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The Vikings: Valhalla Props Department Got Creative With Their 'Cannonballs'

"Vikings: Valhalla" has had big shoes to fill, with its predecessor "Vikings" being a major success for the History channel. As that network's first-ever scripted fiction series, "Vikings" marked a turning point for History and brought in huge viewership. While the show ended in 2020, it still spawned another success in the Netflix sequel series "Vikings: Valhalla," which has continued to please fans with its big narrative swings, thrilling action sequences, and real-life characters plucked from history.

"Vikings: Valhalla," which takes place a century after the events of "Vikings," depicts the ongoing war between Norse warriors and the English. Utilizing historical characters like Leif Eriksson (Sam Corlett) and Freydís Eiríksdóttir (Frida Gustavsson), the series makes for compelling viewing. Of course, it's not always easy to create period-realistic, exciting war sequences. Sometimes the production has to take creative shortcuts to achieve its end goals — such as how the props team once used painted watermelons to simulate cannonballs.

Humans can be safely smacked in the face by cannonballs

In an episode of "Shot by Shot" last year, "Vikings: Valhalla" stars Sam Corlett, Leo Suter, and Frida Gustavsson teamed up to share behind-the-scenes trivia about the final battle in Season 1. Apparently, during the battle's filming, which took place over the course of five days, actors worked with actual trebuchets as well as a fully practical set in which they could film realistic troop movements. It all appeared to paid off, as the final battle — in which Freydis defends Kattegat Wall and Leif defends Kattegat Harbor — seemed quite realistic.

But not everything on set was a faithful reconstruction of 11th century weaponry and architecture. In lieu of using real cannonballs for the battle's action sequences, the "Vikings: Valhalla" props department elected to use watermelons that had been painted black. In fact, the choice may have had precedent in entertainment history: look no further than "The Amazing Race," which once showed a contestant slinging a watermelon into her own face at full speed. She survived with only a minor headache, before continuing with the competition as if nothing had happened. That doesn't mean you should just start hurling watermelons at people, though. It just means that watermelons are less deadly than cannonballs.