'Vikings': Travis Fimmel, Katheryn Winnick, Clive Standen and More Reunite for Comic-Con 2020 Panel
By Jennifer Drysdale
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Skol! Vikings' original cast members are back together again. Stars Travis Fimmel, Katheryn Winnick and Clive Standen virtually reunited at Comic-Con@Home on Friday, joining current cast members Alexander Ludwig and Jordan Patrick Smith to relive their favorite moments from the series.
Fimmel starred as Ragnar Lothbrok in the History series from its first season in 2013 until his exit midway through season 4. Standen, who played Ragnar's brother, Rollo, was a series regular from seasons 1 to 4 and made guest appearances in season 5, while Winnick starred as Lagertha until her character's death in the first half of season 6. Ludwig and Smith currently star on Vikings as Lothbrok's sons, Bjorn Ironside and Ubbe.
The cast spent nearly an hour reminiscing on their times filming Vikings -- see the biggest reveals below.
Lagertha's Last Line Was the Same One She Spoke in Her Audition
As Winnick revealed, her character's last line in season 6, episode 7, was familiar to the character. "In my dreams, we are always together," Lagertha speaks in a gorgeous segment as her body sinks to the bottom of the ocean, next to her beloved Ragnar.
"That was actually my audition line, so it was full circle," she shared at Friday's panel.
Ragnar's Goodbye Speech to Gyda Took Just 3 Minutes for Travis to Memorize
In season 2, episode 1, Ragnar delivers a heartbreaking goodbye to his late daughter, Gyda -- and according to Fimmel, it took just three minutes to memorize. He offers all credit to Vikings creator and writer Michael Hirst.
"That was written so well. Michael has three daughters. It was written so beautifully. I don't know, but it took me, like, three minutes to memorize that whole thing, it was just written so well," he shared. "Always the best writing I can memorize like that, compared to other stuff... that isn't quite as good."
"Obviously, you don't have kids -- as far as I know," Hirst added.
"I'm not sure, either," Fimmel hilariously quipped, causing Standen to crack up.
"I was writing and literally thinking about a father talking to a dead daughter, and it becomes very powerful and very meaningful to me. It seemed from the start to be very meaningful to you too," Hirst continued. "In terms of the show, it seems like a moment caught out of time... I did feel you were totally inside the scene, that it meant something very deep to you, and I was very aware of that."
Fimmel Inspired Ragnar and Rollo's Intimate Paris Fight
Standen revealed that it was Fimmel who completely changed up the fight Ragnar and Rollo were supposed to have in Paris. The characters were supposed to go after each other with swords, but Fimmel suggested something more intimate. "Travis said, 'This needs to be between the brothers,'" Standen remembered.
"We arranged to get rid of the swords as soon as possible, and just hit each other," he explained.
"I think for the character, even until that very moment, he was hoping that Clive wouldn't follow him back... had a glimmer of hope his brother wouldn't betray him, and as soon as that happened, it devastated his world, and it was the beginning of the end for his drive," Fimmel said of the effect that fight had on Ragnar. "I think he really regretted his life. ... I think that's part of the whole crime to power... none of it was worth it in the end. He left everything broken."
"I think that was the first time in his life that he lost hope... and just had to get away. I think after he went away, he decided he couldn't go out like that," he continued. "Michael wrote such a great ending where he came back, it was the old Ragnar, playing games with people. He had such a great arc, and we're so lucky."
Smith Took a Beating on His First Day on Set
Smith got quite a welcome when he joined the cast of Vikings in season 4. "I do remember my first day on set, because Travis slapped me in the face 45 times," he cracked during the panel.
The actor knew he had "big shoes to fill," so he was going to stand there and take his onscreen father's warm welcome. "He just kept doing it and doing it and doing it," Smith said of Fimmel. "My ear was ringing for days afterward. It was definitely a Vikings introduction, that's for sure."
Fimmel left the show soon after, but Smith said he and the other actors playing Ragnar's sons all took pieces of him into their characters. One thing Ubbe took from Ragnar was his sense of adventure, which fans will see more of in season 6B.
There Were Big Doubts About Killing Ragnar
Hirst revealed that in his original plans for the show, Ragnar was actually supposed to die at the end of season 1. Then it immediately became clear that there was more story to tell. However, by the time season 4 rolled around, Ragnar's arc was wrapping up, with his sons taking on more of the storyline. Hirst was ready to say goodbye to Ragnar, but still had doubts.
"Of course, there were plenty of glowing, dooming warnings that to kill off your major character will damage the show. And it was a risk. I mean, Travis was a huge person with such a huge reputation," he said during the panel. "But I sold the show on the basis that this was Ragnar Lothbrok and his sons."
"Ragnar continued to be a presence in the rest of the show. He never really went away. ... So it wasn't a huge risk after all," Hirst added. "But it was great to see these young actors as well coming along and taking their chances, and Alex being a conduit between them. Alex, by that stage... was in the show the longest. The show is, in a sense, about his character more than anyone."
Winnick's Casting Was Solidified in Lagertha's Fight Scenes
Winnick is a skilled martial artist, but as Hirst explained, when Vikings came together for season 1, they were taking a chance on everyone they decided to cast on the show.
The actress said her final fight as Lagertha was "the most exhausting and emotionally draining," but said her first fight scene in season 1 was the most memorable.
"We didn't cast Vikings in a conventional way, and we took a chance on both you and Travis. People who pay a lot of money to make these things get jittery about whether you've made the right decision," Hirst told Winnick on Friday. "In terms of you and your performance, all those jitters, all that anxiety melted away as soon as the guys in suits saw you in that scene."
Ludwig Lost His Voice in Bjorn's Big Season 5 Fight -- and They Kept It in the Show
"At the end of season 5, when they've lost and he's outside the gates. Michael wrote such an amazing speech for that," Ludwig said of the memorable moment Bjorn tries to appeal to Ivar's supporters.
As the actor revealed, he lost his voice "because I was screaming all day the day before and that day too." "I had no voice by the time we did the speech," he shared. Ludwig was supposed to rerecord the speech in ADR afterward, "but we thought we should keep it the way it is, because it's so heartbreaking."
"So, that, for me, was a huge part of the show," he added.
The Cast Once Banded Together to Check a Director Who Said 'It's Just a Show'
Hirst told a story about how it was Fimmel's idea to go a whole episode without Ragnar saying anything -- causing Standen to marvel at how Vikings respected their cast and crew unlike any other production.
So, it was a rare occurrence in an early season when they had a director on set who didn't care much for Viking history -- or what the cast thought about it. "I remember there was a day where... they wanted one of the extras to be beheaded on a block," Standen said. He and other cast members, including Gustaf Skarsgard, confronted the director, suggesting that Vikings "wouldn't be sacrificed like that."
"I remember the director said, 'It's just a TV show! ... How do you know all this stuff about Vikings?'" Standen recalled, adding that he told the director, "I've read a book. Have you?"
"We've done our research, and we care about it," he added.
Standen Is Responsible for Judith Losing an Ear
While Hirst was always there to lend an ear, Standen revealed that there was one idea he was too scared to bring up to him -- so he told that episode's director instead. The idea? That Judith (Jennie Jacques) would lose an ear.
"'Think about all you can do with that!" Standen said he told director Helen Shaver. "I remember Helen going, 'It's not your idea. It's my idea now!'"
Friday's panel concluded with a special sneak peek at season 6B, debuting later this year. And surprise -- Bjorn's alive!
As fans recall, season 6A ended with Bjorn's fate up in the air. His brutal battle with his brother, Ivar the Boneless (Alex Høgh Andersen), appeared to end with Ivar stabbing a sword through Bjorn's chest. "I wouldn't be quite certain that they're dead yet, until you actually see that," Hirst told ET in February.
Of the upcoming series finale, Hirst shared that he "wanted to make the end of the journey extremely worthwhile."
"So many shows fizzle out, and I was quite determined that this would end strongly, properly and satisfactorily, so that all the audience is satisfied with the endings of their favorite characters, whether they live or die, that they're still happy with the logic of it and the emotion of it," he said. "Because there are so many significant deaths, it was hugely emotional for me to write. I love these characters. Even some of the bad guys, and Harald Finehair is not the bad guy, but I love him so much, and I feel I've brought him back from the dead at least twice because I just couldn't bear to let him go. So, when I do kill characters off, it's a huge effort in letting go of people that I love and spent a long, long time with."
"I hope that people will get a thrill from the storyline," he teased. "There's a lot of story to come. There are a lot of surprises. There are also a lot of heartbreaks and a lot of tragedy. But in the end, I just want people to feel that it's totally and hugely satisfying. After 89 episodes, that's what I really, really hope for."