Season four of History’s Vikings debuted on February 18, 2016 with an episode that found Princess Gisla (Morgane Polanski) forced into marriage with Rollo (Clive Standen). Princess Gisla’s father set up the marriage without Gisla’s consent and Rollo agreed to the union to strengthen his position in the French Court, further betraying his brother Ragnar (Travis Fimmel) and his people. Following the premiere of season four, Polanski participated in a conference call to talk about this turn of events and what’s in store for Princess Gisla and her new husband, Rollo.
Morgane Polanski Interview:
How would you describe where we catch up with Princess Gisla this season?
Morgane Polanski: “In season three we sort of left it where her father, after Gisla’s been defending Paris and basically doing what her father was supposed to do, he is behind it and accepted without even asking it to her for her to marry Rollo in order for him to defend Paris if his brother attacks. So I think for her that was the biggest slap in the face, that was humiliating just because he even accepted it without [her consent] or asking her. So I think that her ego it seems is completely smashed.
So in season four, we pick up at this wedding which she doesn’t want to but has to happen, and then they’re going to go on a journey from there. Stuff is going to change, twists and turns and ups and downs. And yes, there’s been really cool stuff to discover so I’m really excited for you guys to see it.”
Was it difficult to film the wedding night scene?
Morgane Polanski: “Yes, it was hard. I mean, every emotional scene – especially emotional scenes when like 300, 400 people are watching you – and she was being emotional in public so that’s even harder because I feel like you try to find the balance between your emotion that you kind of hide yet you’re in public. So, that was hard but I just trained myself before to get there. But definitely emotional scenes are harder when you’re in the public space rather than intimate.”
What can you tease about her relationship with Rollo moving forward?
Morgane Polanski: “That’s hard to say without spoiling. Let’s just say that there’s a journey going on [with] ups and downs. Let’s just say that stubborn people don’t stay stubborn forever. There’s stuff going on, happening, going back and forth…”
Do you have a favorite scene or episode so far?
Morgane Polanski: “The wedding scene was pretty epic to shoot just because first of all, I never went to a wedding so that was my first ever wedding. And the veil, the whole thing… There’s some really amazing stuff I’ve shot after that, but I’ve never met anyone that will go in a wedding like sobbing, like they’re walking to the death chamber or something. Yes, that was pretty epic. That was my favorite, I think.”
Last season you delivered a speech that rallied the troops and then in the season four premiere you stood up to Rollo. Is it interesting to play such a strong character?
Morgane Polanski: “I think with Michael Hirst we’re pretty lucky. He likes to write for strong female characters. And I mean it’s so exciting for me as an actor because although you think you have the fairy tale of the princess she is, she basically does the job her dad is supposed to do and it’s so brave and ballsy. She has so much it seems and she’s so humble that she just won’t allow people to walk on her, yet she has to be the face of the people.
Especially this season, my character goes through such a journey and going from adult to a woman and taking a completely different direction. It’s just so interesting as an actor to have that sort of material to bite on and especially as a woman. Yes, it’s really exciting.”
Rollo doesn’t know much about the political maneuverings within the French court but Gisla does, so will she be the one pulling the strings?
Morgane Polanski: “Yes. Behind every strong man stands a stronger woman. [Laughing] She will defend her county until the death. If she could be in battle, she would but she can’t. She will defend this country until she dies.”
Did you feel any extra pressure playing this historical French figure?
Morgane Polanski: “Obviously it’s always pressure playing someone that existed, but I think there’s so little on that time. I think Michael really appreciates like him giving us the script and us taking the freedom to just do it as we would do it.”
Are you shooting apart from the rest of the cast and how is to work with Clive Standen?
Morgane Polanski: “It’s not that they shoot apart, it’s just a lot is on location and a lot is in the studio in Ireland. So the studio where France is is not in the same set of Vikings so I get to see them a lot but not just work with them a lot. And working with Clive is absolutely amazing. He is so easy to work with, we get along really well. He’s a very good friend and it’s very easy. Yes, really, really cool.”
Do you think at this point Gisla is underestimating how ruthless Rollo can be or do you think she understands who he is at this point?
Morgane Polanski: “I think it’s hard for her to understand without them speaking the same [language]. I think she’s definitely fascinated by those Vikings and what they are and what they represent. She, I think, is sort of in her deeper, inner soul, she feels close to them yet completely doesn’t understand them.”
She’s very intelligent but in a different way than other female characters in Vikings.
Morgane Polanski: “I think she is as strong as the Vikings but in a completely different way. I think that’s what Michael tried to represent with the difference of culture of the Vikings culture and of the French culture. I think the main thing with Vikings is they are as they come. I think the French have [is] there’s much more layers. There’s much more, I think, agendas and look over your shoulder. I think she just adores how straightforward Rollo is, or they are, and I think she is just careful that she [can] teach him the different rules. The rules are sort of different, I think, in France and I think she just got used to that and is very witty. She just knows how to take people. Like, just even with her dad, she just knows how to work around it.”
What has your experience been like working on Vikings?
Morgane Polanski: “I mean, it’s been an amazing experience. It’s been so good to be just able – I think you only get to do this on the TV shows – to just have the same character go through so much different emotional journeys. So that’s been amazing, and as a character, to go from a girl to a woman and to just explore the different aspects of her and like not in public spaces and to just see how she would be behind closed doors.”
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