'Vikings' Boss Teases a 'Familiar Face' in Upcoming 'Valhalla' Spinoff (Exclusive)
By Jennifer Drysdale
Vikings: Valhalla is set to take place 100 years after the original series -- but that's not to say it won't pay tribute to the past.
The spinoff will focus on the adventures of Leif Erikson, Freydis, Harald Hardrada and William the Conqueror (also a Viking descendant), but may include a "familiar face" or two from Vikings, the show's creator, Michael Hirst revealed in an interview with ET on Friday.
"I'm very excited that we're going to move forward into exciting new places, and of course one of the big issues is the Christianization of the Pagan world. You're going to see Christian Viking armies fighting Pagan Viking armies, and that's really interesting. And [the show is] leading up to 1066 and the invasion of England by a descendant of Rollo. So you may well see the odd familiar face," he teased.
Rollo, played by Clive Standen on Vikings, last made an appearance in season five, returning from Frankia for a short visit to Kattegat. Standen raved about his working relationship with Hirst, saying he'd love to return to the Vikings world where it made sense. "It's going to be great. It's fantastic," Hirst told ET on Friday.
Reports about the Vikings spinoff surfaced in January, with talks reportedly between Hirst, MGM Television and History. A source told ET earlier this week that History has a robust scripted development slate in the pipeline, and feels that Vikings had an incredible run with the network. The Vikings spinoff was picked up by Netflix on Tuesday, with Hirst as executive producer alongside Jeb Stuart and Morgan O'Sullivan. Stuart will also write the series.
"We decided that [Valhalla] couldn't continue from my show because I dealt, one way or another, with just about all my major characters, and I didn't want to invent new ones. Eighty-nine episodes, in other words, was probably quite enough from me," Hirst explained. "And so it's 100 years on... We start shooting next year, and I have a kind of oversight of it. I want to make sure that it'll still have the same visceral qualities, but I want to make sure it has the other qualities to distinguish the show -- that it's full of poetry and spirituality and also that you love the characters."
"Those are the three things most important to me, so I have oversight of that, but I won't be writing it, or at least I won't be writing whole episodes, which, believe me, after eight years I've been doing it -- I miss it already, of course, I miss it terribly, but I just couldn't continue at that level. If you're writing 20-episode seasons year after year, it has an effect on your life," he added. "So, I'm both sad and happy at the same time."
Hirst is "very pleased" with the way the Vikings saga will continue, noting it's a wonderful tribute to the success of the series, which will premiere its sixth and final season next month. "Gosh, it does make the heart swell a little, I must say," he shared.
Season six of Vikings premieres with a two-hour episode on Wednesday, Dec. 4 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on History.