Pregnancy Prosthetics Proved Challenging For Vikings: Valhalla's Frida Gustavsson

Most readers would probably guess that the cast of Netflix's "Vikings: Valhalla" have to deal with some fairly taxing physical demands in filming their show. Like the original series it spun off from, this is a show about, well, vikings, some of the most successful warriors and explorers in European history. Ergo, much of the action is bound to revolve around sword fights, battles, horseback riding, not to mention filming in conditions that simulate a time long before central heating and air conditioning.

Frida Gustavsson understands this just as well as the rest of her castmates. The actor who plays Freydís Eiríksdóttir, is more than up for the task, even telling Jake Hamilton that she thinks she would both survive and thrive as an actual viking. While it might be rather difficult to verify that claim, Gustavsson's active lifestyle surely prepares her for grueling filming conditions.

That said, no two seasons of "Vikings: Valhalla" are the same, each bringing a unique challenge with its unique storyline. At the start of Season 2, Freydís and Prince Harald Sigurdsson (Leo Suter) have fled to the wilderness of England, living a secluded life in a small cottage, and it isn't long before we discover that Freydís is pregnant. Throughout the season, as her pregnancy progresses, her baby bump grows larger, adding an extra layer of challenge for Gustavsson during filming.

Frida Gustavsson vs. the pregnancy prosthetic

During an interview with Netflix's Tudum blog, Frida Gustavsson seemed both awed and amused by the new difficulties of filming with a pregnancy prosthetic. Working with costume designer Susan O'Connor Cave, Gustavsson went through the season's scripts to figure out the timeline of Freydís' pregnancy. "We created prosthetics that would weigh roughly what it would be in that part of the pregnancy," said Gustavsson, who added that while the prosthetics for Episodes 2 and 3 were barely noticeable, those for later in the season weighed far more, throwing off her balance.

It bears emphasizing here that Freydís never stops fighting and riding and everything else she was doing before becoming pregnant. This meant that Gustavsson remained as active as she did in Season 1, but with the added weight of the baby belly. "It was almost like going back to the beginning and learning how to fight all over again," she said, "so it was a really interesting challenge."

According to Gustavsson, so much of her daily routine had come to revolve around the prosthetic that, by the end of filming, she almost forgot she wasn't actually pregnant. Though some of that may have had to do with how the rest of the cast and crew began treating Gustavsson as if she were pregnant. "I'd be offered chairs in between takes, or people were like, 'Do you need anything?' or "Let me help you put those shoes on,'" she said. "I had to say, 'Guys, I'm not actually pregnant. I'm fine, I'm fine.' But I had to spend a lot of time with my feet up."