The Last Kingdom season 4: Alexander Dreymon on Uhtred’s failures and successes

The Last Kingdom season 4 is out now, bringing us a new round of medieval adventures for Uhtred son of Uhtred (Alexander Dreymon). Before the season dropped on Netflix, Dreymon brought us up to to speed on where Uhtred as it when season 4 begins. “At the end of season 3, Uhtred made peace with King Alfred, finally. He has helped Edward, Alfred’s son, to the throne. He’s lost his wife, he doesn’t have a lover for once. The beginning of season 4 starts with him in quite a comfortable place, much like the beginning of season 3. He feels like it’s finally time to go back to Bebbanburg and take what he believes is his.”

Like Uhtred, we’ll return to the subject of Bebbanburg later (below a SPOILER tag), but before we do, Dreymon detailed Uhtred’s relationship with Aethelflaed (Millie Brady), a major focus of season 4.

From when she was a child he’s always been affectionate of her. Aethelflaed has always been the sunshine in Uhtred’s life. It’s a cool relationship because it went through so many stages. I think the prevalent thing in their relationship has been a tremendous amount of respect. And now that she has grown into the leader that she is, he really respects the tough choices that she’s had to make, the responsibility that she’s carrying with so much grace. It’s a difficult relationship because there’s this thing between them, they can’t actually be together and that’s tough to navigate. But she gives him the warmth that he needs to keep going.

Speaking of relationships, season 4 will feature in a role we’ve rarely seen him take on: a father to his now teenage children. To Dreymon, that represented one of his biggest challenges, “I have a large family, a lot of kids in my family that I’m extremely close to. I’ve seen what it means to be a parent, but I’ve never experienced it. I think the added challenge is to play the father of somebody who is already 16 years old. It’s not like I’m playing a new dad whose got a baby, I can somehow imagine what that’s like. But then playing the dad of a teenager, if you haven’t had the 16 years that led up to that, it’s already difficult to deal with that if you’ve had the 16 years.”

Happily, Dreymon’s costars have made the new scenes a joy to play. “The great thing with [Finn Elliot, who plays Young Uhtred] is that he’s a wonderful actor and he’s doing such a good job, it’s a difficult part to play,” Dreymon said. “I know I couldn’t have done it when I was his age. The moments we’ve had, some of the scenes we’ve spent some time prepping and he’s asked for my advice how to do certain things.”

There was this one scene where we had a very short amount of time to prep, and it was mainly about him, it was his take, we only had one go together. We went through the scene and every single note I gave him, he nailed it in one take. I was so proud of him at the end of it. It’s making me kind of emotional to think about because it was such a cool moment. I guess that’s the feeling I’ve drawn on when I play scenes with him because I feel in a very short amount of time I’ve been able to develop those feelings about him.

Sounds like Dreymon has the hang of this whole father thing.

Okay, that’s enough generalities. SPOILERS follow below.

Back to the subject of Bebbanburg, Dreymon explained that the fortress has a new look for season 4. “It’s strange to see what this version of Bebbanburg looks like after speaking about it for so long, for so many seasons,” he said. “The Production Designer, Dominic, took the life out of it, drained it of colour because he wanted it to represent this dire place influenced by Aelfric’s character. The walls are constantly wet, it seems to have a huge plumbing problem going on! It’s so cold, it’s so grey. You can’t help but think, ‘really? all those years, you want to come back to this place?’ It just needs a heart, and hopefully it will soon.”

Unfortunately, that heart might be a while in returning, as Uhtred’s first trip back to Bebbanburg ends in disaster. He not only fails to take the fortress, but loses Father Beocca (Ian Hart) in the process. “He’s lived his whole life believing that Bebbanburg was his destiny and when that doesn’t turn out how he expected it to, it turns his world upside down,” Dreymon said. “His world view doesn’t make sense anymore. That along with the death of Beocca. It’s difficult to find your purpose again after that.”

As longtime fans know, Uhtred and Beocca have long had a close relationship, so we can only imagine how hard it is to sever that bond. Dreymon described Beocca as being “the only one that has been there for Uhtred, whose loved him, whose known him since he was born. He’s been the only constant in his life, he’s a father figure, a friend, a teacher. Also, he’s been the one he can laugh with at times.” Hart himself feels much the same way. Rest in peace, Father.

Image: The Last Kingdom/Netflix

Beocca’s death is a small-scale tragedy, but we’ll also get plenty of large-scale battles this season. Predictably, Dreymon loves that part of the job. “It’s such a raw, primal feeling to be part of a battle like that. Even if it’s not real, you still have an incredible number of guys running at you screaming. All those horses charging at you, it can be overwhelming.”

All of this adds up to make The Last Kingdom the very special series that it is. For Dreymon, it comes down to the people involved. “One of the strengths of this show is that we do love each other so much,” he said. “All of us – the cast and crew. We get along so well and we have been blessed as people keep coming back year after year to do this show. We shoot in Budapest, which has a large amount of production and a lot of the crew members choose to come back and work with us because they enjoy it. It’s an incredible compliment to the show and I think their enjoyment comes across on screen, which I’ve heard from many fans and interviewers’ who told me they notice the love and respect. It’s wonderful when you come on set and play with your friends.”

Dreymon is right: that love and respect absolutely comes across, except when Uhtred is swinging his sword into some Dane’s face.

The Last Kingdom season 4 is now available on Netflix.

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