Talking With Clive Standen! Vikings Season 3! What’s Going On With Rollo? Tripping On Mushrooms! And More!

Vikings, which premiered last week on History has been one of the most consistently stunning shows on television. One of my favorite characters on the show is Rollo played by Clive Standen. Rollo has had a rocky road in the series and thanks to a masterful performance by Clive, he’s always been a well rounded and flushed out character and someone the audience roots for on a weekly basis.

I mean, as much as you can root for a pillaging Viking, but somehow Clive makes it work!

Anushika had an opportunity to talk to Clive about Vikings, his place in there series and the changes he’s going through.

Check it out below!

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TV shows have their heroes, villains, the jesters, the pretty girls who always manage to get into trouble, and that one guy who just needs a hug. That guy who seem to have a bad day everyday all season long. Rollo Lothbrok, yup Rollo Lothbrok is that one unfortunate soul in Vikings. He is the older brother of Ragnar Lothbrok. Even though he is an amazing warrior, he always seems to be in the shadow of his brother. Ragnar’s calculated moves always put him a step ahead of Rollo.

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In season one Rollo Lothbrok portrayed the typical jealous sibling who fought a silent battle to free himself from his younger brother Ragnar’s shadow. Unsuccessful at his efforts, his frustration grew to the point where his impulsiveness took over and clouded his judgment. Season one ended with Rollo siding with Jarl Borg against his own blood. The insanely gruesome battle between the brothers opened up season two and brought upon a major turning point for Rollo. The moment he realized how much he truly loved Ragnar. The misplaced anger directed towards Ragnar boomeranged back to him. Season two depicted the fall of Rollo Lothbrok and his struggle to build himself up through the shame and anger towards himself. Not to excuse or justify his actions, but I think the audience understood him and really sympathized his character. Rollo not only started to regain Rangar’s trust, but also the will to move forward at the end of season two.

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Clive Standen plays Rollo Lothbrok. He embodies this mighty warrior effortlessly. I would say he is a real life Viking. Maybe a gentle giant? I’m a huge fan of Clive Standen and being able to ask a few questions about the upcoming season was quite a treat. He was definitely excited about season 3 and was thrilled to share his experiences and thoughts.

I noticed how most of the main characters go through some major transformation throughout the seasons; the hair, the outfits, tattoos, but Rollo stayed pretty consistent. It’s understandable and expected with the Lothbrok’s advance in family status. I asked Clive if it reflects his character. Is he still haunted by the past? Don’t get me wrong, he looks fantastic! I’m just curious.

Clive Standen: “Yes. Well, he definitely – he’s – amid this season, I mean, there’s a lot more tattoos and things as he goes more down the rabbit hole of being a berserker, and you see more of that behavior coming out to the full front – but yes, I mean, Rollo really is the old school Viking. He believes in the day of his death and the length of his life was fated by the gods, and the gods are in complete control of his destiny. So that enables him to live his life with utter confidence in his religion. So I suppose he doesn’t really either change with the times so much as life would throw him down, and maybe Ragnar does. But also, I think Rollo is stuck in a rut. He’s gotten to the point where he starts second guessing everything, because he’s made so many mistakes in the previous seasons up until now that he’s – I think he starts to forget who he really is. Yes, he finds himself in conversations with Ragnar because of the past, and he’s trying to build bridges and get back in into Ragnar’s good graces. He’s now – when confronted with a question from Ragnar, he’s almost thinking, “What am I meant to say? I don’t want to put my foot [in it] again.” So he’s found himself almost as a lost soul, and something happens in season three, maybe midseason, where it certainly makes him realize who he really is and the part of his destiny, and until he starts embracing himself rather than trying to people please, he’s not going to achieve greatness. So I think that’s midway through season three, maybe Rollo might surprise you and you’ll see a complete transformation, almost a phoenix in the flames.”

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I’m excited to see a new Rollo. Maybe he’ll finally get to peek out of Ragnar’s shadow this season. The ambition is still alive in Rollo and he is not at peace just being part of an army and just being Ragnar’s brother. He might not achieve great fame like Ragnar, but I really hope he’ll start to find himself again this season. At least he is learning from his mistakes.

And what can be expect from Rollo and Siggy’s interesting relationship during season 3.

Clive Standen: “They almost enter into a marriage of convenience. They enter into this mutual marriage of gain, so to speak, where she’s had everything and lost it, and wants it back; and he’s always wanted it and never had it. So he needs her to show him how to achieve their goals. She needs him as her pawn in her plan to – going to get everything back, to stay within those royal circles. So it’s already kind of a relationship which is being set up on all of the wrong foundations. The problem Rollo has, or the mistake that Rollo made is that he actually started falling for her, and that was never part of her agreement. So now, he’s a little bit lost in that relationship. He has feelings for her, but yet he also is not sure if he wants to strangle her because of what she’s doing to him, the manipulation that is playing out. I mean that scene in season two when he finds out what she’s doing and he does put his hand around her throat, it’s not – he’s more emotionally charged because he’s been spending the whole time trying to build bridges with Ragnar, and now she’s going behind Ragnar’s back, sleeping with the king, trying to get something he never even bought into, she never even consulted him on. So she has her own motivations and it just gets really messy as far as Rollo is concerned, because he can’t walk away from it, obviously, because he’s now had feelings for her. So Siggy’s actions in series three can really mess with Rollo’s head.”

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Siggy definitely played a huge part in Rollo’s recovery. Rollo stopped Siggy from running away from her problems first season and Siggy in return stopped Rollo from running away from his during second. According to Clive, it seems like things might start off shaky between them this season.

Michael Hirst revealed that season three is all about the big build up towards raiding a new land, Paris. This massive bloody battle will be the highlight of this season with more carnage than we’ve ever seen before in Vikings. After watching the past battles, I can’t even imagine how it could get any bigger. I guess we are about to find out and in for an awesome surprise!

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What kind of action can we expect to see from Ragnar as Vikings invade Paris.

Clive Standen: “Well, as soon as Paris comes in, Paris isn’t just a one-off episode. Paris in series three is – really kicks off around the tail end of episode six; and it kind of builds and builds and builds until a climactic episode at the end of the season. Paris isn’t like anything the Vikings have ever encountered, and it’s unlike anything that the general public and the 21st century view would see Paris as now, because Paris was entirely different back then. It was a fortress. It was completely enclosed on the River Seine with very high Roman walls. So when the Vikings with their 100 ships and thousands of men, they’d never had to deal with a force like the Franks. The Frankish soldiers have got ethnic influences from all down through Europe down to the shipping routes of the Constantinople. There’s crossbows fire- kind of weapons, lots of their siege weapons and anti-siege weapons that the Vikings had never had to deal with, just lots of – the Vikings are at the forefront of their technology with their boats, and I like to just think of the Viking soldiers compared to the Saxons, almost more like the modern Navy SEALs, like they’ve been trained, they’ve been brought up with their axes and their weapons, because they’re farmers and they used them on a daily basis. So they’re ferocious and formidable when they’re in battle, whereas the Frankish have got machine. They’ve got soldiers that are trained in a certain way that the Vikings are not used to. So these battles are ginormous in scale and scope. We’ve got 4x as many stuntmen as we had when we first started doing the show. Now, I would go so far as to say at episode eight, which is a very action-based episode, the battle that you’ll see on episode eight is probably one of the best battles, one of the biggest battles I’ve ever seen in a TV show; and I’ll go so far as to say it’s probably even grander than Game of Thrones’ battles, Blackwater, which had double the budget that we had. The thing is when you do something like the Battle of Blackwater, you’re filming it at nighttime and loaded with CGI through smoke and mirrors, because you can’t actually see very much. It’s easy to have CGI boats coming out of the mist and things. We film our battle in the middle of the day and we have hundreds of stuntmen jumping out of the River Seine and trying to climb the walls of Paris, the City of Paris; and it was just carnage when we filmed those days. There were so many people. It was organized chaos. There’s hardly anywhere to move and everyone was getting smacked in the face with weapons and things, but it’s going to look really savage and visceral and, hopefully, can be the big payoff that season three deserves, because season three, in general, the scope of it is massive. The show’s become a juggernaut, so we needed a massive climactic episode as the end of the season comes; and I think that Michael Hirst and the stunt team and everyone involved has really achieved that, and we go back to try and do it. But yes, Ragnar’s actions, he has to think outside of the box, which he’s actually very good at doing, I think, as a character. He always thinks outside of the box. He always kind of does the thing you don’t expect him to do, and second guesses the enemy, but he has to do a lot of that now, because I think he isn’t underestimating the Frankish forces.”

Vikings season 3 Floki (Gustaf Skarsgård), Ragnar Lothbrok (Travis Fimmel), Bjorn Lothbrok (Alexander Ludwig), Lagertha (Katheryn Winnick), Rollo (Clive Standen)

All I could say is “OMG!!!” I’m so pumped for this season. You can just hear the excitement in Clive’s voice. I think he totally went back to those moments and relived it while explaining and giving us a glimpse into the madness that is about to ensue this new season. Clive added on to say that Rollo will finally get his own army of berserkers. He will finally get to lead his own band of warriors to battle. This might be his much anticipated shining moment out of the shadows. Being a Viking warrior and going to battle defined Rollo and when Ragnar denied him of that, not only did he lose all purpose, but also destroyed him mentally since battling was his way of displacing his pain and frustration.

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Speaking of berserkers, there’s a little something about a specific scene from the new season. Don’t want to ruin it for you, but let me just say that you haven’t seen crazy until you’ve seen this. Excuse my language, but if there were ever a “WTF” moment, that was it! I remember just staring into my screen thinking, “What the bloody hell just happened?” Let’s just say that something was annoying Rollo during one of his “Magic” mushroom sessions and he fixed it.

Clive Standen: “Well, this is part of being a berserker. The berserkers were known to take magic mushrooms to feel this sense of high where they would almost have an out-of-body experience and they wouldn’t feel pain on the battlefield. They would almost have this red mist on them. It’s part of him preparing him into battle, kind of they’re eating these magic mushrooms, and he’s almost tripping. He’s on an almost the equivalent of an LSD trip.”

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It’s not a surprise when Clive mentioned how much fun he is having working with this brilliant cast. He mentioned how he’ll be devastated to see the death of his character. He came quite close last season, so let’s hope we won’t have to go through another scare like that anytime soon. The cast really didn’t expect the show to blow up like this, but they are more than happy about the ever growing fan base.

What makes Vikings so special and attracts the fans to the show.

Clive Standen: “I think what makes it original is that there’s nothing like this on TV. The only shows that people can compare it to are fantasy shows, because they have the dragons and they have the monsters and the dwarves and the elves and things. We don’t have any of that, but because of the Viking belief system, and the gods they believed in, it verges on the fantastical. You have these amazing worlds. You have Asgard and Midgard and Utgard, and the Vikings believed that the Frost Giants were in Utgard, and the dwarves, and the gods came down the Bifrost, which is the rainbow. You’ve got serpents like Jörmungandr wrap himself around the world and bite onto his tail; and Fenrir, the wolf that swallows the sun; and Hati and Skoll, the two wolves that chased at the moon and the sun that were apparently in a chariot, running away from these wolves they were chasing night and day. These are all of the things that the Vikings believed in, Yggdrasil held the three worlds together; and at the top of Yggdrasil, there was an eagle that every time it flaps its wings, it was the breeze in the air.”

I felt like we just had a private reading with Clive. I completely got lost in his words. He was totally channeling his inner Viking. I could just listen to him tell me stories all day. Clive went on to say how Vikings stood out from the rest.

Clive Standen: “These are things that these people believed in. So we get to tie it all out and the screen. We had these Viking characters the way they believed this is all true, and the gods themselves. So it does verge on something that’s on – otherworldly; and because the Vikings did all the things they did over the hundreds of years they did it, the conquests, the action, the raiding, the adventure, the technology of the boats, it suddenly brought in a completely different demographic they are used to watching historical dramas on TV. Before Vikings came along, historical dramas were in that bracket of Sunday night television where your mom and dad would sit down and watch a bit of Pride and Prejudice, or watch Keira Knightley in a corset. Now, you can sit down with your parents, be sitting and watching these historical raiders kind of colonizing and raiding half of Europe and these early continents; and I think it just makes so incredible event TV. The reason why I speak so passionately about it is I would watch it even if I wasn’t in it. When this script comes – when it came along, you just take one read at it and just go, This is immense. This is everything I’ve ever wanted in a TV show.”

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I couldn’t agree more. Vikings is so unbelievable that I constantly forget these events are actually based on true events. The Viking army grows with every season. There are so many intensely devoted fans. I asked Clive if he had any fun stories to share with us. Any crazy fan encounters. I always hear awesome stories about this cast and even when I got the chance to meet them last year, they were all incredibly sweet and humble. He said he is currently working on a project, but can’t reveal any information about it yet.

Clive Standen: “Yes, I’ve had to kind of get rid of the long hair and the beard, and so I look so different through all of that. It’s quite nice to be able to kind of walk around and not really get noticed. When we did the TCAs in Pasadena, this is – a lot of the press were there, and I was dressed with my shirt and my tie on, and I think Travis was teasing me all night, saying I looked more like the maître d’ than one of the actors in Vikings. But it kind of worked through, everyone left me alone. I had a couple of people that were standing right behind me talking to George Blagden and saying, “Is Clive Standen not here? Is Rollo not here?” It looks like no one recognized me, and I really enjoyed that feeling; and that’s how it should be as an actor. You’re playing a character, especially from what Rollo was so far removed from who I really am that I get a bit of a joy if no one recognizes me. But no, we have lots of funny moments. I mean when we went to Comic Con, when I do that like Rollo usually when Travis and myself standing together and it’s the two guys from Vikings. We can’t really run away from it, because we’ve got such a unique look. But I love it all. I mean I really am I big geek at heart and the Comic Conference, this is like my mecca; I love it. So when anyone wants to come over and a lot of people get us in headlocks and things like that, and sort of challenges, and it’s just – it’s fun and you have to embrace it, because I’m very aware, as an actor, that in five years’ time, I’ll be sitting and going, “I miss all that,” because you’re not in it anymore.”

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Rollo Lothbrok maintains a few close relationships during the last two seasons, but none as strong as the bond he shares with his nephew Bjorn. Does Rollo understand Bjorn more than his father Ragnar.

Clive Standen: “Yes, I think he’s always – I mean you’ve seen it right from day one in season one when you see the relationship with Rollo and Bjorn. He is fond of his nephew and you can see that scene when Rollo arrives on the rolling boat, and he says, “Where is your mother and your father?” and the young Bjorn says, “They’re having sex.” They sit down and they just sit there and watched the sunset together. So there’s a definite bond between the two; there always has been, and as much as Rollo has resented Ragnar and resented everything he’s got in the family, I don’t think he can’t love Bjorn; and maybe there’s more of a reason for that in the past, but definitely, as the seasons go on, Ragnar gets almost caught up in his own ego and he gets handed all these things, the earldom, then he’s suddenly the king of Sweden, and he hasn’t really got time to be the father that this young son needs because he’s been away for four years with his mother, and he had not had a father in his life. And Ragnar really doesn’t step up to the plate. He just simply hasn’t got the time. He’s having to deal with this newfound power and what comes with that. But Rollo is overseeing – yes, he’s the lost soul; he’s the one that hasn’t – he latches onto Bjorn, I think, and certainly he sees that they’ve got this common need for each other. One needs a father figure, and one almost needs somebody in his family life to kind of – to nurture and to learn from. I think that’s the thing, it very much is Rollo is almost like a father figure to Bjorn. I think Bjorn has so much to teach Rollo that Rollo probably is completely unaware of what might rub off on him.”

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Finally, will the seer will have any predictions for Rollo this season. Until she mentioned it, I didn’t even realize it. Rollo has never been to the seer. I guess this goes back to him putting all his faith in the Gods and completely accepting whatever they have planned for him.

Clive Standen: “Yes, because we sat down at the beginning of season three, myself and Michael Hirst, and Michael came out to me, “Did you know what I realized in the break between season two and coming back to write season three? It is Rollo’s never been to see the seer.” I said, “Yeah, you’re right.” I thought it was I’d always – I love John Kavanagh; he plays the seer, and I’ve always wanted to have just a moment to latch with him; and I said, “Yeah, I know. It’s that a long time ago. I just thought there was a reason to it.” “No, I just – it just slipped my mind, and now I’ve written a scene for you and…” So it will come into season three. There will be a scene between the seer and Rollo, and for the first time, I think Rollo actually – so this man that trusts innately in what the gods have in store for him; it’s very interesting for him to get to a place where he is questioning everything and feels like he’s completely lost sight of who he really is. I could go as far as to say he’s almost close to taking his own life; and the seer changes all of that in only the way that a seer can, in his riddles and his mysticism and his cackling lore. He kind of puts Rollo in his place and I think it’s a really important scene for my character and sets him on a completely different course for the future. It’s one of my favorite scenes. I had the same – I’ve always wanted to do a scene with John Kavanagh. He’s an incredible actor and he didn’t let me down.”

It was such a thrill talking to Clive Standen. I’m so psyched for season 3. Totally ready for the next raid!!!

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