Fans of the History Channel’s Vikings series know Danish actor Alex Høgh Andersen for playing Ivar the Boneless — arguably the most complicated of the sons of Ragnar. In the show’s depiction of the historical figure, he’s a person with a disability, so lack of proper support forces him to crawl.
Andersen detailed some of the demands of a job which seemingly required above average upper body strength. What did he have to say about “rough, rough days” on the set of Vikings?
Alex Høgh Andersen said it wasn’t ‘always the most fun on set … pulling [himself] around in horse s***’
As almost anyone could probably imagine, it wasn’t always a blast for Andersen on set while meeting the requirements of the role. He described the brittle-boned character to Icon as an “evil young man who’s not easy to please” but is also “very strong … because he is surviving despite having a disease in a society that degrades or doesn’t help him at all.”
Becoming Ivar seemingly had its challenges for the actor. Andersen said, “[It wasn’t] always the most fun on set, you know, pulling yourself around in horse s**t. Doing that for 10 hours straight and wearing a costume that’s already pretty heavy.”
He explained there were “some rough, rough days,” but his “great team [took] very good care” of him. Otherwise, he said he wasn’t sure he would have “pulled through,” pun maybe intended.
But he eventually felt crawling was a reminder of who his character was. He said, “I actually prefer crawling around.”
Tapping into that “very broken boy” was “phenomenal to bring to life,” Andersen said. “He’s so extreme he’s so far away from who I am and that’s always fun for an actor.”
Alex Høgh Andersen didn’t first audition for Ivar the Boneless
When Andersen set out to become one of the sons of Ragnar, he told Icon he was “auditioning for the three other brothers, not Ivar.”
And he did that for five hours until someone stepped in with a major redirect for Andersen. He shared, “Our casting agent Frank Marcel comes down and pokes me on the shoulder and asks to reach for Ivar.”
It was a complete reroute from what Andersen had prepared for. He explained, “All of a sudden I had to learn and enter a new character and entire new scene within the next half hour and get up in front of the big guns. I was sweating, put it that way.”
Andersen said he “absolutely destroyed the first take in a bad way, horrible,” and the second take wasn’t great either. So, on the third take, he said, “I got through it I don’t know how, but I got through it.”
Alex Høgh Andersen didn’t judge his ‘Vikings’ character
Throughout his story on Vikings, Ivar did some very bad things and was seemingly a bit unhinged at times. But Andersen said he didn’t prepare for the role by criticizing his character’s actions. He explained, “My job as an actor is to never judge my character, always defend him and always try to understand him.”
He said he couldn’t explain exactly how he nailed Ivar’s “psycho, panic vibe” except to say, “[It was] actually pretty easy to get carried away,” and that made the job “easier than expected.”
“I [didn’t] go to extremes in terms of method acting with this guy,” he shared. “I think it’s very important to be able to put away the character.”
In the end, Andersen seemed grateful for his experience playing Ivar. He shared, “They say if you have done Vikings you can do anything in the world.”