Alexander Ludwig tells us all about King Bjorn’s role in the final episodes of Vikings, including the shock from the premiere. Beware SPOILERS!
The final 10 episodes of Vikings have dropped on Amazon Prime, and for those that stayed up late with a horn ale, you already know what happened to some of your favorite characters. And if you didn’t, then beware SPOILERS below!
Specifically, we’re going to be spoiling the very first of the new episodes, which is a big one for Bjorn Ironside, the first of Ragnar’s sons. Actor Alexander Ludwig talked with us about what went down, how he felt about it, his overall arc on the show, and what comes next!
WINTER IS COMING: In the first new episode, “King of Kings,” we see Bjorn make a valiant last stand before dying at the hands of one of Oleg’s henchmen. Were you satisfied with How Bjorn met his death?
ALEXANDER LUDWIG: “I’m really grateful that Michael (Hirst), Steve Stark at MGM, and everyone at History brought me into the process of helping structure this epic ending to the character. Michael always told me he wanted it to reminiscent of a film called El Cid. I thought it was such poetic justice, because Charlton Heston, who starred in that film, his grandson, by pure coincidence, is one my best friends since I was kid. So I thought it was so funny that there’s a nod to that film at the end of one of my proudest performances.
“Michael always wanted to do the character justice, and the fans justice with Bjorn’s ending. Once Michael talked to me about that, we were pretty much on the same wavelength the entire time. It was really important to me, and I hope to the fans, that because there was more that we didn’t get to explore, that Bjorn got to admit his faults before he died. That Bjorn finally came to understand where he went wrong. That was so important to me. I’m so grateful that Michael wrote that beautiful scene where Bjorn does say, ‘I wish I could go back. I wish I could change so many things. I failed as a father.’ I feel like finally at the end, he may not be forgiven by the people he wronged, but certainly by the end of it he had forgiven himself. That’s the beauty of this character I believe, Bjorn is not perfect, he’s a human being.”
WIC: What lessons do you think Bjorn learned on his deathbed?
AL: “I feel like you really finally see that in Bjorn’s final episode, when Bjorn finally comes to terms with he is his own man, his own legend, he is his own leader. Bjorn is finally his own human being. I feel like that’s something a lot of people can relate to; we put our parents on pedestals, and they are our heroes in a lot of ways. It’s only when we step out of that shadow that we find our true selves, and I truly believe that it’s not until that last episode that Bjorn is finally the man he always wanted to be, and the man his father always knew he could be.”
WIC: With the character now beyond you, was there anything you would have changed in Bjorn’s arc?
AL: “I’m immensely critical of anything that I do, I hate watching myself, but I’m also a fan of the show. So of course you always have things that you wish you could explore more. I wish there was a whole season of Bjorn in Africa, I thought that world was just so phenomenal, and I would have loved to have seen that. I wish we could have explored Ragnar’s time away, when he left for 20 years, and seen that. I wish we could have explored Bjorn’s inabilities to rise as a father more. But unfortunately when you’re filming a show that has so much history involved in it, there are only so many aspects that you are able to show. I felt like with what we were able to do, we did the best we possibly could.
“That being said who knows what the future holds? There are rumblings about being able to explore more in that world, who knows what ends up happening with that. All and all, when I look back on the show, I’m so grateful for what we did get to explore.”
Netflix has indeed ordered a Vikings spinoff, but considering that it’s set in an entirely different time period and that Bjorn clearly died onscreen, we doubt he’ll be showing up. But who knows how else the creative team might explore the far corners of the show in the future?
We thank Ludwig for the time, and of course, his performance. Skoal!