Vikings: Alexander Ludwig looks back at Bjorn’s struggles and triumphs (2024)

Alexander Ludwig has played Bjorn Ironside since the second season of Vikings. Before the final episodes drop,we talked to Ludwig all about his character, starting at the very beginning. “I think what I enjoyed and what was most challenging were one in the same,” he told us. “I had this incredible opportunity, from the moment I signed on, [creator Michael Hirst] had told me, ‘Bjorn would be the protagonist of the show, we want to show this massive arc, and put you through this rollercoaster ride.’ But all I knew at the time was that I was a huge fan of the show, and that I was surrounded by fabulous actors, incredible writing and a great crew. Anything else that happened in addition to that was a bonus.”

"What was initially a naive boy trapped in the shadow of his incredible father, to eventually step out into the sun in his own right and be a leader. So then the challenge, and the fun part, was finding all these moments to show growth…I knew at the beginning I needed to show this naive young man, but it was so hard to hold back, because I was so excited to show the trajectory of the character. The little milestones over the six years I got to tell the story were such blessings."

And there have indeed been many milestones along the way. We asked Ludwig to name a few of his favorites scenes:“One of the first scenes for me that was important and pivotal was when Ragnar trusts Bjorn with the information that he’s still alive in the coffin. And only him. That’s a big deal for Bjorn. When Bjorn was on the law rock and he arrested Floki, that’s another big moment for him. When Bjorn goes away for his wilderness trip, that was a huge moment for him.”

"Of course when Bjorn pleads with his own people at the gates of Kattegat with Ivar, that scene in season 5b. The scene right before Harald is crowned king was when Bjorn finally becomes his own man, that scene was an incredible gift that Michael gave me. When I think about it, I’m just so shook about how grateful I am to have explored so much. The milestones in general were definitely my favorite."

The first half of season 6, which ended way back in February, was no less eventful for Bjorn. “As an actor, I had so much to go off of in season 6a: the loss of his mother, the insurmountable pressure of being a king. I loved working with Peter Franzen (Harald), he’s such a great actor and I love him so much as a person. Anytime I got to work with him was a blessing. Everyone really. We’re such a family that it’s hard to pick a favorite.”

And that catches us up to now. How will Bjorn continue to grow in the series’ final leg? “Certain scenes stick out to me that I was able to show a bit of growth here and there,” Ludwig said. “It’s just been a phenomenal ride. Most actors spend a lifetime trying to play the sort of intimate depth I was so humbly allowed to show with Bjorn. I’m so fortunate to be able to do that for six years.”

Before we move on, because we asked aboutLudwig’s favorite scenes, we also had to ask him to name his least favorite scene, although apparently he still managed to enjoy this one, or at least appreciate it: “We filmed at a place called Childer’s Wood, this was one of the hardest days I had filming, but funnily enough it was one of the most exciting because it was the Blood Eagle of King Aelle.”

"That was a huge moment in Bjorn’s rise, finally getting revenge over his father’s death. But it was so cold, and it doesn’t even look cold when you watch it. It was snowing, but you couldn’t see it on camera. So I’m holding this metal knife, your hands are freezing even with two heaters. The crew and the cast were just absolutely miserable, but that’s the beauty of a show like this because you keep pushing forward and every single person is in it together."

As a son of the famous Ragnar Lothbrok, Bjorn’s life was always going to be tied to his father’s legacy. But who, in Ludwig’s mind, is Ragnar’s true heir? “I thought it was so interesting what Michael did; every single one of those brother’s had an element of Ragnar written into the character. I think you see that shine through as the show goes on. What’s interesting about Bjorn is that for so much of his life he’s trying to figure out what part of his father he is. And the real accomplishment in him, is when he finally stops trying to be anything that his father was.”

Now that the show is coming to an end, it’s time to talk about paths not taken. We asked Ludwig what other role besides his own he would have enjoyed playing. “That’s such a hard question to answer!” he said. “I feel every actor that was cast in a role, I could never see anyone else in that role. I thought Floki was such a phenomenal character, but nobody could have done it like Gustaf (Skarsgård). Gustaf is one of my best friends, and a tremendous actor, and the show wouldn’t be the show without him. Ragnar, Travis [Fimmel] brings his own incredible intricacies to the role, and not only am I grateful to call him a brother, he’s also just somebody I looked up to for years.”

"I will say this though; when Ivar was first written I remember telling Michael whatever actor ends up getting this role it is such a tremendous opportunity. But I certainly wouldn’t trade my experience for any other, I had the opportunity that no other actor on that show had, which was to show the arc from basically the inception of the character until the end. No other actor got that, and that’s the great gift of playing Bjorn."

Ludwig as Ivar? Now there’s a thought that could keep Vikings fans up at night.

Ludwig was much less hesitant when we asked about which actors he’d have liked to work with more. “I always enjoyed my time with Travis. He has been one of my best friends since we started shooting, and I just loved working with him, we have the same process. We lived together for a while, I lived with Gustaf for a while, and together we always broke down scenes. Any chance to work together was always a blessing.”

"There are so many good characters, I don’t think that I could just pinpoint one. I thought Linus Roache (King Ecbert) was phenomenal, I loved that whole character. I feel like I got to spend a good amount of time with everyone, for me it was just about exploring more of the world. There’s just so much more to this world, and it gives me hope for the future of the character. I’m such a history nerd that I would have loved to explore more. With what we were given though, I think we did the best we could."

Finally, Ludwig teased what fans should expect from the show’s final 10 episodes:

"I know the ending, but I haven’t seen it. As someone who is genuinely a fan of the show, and incredibly critical of anything I do, I don’t think that there’s a better way to end the show. I am so unbelievably excited for the fans. There might be a fan favorite returning, and I’m really excited to see how the audience reacts. I think everyone will be pretty pleased with the ending."

A wise man once said, never argue with Bjorn Ironside.

Vikings comes to an end on December 30, when all 10 episodes drop on Amazon Prime Video. After that, they’ll air once a week on History.

Next. Alex Høgh Andersen (Ivar): Final season of Vikings is “the biggest one yet”. dark

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Vikings: Alexander Ludwig looks back at Bjorn’s struggles and triumphs (2024)


How old was Bjorn Ironside when he died in real life? ›

Bjorn had 2 siblings: Sigurd II Snake in the Eye King of Denmark Ragnarsson and one other sibling. Bjorn married Unknown. They had one son: Erik Bjornsson. Bjorn passed away in After 859, at age 82 in death place.

Who was Bjorn Ironside in real life? ›

Björn Ironside (Swedish: Björn Järnsida) (Old Norse: Bjǫrn Járnsíða), according to Norse legends, was a Norse Viking chief and Swedish king. According to the 12th- and 13th-century Scandinavian histories, he was the son of notorious Viking king Ragnar Lodbrok and lived in the 9th century, between 855 and 858.

Who is the older Bjorn in Vikings? ›

The first-born son of Ragnar and Lagertha makes his debut Thursday night — well, his second debut — on History's second season of Vikings, as Alexander Ludwig takes over the role of the older, stronger Bjorn (played in season 1 by Nathan O'Toole).

Why did Bjorn abandon Siggy? ›

He Abandoned Young Siggy Because Of His Hatred For Thorunn

He neglected her because she reminded him of Thorunn.

Why did Bjorn sleep with Astrid? ›

When Björn returns home, he and Astrid become lovers, perhaps to spite Lagertha (Astrid was upset that she does not fully reveal her plans while Björn is tired of being told what to do). Later, Egil attacks Kattegat on King Harald's orders; Lagertha, Astrid, and Torvi, among many others, repel the attack.

Is Rollo in Vikings a real person? ›

Rollo was a real historical figure. His real name was Hrolfr, and he's mentioned in Norse, Danish, and Icelandic sagas as 'Gongnu Hrolfr', which means 'Hrolfr the Walker'–– this supposedly was because he was such a big man horses couldn't take his weight, so he had to walk everywhere.

How many of Ragnar's sons survive? ›

As the oldest son of Ragnar and the only surviving child of Ragnar and the famous shield-maiden Lagertha, Bjorn already has the makings of a great warrior. Both of his parents are well-known for their actions during battle, and their leadership outside it.

Who was greater, Bjorn or Ivar? ›

Bjorn and Ivar were both legendary Viking warriors, and it is difficult to say definitively who was the better warrior between the two. Both had unique strengths and weaknesses that made them formidable in battle. Bjorn Ironside was known for his exceptional strength and skill with weapons, particularly with the sword.

Was Lagertha really Bjorn's mother? ›

This, evidently enough, stems from the artistic license of the producers and writers of the show in order to make it more attractive to larger audiences. In reality, Björn Ironside was indeed the son of Ragnar Lothbrok, but not with shieldmaiden Lagertha.

What was the real death of Bjorn Ironside? ›

As for the real Björn Ironside, there are no records on how he died, so it's assumed that he either died of old age or illness, but he had a more peaceful death than his fictional counterpart.

Was Ivar the Boneless a cripple? ›

According to some sources, Ivar was born with a physical disability that left him unable to walk, but others suggest that his nickname "Boneless" referred to a different aspect of his character, such as his agility or his cunning.

Who killed Bjorn in Vikings? ›

Ragnar's family was definitely doomed to suffer… At the end of Vikings season six's mid-season finale, Bjorn's army was facing the Rus and after several scenes of intense fights here and there, we saw Ivar drive his sword through his brother's body.

Who were Ragnar's sons in real life? ›

Ragnar's sons

Among the organizers were at least some of the brothers: Ivar the Boneless, Ubba, Halfdan, Björn Ironside, Hvitserk, and Sigurd Snake-in-the-Eye, all of whom are known as historical figures, save the slightly more dubious Hvitserk.

What happens to Bjorn's daughter? ›

Although Siggy fears to leave the Great Hall, Sigurd insists, and Siggy is later found dead by Sigurd, lying in the mud in a stream below a bridge. Sigurd mentions her death to both Aslaug and Ivar, who pay little attention.

Why did Lagertha and Bjorn leave? ›

Lagertha wants to start a new life: After her difficult experience with Earl Haraldson, Lagertha wants to leave the past behind and start a new life with Bjorn. She wants to establish her own farm and community, and not follow the rest of the Vikings to Kattegat.

Why did Ragnar Lothbrok leave Vikings? ›

Lothbrok's exit, then, wasn't so much scripted as it was written into the historical record. Fimmel's departure had always been intended, because the program wanted to reflect the generational changes of Dark Ages royalty, so his character's demise came as no shock to the actor.

Why did Bjorn leave Ragnar? ›

Though he initially decided to stay with Ragnar, through Torstein's urging, Björn eventually decided to go with his mother. Ragnar let them, telling Björn to look after his mother. Even years after their departure, Ragnar continued to think of them.

Why does Bjorn not like Ivar? ›

However, Vikings paid special attention to two of Rangar's sons, who were constantly fighting over power: Bjorn Ironside (Alexander Ludwig) and Ivar the Boneless (Alex Høgh Andersen). Bjorn and Ivar were Vikings' main rivalry until the end of the series, and their animosity was mainly driven by jealousy and revenge.

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