The previous four seasons of The Last Kingdom have been a rollercoaster ride for Aelswith (Eliza Butterworth). Once the villainous wife of King Alfred and a constant thorn in the side of Uthred (Alexander Dreymon), the character has developed into Uhtred’s wary ally and locked horns with Lord Aethelhelm (Adrian Schiller). However, season 4 ended with Aelswith’s life in peril after the scheming Aethelhelm poisoned the Queen Mother.
Speaking with The Lincolnite, a local newspaper in her native Lincoln, UK, Butterworth talked about playing the multifaceted Aelswith. “Lady Aelswith is extremely intelligent, fierce, calculating, but very protective,” she said. “I really love transformative characters. At drama school, I was the youngest, but classed as like a ‘mother, evil battle ax’ and could carry powerful characters. I love being different to my natural self and find it much harder to play a character similar to me. I’m silly, goofy, sweet, warm, and bubbly; I’m not very ferocious.”
Butterworth added that she learned “an abundance of incredible skills” working on The Last Kingdom, which was a genuine ensemble effort. “I think working as a team on set is so valuable and important. Being in The Last Kingdom was such an ensemble job, and everyone had their incredible parts to play. Getting to work with David Dawson was great, and Alexander Dreymon taught me an abundance of incredible skills and made me really confident in front of a camera.”
Does Aelswith die in The Last Kingdom season 5?
So does Aelswith survive? Promo shots from the forthcoming season 5 seem to suggest so, but that doesn’t mean she’ll live out the whole season. “I was honored to be in The Last Kingdom family for all these years and feel lucky to have developed my character and that the producers saw enough in me as an actor,” Butterworth said. “I didn’t think the character would be big in any way. It was a small part in a couple of episodes, but flash forward five series, and seven years later, it’s been mind-blowing.”
The comment certainly sounds like a farewell. Although The Last Kingdom season 5 will be its last, a feature-length special, Seven Kings Must Die, will wrap up the series and cover the final books in Bernard Cornwell’s original novel series.
Yet while Butterworth may not be planning on being around for Seven Kings Must Die, she says that she’s enjoyed her time on the series. “It was such a thrill to get to go [to Hungary],” she said. “Budapest is the most beautiful city with so much going on. The Hungarian people are wonderful, and it’s just a really vibrant place to work. It’s heartbreaking to potentially say goodbye to it.”
With her time on The Last Kingdom seemingly over, Butterworth is keen to take on new projects; she says an upcoming TV series allows her to “explore some more comedic aspects” of her acting. At the same time, she also expressed interest in Shakespearean roles and potentially working in the United States.
Season 5 of The Last Kingdom will air on Netflix later this year, while Seven Kings Must Die will soon start filming.