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Q&A with ‘Vikings’ star Travis Fimmel

By Patricia Sheridan
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

If actor Travis Fimmel looks familiar, it is probably because he was the face of Calvin Klein products at the beginning of his career.

He grew up on a cattle ranch in Australia and was on track to become a pro footballer in his country, but a broken leg ended that career path. He came to the United States to seek his fortune and proved he was more than a pretty face when he decided to leave modeling and get into acting. The 34-year-old is now the lead in the History Channel’s drama series “Vikings” as Ragnar Lothbrok, a Viking with vision who is ruthless at times but capable of compassion. He is also in production for the movie “Warcraft.” No release date has been announced.

The second season of “Vikings” premieres at 10 p.m. Thursday on the History Channel.

Q. You are totally believable as Ragnar. Was it easy to get into that character?

A. Thank you for saying I was good in it. I don’t know if you are right or not, but the scripts are so good. Michael Hirst, the creator, is so talented, you know? So when you get a script like that, it really helps to play a character like Ragnar.

Q. Your resume of characters is very diverse. Are some more appealing to play than others?

A. I definitely just want them to be complex. I don’t like the average person, you know what I mean? I want to play something more interesting. Once again, the scripts in “Vikings” are so good, the characters are so complex and everybody has their own voice. It’s just been a great experience. It’s beautiful shooting in Ireland. It’s an amazing country.

Q. When you get to wear costumes, particularly period costumes, does that help you get into character faster?

A. Yes, it certainly does, and everything – set decoration, costumes, the look of everybody – it certainly helps get into character. The landscape in Ireland is just – I’ve never been in such a beautiful place with the lakes and ocean and everything. And the boats.

Q. Obviously they built the Viking boats you sail in for the show.

A. Yes, we really go out on the ocean with them. This season, we go out on them a lot more. It’s a great experience being out there. You feel like a little kid playing dress-up.

Q. Speaking of a little kid, what was it about your childhood that prepared you for this kind of career?

A. I have no idea. No idea. Just tried to make some money. When I got to the States, I wanted to travel and ended up just getting in an acting class and have sort of been doing it for the last 14 years or something. I still don’t know why I’m doing it.

Q. It has to be fun to some degree, right?

A. Ah, money is fun, I guess. It’s a job like any other job. You try to make some money and not embarrass yourself too much doing it.

Q. Getting famous was not a goal for you?

A. No, not at all. I just want to be proud of what I do, and unfortunately in this business if you do all right you sort of get recognized a bit. That is the least favorite (part) by far, for me. I just want to do the work and go home. I wish stuff never came out. I wish you could just do the job and nobody ever saw it and you still made the money.

Q. So has “Vikings” made it harder for you to be anonymous?

A. No, it’s not too bad. I dress like a bum all the time. I’m a pretty casual fella. You don’t get recognized that much unless you want to get recognized, like if you go to the fancy joints and that. It’s like L.A. – there are 10 restaurants. If you want to be seen, you go. You know what I mean?

Q. Yes, I do. If you really want to be under the radar, it is possible.

A. Yeah, unless you are bloody (George) Clooney.

Q. How do you feel about doing love scenes or sex scenes?

A. I hate ’em, to be honest. It’s very awkward. I’m all for the free kisses, but it’s very uncomfortable. It’s not a natural thing. You don’t do it in front of people in your real life. Not many people do, I guess. It’s just very unnatural doing intimate stuff in front of other people.

Q. I had read that you just want to get back to the simple life and living on a farm. Do you still feel that way?

A. Yeah, 100 percent. That’s the only reason I’m doing this, to make some money to get my own farm. I’ll make some money and I’ll be out.

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