Travis Fimmel plays a violent Viking on TV, but all the former Calvin Klein model would love to do is live a peaceful life on a farm.
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 modelling 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.
You are totally believable as Ragnar. Was it easy to get into that character?
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.
Your resume of characters is very diverse. Are some more appealing to play than others?
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.
When you get to wear costumes, particularly period costumes, does that help you get into character faster?
Yes, it certainly does, and everything – set decoration, costumes, the look of everybody – helps you 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.
Obviously they built the Viking boats you sail in for the show.
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.
Speaking of a little kid, what was it about your childhood that prepared you for this kind of career?
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.
It has to be fun to some degree, right?
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 while doing it.
Getting famous was not a goal for you?
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 recognised a bit. That is the least favourite (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.
So has Vikings made it harder for you to be anonymous?
No, it’s not too bad. I dress like a bum all the time. I’m a pretty casual fella. You don’t get recognised that much unless you want to get recognised, like if you go to the fancy joints. It’s like LA – there are 10 restaurants. If you want to be seen, you go there. You know what I mean?
Does it ever bother you that because you are good-looking, some people don’t notice what a good actor you are?
I don’t know. I don’t think about it. I let other people think about that stuff. I mean, I never think about how I’m going to look or anything. Most jobs they don’t let you have a beard or any of that stuff, so that was a real attraction for me.
And is your hair really cut like Ragnar’s?
Yeah, it is. I have extensions. It was like only an inch last year, and they put extensions in. It’s pretty funny (laughs). I have to shower in a shower cap.
How did you build up your confidence when you first became an actor?
I don’t know if it ever goes away, but I’m always thinking I’m messing up. I did a lot of classes. I can’t stand being on stage or the only one talking in a room, so class really helped me deal with that. It doesn’t really get any easier, but it helps you focus on the acting.
I suppose you just have to think of it as a craft, something you learn and become accomplished at doing.
Exactly, and the more you do it the more comfortable a lot of things are. The first week of shooting, I always want to reshoot. You are struggling and you are not back in your routine. But as soon as you get going, on a TV show especially, you get in the groove and it gets easier.
How do you feel about doing love scenes or sex scenes?
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 real life. Not many people do, I guess. It’s just very unnatural doing intimate stuff in front of other people.
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?
Yeah, 100%. 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. – Pittsburgh Post-Gazette/McClatchy-Tribune Information Services
Vikings Season Two is aired at 10pm every Friday on History (Astro Ch 555).