Bye, bye TrueBlood, hello NORTHMEN …. this German/Swiss/Southafrican Viking Saga features Australian actor Ryan Kwanten (True Blood’s Jason Stackhouse). Alas, Ryan is not cast as a Stackhousesque male beauty … Kwanten plays warrior monk Conall and had to have his head shaved for this. At least he gets to show off as a fighter as well as a wise man and healer. Ryan Kwanten shrugs it off: “There are things you have to sacrifice for many a film – here it was my hair.” And not his wits, as with playing redneck Jason, we might add (the man holds a degree in commerce from Sydney University).
The movie was shot in South Africa in winter, so the actors found themselves in very “scottish” weather conditions. Snow, fog, wind, a harsh sea – in short, South Africa seems to have been an ideal location for Vikings stranded in Scotland who want to fight their way though hostile Highlands towards the Viking settlements further to the South. Scotland itself was too expensive, Northern Ireland was already taken by GAME OF THRONES, Iceland would have quarantined the horses for 4 months and then forbidden re-export of the beasts, Bulgaria had no housing for the film crew near acceptable locations, so Swiss director Claudio Fäh settled for his producer’s suggestion to shoot in South Africa. And – with Westkap prime minister Helen Zille’s help – they were even allowed to bring 150 people and 50 vehicles into a national park, where no signs of modern civilisation trouble the look and feel of 873 A.D.