Rollo Lothbrok’s transition from Viking warrior to French duke won’t be a smooth one in “Vikings,” Clive Standen says.
Season 4 of the hit series premiered Feb. 18 on History, picking up pretty much where Season 3 left off. The Viking raiders who ransacked Paris are back in Kattegat with their leader and Rollo’s brother, King Ragnar (Travis Fimmel).
Rollo stayed behind in Paris, where he has been promised a dukedom and the king’s daughter, Princess Gisla (Morgane Polanski). According to Standen, the princess isn’t too happy about the arrangement made by her father, Emperor Charles (Lothaire Bluteau).
“He thinks it’s going to be sweet, it’s going to be an easy deal. Who wouldn’t take that offer?” Standen said. “He realizes very quickly that even the princess would rather vomit than go anywhere near him. This is going to be a real uphill struggle to get these people on his side.”
Rollo works hard to make sense of his new life in the French court. He has to learn the language and navigate the politics of all the emperor’s advisers who don’t trust him. And he has to hold the trust of the Vikings camping outside Paris who remained to keep the French in line with Ragnar’s wishes. (If you’ve seen the premiere, you know how that worked out.)
As fans know, Rollo always has been a warrior before a politician or intellectual. He works out issues by fighting first, not by negotiating—which he did in the premiere.
That has to change, Standen said.
“He’s got to kind of calm that temperament down if he’s going to have any kind of success,” the British actor said. “I think we’ll probably see a bit more of a cerebral Rollo, more of the thinker.”
Standen said Rollo always has been more thoughtful than he’s shown, but that part of his personality has been pushed aside—partly due to his and Ragnar’s sibling rivalry.
Ragnar’s had the bigger successes in life because he’s been so forward-thinking and bold. He’s the golden boy of Kattegat and beyond, and that’s never sat well with Rollo.
Rollo’s jealousy has led him to try to be someone he isn’t, Standen said, when he really needs to just be himself. He wants to leave a legacy as strong as his brother’s, but so far he’s failed.
“I imagine it creates a monster inside of Rollo,” Standen said, and his French adventure may be what finally works for him.
Ever since Season 1, Standen has kept an old Swedish proverb in mind that director Johan Renck shared with him. It helps him get into Rollo’s psyche.
“Everyone wants to be loved. If you can’t be loved, you want to be admired. If you can’t be admired, you’re willing to be feared. If you can’t be feared, then you’ll be hated,” Standen said was a rough translation.
“Everyone just wants to fit in somehow,” he said, even Rollo.
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Here are videos of my interview with Standen from San Diego Comic Con 2015. Sorry for the shakiness and lighting—we were traveling in a Viking longboat from land to sea.
Rollo’s makeover scene
Clive Standen on working with Morgane Polanski
Clive Standen on Rollo’s motivations
Rollo and Gisla