Bradley Freegard: He’s a new generation of Viking leader. He understands the benefits to be gained from allegiances, maybe more so than other Viking rulers before. He’s a very successful ruler historically—probably one of the most successful Viking rulers that has ever been. He changed the course of history through his leadership qualities and his ability to manage a kingdom peacefully. He understands that he needs to make allies and allegiances to be able to maintain power. But also, he’s a Viking king; cross him at your own peril.
King Canute is a direct ancestor to the modern Queen of Denmark; how did Danes in the cast react to your performance?
I met quite a few Danish people on set, and the first episode is directed by Niels [Arden Oplev]who’s Danish. I felt the pressure a little bit! But luckily, I think that they gave me the thumbs up in the end.
What kind of historical research did you do?
There are some great historical books out there about Canute… [and] I read a couple of the big tomes about him. A fascinating guy, very good at maintaining power, which was something not to be sniffed at in those times. It was such a brutal, ruthless era so to be able to keep everyone around the table and to keep everyone appeased and happy was some feat.
What were the boat scenes like?