Alyssa Sutherland Talks Playing Queen Aslaug and the Mysteries Surrounding Season 3 of ‘Vikings’
History Channel’s acclaimed scripted series, Vikings, might have only just returned last Thursday, but it looks like the characters are already facing a lot of obstacles and changes in this latest season as the ever-determined Ragnar (Travis Fimmel) leads his people to the shores of Wessex. Along with the pristine action and drama that fans have come to love, the next offering introduces some new faces and cast members, such as the Emperor Charles of France (Lothaire Bluteau), his elegant daughter, Princess Gisla (Morgane Polanski, daughter of French actress Emmanuelle Seigner and Polish film director Roman Polanski), and Harbard the wanderer (Kevin Durand), whose presence is encrusted in a lot of mystery. Needless to say, that’s reason enough to tune in.
But one must not forget those who have been on the show for two seasons. Behind one of the key figures of the series stands Australian actress Alyssa Sutherland, who has begun to craft a character that shows not only unparalleled strength within the patriarchy, but also a determination for helping her people and family, no matter what the cost may be. The blue-eyed, strawberry blonde runway model turned film star had roles in The Devil Wears Prada and Arbitrage before grabbing her career-making role as Queen Aslaug with Vikings. She now enters a season that puts her impetuous character up against impediments she hasn’t faced yet, but that doesn’t seem to faze her. In fact, the actress appears to be rather excited about what’s to come.
Sitting down with Queen Aslaug herself, it has grown apparent that a shift could very well be on the way for the Nordic people, as her relationship with Ragnar changes a little bit due to his becoming a king, and a few new characters enter the field to possibly cause mischief for everyone.
GALO: Vikings has started to gain a strong following and popularity, even more so now that season one and two are available on Hulu and Amazon Prime. What do you think is pulling people toward the show, and what does its success mean for the History Channel in terms of future scripted shows?
Alyssa Sutherland: I think the show has something for everyone to watch. To start with, if you’re a guy who likes watching action-packed stuff, then it is definitely a show for you. But also, there is some real drama to it — and we’ve got a family saga at the heart of everything. It kind of comes back to this family and everything they go through. There’s lots of conflict and tension within relationships that makes for some really great drama as well as having all of the action.
The show has really found its footing now in season three. It is just expanding and everything is getting bigger and it’s crazy. We have so many different places now that the show is focusing on; it is kind of captivating depending on who you are and what you’re interested in.
GALO: This season will surely have its dramatic moments with new allegiances formed and loyal friendships thrown into question. Is there any trouble headed Queen Aslaug’s way? What else can you reveal about season three?
AS: I guess at this point, the only thing that I could ever assume for my character is that there is trouble on the way. One of the things that I love is that I never really know what she is going to be up to until [showrunner] Michael [Hirst] tells me. I can sit there and think, ‘yeah this will probably happen now,’ because it is never what you think it is, which is another great thing about this show.
In season three, things really get flipped on their head. Stuff happens that I don’t think anyone ever expected. I certainly didn’t expect it, and I remember being so excited when I first sat down with Michael Hirst and our writers. He always sits down and tells us the arc for our characters at the beginning of the season, and when I got to have my sit-down, he told me everything that is happening in season three. I just got so excited because I know that there’s no way people are going to expect what happens. So yes, I think there’s always trouble in store for my character. That’s one of the things I love about her.
GALO: Well, that’s what makes them interesting — to be in a little trouble.
AS: Absolutely. I like the fact that I never really know what she is going to do. One of the things I love about her, and I was thinking about this the other day, is the fact that she kind of behaves immediately. She has her gut reactions and acts upon them. I like that sometimes she is not the best behaved person and doesn’t take no for an answer. Sometimes that might be an extreme case of someone who goes after what they want.
It is also a really cool lesson for people to learn: don’t take no for an answer if you want something. I’m not sure if I agree with some of her methods, but I like that she wants the best for her children. I kind of like the fact that I get to play somebody that isn’t necessarily a well-behaved person because I kind of naturally am — not to give anything away.
GALO: Now how do you prepare to play that role? Does some of her personality rub off on you after you finish up filming?
AS: Um, no. I’m not too crazy of an actress. I can kind of see where she ends and where I begin — or the other way around. You have to bring some of yourself to a character, or it’s not going to be real. You always want to relate to something that they’re going through and bring it to yourself, or it’s not going to be the most authentic thing. Sometimes she does what you wish you could do, so that’s really fun to act out and be a part of.
I think after dealing with her and looking at this person and really finding some passion for someone who doesn’t necessarily behave the way I do, I think it might have made me less judgmental as a person in real life. You can never judge your character when you play them. You have to understand all of their motives and everything they want and desire or fear. I actually think that going through the process of piecing her together has really made me a less judgmental person in life.