Kevin Durand Interview: ‘Vikings’ Season 3 and Playing a Mysterious Character

Kevin Durand Vikings Season 3 Interview
A mysterious wanderer (Kevin Durand) arrives in Kattegat in ‘Vikings’ (Photo by Jonathan Hession / HISTORY Copyright 2015)

During a conference call in support of the upcoming third season of History’s Vikings, Kevin Durand said that he was a big fan of the series before joining the cast as ‘Harbard’. Durand’s never played a character like Harbard before and he found the scripts to be so compelling that he was excited to join the critically acclaimed series from creator/writer Michael Hirst.

Season three of Vikings premieres on February 19, 2015.

As a new cast member and a fan of the show, what is it that you think separates Vikings from other shows?

Kevin Durand: “Well, it being the type of period piece it is [with] all of this mysticism and it almost feels sometimes like it’s completely fantastical – kind of like Game of Thrones would be = but then this is all rooted in true beliefs and the Vikings had such grand beliefs about the world that they’re living in. It teaches you to kind of get behind the looking glass and see how they actually fought and how they lived in this pagan way of life, and Ragnar especially struggling with this newfound Christianity and struggling with his beliefs above [all]. I think it’s just a really interesting take, a really interesting angle on that time and these people. Michael Hirst has been such an incredible showrunner and creator of this show. He always has a history [book] right there at his side. He’s not straying away from historical facts. […]These people all truly existed and it’s just a really amazing trip.”

Can you discuss your interactions with Michael Hurst and what kind of guidance he’s given you about the character?

Kevin Durand: “Yes. You know, in our initial conversations we talked a lot about the characters. The influence that Rasputin has on these characters along with a couple of other [people] that I can’t really mention because, as you know you if you have to watched the first three episodes and you’ve read about him, he’s a mysterious character and nobody at this point knows who he is. I can’t divulge who the other people are, but Rasputin was definitely a big influence in his creating this character and then me playing him.”

Did you do any additional research on Rasputin or research on the period in which the Vikings is set?

Kevin Durand: “Most of what I did was read about Rasputin – along with a couple of other figures that I cannot mention. Yes, I read about his life. He’s such an interesting character and such a walking circus of contradiction. It was really fun to get to play with those extremes with Mr. Harbard here.”

What episode should people really look forward to as far as your character and why?

Kevin Durand: “Well I have to say the fourth episode is probably the most impactful one. Harbard’s actions will pretty much change the course of action for all of the other characters in that episode and he leaves a pretty deep kind of a wound I guess – a deep mark. And I would say that that’s probably the one that probably has the most impact.”

Were there discussions with Michael Hirst about the cadence of the dialogue and your voice? Your delivery matches what others have been doing for two seasons.

Kevin Durand: “You know, I’m really kind of experimental. That stuff I love – I love accents and voice, and I love what these characters are doing on the shows. So I think Harbard’s speech is very, very strongly influenced by Floki and Ragnar and at times he kind of veers off and becomes a little more Floki at times. Sometimes he sounds a little bit more like Ragnar. It’s kind of a part of who this fellow is which you’ll kind of find out in due time.”

We’ve heard there are pranksters on the set. Did they target you?

Kevin Durand: [Laughing] “You know what? They didn’t get me because most of my work was with the girls so the guys didn’t get a chance to torture me. But the one thing that I did notice that I hadn’t really experienced before was this crew and this cast…they’re so tightly woven and so tightly knit and have such a great chemistry. It’s really like kind of being accepted into a family and it was just such a wonderful experience to be welcomed in and what a pleasure to work with such a great bunch of folks.”

Can you talk about the hair and makeup?

Kevin Durand: “It’s amazing what they did. That’s not my regular beard, either. I can’t grow a beard like that in a hundred years so when they take the beard off at night and I kept those extensions – my huge braids, I felt like I was in Avatar or something, that I was going to plug it into some magic dragon and fly away. It was kind of incredible. Just an amazing group of artists over there.”

Was there anything special you did to prepare yourself physically for the role?

Kevin Durand: “I kind of live Viking-ready, to tell you the truth. Yes. It’s been part of my life. You know, out of the 365 days a year I’d say that I’m probably doing my Viking workout probably at least 320 of those days. [Laughing] It has more to do with my obsessive nature and just kind of always striving for good health.”

Will you be sporting an awesome tattoo during this season like the other characters?

Kevin Durand: “Yes. I haven’t seen the episodes so I don’t know if you ever actually see them. I actually kind of added to some of my own tattoos and covered some of mine. They gave me some new ones. They’re gorgeous. They’re really interesting.”

Vikings, just by its nature, is violent. Is that something that Harbard comes into contact with? Do you have any fight scenes?

Kevin Durand: “At this point, no, but it doesn’t mean that we don’t feel that violence is a part of his nature as well which I guess you’ll see more often in episode four. No, I don’t take out an axe and go into the field and charge against a bunch of the English or the [Norsemen] or anything like that. Not yet.”

Michael loves the mystical side and exploring the mysticism that the Vikings believe in and your arrival is sort of foretold through the three women’s dreams.

Kevin Durand: “Yes. I mean those dreams were obviously foreshadowing my arrival. He’s a mystical character. He’s a healer. Where do these powers come from? Why does he seem to have kind of a hold over some of these characters? And as you’ll see in episode four that mysticism I think plays into why he ends up being so impactful on many of the lives of the main characters. So yes, I really enjoyed that aspect of it and Michael does it so brilliantly. I’m so glad that I could help them tell that side of the story.”

-By Rebecca Murray

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