Katheryn Winnick On ‘Vikings’ Early Renewal And Passionate Fans
STARPULSE – As Lagertha on History’s Vikings, Katheryn Winnick has the enviable job of playing one of TV’s toughest women while also being plenty cool herself. With the series currently airing its longest season yet and recently renewed for another, Starpulse checked in with Katheryn to discuss how doing 20 episodes changed the pace of the show – and the most interesting things that have come out of Lagertha having incredibly passionate fans.
When we spoke to her, it was just days after Vikings had received its order for what will be the show’s fifth season. Is it easier for an actor hearing that the show will be back a little earlier, rather than having to wait all the way until it’s finished airing for the network to decide?
“It’s interesting, because we find out later and later,” she said, “but now we’re doing 20 episodes and it’s been tough to shoot over the winter in Ireland, so I think they had to let us know since we’re really just having a small break versus a proper hiatus. We’re going to be back there in a few months.
“The reason why [it’s difficult] is when we shoot in the wintertime we lose daylight,” she explained, “and it’s really cold in Ireland so we have to start our days sometimes at 4:15 in the morning just to be in the makeup chair at five because we start shooting at seven. It’s definitely a brutal shoot – but it makes it all worthwhile for the fans!”
20 episodes is double the usual number of installments in a Vikings season, so we asked Katheryn if she’s seen any difference in the actual pacing or structure of the show since there’s twice as many episodes to fill.
“I trust [series creator and writer] Michael Hirst,” she said. “In terms of his storyline, he’s such a genius and a brilliant mind that you sort of trust him to know where your character is going.
“I think it’s also setting up for new characters and setting up the plot so there’s a lot more story that can be told,” she continued, “and there’s such a platform [with] 20 episodes to tell the story properly. It’s more exciting than having to scramble in nine or ten episodes.”
What hasn’t changed is that Lagertha might be the most dangerous woman on television. Season 5 has been about her battle to reclaim her power, and she has done just that without hesitation, even going so far as to agree to another wedding just so she could kill her husband-to-be for standing in her way.
“It’s been a lot of fun this season,” Katheryn said, “and Lagertha’s transition, she has a big arc and you’ll see it more in the upcoming episodes. There’s going to be a physical change for her, and as an actor you cut off your ego and allow yourself to change. You’ll see her change physically, her clothes will change, her status will change. It’s an exciting time.”
Her character has been the breakout member of the Vikings ensemble. As the show becomes more and more popular (with posters and its own line of Funko Pop figures), Lagertha is always front and center. She loves the support of the fans, who have also become fans of hers and campaigned for her to play Captain Marvel in any future movie, but did tell us that sometimes things get a bit interesting.
“It’s amazing, there’s so many great fans around the world,” she laughed, “and it’s just always one of those strange things where I get another post of someone tattooing my face on their body. It’s funny, because my childhood friend texted me a picture saying her husband was paintballing with this guy and this guy had my face on his arm. It’s a little surreal, but it’s such a compliment.”
The compliments are well-earned because it’s not just Lagertha who is worthy of praise. Katheryn is just as strong as her alter ego (she happens to be a real-life tae kwon do instructor), and she’s spending her brief hiatus time working with a number of charitable organizations to make her own difference in the world.
“I’ve started working with a couple amazing charities,” she told us. “One of them is Women in Film, where I’m about to design a Lagertha T-shirt that we’re going to launch. The money will go to Women in Film and help support that organization.
“The other charity I’m working with is an incredible organization called Girl Up, which helps girls in developing countries get the resources and education and tools they need to excel in life. It’s important to give back and help girls especially empower themselves. I’m excited to work with these organizations.”
And they’re certainly lucky to have her. If there’s anyone who knows about not only playing an empowered woman but also being an empowered woman, it’s Katheryn Winnick. Whether she’s orchestrating a Viking raid or helping those in need she’s a heroine that we can admire.
Vikings airs Thursdays at 10 p.m. on History.