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The Northman - What We Know So Far

Fans of epic Scandinavian sagas like "Vikings" and "The Last Kingdom" can dust off their rune stones and ready themselves for more hearty Viking drama with the upcoming release of director Robert Eggers' "The Northman." After experiencing some unfortunate production delays, the highly-anticipated film from the award-winning auteur director has finally been given a release date. 

Eggers tapped the acclaimed Icelandic poet, lyricist, and novelist, Sjón, to co-write the film's script, and packed his movie to the (10th century, wooden) rafters with a dazzling array of Hollywood superstars. Coming off the back-to-back successes of both 2015's "The Witch" and 2019's "The Lighthouse," audiences are no doubt clamoring for more of that obsessive attention to historical detail for which the director has become known. In an interview with Filmmaker Magazine, Jarin Blaschke, Eggers' Director of Photography spoke at length about the difficulties of achieving a historically accurate look for the film when dealing with a time period from which so few legitimate visual references remain, ultimately saying that, "It's Rob's, so it will be accurate as hell. Well, at least as accurate as 1,000 years ago can be." 

Here's everything we know so far about the ambitious period epic.

When is The Northman's release date?

"The Northman" was originally set to begin filming in March 2020, but, like practically every other film or television series that was supposed to shoot last year, the team was forced to postpone production due to the COVID-19 pandemic (via Belfast Telegraph). Luckily, the film's production team was able to start things up again near the end of the summer of 2020, when production resumed at Torr Head in Northern Ireland (via Daily Mail). In May of this year, Focus Features confirmed that the film will be released in theaters on Friday, April 8, 2022, and Universal Pictures International will "release the film internationally on the same date."

While principal photography on "The Northman" was able to begin just a few months after the film's original production start date, there was at least one cast member who was hesitant to travel to its locations last year. "The Northman" star Nicole Kidman revealed as much to Variety in January, saying, "I was really frightened, but at the same time, I had this sense of duty and I had this sense of 'this is what I do.' I'm a creative being who shows up and I put on as much protection as I could and so I did the production and we were all safe and I went, 'OK, let's go.'"

In addition to Kidman, the film's core cast boasts a number of other Hollywood heavy hitters, many of whom have worked with director Robert Eggers before.

Who is in the cast of The Northman?

Eggers' upcoming Viking tale reunites him with "The Queen's Gambit" star Anya Taylor-Joy, who previously played his lead in "The Witch," a film that helped kick-start the young actor's meteoric rise to fame. In addition to Taylor-Joy, "The Northman" also reunites Eggers with one of his "Lighthouse" stars, Willem Dafoe, who'll play Heimer the Fool. "He's a court figure," Dafoe said of his "Northman" character in an interview with IndieWire, before adding, "but that's my day job. I have a surprising night job that's a little more nefarious, let's say."

Taylor-Joy isn't the only actor from "The Witch" who Eggers called on to help fill out his cast for "The Northman" either. The film will also star "The Witch" actors Ralph Ineson and Kate Dickie, with the latter taking on the role of Halldora the Pict. Topping off the film's already star-studded ensemble are actors Nicole Kidman, Ethan Hawke, Alexander Skarsgård, and Icelandic singer-songwriter Björk, who'll play The Slav Witch. Kidman and Hawke will star as Queen Gudrun and King Horwendil, respectively, while Skarsgård leads the film as its protagonist, Amleth.

Elsewhere in the film's cast, "Game of Thrones" actor Murray McArthur will star as Hákon Iron-Beard and "Vikings" star Tadhg Murphy will bring some of his experience on the History Channel's hit Norse saga to his role as Eirikr Blaze-Eye. Additionally, Icelandic strongman and actor Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson will star as a character named Thorfinnr, while "This Must Be the Place" and "Mandy" actor Olwen Fouéré will bring her unique presence to film in the role of Ashildur Hofgythja (via IMDb).

What is the plot of The Northman?

The straightforward yet ominous synopsis of "The Northman" calls it "an epic revenge thriller that explores how far a Viking prince will go to seek justice for his murdered father." Co-produced by Mark Huffam, Focus Features, New Regency, and "Hereditary" and "Midsommer" veteran Lars Knudsen, the script is based on an idea purportedly pitched to Eggers by Skarsgård (via The Hollywood Reporter), who'll play the avenging prince. 

Set in Iceland at the turn of the 10th century, "The Northman" promises to marry Eggers' distinct blend of paradoxically dreamlike historical realism with the intensity and drama for which Icelandic sagas are so known and revered. "It's a huge movie," Dafoe told IndieWire, adding that, like most of Eggers' movies, "The level of research and detail is there, but on a much bigger scale... the sets are fantastic." 

In a November 2020 interview with Collider, Anya Taylor-Joy called the film "a real Robert Eggers movie," joking that she often told her fellow crew members and co-stars during the filming of it that, "You're gonna be cold, you're never gonna be comfortable, and it's gonna be amazing." In that same interview, the actor beamed at the notion that making a Robert Eggers film is "now a thing" because the duo wasn't convinced while making "The Witch" that anyone would ever see it. "Every moment on set I'm proud," she said, before teasing that she thinks "The Northman" will give the world "something it genuinely hasn't seen before."

In other words, it sounds like "The Northman" will give audiences a very good reason to grab their closest horns of mead and shout, "Skål!"