Vikings: Valhalla Leif Erikson star credits family trauma for helping to tell stories

Vikings: Valhalla trailer released by Netflix

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Eight episodes of Vikings: Valhalla were released on Netflix, allowing long-time fans the chance to continue on their Nordic viewing journey. The difference with this spin-off is that the show is set a century apart from the original. 

Breakout star Sam Corlett plays a screen adaptation of the historic figure Leif Erikson.

Now in the 11th-century, fans have new characters to meet and storylines to follow.

Lief is the Icelandic son of Erik the Red, the founder of Greenland, and within the season, we see him find love, go to battle and see him torn between his old pagan religion and the continent’s religion, Christianity.

Opening up on the role, he has credited his life experience for helping him bring the character to life: “I think it was my life experiences that imbued me to want to tell stories.”

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Talking to The Hollywood Reporter, he described his character and the process behind his acting choices: “He was the son of Erik the Red, notoriously one of the most violent Vikings of all time. [Leif] grew up in a household that was very different to my upbringing but not too dissimilar to my mom’s. 

“I’ve always seen myself as kind of wanting to absolve a bit of the trauma that had come through my family. 

“And I felt like Leif wanted to do the same, with his father being exiled from Norway. He felt a lot of responsibility to kind of absolve that pain and a calling for something greater.”

This follow-up shows the beginnings of Norse legends, with Leif, who is thought to be the first European to have set foot in North America, he travels with his sister and early North American colonist Freydís Eiríksdóttir (played Frida Gustavsson) and Harald Hardrada (Leo Suter), who was a King of Norway. 

Candidly talking about his upbringing, he described how his mom is a warrior herself and how trauma can be inspiring.

He continued: “Whether it be like — you know, my mom battled cancer three times while I was growing up; the second one, she had breast cancer, and it was the full nine yards of the chemo. 

“And my uncle was an incredible artist, musician, poet and unfortunately alcohol took him away early. He passed away when I was 17 or 18, and I only consciously remember meeting him once and it was when he was in hospital.”

With his family having to deal with a lot the star found comfort and power in telling stories.

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He added: “Throughout my life, he was never physically present, but every time I picked up a guitar, my mom would say, ‘Your hands look just like Chris’s.’ 

“So I always wanted to honour his story through mine and attempt to bring as much healing to the world as possible through my art. I feel like he’s with me.”

The show is physically and mentally demanding and is filmed in challenging environments with many scenes involving the cold waters of the Irish Sea.

The majority of the series was shot at Ashford Studios in Wicklow, Ireland.

The show seemed to divide viewers, with many completing the new show in its premiere weekend.

@SatishJ96439720 tweeted: “Outstanding series, awesome performance.”

History buff @Cfhau1 added: “After watching Vikings all six seasons, I thought it was the end. Then, I researched a lot about the history of the true #vikings. All to my surprise to know #VikingsValhalla is a fast forward 100 years continuity of the story of #Vikings.” 

However, @Aharrison04_03 did not enjoy the sequel: “The fight scenes are nowhere near the quality of the original. A lot less action overall. It’s like watching a knock off version of Vikings.”

“The problem with many modern shows is the lack of likeable or interesting characters. Unlike the original show, this one has none,” @b1anconeri commented.

Season one of Vikings: Valhalla is available on Netflix.

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