Alexander Ludwig is Bjorn to be wild on ‘Vikings’

“I think Bjorn is kind of a diamond in the rough,” says Ludwig. “He’s really got a good heart. He can be vicious and he can be mean — he was known to be an incredible warrior — but deep down he does have a heart of gold.”

You might know Canadian actor Alexander Ludwig as Cato, the ill-fated brutish Career tribute in “The Hunger Games.” Now, he’s taking on another tough-guy role: bold and bestial Bjorn Lothbrok, son of young warrior Ragnar, in season two of History’s “Vikings.”

Were you nervous about joining an already established cast?
Yeah, it’s always a little intimidating when you’re joining a cast that’s been around, but they welcomed [me] with open arms and we got along super well. I had already met [Bjorn's mother and father on the show] back in Los Angeles, so when I got back to Ireland we were just reuniting. We got along famously.

You’re filming in Ireland?
We’re filming in Dublin. I’d been to Dublin once before with my family but it was very short. It’s great because now I’m older and I get to really experience it by myself, which I love. We’re living there for, like, a full four or five months. It’s unbelievable.

Was moving to another country a bit of a culture shock?
I always heard Ireland was great but the people there are just so giving and they will really go out of their way, even if they don’t know you, just to make sure you’re having a good time and you are taken care of. They’re really just a warm-hearted people, and that kind of just shocked me because I wasn’t expecting that. And they have a great music scene, which I love.

Let’s talk about your costumes — or maybe in your case, your lack thereof.
For the most part I am clothed. [Laughs] It’s unbelievable what they’ve done with the costumes, and I give a lot of props to the costume department. They’ve gone above and beyond and researched exactly what [the characters] would look like back then, and a lot of the material they make it out of is how they actually made their [clothing] back then. It really just makes it so much easier as an actor; you don’t have to pretend to be a Viking at all. The sets are so exceptional and the clothing is so real you already feel you’re in it.

Did you know much about Vikings before joining the show?
No, and I think that’s why “Vikings” is doing so well — it is a part of history that not a lot of people know about, so there’s very little to go off of. I think the reason people are loving “Vikings” too is whenever they hear about Vikings they hear about these bad people who raided and did all this raping and pillaging and whatnot, but when you see it from their perspective it’s definitely an interesting story. What this family went to do — [they] were real people and they went on to do unbelievable things. They really laid the foundation upon which our world was built.

What are the challenges of playing someone who’s so long gone?
I think there’s a lot more freedom just because it was so long ago. There’s very little for me to go off of. I think the only pressure really came from the fact that the character’s already been established in the first season, so I took it upon myself to really ensure that there were certain fundamentals that I wanted to stay consistent with my character, like the depth of his character and his earnestness.

Bjorn was a very powerful Viking and he was able to command a lot of attention at a young age. I think a lot of that has to come from the fact that he was very sincere and he rarely smiled — when he did it really meant something. Everything he did had a purpose, and in that way he was also a very intellectual and loving person. I wanted to keep that depth to him, but also four years have gone by since you last saw him and a lot can change, so I wanted also to show that maturity to him now.

Who would win in a fight between Bjorn and Cato?
Bjorn would win. He’s just so vicious. I think a lot of people were confused about why Vikings were so great and why they would always win their battles — the equipment they carried wasn’t nearly as good as what everybody else carried, but they were still able to prevail, and they had less people but they still were able to prevail. The reason is they didn’t fear death. To them, this was just the beginning, and once you died honorably you went on to another life.


California passes 'yes-means-yes' campus sexual assault bill

Californian lawmakers passed a law on Thursday requiring universities to adopt "affirmative consent" language in their definitions of consensual sex, part of a nationwide drive to curb sexual assault on…


Syrian refugees top 3 million, half of all…

By Stephanie NebehayGENEVA (Reuters) - Three million Syrian refugees will have registered in neighboring countries as of Friday, but many remain trapped by the advance…


North Korean leader's money manager defects in Russia:…

A senior North Korean banking official who managed money for leader Kim Jong Un has defected in Russia and was seeking asylum in a third country, a South Korean newspaper…


MAP: New York City Street Closures August 29,…

The Department of Transportation and NYPD said there may be residual delays near all of the street closures on August 29, 31 and 31. Several streets and avenues will be…

Going Out

'Friends' coffeehouse Central Perk coming to NYC —…

"Friends" is coming back for a one-off special: "The One with the Free Coffee." Warner Bros. is bringing a pop-up replica of Central Perk, the…


Interview: 'As Above, So Below' directors: 5 ways…

The fraternal directors of the found footage horror "As Above, So Below" dish on the best ways to frighten the bejesus out of audiences.


Criterion's new Jacques Demy box mixes the light…

Jacques Demy, the most effervescent of French New Wave filmmakers, gets a Criterion box all to himself, with classics like "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg."


Comedian Joan Rivers, 81, rushed to New York…

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Acerbic comedian and fashion critic Joan Rivers was rushed to Mount Sinai Hospital in New York on Thursday after she reportedly…


3 things we learned in the Giants preseason…

The final score didn’t matter — a 16-13 win by the Giants — but it would’ve been nice to finally see Big Blue’s new-look offense get on track.


NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots, 49ers start…

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots start at top

U.S. Soccer

5 facts about new England captain Wayne Rooney

Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney was named as the new England captain by coach Roy Hodgson on Thursday.


Jets vs. Eagles: 3 things to watch

A win on Thursday night at the Eagles would give the Jets a 3-1 record and just their second winning preseason under head coach Rex Ryan.


Trend: White hot on the 2014 Emmy's red…

White was one of the big trends on the Emmy's red carpet.


Recipe: Samuel Adams beer-marinated grilled shrimp

Summer calls for two things: a cold beer and light food. Sam Adams' Latitude 48 IPA fairly bursts with citrus notes, making it an ideal marinade…


4 healthy ingredient swaps to make your meals…

When it comes to eating well, everyone knows they could be doing better. But cooking in an apartment on a busy schedule is a recipe…


Heart trumps brain when it comes to movies…

When you need a good cry, do you reach for the movie that’s “based on a true story”? Science says you’re giving your brain far…