Expect “a whole lot of blood, sweat and tears” in The Last Kingdom season 4

Image: Netflix/The Last Kingdom
Image: Netflix/The Last Kingdom /

Here at WiC, we’re all eager to see what happens next on The Last Kingdom, Netflix’s gripping medieval drama. Just lately, star Magnus Bruun talked to us about his character, the conniving Cnut. In the second part of our interview, he teases what to expect from the upcoming fourth season.

But first, Bruun touched on whether the cast has read The Saxon Stories by Bernard Cornwell, the books on which the show is based.

"I think most of us have. The books and the shows are two very different things, so don’t believe everything you read. The writers and the producers see the storyline from the books, and obviously they have to make that into a TV show, which means they have to cut a lot out. They also find out during filming, “OK this works, this relationship works, or this thing we thought was great doesn’t film well.” So we cut down this and follow that instead, but obviously the base of the show is the same. What’s happening around though, is changing during filming, because the scripts are being written and re-written during filming."

Adapting things as the show goes along sounds like a good idea, but it means that you can’t be sure that what happens to your character in the books will happen on the screen, which can lead to some anxiety. “I’ve had a lot of conversations with the producers, and ideas, so you never really know,” Bruun said. “When I started out in season 3, it was important for me to prove myself. This was a big gig, and I didn’t want them to kill me off after one episode, because you know that can happen. If things don’t work out, they can just change the actor. After a few weeks of filming, I relaxed and felt like I belong here, because the directors are listening to me. They like my ideas, I like their ideas, and we can actually talk about the characters and the scenes. So I could relax.”

Nothing like going to work not knowing if you’ll be killed off.

Image: The Last Kingdom/Netflix

Bruun also touched on the toughest scene he’s had to film for the series thus far. “Well, a couple scenes in season 4, but they will remain a mystery for now,” he laughed. Fine, we’ll just daydream.

Although he wouldn’t give specifics, there’s one kind of scene that Bruun finds particularly difficult. “Anything involving horses, even though we have the best stunt team and the best horse master is Hungary, Levente Lezsák. It’s still just animals, and very big animals. I remember me and Jeppe Beck Laursen (Haesten) and Emily Cox (Brida) were riding into the final battle of season 3, and there was something about the horses. My horse wanted to bite Emily’s horse, and Jeppe’s horse wanted to, well mate, with the other horse. I had to keep holding my horse’s head to the side and all that, but at the same time, just being cool, Vikings on horses riding through the forest with our army.”

"There was also the scene, either episode 3 or 4, where the big army rides out of Dunholm, they wanted a drone shot of that. We were standing in the big courtyard of Dunholm, and there were 60 or more horses, and a lot of extras on foot. The moment they put the drone in the air, all the horses went wild. Ola Rapace’s (Bloodhair) horse reared on its back legs, with Ola on it, and thankfully he’s a good rider, so he managed to get it down. You never know, these are stunt horses, but there was a drone, and all the horses followed each other. My horse, which is named Satan, is the most lazy horse of all the horses we had on season 3, and it just didn’t move. All the other horses went wild, but my horse just went “meh.” I was thankful for having the lazy horse that day."

And speaking of horses, Bruun defended fellow actor Mark Rowley (Finan) after castmate Adrian Bouchet (Steapa) jokingly labelled him the worst horseman on set. “I think Mark is actually a good rider, he’s just had bad luck with some horses,” Bruun said. “If the horse is in heat, it’s just bad luck. I have a big horse in season 4, a big black stallion, which was different for me than the lazy Satan. It was higher, and it was different. If it’s been a while since you’ve been filming you have to go out and train. I had a scene in season 3 with Harry McEntire, where I had to just grab his horse, and ride away from the army. So that was nice to have tried that beforehand, it was nice to have the practice. There’s a lot of practice.”

Image: Netflix/The Last Kingdom

Okay, all this about horses is very interesting, but what more can he reveal about season 4? Bruun would only add that fans can expect, “Lots of surprises. Satisfaction. And a whole lot of blood, sweat and tears.”

And while Bruun didn’t get explicit about forthcoming episodes, he was happy to reveal which of his fellow actors he would like to work with more. “All of them. I really think it’s a great cast, and some really nice people. I would have loved to do more with Tobias Santleman (Ragnar), but you know he was in the way [laughs]. I really love working with Jeppe Beck Laursen, he’s just such a great actor and such a nice man, and a funny guy as well. I remember when we met, we just clicked instantly, and we just hung to each other from there. We speak off the show as well. I would have loved to work with David [Dawson, who played King Alfred, who died in season 3]. I loved his work. I never had a scene with him, because I probably would have killed him if I had.”

We imagine most Danes would have taken a shot at King Alfred. Bruun thinks that Dawson’s departure in season 3 changed the show’s dynamic. “Earlier, [the show] followed David as well. I really felt like, watching the first two seasons, it was like two equal leads, David and [Alexander Dreymon, who plays Uhtred]. I really loved both of their stories, and how they connected, and disconnected a lot. I was a little sad when David had to go, but I think it came full circle with his story, and in England’s story as well, it made sense.”

Next on the agenda: fighting. The Last Kingdom has a lot of it. How does Bruun approach the show’s battle scenes?

"Everything is choreographed. Obviously we are all quite good swordsmen and ax fighters or whatever, so we can easily learn three or four moves, but if you have longer fights where you have to fight seven men or women, it takes time. The stunt coordinators have to think about how to film it, and how can we make it easy for the actor. When you’ve been working on this show for a while, you’ve gotten used to it, so it’s easier. I’ve done a lot of those in the past, so it wasn’t new to me, but you still have to get it into your body and then there’s a line or shield block or whatever. There’s a lot of practice going on so we don’t hurt ourselves. I try to do all my stunts myself, but there are some things we aren’t allowed to do, especially on horses. That’s just how it is, that’s insurance. Nope. Or as they say in Budapest, “nem, nem, nem, nem.”"

And what happens in those moments the actors can’t do the stunts themselves? “I have a wonderful stunt double named Zoltán Benkovicsc, he’s the best,” Bruun said. “They know our fighting styles by now, so they make moves that make sense for the character. Levente told me he felt like I was a beast on the battlefield, when filming season 3’s final battle, so we wanted to use that more in season 4. I feel like Cnut has this switch, where he goes from smiling and joking, to beast mode, where on the battlefield he’s just destroying people. That’s been fun to jump in and out of that.”

More of Cnut slaying Saxons in season 4 you say? Sign us up!

Although he’s clearly devoted to The Last Kingdom, it’s not Bruun’s only project. He also teased some stuff he has in store for after filming on season 4 is over. “During filming this season, in my breaks, I’ve been able to do two Danish series and a feature. There’s also been some things I’ve had to cancel due to shooting changes on this show. I have a lot of nice things to look forward to in the future that I can’t reveal yet. But when season 4 is done, I have some great stuff lying ahead in my path.”

But life isn’t all about work. Bruun also discussed what shows he’s watching in his spare time. “I’m currently watching The Handmaid’s Tale with my wife, which is a terrific and terrible show. It’s so hard to watch, but I can’t stop watching it. I think we have three episodes left. I’m also watching Mindhunter and The Affair as well.”

Binging dystopian dramas is nice, but ultimately, Bruun’s priorities lie elsewhere:

"My family is the most important thing to me. I have a son who’s about to turn four, and a wife.   I love spending time with my wife and son, they are the most precious part of my life. My wife is my best friend and I wouldn’t be anything or anywhere without her. Family stuff is nice to do. We have a summer house up in Denmark that we drive up to, relax, grill, swim and just do all sorts of relaxing things. We’re trying not to have our son watch TV, he will eventually, so we just try to keep that to a minimum."

Music and cooking also play a big part in his life. “I like to listen to music, old school vinyl. I have a big collection, I like to have the record, not stream it. I don’t have Spotify, I want to pay the artist, which is another reason I like to buy the records. I go to a lot of concerts, and I always buy the record if they have one. I like to read books, hang with friends. I love to cook. And I actually de-stress myself when I’m in the kitchen.”

Finally, Bruun talked about a few causes he believes in, most notably the crisis in the Amazon rain forrest. “I’m sort of climate activist, I recently went to the Brazilian embassy to protest. I’m just a small fish in the group of people trying to fight for our world, for our nature, and to make people understand that it’s not just a hoax. You can’t just brush it off your shoulder, or our world will end up in flames like the Amazon is right now.”


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We thank Bruun for his time, and look forward to watching The Last Kingdom season 4, hopefully before too long. Destiny is all!

The Last Kingdom star Magnus Bruun explains why Cnut conspired to kill Ragnar. dark. Next

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