VOGUE – Katheryn Winnick, star of Vikings and the face of Raymond Weil’s Noemia collection, talks to Vogue Australia about career, well being and Ireland.
What was your big break in Hollywood?
“For me, I think it was really two breaks. The first being a guest star role on the TV show, House, in an episode called “One Day, One Room.” My character goes head-to-head with Hugh Laurie. After it aired, I know it broke records with ratings, and gave me the confidence I needed to know that all the years of struggling in this business could eventually pay off. I would consider my second break to be when I got cast in Vikings to play the female lead as shield maiden, Lagertha, which has definitely been the turning point in my career. It’s a role I have deeply connected with and can sink my teeth into. Now, the show airs in over 140 countries around the world, and I couldn’t feel more honoured to be a part of such an incredible show.”
Did you ever turn down a role that you now regret saying no to?
“No, I have not turned down a role I regret yet. It is all about finding the right project that speaks to me. It all starts with the material. I look for strong female roles that excite me; roles that are not only powerful but raw, undone and authentic.”
What was the audition process like for Vikings?
“They did a worldwide search for Lagertha with thousands of actors competing for this role. After I read the script, I fell in love with the role and self-taped in my living room in Los Angeles the next day. They were concerned I wasn’t weathered enough to play a Viking. I re-did the tape, this time adding dirt from my backyard all over my face. I asked for a Skype call with the writer/creator Michael Hirst. We talked for an hour and clicked right away. I mentioned that I am a third degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do and a second degree black belt in karate and how I can understand the warrior mentality and the will power of someone like the character. I was amazed at how brilliant his mind is, how he works, and how collaborative he is to create a character together.”
When did you realise Vikings had become such a big hit?
“After season one aired, I started getting a lot of fan mail and social media hits with people tattooing my character’s face on their bodies. It’s amazing to me that there are such die-hard fans out there. At Comic Con last year, it was crazy to see thousands of fans line up for hours just to get a glimpse of our panel and cast mates. Also, it is incredible to see how Vikings has transcribed into trends around the world, in terms of Lagertha’s braids on runways and red carpets to Halloween costumes. It is all a wonderful compliment.”
Where is the best location you have ever filmed Vikings and why did you love it?
“Believe it or not, we shoot all of our locations in Ireland. There is an incredible landscape with mountains, lakes, reservoirs, and open fields that are so untouched. It is so beautiful and rural and with the help of an amazing visual effects team, we make it look like Scandinavia. My favorite location is on a Guinness estate where we have built Kattegat, our Vikings’ hometown. It is an incredible set, right at the bottom of these two mountains with several joining lakes. It is so beautiful and peaceful. I’m very fortunate to shoot in Ireland with such a gorgeous landscape.”