.
Rollo leads his brother’s family and Siggy to the shelter of a remote farm where they await the return of Ragnar. During their exile, Rollo combs the area for warriors willing to fight Jarl Borg when Ragnar returns. Despite his futile efforts, Siggy is heartened to see Rollo finding purpose as a warrior and a man once more.
Word, meanwhile, has reached Ragnar of Jarl Borg’s treachery and of the flight of his family. Sailing back home with all possible haste, Ragnar is brought by Helga, Floki’s wife, to the farmhouse where his family has found refuge. Reunited with his family, an angry Ragnar tells Rollo he wants to destroy Jarl Borg. Rollo, having in the past played the rash, impulsive warrior to his normally cautious and deliberate brother, reins his brother in, counseling him against the futility of an attack at present with so few warriors at their disposal.
Unexpected help soon comes, however, when Lagertha, Ragnar’s former wife, and Björn, his oldest son, now taller than Ragnar and as powerfully-built as Rollo, arrive at the head of a column of warriors.
Rollo is surprised and genuinely happy to see Lagertha once more, and seemingly not on the basis of his past desire for her. Rollo also is impressed at how tall and powerful Björn has grown, but observes that he still hasn’t grown a proper beard.
With an adequate force at his disposal, Ragnar can now properly plan to oust Jarl Borg from Kattegat. Ragnar, Björn, and two other men slip into the village by night, where they put to the torch the stores of grain set aside for the winter. With the onset of winter around the corner, the lack of winter grain makes Jarl Borg’s grasp on Kattegat untenable. Angered at Ragnar’s efforts, Jarl Borg and his forces ride out of Kattegat in pursuit, predictably. Having drawn Jarl Borg out, Ragnar’s forces spring a trap. The ensuing battle is a victory for Ragnar, with Jarl Borg barely escaping with his life. In the wake of the engagement, Rollo compliments Björn on his fighting prowess. Ragnar, however, is quick to criticize his son for his recklessness, telling him he has much to learn. Ragnar and his allies return to Kattegat in triumph. Later, as Rollo is about to behead a captive as a sacrifice to Odin, Ragnar intervenes, handing the axe to Björn, who does the honors. Rollo seems surprised, but not chagrined.
Siggy asks Rollo if he still loves Lagertha. He replies he does in some way, but that he has put it in the past.
A messenger informs Ragnar that King Horik and his son barely escaped an attack from King Ecbert’s forces. When King Horik himself arrives in Kattegat, he wishes to attack Wessex again to punish King Ecbert. Ragnar and Rollo agree, but the earl wants to deal with Jarl Borg first. King Horik understands Ragnar’s thirst for vengeance, but points out that they need Borg’s men and ships if they are to go to Wessex again due to the losses they sustained during their last foray. He says that Rollo should go to Götaland to ask Jarl Borg to restore the alliance between himself, Ragnar and King Horik. At his departure from Kattegat, Siggy, King Horik and even Torstein, the man who wished Rollo to be executed earlier, wishes him success on his journey.
Arriving in Götaland, Rollo meets with Jarl Borg, delivering the proposal of resuming the alliance between Jarl Borg, Ragnar, and King Horik. Before agreeing, Jarl Borg consults with the skull of his late first wife. “What do you say, my love?” Borg asks the skull, kissing it intently. His new second wife, in the room, looks away. “You think I should go?” Turning to a bemused Rollo, Jarl Borg says, “She thinks I should go.”
Rollo returns to Kattegat along with Jarl Borg. Jarl Borg confers with Ragnar while Rollo observes from a distance. During the night, Rollo, Torstein, and Floki lead a party that locks Borg’s men inside the barn in which they’d been quartered, sets it aflame, and burns them alive. Bursting into Jarl Borg’s sleeping chambers, they seize Borg and subject him to a brutal beating. When one of the men moves to attack Borg’s pregnant wife, Rollo stops him. “That’s not necessary,” he tells him.
King Horik enters the Earl’s hall to ask Ragnar what is going on. Rollo and the other men drag Jarl Borg inside and deposit him at Ragnar’s feet. Ragnar says he cannot forgive Jarl Borg for what he has done to his family and will take revenge by carving a blood eagle on his back.
King Horik asks Ragnar to postpone the execution of Jarl Borg, as they still have no new ally to help them in their raids. Rollo asks Horik if Ragnar should reprieve Jarl Borg after all he has done, to which the King replies the execution might discourage and deter any possible allies from joining them. Rollo resents Ragnar constantly doing King Horik’s bidding, to which Ragnar replies that Horik is the king.
A messenger from a possible new ally arrives. Later, Rollo tells Siggy that they’ve found a new ally, someone called Earl Ingstad. When they are having sex, Rollo starts to hurt Siggy, asking him why she has sex with King Horik. She tells him she does it for him, as King Horik and Ragnar are allies now but eventually will fight each other, and Rollo will have to choose between them. Jarl Borg is subjected to the blood eagle. Rollo watches along with the rest of the people of Kattegat.
Rollo, now fully redeemed by his defense of Kattegat and by his protection of Ragnar’s wife and sons, is once more included in his brother’s westward endeavors. He grows particularly close to his eldest nephew, Björn, taking it upon himself to spar with and train the younger warrior in preparation for the upcoming return to Wessex. At sea on the voyage back to England, he encourages and reassures Björn, ensuring him that he’ll always be by his side.
Setting camp in Wessex, Rollo notices the tension between Ragnar and King Horik. Ragnar seeks to first approach King Ecbert in a spirit of diplomacy and cooperation, while King Horik wants only revenge and plunder. Rollo also notices Floki gravitating toward Horik. When an envoy, among them King Ecbert’s son Aethelwulf, arrives at the Viking camp, Rollo instructs the men to set up a shield wall and narrow the passage into the camp in case it is a ruse. However, Ragnar accepts Aethelwulf’s invitation to meet King Ecbert at his villa in a peaceful manner. King Horik, however, has no interest in diplomacy or negotiation, secretly sending a company of warriors under his son Erlandur into the forest to ambush Aethelwulf and his escort on their way back, intentionally sparing only Aethelwulf.
As a result, battle is inevitable. A frustrated Ragnar wants to approach their enemy with deliberation, but King Horik, disdaining such caution, leads them into a trap. When the Saxon forces are spotted, Horik insists in attacking head on. King Ecbert, having studied the strategies of Caesar and the Roman legions of old, has drawn the Northmen onto a battlefield of his own choosing. The Northmen find themselves between multiple bodies of the allied forces of King Ecbert and King Aella. Assailed by coordinated attacks by both mounted cavalry and infantry, The warriors of Ragnar, Lagertha, and Horik suffer heavy losses before fighting their way out of the trap and into headlong retreat. During the fray, Rollo fights valiantly, killing many. Spotting Prince Aethelwulf, Rollo heads toward him with murderous intent, but ends up wounded, then trampled by horses. Unable to come to his aid, Ragnar and Björn are forced to flee the field without him.
In the battle’s aftermath, the Saxon soldiers are finishing off wounded Viking warriors when Athelstan finds the gravely-wounded Rollo, saving him from a final spear-thrust. King Aella recognizes him as Ragnar’s brother. King Ecbert, realizing Rollo’s importance and potential use, orders him cared for. Later, back at Ecbert’s villa, Athelstan goes to Rollo to look after him. Seeing Athelstan in his priestly attire, Rollo says King Horik was right about Athelstan betraying them, regretting his lack of adequate strength to kill him.
Rollo is later released by King Ecbert as part of an agreement with the Northmen that includes payment of gold and silver, 5,000 acres of good farming land in Wessex, as well as recruiting those Northmen willing to fight as mercenaries for Princess Kwenthrith in her efforts to rule Mercia.
Ragnar sails home to Kattegat with his injured brother, where Siggy and a servant woman take care of Rollo’s injuries. During his lengthy recovery, an increasingly-frustrated Rollo has been bedridden and barely able to stand, much less walk. Siggy insists he not give up, saying she believes that he might still be useful. Before leaving, she places an axe within Rollo’s sight.
Later, during King Horik’s assault on Kattegat, two of his men enter Rollo’s home. Rollo, having by now reached the axe Siggy left for him, engages them in combat. Even in his wounded state, Rollo’s power and skill as a warrior is fearsome.
Rollo travels with Ragnar’s expedition to England to claim their land in Wessex from King Ecbert. After Ragnar agrees to Ecbert’s request to aid Princess Kwenthrith in her bid to rule Mercia, Rollo accompanies the joint Viking and Wessex force in battle. After participating in the first battle against King Brihtwulf, Rollo and Torstein consume some intoxicating mushrooms. While under the influence of the mushrooms, Rollo hacks the leg off of a captured Mercian soldier, saying that he just did not like the angle of the leg. Both Rollo and Torstein try to grope Princess Kwewthrith when she apparently flirts with them. Though appearing receptive at first, Kwenthrith ultimately refuses and slaps Rollo, angrily telling him “No!” Still under the influence, Rollo and Torstein just laugh at her strange behavior. In the preparation for the second battle against Prince Burgred’s forces, Rollo helps the disabled Torstein to walk so that he can fight one last time and die in battle.
After the victorious campaign in Mercia, Rollo exchanges some pleasantries with Prince Aethelwulf at the Viking-Wessex camp. When Floki chides Rollo for doing so, Rollo responds that they cannot be enemies with everyone at all times. Floki then taunts Rollo for fraternizing with Christians and becoming like them, and suggests that Rollo’s previous baptism in Northumbria has changed him, despite his denials.
Upon his return to Kattegat with the rest of the Vikings, Rollo learns of Siggy’s death while she was saving Ragnar’s sons. The loss of Siggy sends Rollo into despair and shame. He blames himself for Siggy’s death, saying that he neglected her and treated her poorly. As a result of his grief, Rollo drinks heavily and provokes fights with his fellow Vikings. His nephew Bjorn tries to discourage him from this drunken brawling, but ends up beating his uncle himself out of desperation and fear that his behavior will get him killed.
After this, Rollo asks the Seer about his fate. Overcome with regret and self-pity, Rollo says that he feels worthless and that he sees no point in staying alive. The Seer laughs and tells Rollo that if he knew what the gods had planned for him, he would dance naked on the beach. He then tells Rollo the prophecy that the “Bear will marry a princess” and that he will be at the ceremony. Rollo does not comprehend what this is supposed to mean.
During the invasion on Paris, Rollo plays a vital role in motivating the rest of the viking invasion, even when all hope appears lost. He goes so far as to kill one man because he hesitated to climb up the siege ladder. Upon gazing at the Princess Gisla, he resolves to go up Floki’s ladders and fight himself. After maiming and killing several Parisian soldiers, he turns and makes eye contact with the Princess. This distraction allows the Parisian soldiers to knock him off balance and push away his siege ladder, throwing Rollo from the walls. Hitting the water, he appears to be dead. However, after the retreat he comes to visit Ragnar, Lagertha, and a severely injured Bjorn – a sight upon which he declares to Ragnar that next time they will not make the same mistakes.
The Vikings make a second sneak attack on Paris the next night, with Rollo on the forefront fighting along with Lagertha. After Lagertha and her shield maidens infiltrate the city gates and open the outer doors, Rollo leads the main charge into the entrance. The Parisian soldiers release a spiked wheel which rolls through the tunnel, running over and impaling several Vikings. Rollo climbs over the wheel and lodges two spears into the floor which lock the wheel in place. However, the blocked wheel and dead bodies piled on it obstruct the Vikings from advancing through the tunnel. Since they are unable to get through, Rollo signals to fall back just in time, leaving a select few, including Earl Siegfried and Sinric, trapped behind the walls and captured. During this engagement, both Count Odo and Princess Gisla take notice of Rollo’s actions. Later, Sinric is brought to the Vikings as a prisoner to communicate the Parisian commander’s desire for negotiations. They turn to leave after an agreement to meet is made, and Rollo pulls Sinric back, cutting his ropes free and allowing him back into their camp. During the arranged meeting, Rollo turns up and bears witness to Ragnar’s baptism.
The Parisians come to the Viking camp to deliver treasures in gold and silver as a bargain for them to leave and Rollo goes to tell a bedridden Ragnar, who declares that it makes no difference to him as he is dying. Floki approaches Rollo as he is walking and he agrees with him that Athelstan “poisoned Ragnar’s mind” and that they are now seeing the “fruit of it”. Immediately after Floki leaves he is approached by Lagertha, who expresses her disbelief at Ragnar’s baptism and mentions that Rollo himself was also baptized. Rollo declares that his own baptism did not change him and that the Gods protected him from the Christian magic, yet have refused to protect Ragnar, once again blaming Athelstan for this. Later, the Viking camp celebrates their treasures as Rollo stares into the distance and contemplates the Seer’s previous prediction of his fate.
Upon Ragnar’s death, Rollo goes to visit his coffin to “speak” to him. Rollo proclaims that there is no point in denying that he has always resented Ragnar, but he finds it funny that the Gods took him first when they both thought that they favored him. Along with the other warriors, Rollo accompanies Ragnar’s coffin to city gates of Paris for a “proper Christian” burial and ceremony as Ragnar requested. They wait outside the gates while his body is taken inside. Before the ceremony can properly begin, Ragnar pops out of his coffin very much alive and takes the Princess captive, proceeding to exit the city with a knife to her throat, giving his warriors a chance to open the gates and for them to attack. We hear the Seer remind us that “not the living, but the dead will conquer Paris” as Ragnar collapses and we see Rollo, Lagertha, Floki, and Kalf gaze upon him while congregating outside the city gate.
After the Viking force enters and sacks Paris due to the surprise attack, Ragnar decides that they should return home due to the approach of winter. However, since he plans that the Vikings should raid Paris again in the spring, he orders that their camp remain established outside the city until the rest return. Ragnar leaves it to Bjorn to relay these orders. Floki volunteers to remain and take charge of the winter camp, but Rollo rejects that proposal, saying that Floki has “no reason to stay.” Bjorn then asks Rollo what reason he has to stay. Although Rollo does not answer the question and Bjorn appears suspicious of his uncle’s intentions, he agrees to Rollo’s request and appoints him in charge of the camp. Aware that the Northmen have maintained a presence and are planning to raid again the next year, Emperor Charles sends a delegation to Rollo. The Emperor offers him a vast area of land in the northern part of Frankia and the title of Duke, with the assurance that he will be “very rich” and “very important.” Rollo maintains a stoic expression in the face of these offers, until the envoy tells him that Emperor will also offer his reluctant daughter’s hand in marriage. Rollo finally asks what he must do in return for all of this, which is that he must defend Paris from future attacks by his brother Ragnar. Rollo accepts, and goes to the city to meet the Emperor. Upon arriving in the Emperor’s throne room, the Princess declares she would rather be burned alive than be married to Rollo and suffer him ever laying a hand on her, saying that he is a pagan without a soul who is worse than a beast and makes her want to vomit. Apparently undeterred, Rollo greets the Princess and Emperor in their own language, accompanied by a grin.
Actor Clive Standen has created a strong foothold in Hollywood, starring in several critically-acclaimed television series. Standen was recently seen on the silver screen in Universal Picture’s Everest, starring opposite Kiera Knightley, Jake Gyllenhaal, Robin Wright, and Josh Brolin. Standen is best known for his portrayal of Sir Gawain in the Starz original series “Camelot” alongside Joseph Fiennes and Eva Green, and his starring role in the BBC America series “Robin Hood”. Prior to that he played ‘Private Carl Harris’ in the award-winning sci-fi BBC series “Doctor Who” and starred in the drama Operation Barras, about the infamous SAS mission in Sierra Leon. On the silver screen, Standen starred in Vertigo Films’ Hammer of the Gods in the summer of 2013. In 2016, Clive will star in Screen Gems’ Patient Zero alongside Natalie Dormer, Matt Smith and Stanley Tucci.
Trained as an actor at the National Youth Theatre, the National Youth Music Theatre and the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, Standen appeared in theatrical roles at the Royal Albert Hall and Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, as well as in the critically-acclaimed revival of Tom Stoppard’s “The Invention of Love”.
Born on a British Army base in Hollywood, County Down, Northern Ireland, Standen moved to England at the age of five. He discovered stunt-work and sword fighting, and by his teens was working as part of a professional stunt team, mastering skills such as horse riding, jousting and swordplay. A keen martial artist, he also studied Muay Thai boxing, and quickly became the undefeated national champion. He currently resides in London with his wife and three children.