George Blagden discusses new role in ‘Vikings’, interest in historical roles and dream role on Broadway

George Blagden, who is best known for playing Grantaire in Tom Hooper’s film adaptation of Les Miserables, will soon be seen in a very different role than the one he played at the barricade.

Transitioning from a cynical drunkard to a kidnapped monk might seem like a leap for most but fans and historians alike will see Blagden make the change when they watch The History Channel’s new series Vikings.

With ad campaigns everywhere from billboards and subway stations to television, print and beyond, the internet is buzzing with interest and curiosity about the series.

I chatted with George about the dramatic shift from an intoxicated student of the revolution to a holy man, what attracts him to his historic roles, which Broadway role he’d like to perform and which job he would want if he wasn’t an actor.

George Blagden

George Blagden

SDD: You transitioned from playing a drunkard to playing a monk. What attracted you to Vikings and your new character? Was transitioning from Les Miserables to Vikings a challenge?

GB: Well you’re right, Athelstan is very different to Grantaire. Which is the attraction really. I think any actor would really appreciate the opportunity to play contrasting characters between one job and the next. I also think I’m becoming a bit obsessed with historical fiction – it seems to be what I’m good at! It’s just so much more fun playing characters with fancy shirts wielding muskets in epic battle scenes, or monks with shaved circles on the top of their heads, you know? Well, maybe not so much the shaved circle part….!

SDD: What should viewers expect to see in the first few episodes of Vikings? (You can give us a few spoilers, we promise not to tell.)

GB: Well, I’m afraid I’m not a big believer in spoilers, so I won’t say too much, but I think it will be quite different to a lot of other shows. It’s original, which I think is quite hard to do now, and it’s about a subject that, actually, I don’t think we know that much about. It’s also very much a family drama. But still, prepare for swords, shields and a bunch of mean-looking guys wielding them in your face! Athelstan certainly was NOT prepared….

SDD: You have worked in many mediums. Do you have a preference? Is there something that you haven’t done but would like to try in the future?

GB: Well, I haven’t worked in every medium, there’s SO much that I want to have a go at – radio plays, voice-over work (I would love to be in an animated Pixar film!!). But the big one is theatre. I would love to get on stage somewhere soon. I have been very lucky with the opportunities I have had since graduating Guildhall in 2011, but I would love to have the opportunity of doing a play soon.

SDD: I received many questions about your album. Is there anywhere fans can find it online or order it? And would you ever consider making another in the future?

GB: That album was made about 6-7 years ago in my bedroom, and although it’s something that I am sometimes proud of, it was really just so my mum could hold a CD in her hand with a picture of me on the front and she could go “Oh, well done George!” So I’m afraid I’m going to leave it in the cupboard so my mum can still feel special about being the only person to own one! It definitely does not represent what I’m like now in terms of musical taste or writing style. Well, to be honest, I don’t really write that much anymore anyway, although I would love to start again. I’ll think about it…..writing more music…’s scary though.

SDD: If you were no longer able to perform, what would you choose as your new career? Why?

I would want to be a soldier. I don’t know why, but it was the only other thing growing up that I could really get into, the cadets at school. My dad was in the military and maybe there is some sort of genetic thing going on. I think I’m very good at following orders….

SDD: Your Twitter is a very active place. What is it like knowing thousands of people support you and are engaged in knowing what you’re doing on a day to day basis?

GB: I am so grateful for all the support in the last few months. My problem is that I like having a chat with people on twitter, which means I have now taken on this feeling of responsibility to reply to everyone. Which is great, because I want to let everyone know how grateful I am for them wanting to talk to me, but sometimes I can tell the people around me are thinking “Jesus, can you just leave Twitter alone for 10 minutes??!”

SDD: If you could trade places with anyone, real or fictional, who would it be and why?

GB: No one I’m afraid. Unfortunately you’ve asked me that question right at a time when I’m extremely happy with the way things are, and wouldn’t dare to think of trading things in for anything!

SDD: Would you ever consider coming to America and working on Broadway? (Perhaps as Steve Kazee’s replacement in Once?)

YES! YES! AND YES! Steve, just let me know when you want a night off or anything, I’m there!

SDD: What’s something that people would be surprised to learn about you?

GB: I went to boarding school age 7.

George Blagden in Vikings.

George Blagden in Vikings.

SDD: Lightning round! For these questions, just fire back with whatever comes to mind first.

Biggest pet peeve: Queues

Which actor would you love to work with: James McAvoy

Who is the last person who made you feel star struck: Lea Michele in my manager’s offices earlier this week!

Do you collect anything: No.

What song would you be happy to never hear again: I’ve never heard a song that I wouldn’t want to hear again. All music should be heard.

What is your favorite word: Defenestration. It happened to my pencil case in school and then was explained to me by my English teacher.

What is your favorite curse word: Bugger

What is your least favorite word: Cut

Where is your favorite place to visit: Bruges

And these last few are in reference to the Les Miserables cast.

Who would you most want to get a drink with: Fra

Who do you wish you worked with more: Aaron

Who would you want to work with again: Hugh Jackman

Who would you most want to sing a duet with and what song would you choose: Alistair. I’d let him choose. I’m nice like that.

Who would you be happiest to be stranded on an island with: Russell

Who did you learn the most from: Eddie

This article is a continuation of this interview.

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About Samantha S.

"I found the theatre and I found my home.” ― Audra McDonald
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7 Responses

  1. Hahaha defenestration :) I love his English teacher. I’ve used that with my students before. Makes ’em sit up and take notice.

  2. fantastic interview… love knowing more and more about George. he really does seem to have bright future ahead of him. so happy for him

  3. This was great! I’m so very looking forward to Vikings!

  4. Wow thanks so much for both parts of these interviews! They’re wonderful. George is marvelous.

  5. Part two is every bit as excellent as part one!

  6. Absolutely fantastic – even more excited for Vikings than I was before, if that’s at all possible!