×
Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

What the cast of Vikings looks like in real life

Everyone knows that the cast of Vikings looks as sexy as Thor while covered in mud and blood. But strip away all the fierce makeup, finely-tuned hairstyles, and intricate tattoos, and these Norse warriors are just like the rest of us... if, of course, we were all beautiful underwear models, black belts, producers' children, or members of actor-filled families. Sure, they look the part while fitting right into the Viking Age of history, but here's what these 21st-century actors look like in real life, as well as where they really come from.

Warning: this feature may contain spoilers.

Travis Fimmel - Ragnar Lothbrok

Travis Fimmel may look like a Viking king, with his blonde beard and striking blue eyes, but the actor and model doesn't actually hail from the northlands of Scandinavia. Rather, he comes from down under, and was raised on his family's farm in Echuca, Australia. In fact, before he wanted to do anything else, he had dreams of becoming a professional Australian rules footballer — which partly explains why he's got such a beastly physique on the battlefield.

Fimmel's also got a Viking bod because he's a gym rat. In fact, he was pumping iron when he got randomly spotted by a talent scout, who had him fly out to California with only $60 in his pocket. He was signed on the spot by LA MODELS, and eventually landed an extremely lucrative deal — worth upwards of six figures — with Calvin Klein.

Though he no longer sports old man Ragnar's shaved head and ZZ Top beard, Fimmel's sticking with History (channel, that is). The model-turned-actor is set to write and produce a scripted anthology series detailing the stories of some of history's biggest anti-heroes, and is set to star as the O.K. Corral's gunslingin' Wyatt Earp on the new series' first episode, while also serving as the show's executive producer. "Travis is a remarkable actor," said History's SVP of scripted programming, Arturo Interian, "and we're honored to continue our relationship with him after his recent magnetic performance on Vikings."

Now, if only they'd put Fimmel's most remarkably savage murder face on a Calvin Klein billboard.

Katheryn Winnick - Lagertha

The actress who plays the badass shield-maiden Lagertha, Katheryn Winnick, is actually a Canadian of Ukrainian descent. It's believed the Vikings ranged as far as Canada and Kiev. Coincidence? Don't think so. Indeed, Winnick looks like a Viking, with her platinum blonde hair — which, on the show, is often tied into killer styles — and icy blue eyes. In fact, it's easy to argue that Winnick is the most iconically Viking-looking actor on the entire show, even if she doesn't really hail from Scandinavia.

Vikings is by no means Winnick's first gig. The blonde bombshell has also appeared on the big screen, with roles in Stand Up Guys, Failure to Launch, Love & Other Drugs, Killers, and The Dark Tower. She's also got a whole slew of television cameos under her belt, showing up on episodes of Law & Order: Criminal Intent, OzCSI: MiamiCSI: NY, Criminal MindsHouse, and others. She even played Ivana Trump in 2005's Trump Unauthorized.

Furthermore, Winnick doesn't only kick ass and take names on TV. She also kicks ass in real life. The actress has been training in martial arts since childhood, and boasts some serious credentials. "I got into my first school when I was 16," Winnick told StarPulse. "I have a 3rd degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do and a 2nd degree black belt in Karate." She's also a licensed bodyguard and self-defense instructor. So don't mess with Earl Ingstad.

Alexander Ludwig - Björn Ironside

Over the course of the show's run, Vikings fans have watched Ragnar Lothbrok's firstborn son grow up from a rather serious momma's boy to a bear-killing badass. As his character has aged, we've seen actor Alexander Ludwig go from sporting some uncommonly common hair and peach fuzz beard to a shaved head — save one extra-long, braided pony-tail — and a fierce raiding beard. In real life, Ludwig keeps a beard going, though he doesn't walk around California with a waist-long Viking ponytail — unless, that is, he magically hides it under his hats. Nevertheless, he still looks like one jacked Viking you wouldn't want to mess with.

Though Ludwig obviously didn't play the child version of Björn in History's epic series (that would be Nathan O'Toole), he has been acting since he was a child. Most notably, Ludwig played Will Stanton in The Seeker: The Dark Is Rising, Seth in Race to Witch MountainBraden Higgins in Grown Ups 2, and Shane Patton in Lone Survivor. He also took home an MTV Movie Award for Best Fight, alongside Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson, thanks to his role as Cato in The Hunger Games — a role which also earned him a Teen Choice Award for Choice Movie Villain. Nevertheless, Ludwig is most widely known these days for his ever-increasing role as Ragnar Lothbrok's eldest son on Vikings, which has already earned him a Golden Maple Award nomination for Best Actor in a TV series broadcasted in the U.S.

Clive Standen - Rollo

Rollo is — or, at least, was — one of the most fearsome Vikings on Vikings, known for going berserk, turning tides on the battlefield, popping magic mushrooms, and having his way with women. And he always looked the part, with long, dark hair and a bushy beard giving him the appearance of a bear-turned-man. In real life, however, Clive Standen looks less ferocious, as he tends to stay sharp with short, tidy hair and a finely-trimmed beard.

But don't let that clean-shaven appearance fool you. The actor has been riding a horses, jousting and sword fighting since childhood, and is also, according to History, a Muay Thai boxing expert and fencing gold medalist — meaning you wouldn't want to challenge Standen on any battlefield, Viking or not. His badass skill set — which even includes tumbling and contemporary dance — has led to additional roles as Gawain on Camelot, Ed Viesturs in Everest, and Bryan Mills on the television series Taken.

Though Standen sometimes looks like a bloodthirsty, mushroom-influenced berserker, he's actually a big softie. As the father of three, Standen claims that — in addition to being a warrior — he's also an expert tickler. "I'm a demon tickle monster," he told People. "I get [my kids] in a tickle lock, and they can't get out. It's like UFC tickling." On top of that, he also knows "everything there is to know about American Girl dolls." Sounds like Rollo, all right... at least, after he turned Frank.

Gustaf Skarsgård - Flóki

As his name implies, Gustaf Caspar Orm Skarsgård is one of Vikings' only true Scandinavians, though he looks a lot less fearsome in real life. While Flóki is famous for sporting a beard and that iconic crying makeup — which, indeed, makes him look far from sane — Skarsgård stays clean-shaven and professional, just like the rest of his actor-filled family.

If we're in the business of ranking Skarsgårds, Gustaf would have to be third. His father, Stellan Skarsgård, is easily the most famous of the family, having played Professor Gerald Lambeau in Good Will Hunting, Bootstrap Bill Turner in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, Bill Anderson in Mamma Mia!, Martin Vanger in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Captain Tupolev in The Hunt for Red October, and the Marvel Cinematic Universe's Dr. Erik Selvig in Thor, The Avengers, Thor: The Dark World, and Avengers: Age of Ultron.

You also know Skarsgård's brother, Alexander Skarsgård, for having notably played the Scandinavian vampire Eric Northman in HBO's long-running series True Blood, Meekus in Zoolander and Zoolander 2, Perry Wright in Big Little Lies, and the title character in The Legend of Tarzan.

Though Skarsgård has himself won a Guldbagge Award for Best Leading Actor for his role in for his role in Förortsungar, playing the tall Viking boat builder on History's series is the actor's only real claim to fame — outside of Scandinavia, that is.

Alyssa Sutherland - Queen Aslaug

Playing the role of Queen Aslaug, the daughter of Viking legends Brynhildr and Sigurd, Alyssa Sutherland has one of the most unique appearances on the show. She is tall, slim, looks entirely unlike any other cast member, and possesses the capability to bewitch even a Viking king with her stunning looks — all traits to be expected in a famous, real-life fashion model.

Sutherland got her modeling start when Cadbury revived its iconic "Flake Girl" advertising campaign — an absolutely massive role for any young model in Australia — which featured Sutherland eating a chocolate bar, in reverse time, in a convertible, in the rain. She has been featured in campaigns for such brands as Bulgari, Calvin Klein, Chanel, and Kérastase, among others, in addition to appearing on the cover of Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, Elle, D – la Repubblica delle donne, and Madison.

Her acting career hasn't been particularly extensive, though she did land roles in The Devil Wears Prada and Day on Fire. Less notably, she appeared on one episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, in addition to making a totally expected appearance on Australia's Next Top Model — you know... because she is, indeed, one of Australia's top models. Not many models make the successful transition to acting like Sutherland already has, so we'll have to wait and see if this Vikings star lands more prime roles in the future. 

Maude Hirst - Helga

Maude Hirst plays Helga, the beautiful but plain wife of Flóki the boatbuilder. Though she never sports the shield-maiden hairstyles of Lagertha, nor does she have Aslaug's ability to bewitch men, Hirst nevertheless looks like a loving Viking with her long blonde hair and kind face.

Hirst actually got her acting breakthrough on the popular 16th-century historical drama The Tudors, though she undoubtedly had some help. Her father is Michael Hirst, the writer and producer of ElizabethElizabeth: The Golden Age, The Tudors and — of course — Vikings. She doesn't credit her father for getting her into the acting biz, though. "I was always creative," she told View of the Arts. "I didn't grow up much with my father. I was raised by my mum who is an artist and that's what probably influenced my creativity." 

In fact, Hirst was originally interested in gymnastics, but realized acting might be in her future after being spotted by a casting director scouting gymnasts for an upcoming film. While there's no doubt Hirst deserves the role of Helga, it certainly never hurts to have your father as the show's producer. 

Linus Roache - King Ecbert

King Ecbert might have one epically smug grin, but actor Linus Roache has been perfecting that very smirk on both the big and small screens for years.

Most notably, Roache — who, in real life, looks almost identical to King Exbert, sans crown and medieval clothes — was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for "Best Actor in a Miniseries or Television Film" for his portrayal of Robert F. Kennedy in RFK, and won a Satellite Award for "Best Supporting Actor in a Series, Miniseries or Television Film" for playing Ralph Wigram in 2002's Gathering Storm. Despite those award winning roles, most television viewers probably know him best as Executive ADA Michael Cutter in the famous and long-running crime drama Law & Order. On top of all that, Roache has also made quite a few big screen appearances, with roles in Priest, The Wings of the Dove, Pandaemonium, The Chronicles of RiddickBatman Begins, The Namesake, and Non-Stop, among others.

Roache is definitely no stranger to playing the king. In addition to playing the untrustworthy King Ecbert, he has notably performed the title character in Richard II at the Royal Exchange in Manchester. No wonder he's so good at looking smug and satisfied.

Moe Dunford - Aethelwulf

Though he plays the English Prince Aethelwulf in History's Vikings, actor Moe Dunford is actually Irish — a fact slightly masked by the show's producers, who've appeared to give the character a darker, browner haircut and beard.

The Irish, however, are certainly inclined to recognize the normally less-medieval-looking Dunford as the actor who played Patrick Fitzgerald in Patrick's Day — an award-winning Irish drama centered around a 26-year-old schizophrenic and his St. Patrick's Day disappearance in Dublin — a role which was absolutely massive for Dunford. "I needed to play Patrick," Dunford told Independent.ie. "I had no f**king career! It came out of nowhere and spoke to me." The film made quite a stir, and also landed the film's star an IFTA for Best Actor in a Lead Role in Film.

More importantly, Dunford also won an EFP 2015 Shooting Stars Award — a prestigious Berlin International Film Festival award given to ten young European actors. Never heard of it? Neither had Dunford. "I woke up on my birthday — the 11th of December — and got the call," Dunford recalled to The Irish Times. "I get told: 'You are the Shooting Star' and I'm, like, 'Oh, deadly. What's that?' It was like Lord of the Rings. Great. But where are we going?

George Blagden - Athelstan

Most people know George Blagden as the Vikings holy man Athelstan, who's well-versed in both Christianity and Norse paganism, loved by both King Ragnar and King Ecbert, and generally an all around righteous dude... if, at times, a bit nutty. On the show, Athelstan went from a monk-cut sporting monk to a full on Jesus-lookalike Jesus freak, crucifixion scars and all. In real life, however, Blagden is a lot more clean cut, usually sporting either a well-trimmed beard or no beard at all, and hair that is far from savior length.

Aside from Vikings, Blagden notably played Grantaire in Les Misérables, a film which saw its cast net a whole slew of accolades. For his part in the noteworthy film, the actor is credited with a National Board of Review Award for Best Cast, a Satellite Award for Best Cast in a Motion Picture, and a Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Award for Best Ensemble. The cast was also nominated for a Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Acting Ensemble, a Phoenix Film Critics Society Award for Best Cast, a San Diego Film Critics Society Award for Best Performance by an Ensemble, and a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture — proving that there is, in fact, more awards out there than you even knew existed.

What's next for the Vikings man of God and star of Versailles? We'll just have to wait and see. 

John Kavanagh - The Seer

You probably won't recognize Vikings' The Seer from anywhere, considering the blind oracle is covered in an extensive amount of make-up, has no eyes, is always hooded, and is most frequently portrayed in his dark, dank hut. But even if you could see the man behind the make-up, you might not recognize character-actor John Kavanagh from anywhere, either.

Kavanagh, who obviously doesn't look grotesque, has starred in a whole bunch of movies you'd be lying if you'd said you'd seen, including Florence Foster JenkinsThe Great Wide OpenThe Stag, and In Secret. If you have the eyes of a hawk, however, you might recognize Kavanagh from some minor roles in bigger films, including The Black Dahlia, Oliver Stone's Alexander, Sweeney Todd, and Braveheart. He's also well-versed in stage acting, from Shakespeare to Aristocrats, and has provided some voice-over work as well.

If you look closely, you can spot Kavanagh under the Seer's makeup. But you have to look really, really closely. Whether or not Kavanagh enjoys having his palm regularly licked by Vikings' stars, however, is best left to speculation.

Jennie Jacques - Judith

Take Vikings' Judith out of her medieval princess garb and put the character in some 21st-Century clothes, and you have actress Jennie Jacques. Seriously, the only thing separating the character from the actress — in terms of looks — is time period, as very little seems to be done to actually change Jacques' appearance for the show, aside from making her look as though she has to do her makeup in a dimly lit castle.

Jacques is no stranger to the historical drama. Fans of the Victorian-era artistic brotherhood known as the Pre-Raphaelites — which most famously featured painter and poet Dante Gabriel Rossetti — will probably recognize the actress behind Vikings' Judith from her other major role as Annie Miller, the model who famously sat for Rossetti, William Holman Hunt, John Everett Millais, and the other Pre-Raphaelites, in the fantastic BBC series Desperate Romantics.

She's also an advocate for epilepsy awareness and recently completed an open water swim and a Spartan Sprint to raise money for the Epilepsy Society

Alex Høgh Andersen - Ivar

Like his character, Ivar the Boneless, Alex Høgh Andersen almost never sports a beard. Unlike his character, however, Andersen maintains a fairly standard Euro cut, as opposed to slightly more dramatic Viking cuts he's seen on the show. He also looks less unpredictable and scary in real life, and instead looks more like a Viking model than a child murderer. (And as you probably guessed, Andersen's legs work just fine.)

Aside from Vikings, Andersen played the role of Victor in Outsider, William Iversen in Tvillingerne & Julemanden, and had the guest role of Flotte Tjelle in Hedensted High. He's also appeared in a pair of short films, Ødeland and Koldt på toppen, in addition to the Danish war drama film A War, which received a nomination for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 88th Academy Awards. Thus, it's safe to say that Andersen is probably the most authentically Scandinavian member of the entire Vikings cast.

Keep up with the young man's festival-going and filming adventures on Instagram.