Frida Gustavsson has walked the runways like Valentino, Chanel, Lanvin, Carolina Herrera, Fendi, Oscar de la Renta, Versace, Christian Dior and even donated a pair of wings for Victoria’s Secret. However, his most revealing walk in recent years, he said DiversityHe went with his father to his local Swedish town to do some curricular research for the lead role of Fredis Eriksdottir in “Vikings: Valhalla”.
“I went for a walk with my father, who is a historian. The Vikings left behind all these wonderful runstones – they made stones with letters engraved in the Elder Futhark alphabet, which is a 1000 year old Swedish alphabet, “he explained. Diversity. “These are little remnants of a long time ago, but they are still scattered throughout the area where I live and tell a little message about what it was like to live there and come back after traveling to England and returning home with gold.”
As soon as Gustavsson landed on Fredis’s part, he knew he had to do well for both the fans and his Scandinavian roots, and to learn as much as he could about Viking women. He opened his old school books, he went to all the museums, but even the runes he saw with his father told him a lot – or at least – about the kind of woman he would need to portray him onscreen. Only then did he realize that the odds were high for accuracy.
Jeb Stewart’s “Vikings: Goodbye”, a 100-year leap from the predecessor “Vikings” created by Michael Hurst for the History Channel, dropped all eight episodes on Netflix on February 25. The results – the top 10 charts for English-language television at the top of Netflix for four consecutive weeks and two consecutive weeks in Nilson’s Top 10 SVOD charts in the original and regular programming section – prove that loyal fanbases are ready to wear their Vixo helmets again and dive into the old Nordic lore.
For Gustavson, the focus on “Vikings: Goodbye” was “incredibly irresistible” and beyond his most heinous imagination. “The most special thing was seeing young women from all over the world watching the show and sending me small notes to respond to my character. It means the world to me, “he said Diversity He had to do rigorous research and stunt studies to revive his Scandinavian heritage in a whole new light and way, and in the beautiful, beautiful camping trips he took with the cast in remote Ireland.
Many people will recognize your name from Victoria’s Secret and other modeling campaigns. You made an interesting pivot from the runway into the historic biopic space. Tell me a little bit about the decision behind this role and how the casting worked.
I used to work as a model. It wasn’t really something I had planned or set out to do. Ever since I was little, my goal has been to work with a movie or theater company. I accidentally became a kind of scout and fell into the whirlwind of the fashion industry, but I always knew that this was not my final destination. I always wanted to do the acting right. I returned to Sweden in 2015-2016 and went to a drama school in my own language. The casting was opened for me after I played a small part in “The Witcher”, where I was able to play with the great Henry Cavill. In that sense, when I heard about this project, I was already a bit inside “The Netflix Universe”. I was a huge fan of the Vikings because I was Scandinavian, so I was keen to like it and be attracted to the pagan world. The prospect of immersing myself in Scandinavian history and culture in this way and more really tickled me. The idea of being a part of something that was so popular was a double-edged sword because I wanted to live up to the standards of the “Vikings” franchise and make the fans of the original show incredibly happy, but at the same time, I wanted to “leave my own stamp in the sand” as we I speak in Sweden.
The casting process was quite intense and involved lots of self-tapping. I was taken to studios in Ireland where we initially filmed the show and it was inspiring to walk through the corridors and see the costumes and sets from the original show. I remember sitting there with Sam (Collette) and Leo (Sutter) and looking at each other, “Wow, that might change the course of all our lives.” Then we all ended up casting together.
There is a lot of action in this show. Not only did you have to memorize the lines, but you probably also had to memorize the moves. What was that like?
I am very grateful that, as an actor and as a normal person, I am very physical and active. I love the way I work with my body and know that Fredis is going to be a very skilled fighter. It ticked me off. I had the opportunity to train for a few months with a personal trainer before coming to Ireland, where we went through a pretty extensive bootcamp with the stunt crew. We soon realized that the three of us (me, Leo and Sam) could handle our own stunts. We started with knives, and then with axes and spears, and then we made choreography as the sequences got bigger and longer and more complex. It was tough but, I’m glad I got the confidence of Richard Ryan and the other excellent choreographers on our stunt team. I did everything except a stunt on the show.
I know you are Scandinavian, but even as an American I can admit that I do not know every moment of our history. What history was new to you based on your research for the show? What was it about your character that made you read?
In the process I soon opened my own school book. I realized that at the forefront of our history, what I learned was mostly about these men – Olaf II Haraldson, Leif Erickson and the like. These were all empty spaces where women should be. It took me a little research to learn about Viking women. Finally, a book came to me from heaven called Judith Jesse’s “Women in the Viking Age.” And then all the women came out of the shadows and claimed a place in Viking history. In the book, he describes the life of a Viking woman from cradle to grave with incredible details. All his research is based on literature, archeology, history and language.
The time when the ceremony is held is at the breaking point of paganism where Christianity is coming. It is ruthlessly extinguishing pagan lifestyles and pagan lifestyles and you can begin to see the difference in the role of women among Christians. Society vs. Pagan Society. I wanted to approach it as a sociologist or anthropologist and really want to understand the world of Fredis and what it was like to be a woman at that time and the class perspective of femininity. Of course, it helps that for Fredis, his father was a leader who enabled him to embark on this journey of revenge. He had a certain status at that time.
What was your favorite aspect of your character’s arc in Season 1? How do you think Freydís evolved?
When you meet Fredis, he has become almost extremist in the sense of his beliefs. Everything for him is either black or white. It is either pagan or Christian, good or bad, right or wrong. He has closed his way of thinking and has come from an isolated place with the interaction of some people. She is also a survivor of a horrific rape. He has funneled every fiber of his being for revenge and he has no plans for himself other than to perform it. He almost went to it as a comic pilot. By episode 1, he has already done it. I, as an actor, find it incredibly interesting to explore what happens when all these things come to an end, and he has to ask himself, “What now?” He is forced into a spiritual, emotionally complex journey where he is forced out of his shell and forced to accept more love – until he is deceived by the Herald.
There are a number of scenes where you have to pray or recite the line at the Old Norse. How did you make sure that your evolution was correct and that the dialect coach there was helping you? Has it helped to become fluent in Swedish?
Old Norse is a language that resonates with certain dialects of my own language. Even today the Swedes say a version of the Old Norse, so some words are quite familiar to me. I think languages are interesting and they are a different kind of armor for our characters. The Old Norse leads me on the path to Fredis and his spirituality and the way to communicate not only with myself but also with his faith system. We had two great dialect coaches who worked very closely with us and with the ancient language experts. They broke them down verbatim in Swedish, because the bridge between Swedish and Old Norse is shorter than going through the roots of English, and it made more sense in my head.
You’ve already shot season 2. How about filming two seasons already for this huge production? Was there anything you didn’t know before that you learned while on the job?
Working on a production of this scale was great and at the same time incredibly awesome. I think, after working in Sweden for the last five or six years, setting foot on a set with Netflix was a horrible experience. It makes it a lot easier as an actor but at the same time, you feel extremely responsible to every single person on the team who has let their love and their heart make and create something so great. Something new for me was the collaborative experience of this event. This cemented the notion of the set that this workplace is one where we worked together. Jeb Stewart, our Shoranar, deserves a big thank you for that. He was incredibly intelligent and compassionate, and he was generous with his time and his creativity. He really invited me, Sam and Leo to be creative partners in this work and to express our thoughts and concerns about our character and story line at the table. I felt like a truly creative partner. I hope this is something I can bring to other productions in the future.
What would you do when you weren’t busy filming?
Ireland was largely locked down due to the coronavirus. We were completely off the real world, more or less, especially for Season 1. Me, Sam, Leo and Johannes lived together in a small fishing village and were very close to the outside. We all know each other very well. We cooked a lot of food and hung out at each other’s places and we became a family for each other. We’ll help each other debrief and chat and go for a little swim when the weather permits and try to stay there for each other and create a sense of normalcy for all of us in this life-changing project. We played a lot of tennis together and went on short camping trips. We loved exploring the mountains and beaches of Ireland, so we usually drove to a distant place to have a barbecue with one or two carts. We all had a special, unique time together.
This interview has been condensed for length and clarity.