Kevin Durand Vikings Interview

Canadian-born actor Kevin Durand joins the upcoming season of Vikings, premiering February 19th. Last Summer, after being hand-selected by director Guillermo del Toro, Kevin was on the hit FX series The Strain, reuniting him with Lost executive producer and writer Carlton Cuse. The Strain is set to return this June. Currently, Durand can be seen in the independent thriller Dark Was the Night that premiered at the 2014 ScreamFest Film Festival. Earlier this week Kevin popped in for a conference call to talk a bit about the series.

Kevin Durand plays HARBARD – A wanderer who turns up unexpectedly in Kattagat when Ragnar and most of the men of the town are away raiding. Harbard will have a profound effect on Queen Aslaug, Siggy and Helga, all of whom have had the same dream, presaging his arrival.

Can you first just talk about how you got involved in the project and what you like about it?

I’m a big fan of the show. I’ve watched the first season before I first heard of Michael Hirst. I was interested in coming and applying in the character and when I started hearing that I just began watching the second season and its become one of my favorite shows on television. They started sending me some pages and - I mean the words were so alluring that we’re on the page and I thought, wow, this is really interesting. I’ve never played anyone like this and how great to be a part of this great show.

We have a chance to see the first three episodes and see you coming in to the village now in the first couple of episodes. Can you tell us a bit about whether or not you’re going to have any contact with the men when they come home and kind of what we might see with that interaction?

You know I think the interaction with the men from the show is more something of a reverberation of the action that will take place in the next episode which I cannot divulge to you at this point, but I can guarantee you that all the major characters in this show will definitely feel the impact of Harbard’s actions.

I know you can’t divulge everything but it’s obvious Siggy is not a fan of yours and from what we’ve seen, Princess Aslaug is completely enchanted. Do you win Siggy over to your side or was she prescient about the nature of your character?

You know I think she remained quite skeptical of what Harbard’s intentions are. She remains unimpressed in the long run. Aslaug, she’s a soft one, especially where her son is concerned. She keeps her opinion right or wrong you’ll probably find out in the next episode. [Laughs]

As a fan and an involved cast member now, what do you think separates Vikings from all the other shows on TV right now? What makes you stand out?

Well you know it being the type of period piece it is where there's all of this mysticism and it almost feels sometimes like it’s completely fantastical kind of like Game of Thrones would be but then this is all like rooted in true beliefs and the Vikings believed such - had such grand beliefs about the world that they’re living in. It teaches you to kind of get behind the looking glass and see how they actually fought and how they lived in this pagan way of life and Ragnar especially struggling with this newfound Christianity and struggling with his beliefs in both. I think it’s just a really interesting take, a really interesting angle on that time and these people, you know. Michael Hirst has been such an incredible showrunner and creator of this show. He always has a history like right there at his side. He’s not straying away from historical facts. They stretch a couple of things but it’s more of like kind of timeline, like Rollo and Ragnar in different times but these people all truly existed and it’s just a really amazing trip.

You mentioned working with Michael Hirst, can you talk about your interaction with him and what kind of guidance he’s given you about the character?

Um, yeah. You know, in our initial conversations we talked a lot about the characters. The influence that Rasputin has on these characters while the couple of other figures that I can’t really mention because as you know you if you have to watched the first three episodes and you’ve read about him, he’s a mysterious character and nobody at this point knows who he is. I can’t divulge who [Laughs] the other people are but Rasputin was definitely a big influence in his creating this character and then me playing him.

What episode should people really look forward to as far as your character and why? I mean if you could give us a hint. [Laughs]

Well I have to say the fourth [Laughs] episode is probably the most impactful one. Harbard’s actions will pretty much change the course of action for all of the other characters in that episode and he leaves a pretty deep kind of a wound I guess - a deep mark and I would say that that’s probably the one that probably has that - has the most impact.

I have a question about the dialogue, the cadence of the dialogue and the way you’re doing your voice and was there discussions with Michael or anything? It matches what others are doing on the show or have been doing for two seasons and I was wondering if that is something that was conscious or set up?

You know I’m really kind of experimental. That stuff I love - I love accents and voice and I love what these characters are doing on the shows. So I think Harbard’s speech is very, very strongly influenced by Floki and Ragnar and at times he kinds of veers off and becomes a little more Floki at times. Sometimes he sounds a little bit more like Ragnar. It’s kind of a part of who this fellow is which you’ll kind of find out in due time. [Laughs]

I really heard the Floki in there.

Awesome. Awesome. Thanks.

At San Diego Comic Con this past year Kathryn Winnick said that she has some really challenging but inspirational lines in Norse. Did you have anything like that?

I didn’t have any Norse lines. I mean I spoke of different places that the enunciation of these words took a couple of runs that - before I could get them right but I didn’t have any or no parts of my speeches or anything where I really had to dig in to the Norse itself.

Did you have really memorable lines that kind of stuck with you?

Well there’s really lot of - the speech that Michael wrote for Harbard when he’s first taken in by Princess Aslaug and when I basically kind of tell the them story and kind of enchant them – well, at least I enchant Aslaug and Siggy’s still a little bit skeptical of me but that speech that - when I first read that I was so excited to get a chance at saying those beautiful words that Michael wrote. [Laughs]

Well, you did an excellent job on your delivery in that scene. 

Thank you so much. Thank you. I appreciate that.

What was it like joining this crew - you know the cast? Because we hear there are a lot of jokesters and pranksters on set. Did they get you? Is there any memorable story?

[Laughs] You know what? They didn’t get me because most of my work was with the girls. So the guys didn’t get a chance to torture me but the one thing that I did notice is that I hadn’t really experienced before was this crew and this cast they’re so tightly woven and so tightly knit and have such a great chemistry. It’s really like kind of being accepted into a family and it was [Laughs] really kind of - just such a wonderful experience to kind of be welcomed in and what a pleasure to work with such a great bunch of folks.

Your character Harbard, would we describe him as a Laplander - as a native indigenous person to the Nordic - you know Norway or Sweden. Is he a Laplander?

Well, there’s an element to Harbard that I think he can be many different - I can’t get too far with that without divulging too much information and getting in trouble - getting my hand smacked - but he’s kind of mystical. He’s - Man, I don’t know how to get around this without - just spelling it out for you and getting in trouble but I am not what you just said. [Laughs]

How many episodes are you in as this character?

I am in three.

Three episodes. Did Dee Corcoran ever braid your hair like she does the rest of the cast? [Laughs]

Yes. My gosh! It’s amazing. It’s amazing what they did. I don’t have - like that’s not my regular beard either. I can’t grow a beard like that in a hundred years so when they take the beard off at night and I kept those extensions - my huge braids, I felt like I was like - I feel like I was in Avatar or something that I was going to plug it into some magic dragon and fly away. It was kind of incredible - just amazing group of artists over there, you know.

One word to describe your character. What is it? What is he? Just one word to tease people.

You know at this point? You know it’s exactly the way that each show has been pushing it. It’s mysterious. I mean even for me - I’m not even 100% sure. You know what I mean? I have a very, very good idea but it will be interesting to see what you think as the episodes move along and I’m really interested in seeing what people think. [Laughs]

So Vikings is, just kind of by its nature a violent culture. Is that something that Harbard comes into contact with? Do you get to have any fight scenes?

At this point, no, but it doesn’t mean that we don’t feel that violence is a part of his nature as well which I guess you’ll [Laughs] see more often in episode four. No, I don’t take out an axe and go into the field and charge against a bunch of - yes, a bunch of the English or the Northerners or anything like that. Not yet. [Laughs]

Michael Hirst loves the mystical side and exploring the mysticism that the Vikings believe in and your arrival is sort of foretold through the three women’s dreams. I was wondering what you think about the power of dreams.

Yes. Yes. I mean those dreams were obviously foreshadowing my arrival. He’s kind of a - he’s a mystical character. He’s a healer. Where do these powers come from? Why does he seem to have kind of a hold over some of these characters and as you’ll see in episode four that mysticism I think plays into why he ends up being so impactful on many of the lives of the main characters. So yes, I really enjoyed that aspect of it and Michael does it so brilliantly. I’m so glad that I could help them tell that side of the story.

Harbard seems to have even rattled the regular seer, as the women tell him what they have foreseen. Do you have any scenes with him?

No. No. No. I get so excited when people are asking questions like that because a lot of that stuff will be answered in due time but literally - I so don’t want to ruin it for anymore, but yeah, it’s more of dealing with that mysticism with Harbard definitely and hopefully more in episodes to come. Hopefully.

You had said earlier that Rasputin was kind of an influence on the character. Did you do any additional research on that or any other research on the timeframe the Vikings is set in?

Most of what I did was read about Rasputin and along with a couple of other figures that I cannot mention. Yes, I read about his life. I read about - he’s such an interesting character and such a walking circus of contradiction. [Laughs] It was really fun to get to play with those extremes with Mr. Harbard here. I’m so excited to see you what you all think of Harbard in the episodes to come and hope you enjoy the show.

HISTORY’s Hit Drama Series Sails Again for Season Three Thursday, February 19 at 10 p.m. ET


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