Jessalyn Gilsig’s role as the politically powerful Siggy on History Channel’s Vikings has audiences abuzz with both speculations about her character’s motivations and thoughts on the roles played by women in Viking society.
In the second part to this interview, I talked to Jessalyn about the atmosphere on set and the future of Vikings, as well as where she thinks her Glee character, Terri Schuester, is up to these days.
SDD: What was it like on the set? We interviewed George Blagden a little while ago, and so we’ve heard a little bit from him, and I’m really interested to see your perception of how things were on set.
JG: When the whole series wrapped, for the first time in a long time, I felt like I had done something that linked directly to why I had decided to become an actor so many years ago. Everybody was present. Nobody had a cell phone, nobody had an iPad, and nobody went back to their trailer. We had so much we had to accomplish in a day, and we were building a world that doesn’t exist. Everybody was there, and everybody was excited for this thing. Everybody had an idea of what we could do. There was such a feeling of collaboration, and that we were all in this together, and trying to figure out how we could best serve this series as a whole. Then, once we were done we just crossed our fingers, and I hope that translates, because it certainly in the moment had felt that this was it with us. Is that what George said?
SDD: Yeah, he said it was very much this kind of massive experience. He said during a live blog that he would occasionally find himself tied to random objects.
JG: Yeah, he got tied up a lot. I mean, and he shaved his head. A bunch of us didn’t know each other, we were out of our own country, and we were thinking about a period that has only been represented maybe in jest. Like I said: this is the reason you become an actor; to live in the imaginary, and hope to find the human tradition that is a constant, to show respect. Every single person, I am telling you, worked with that enthusiasm. Even the extras. I mean, we needed the extras. Everybody came with that idea that, “Wow. This is why we became an actor. So we could do something this special.”
SDD: Watching you all on the show, and then watching everyone reacting to it – do you think that there is going to be a second season, and if so, are you interested in pursuing that?
JG: We haven’t heard anything officially, but I think we are all hopeful that we get to do another season. I know from my perspective that I feel like, if you watch the whole series – and this is not just with my character, but with most of them – that everything that once was, isn’t anymore, by the end of the season. So I have a curiosity as to what the next chapter will be. Michael just does such a great job of giving everybody just that extra life. I think he could honestly focus on any of the characters when moving forward, and it would be a rich and interesting story. So I think all of us would really like to come back.
SDD: Honestly, I am sitting here going, “Please let there be another season. Please let there be another season.”
JG: Good, good, thank you! Well, you’re helping. Now that I am a producer, I appreciate it. You have no idea. It means something. It was the same with Glee, though that was something else entirely. I remember with Glee I was thinking, “If we could just find the people that could sponsor it, we could really connect with the audience. We could really get a dial up with people who are working for things like this.”
SDD: On the topic of Glee, do you have a preference? Did you enjoy playing Siggy more or about the same as your character on Glee, Terri? Do you think they are similar characters, or are they very different?
JG: I think they are very different. I think that there’s this patience in Siggy that I haven’t had the opportunity to play in a very long time. I think I play very reactive people. Terri was definitely ‘act now, think later,’ or maybe never think. It was fun, I mean I adore Terri and I might be the last one standing, but I think she’s a fantastic character. I think with Siggy, she’s just so much more confident. She was a woman who was born into a family of importance. She is comfortable being in a position of power. She believes in the inhibition of power. Any kind of vulnerability that she has, she has absolute confidence that she could work herself out of any situation. They couldn’t have more different brains. I feel like Siggy would destroy Terri within minutes of meeting her. She’d [Terri] be a puddle on the floor.
SDD: Speaking of Terri, where do you think she is now? As a character, where would she be at this point?
JG: I would bet Terri lives in a one-bedroom, very tiny apartment. I don’t think Terri is such an angry person, but I definitely think she was planning her return. Not like I want to come back, but I don’t think she thinks the story is over between her and Will. Whether she’ll pop in with another guy to try and make him jealous, or walk her way right back into that school, I can’t imagine that poor Will has seen the last of her. She loves him. I mean, she’s loved him since high school. I don’t think that ever stopped. I think she still loves him very much, and doesn’t quite understand her role in the collapse of their relationship.
SDD: What’s a hidden talent or fact that people would be surprised to know about you?
JG: That when I grow up and get my life together, I want to be a painter.
SDD: What kind of painting? Oil, acrylic, a little bit of both?
JG: I like to do a lot of oil painting, and I draw all the time, when I am on set and on location. I have always drawn my entire life. It’s the one thing I can do where I feel a sort of purpose. Whenever things tend to be too much, that’s what I turn to: painting. It’s something I love to do.
SDD: This is a sort of rapid fire round, so just fire back with whatever answer comes to mind first.
Vikings or Glee: That’s like choosing between your children. I abstain.
Earl Haraldson or Will Schuester: These are awesome! I’d say Earl, sorry Matthew [Morrison].
If you could delete any song from existence, which would you choose: I mean, I’m kind of done with “Gangnam Style.” I’m going to say it. I don’t think I ever want to hear that again.
Who was the last person who made you feel star-struck?: I guess I would have to say it was Gabriel [Byrne]. You know how when you play tennis with someone who is better than you, and you have to play against someone who is on that level? That was how it felt, but I was happy to take the challenge.
If you could play any other character on Vikings who would you pick: The first thing that came to my mind was Floki.
What’s your favorite show right now on television: Well, I definitely love Downton Abbey. It feels like similar to Vikings, it has such a committed world. I really like The Mindy Project. I like her writing, and I like the cast.
If you could change places with anyone for one day, who would it be: If I could choose anyone, I would have to choose my father. My father is an incredibly rational person. I’m so driven by emotion, and I am so fascinated by his mind. I would love to see the world that way- through facts, and understanding it that way, instead of through emotions and relationships.
This article is a continuation of this interview.