So after finally adjusting to the fact that Bjorn (Alexander Ludwig) jumped from ten to twenty-four in one episode – I mean kids grow fast but yeesh, what are they feeding these Viking youngsters – now I learn he’s getting a love interest?!?! Well I had to find out was this was about so when given the chance to sit in on a Q & A with Gaia Weiss – who will play Bjorn’s love interest Porunn – I took it.
Gaia was most recently seen in The Legend of Hercules opposite Kellan Lutz and mostly has a background in theater. This is her first foray into television and it sounds like it’s been quite an experience for her. Learning from past Q & A’s I made sure I had at least six questions lined up 😉
So how does Porunn fit into this world? “Porunn is a slave to the Lothbrok family, so she’s been around, only you haven’t noticed her.” Slave girl, eh, this doesn’t sound like the ideal romance and Gaia confirmed that. “It kind of breaks or challenges the taboo or conventions, because Bjorn is from a higher rank and my character is a slave.” Later she went on to say “Her parents were captured in a raid, so therefore she has been a servant all her life.”
Quite a few of us wanted to know how Porunn fits in with the other female roles on this show.
How she perceives Lagertha (Katheryn Winnick): “…my character is fascinated with Lagertha. She’s a role model for Porunn…”
If Porun would like to be shield maiden: “Well, as a slave, I’m not sure it’s possible and it’s something really abstract, but she can certainly dream of it.”
This show has a history of presenting really strong female characters, so how do you think Porunn fits in with all the rest of them? “I think Michael really wanted to explore the experiences of a woman such as Porunn, whose viewpoint is definitely different from many that we’ve seen, but, again, she’s definitely a strong individual. My character knows what she wants, but she still has to stay put because she’s a slave.”
Being a new comer to the show, talk turned to how Gaia came to be involved with the show Vikings:
On auditiong: “This is going to be a very boring answer, but last July I had come back to London after working on another project, and that’s when I auditioned for Vikings. They (show’s producers) liked my audition tape and asked me to come in and read with Alexander Ludwig in order to see if we’d make a suitable match onscreen. That was that. Happily it worked out and I was offered the job.”
What the first day was like: “My first day on-set was actually quite physical. You’re going to see it in my first episode. I spent the first day doing lots of sports and dancing, and it was a bit nerve-wracking dancing in front of everyone.”
How physically demanding the role is: “In Vikings, my role is quite physical because, as you’ll see in the first episode and as the season continues to unfold, if I’m not dancing or doing things like that, I’m carrying really heavy stuff. I’m a slave, so, yes, I had to build up some muscles.”
I was quite pleased to learn that her mother has always been interested in Viking myths so Gaia said she was raised on them.
Familiarity with the Viking myths and things she’s learned filming the show: “When I got this part I re-read ‘The Sagas of Icelanders’, which to be honest, was mind-blowing. Those stories really inspire the show. On Vikings they talk of Oden and all these gods that watch over Ragnar and his people. What I learned recently, though, in doing my research is that women like Lagertha were typical Viking women of the time. They might not all have been going out on raids, but they were still kind of ruling in their own way.”
Gaia also talked about the differences between film and television: “Because this is my first TV show, I experienced big scenes where you have five different plots happening, and that’s really new to me. In films, one scene serves a single purpose, but as you’ve already seen in Vikings you can have, for example, these big dinner scenes where you can see Siggy (Jessalyn Gilsig) talking about the problems she has, and Aslang (Alyssa Sutherland) talking to Ragnar (Travis Fimmel), etc. Those types of scenes are complicated to shoot, and also very much fun at the same time.”
Gaia Weiss’ debut is tonight. The episode’s title is Unforgiven and that conjures up all sorts of thoughts and speculations. What I can say is that I feel Gaia’s character will be a welcome addition. Porunn may not be socially right for Bjorn, but she’ll be just the kind of strong female character I’d imagine him being drawn to. I’m excited to see how she’s introduced and how their romance starts to blossom.
**Tune into the History Channel’s Vikings tonight at 10pm EST/ 9pm CST.
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