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Vikings: Valhalla's David Oakes Explores Godwin's Relationship With Prince Edmund - Exclusive

Netflix's historical drama "Vikings: Valhalla" focuses on a time in the eleventh century when the English monarchy clashed with the Vikings. On the side of the English was Earl Godwin, a trusted advisor of the current king, Aethelred II (Bosco Hogan). On the show, he also becomes a thoughtful counsellor to the king's son Edmund, a role he maintains and expands on when Aethelred dies and Edmund takes the throne.

With his smart, subtle performance, actor David Oakes slowly reveals that Godwin's feelings toward Edmund aren't as clearcut as they initially seem. Though he's loyal to the young king, he also doesn't always agree with him, leaving Godwin to make some tough choices in the name of both England and his own survival.

In an exclusive conversation with Looper, Oakes discussed Godwin's complicated relationship with Edmund, first as a prince and then as king, in "Vikings: Valhalla."

A special relationship

Godwin initially comes across as an unassuming presence in the English court in "Valhalla," but he's soon dispatched on a mission with Edmund in which he acts as the young prince's advisor. It's on that adventure that the pair's relationship is established. "From a character perspective, [Edmund and Godwin have] gone on a journey together," Oakes observed. "They've gone up to Mercia, they've achieved, they've listened to each other, they've spent a significant amount of time together to such an extent where a certain amount of trust has been manifested."

That trust creates a warmth between Godwin and Edmund that remains when Edmund becomes king. Yet, Edmund's new position also makes Godwin's input more vital than ever. "I've always seen it as an avuncular relationship," Oakes shared. "I see him as an advisor who can suggest opportunities that may not necessarily be taken up on [Edmund's] part. It's trying to guide him in the right way, to bump him into becoming the man that he could possibly become.

"I also think that Edmund is lost," Oakes added. "He's just lost his father, his stepmother is semi-ruling in his father's place; he needs anyone to be there for him to give him advice. Sadly for Edmund, he doesn't necessarily hear all the advice that he's given and that ultimately leads to his downfall."

Oakes noted that, despite Edmund's flaws, Godwin wants him to succeed in his new role. "The interesting thing is that in Episode 5, Godwin is still prepared to try and rescue [Edmund]," Oakes reflected, "...because he has a sense of loyalty to him. That might sound strange to some people as the series develops, but there is a certain moral framework to what [Godwin] does."

The eight-episode first season of "Vikings: Valhalla" is now streaming on Netflix.