Gustaf Skarsgard plays Floki on the hot new series “Vikings”. We caught up with Skarsgard to talk about the show’s first season, now available on DVD and Blu-ray.
Can you describe the character of Floki?
It’s harder to intellectually describe him than it is to physically portray him. He’s this kind of eccentric visionary boat-builder. He’s almost on the verge of being fundamentally religious in terms of his Viking Gods. He’s into his own magic and interpretation of the world.
Would it be fair to describe it as a very physical role?
Yes, both in terms of his expression but also actions. Building boats and fighting in battles. He sees boat-building as his calling. He gives life to these boats. It’s a holy and a spiritual thing for him.
Floki must be a fascinating character to play because he could be easily as perceived as the fool or the crazy guy. But there’s a lot more to Floki than meets the eye?
Definitely, I think that’s important to find that balance. Sometimes I get tired of myself. I feel like the bloody fool. But I think Floki also gets tired of himself. He’s aware of his role as the fool, he has a Shakespearean fool quality. The fool is always the wisest because he’s aware of his own fool role. He has his own darkness as well. Some Vikings fans are freaked out by the character, others think he’s adorable. He works in different ways for different people. I’m happy about that balance. As soon as you think he’s just a fool, he does something really weird and spooky. Right when you think he’s just a weirdo, he does something charming.
Did you take inspiration from the God Loki in becoming Floki?
I did a little bit. Loki is the God of mischief: an unpredictable character in the mythology, the catalyst, as Floki is as well. Loki would trigger events, as Floki does as well. I definitely think that Floki kind of identifies himself with that God in particular. Not only Loki. He’s also devout to Odin, the God of wisdom and magic.
What’s his relationship with Ragnar?
I think Ragnar is the only one who accepts Floki for who he is, sees him for who he is, and invests in his potential. Floki had always been an outsider. He’s like the guy who wouldn’t play football with the other kids, then there was this one jock who took care of him and liked him, that is Ragnar. That really created a strong loyal bound between.
Is he isolated from the rest of the community?
He lives in his own weird little house that he built. He’s kind of weird like that and a loner. It has always been important for him that Ragnar accepted him. I also think they have a connection in the mythology and the religion as well.
Any stand-out memories of season one’s battle scenes?
There’s always a lot of skin scraped off my knuckles due to the Saxon armour. I finally got a little gauntlet knuckle-duster to protect my knuckles. It’s fun. Especially when you have really good choreography and it’s well covered by all the cameras. The not so fun part, apart from the knuckles, is waiting around for 12 hours in mud and blood and you’re wet, because we’re in Ireland and it always rains. You win some, you lose some.
Have you adapted a certain crazy fighting style?
A little bit. Floki is kind of intense on the battlefield. He has his own tools. I was adamant about him not having a shield. In the same way he didn’t play ball with the other kids, I don’t think he got regular fighting training. No shield wall training, being the loner that he is. For me, it was important he used boat building tools. So he has a weird little axe and knife.
What are your memories of sailing on the production’s own Viking ship?
Amazing. In Season One we were on rivers and lakes. That was cool. One of those moments when the veil between fiction and reality is so thin, it’s almost not there.
How does the set design, costumes, and overall world, help you become the character?
That’s half my job done for me. That’s what’s fun about doing film or television, compared to theatre. It’s fun stepping into a costume in a village or on a lake. You get so close to that fictional situation.
VIKINGS SEASON 1 NOW AVAILABLE ON DVD & BLU-RAY