NOVEMBER 6, 2014 BY GARY COLLINSON
Paul Risker chats with Vikings star Linus Roache…
As part of a special week long feature to coincide with the home entertainment release of Vikings series 2, Flickering Myth sits down in conversation with the cast and creator Michael Hirst to go behind the scenes of the critically acclaimed historical drama.
From the reflections of two onscreen brothers, Linus Roache a.k.a. King Ecbert reflects on joining the cast in series 2 and playing the antagonist to Ragnar’s protagonist…
Paul Risker: Was there a sense of intimidation did you feel walking into an established cast?
Linus Roache: I wouldn’t say it was intimidating, but it was nice to get on a moving train – onto something that is successful. I don’t know how Ronnie Wood felt when he joined the Rolling Stones [laughs].
Watching season one for the first time was what made me decide to do the job, because it is great television – it is great drama. Michael is a genius at bringing people inside of history and making you feel like you are actually there. The performances are amazing and it is shot in this very big and epic way.
I was excited because all I had to go on for my character was one or two episodes, which were not even fully written. But from what Michael was roughly telling me about where it would go, I was actually basing my decision on how good season one was.
PR: You fulfill an antagonist role to Ragnar’s protagonist. What makes that part different to the other villains perhaps, and do you think he’s a match for Ragnar?
LR: Definitely, and villain is a strange word. But I think Ragnar has definitely met his match in Ecbert who’s kind of similar to Ragnar in that he’s not tied to tradition – he’s a progressive and free thinker who can think outside of the box.
As soon as he meets Ragnar I think he kind of admires him, and it is a rivalry of two great men finding and pitting themselves against one another. Ragnar is a warrior but Ecbert is more of a strategist, manipulator, politician and he’s extremely ambitious which Ragnar is also. But it’s like two great chess players finding each other, and who have met their match.
PR: Why do you think Ecbert has such a fascination for cultures other than his own?
LR: Why – that’s a really good question. Why are any of us interested in things outside of what we know? That’s what sort of creates the future isn’t it – when somebody is willing to step outside the known and question the dogma of the time. What I like about him is that he’s not even necessarily a spiritual man. At the end of the day he’d probably say yes I believe in Christ, and I’m a Christian, but he’s an opportunist who will use whatever the most salient way is to move things forward. He’s fascinated by how things work and he has a very free mind, which is what makes him both a dangerous as well as a very exciting character. He’s a free thinker; he’s not stuck, and therefore you can move more quickly. He’s probably a little lonely in that there are not many people around him he can relate to, because he is willing to think outside of the norm. That’s why when Athelstan comes along it is a beautiful relationship. He meets someone else who has experienced this other culture, is intellectually smart and so there is a little love happening between him and Athelstan.