History channel’s Vikings has some of the most butt-kicking fight scenes in period piece dramas. The Dark Ages is full of terrors, and the Scandinavian warriors make it clear wherever they explore that they will leave a mark of their conquest.
Ragnar's men conquered the different lands in England and struck terror into the hearts of the Frankish warriors. The show also includes a lot of warrior women, who are given the same spotlight. Kattegat’s finest warriors and shield maidens are fearsome in battle.
Interestingly enough, Vikings was History's first original program and still remains one their best-rated shows on the air. With a fifth season underway, there’s much excitement after what happened in the season four finale, and fans anticipate when the next time jump will happen, and if the Seer’s prophecy will be fulfilled.
Underneath the burly beards and face tattoos, the actors are attractive and the complete opposites of their characters. The Seer, an identifiable master soothsayer, speaks in prophecies, but the actor who plays him is a Scottish actor with a far less creepy complexion. The same goes for the fearsome shield maidens at Kattegat, whose ferocity is feared by many in the show, but is the complete opposite in real life.
Here are the 15 Actors Who Look Completely Different From Their Characters.
15 Floki - Gustaf Skarsgård
Floki’s random quirks and eccentric behavior often entertains his fellow companions, but in essence, Floki is an intelligent shipbuilder who is truly devoted to the Norse gods. Some say that he believes he's descended from a god. He has the long beard and blue tattoos to cover his mostly bald head. In battle, Floki’s preferred fighting style is a small hatchet and a long knife to outmaneuver larger opponents.
In real life, Gustaf Skarsgård is the opposite of Floki. If we remove the beard and eyeliner, Skarsgård is a regular Swedish guy. Normally, he wears a baseball cap and a plain shirt. Compared to Floki's expressive attitude, Skarsgård is a lot calmer. When preparing for the role, he researched vikings and shaped his character to believe that he was descended from Loki.
Skarsgård may not be descended from the gods, but he comes from a family of actors who also played in viking-related roles. His father Stellan Skarsgård played Dr. Erik Selvig in Thor and often appears in the other Marvel movies.
His brother Alexander Skarsgård almost starred as Thor but turned down the role. His brother starred in True Blood as Eric Northman, a Viking-turned-vampire.
14 Halfdan - Jasper Pääkkönen
Halfdan, the viking with a Skrillex haircut and a beard similar to the cast of Duck Dynasty is portrayed by Jasper Pääkkönen. Halfdan doesn’t mind a bit of sport violence and relishes the lifestyle of a plunderer. He always sticks right beside his brother King Harald and joins with Ragnar's invasion of France.
Pääkkönen is a suave, popular Finnish actor who has starred in over 15 Finnish films, a majority of which are box office hits, including Bad Boys, the highest grossing film of all time. In fact, he’s considered Finland’s top paid actor.
Huffington Post praised Pääkkönen’s performance in Lapland Odyssey, saying the actor "is handsome and compelling" compared to the protagonist’s best friend Kapu, a depressed man who joins with Janne on a road trip.
In real life, Pääkkönen is an expert at fly fishing and founded the website Pokerisivut with fellow film producer Markus Sein. Britain awarded the site Best Affiliate Award at the London 2010 iGB Awards 2010.
13 Astrid - Josefin Asplund
When we first see Astrid, she swears loyalty to Lagertha and learns the way of the shield maidens, eventually climbing up to Lagertha’s trusted warrior/lover. Astrid has had more than a few costume changes.
In her first appearance, she has short hair and a tiny tail braids. This later transforms into her shieldmaiden hairdo, which is similar to Lagertha's braid style in the later seasons. Most viewers see her as a scruffy warrior, and are surprised to learn that Josefin Asplund is actually gorgeous in real life.
Her hairstyle is very different from Astrid's and she doesn't actually fight like killer warrior maiden. In real life, she has a modern look. Josefin is a promising actress in Sweden. Before she joined the cast of Vikings, Asplund was best known for her role in David Fincher’s The Girl With a Dragon Tattoo as Mikael Blomkvist’s (Daniel Craig) daughter.
In Sweden, she’s known for her role in The Circle, a film based on the best-selling Swedish novel.
12 Bjorn - Alexander Ludwig
The son of Ragnar grew up as the great Ironside of the Kattegat. As each season goes by, Bjorn slowly transforms into his father, an adventurer and a man who dreams of traveling beyond the Scandinavian islands.
Floki teased Bjorn, saying that he will look like his father in the future-- “He’ll want to be better than you and you’ll hate him for it.” The older Bjorn grows a beard and is a splitting image of Ragnar. Although Bjorn becomes more reckless, he’s proven to be a strategic leader and a capable fighter.
Alexander Ludwig portrays the older Bjorn. Ludwig started out as a child actor, performing kids commercial before taking on bigger roles like The Dark Is Rising and The Hunger Games.
Initially, Ludwig was hesitant on taking the role, since TV and film had a different kind of environment. “I had the opportunity to be able to show such growth, and I really feel like I myself grew as well on the show," he said in an interview with That's Normal.
His parents are also in the entertainment industry-- his father is the co-chairman of the board for Lions Gate Entertainment Corp and his mother is a fellow actress.
11 Yidu - Dianne Doan
Yidu is a unique character in season 4 who caught plenty of attention due to her Chinese background. After all, almost every villager in Kattegat is Scandinavian or a European settler, but that didn’t stop them from trading with foreigners. Thus enters Yidu.
Aslaug first saw her in a group of slaves. Ragnar was intrigued by her appearance, and in their brief time together, he learns about her past. In China, she was the Emperor’s illegitimate daughter. While the other vikings shave their heads or put on heavy eyeliner, Yidu keeps her traditional clothes from the east.
Dianne Doan looks nothing like her character and doesn't have that enigmatic air in real life. Doan has long hair and a calm personality. She’s actually a professional technical dancer who started at the age of twelve. Younger viewers may know her from her role in the Disney original movie Descendants and its sequel as Lonnie, Mulan’s daughter.
10 Torvi - Georgia Hirst
Lagertha’s other shield maiden and accomplished warrior is Torvi. When we first see Torvi, she is Jarl Borg’s second wife; she is a family woman who is shown as extremely protective of her children.
She later becomes Bjorn’s wife and they go on to have two sons. She's currently Lagertha’s shield maiden and most trusted advisor due to her keen intelligence. Under Lagertha’s command, she uses her observation skills to predict any potential attacks. While she truly loves her family, she doesn’t ever let her emotions get the best of her judgments.
In real life, Georgia Hirst is the daughter of Vikings’ creator Michael Hirst. Her sister Maude Hirst plays Helga in the show as well, which makes Vikings a Hirst family gathering. Maude also had a role in The Tudors, another period drama written by her father.
9 Queen Aslaug - Alyssa Sutherland
Alyssa Sutherland brought an intriguing character into the show with Aslaug-- an enigmatic yet intelligent woman who could match up to Ragnar. Ragnar noticed her wit more than her beauty, and eventually took her as his second wife.
Sutherland gave life to a controversial yet, dynamic character in the show. She’s able to see pieces of the future and sometimes read between the lines. In history, she’s the daughter of Brynhildr and Sigurd.
In real life, Sutherland started her career as a model at the age of 15. She won a competition for Girlfriend magazine in Australia, which kickstarted her career working with Vogue Australia.
She has posed for Calvin Klein, Chanel, and has worked with well-known photographers before turning to acting. She has had roles in The Devil Wears Prada, Day on Fire, and New Amsterdam. She also has a role in The Mist, which airs on Spike TV and tells a story of a remote town flooded with a strange mist. The series is based on Stephen King’s novella of the same name.
8 Harbard - Kevin Durand
Harbard appears in a dream of Aslaug, Helga, and Siggy as a mysterious man who holds a ball of snow over a fire in his bleeding hand. The characters take this as a sign, and Floki believes that he’s some sort of god and has a greater purpose in the future.
We see him in the village when the men are off to another campaign. Although he is seen as a wise sage, Harbard is a womanizer, which Aslaug didn’t take it well.
Kevin Durand is known for playing villains in many other projects. Without the beard and bald cap, fans may recognize him as Martin Keamy, the jerk from Lost. He has also played supernatural villains in The Mortal Instruments and Legion.
Durand stars in The Strain as Vasiliy Fet, a rat exterminator who gets entangled in a fight for humanity. The show is now on its series finale, the last episode expected to air on September 17th.
7 Torstein - Jefferson Hall
As Ragnar’s best friend and the first to sail with him to England, Torstein demonstrated bravery and loyalty. Torstein took the oath to be Ragnar's Hirdmann-- his personal guard and retainer.
Torstein sat at Ragnar’s table during the feast, which displayed his rank among the other soldiers. While the plot challenges most of the other characters, not once did Torstein forsake his loyalty to his comrades.
Torstein has wavy golden hair and a bushy beard, so it’s hard to tell that it’s Jefferson Hall, the actor who played Ser Hugh of the Vale in Game of Thrones. Hall is a practiced actor and used a stage name Robert Hall, before settling with his real name.
He has had several other roles. Among these is his part in Barbarians Rising, a docudrama series about Roman Empire’s conflict with outside invaders. Hall played Viriathus, who led the Lusitanians in an effort to rebel against Rome’s expansion of Hispania. His most recent role is in Tom Hardy’s miniseries Taboo as Thorne Geary, the husband to the protagonist's sister.
6 Ubbe - Jordan Patrick Smith
Ubbe, the son of Aslaug and Ragnar, is shown to be a capable warrior. He trusts his half brother Bjorn, and displays an undying loyalty to his band of brothers and father. Jordan Patrick Smith plays an older Ubbe who joins with his band of brothers in the war.
He retains some of his mother’s intelligence, being able to track down Floki in the wilderness and spot him in the waters, but shows a ruthless side to his enemies.
Ubbe is a splitting image of Ragnar, but Smith and Travis Fimmel look nothing alike in real life. Smith is Australian actor, who previously played minor roles in Banished and portrayed the character of Andrew Johnson in Neighbors. He also played a role in Angelina Jolie’s film Unbroken.
Fun fact: he nearly turned down the role since he was hospitalized at the time because of a work accident.
5 Lagertha - Katheryn Winnick
From the wife of Ragnar to Queen, Lagertha had the greatest character development. In earlier seasons, like Ragnar, she yearned for adventure and was severely disappointed when Ragnar turned down her.
Viewers expected her to be a typical viking wife back in the old days– and she was. A shield maiden and a fighter by her right, Lagertha embodied the old viking women who ran the show at home while the men left for conquest. These women subsequently appeared on the battlefield to enjoy a bit of plunder.
Now as Queen, Lagertha’s vengeful side is amplified and she doesn’t hesitate to harm her enemies when threatened. Lagertha’s fierce personality is similar to the historical Lagertha, who was a prominent shield maiden that ruled Norway. Not only that, but she also supplied Ragnar 120 ships, when he was short on men.
Lagertha's hair often has multiple braids, which is very different from Katheryn Winnick’s usual hair. Personality-wise, Winnick is Lagertha, minus the long braids and eyeliner. She has a third-degree black belt in Taekwondo and started three martial arts schools at the age of 21.
4 King Horik - Donal Logue
In earlier seasons, King Horik represented the way of the vikings, granting Ragnar permission to explore the lands beyond the south and bring back riches.
As the series progressed, Horik proved to be a ruthless man, willing to betray and put his authority above the rest, subsequently deceiving others to preserve his power. Eventually, this made him many enemies, and Ragnar would later take Horik’s actions as a threat to his people.
The burly beard and long flowy hair makes it hard to notice that Horik is played by Donal Logue. Logue is best known for playing Jim Gordan’s partner Harvey Bullock in Gotham. Before he joined the DC cast, Logue played a number of comedy shows and dramas. His previous works include Sons of Anarchy and Life.
Outside of work he’s owns a hardware and trucking business, and actually has a Class-A Commercial Drivers License.
3 King Harald Finehair - Peter Franzen
No one can forget King Harald Finehair, a warlord and a rival to Ragnar during his final years. History channel introduced him as a great warlord who joins Ragnar’s invasion on the Franks.
Along the way, Harald befriends Ragnar sons, all whom accept him except Bjorn. He has elaborate face tattoos, as proof of his accomplishments as a warrior. Harald shows his fierce devotion to the Norse gods and to his younger brother Halfdan “The Black.”
Peter Franzén is a stark contrast to his character. He’s more clean cut and wears a pair of thin spectacles. Franzén is a well respected Finnish actor and has starred in over 50 films and TV series.
He’s won several awards in Finland. He also directed his semi-autobiographical novel Above Waters, which was based on his life living with an abusive stepfather. Although he’s not a viking warrior, Franzén did serve in the Finnish army as a professional sniper.
2 The Seer - John Kavanagh
John Kavanagh is completely unrecognizable as The Seer in Vikings. The mystic man is often seen spouting out prophecies when the leaders in Kattegat ask for his assistance. His words are often ambiguous, but occasionally he shares a lot of information, such as whether or not a conquest would be a success.
However, he recognizes that free will can alter the course of a prophecy if it isn’t fully realized. The Seer’s appears almost eyeless, and looks like he’s suffering from leprosy. Yet, with his affliction, he's able to see visions of the future. Because of his appearance, most would have treated him as an outcast were it not for his powers. In Kattegat, he’s a revered soothsayer and is thus well respected in the village.
In real life, Kavanagh, unfortunately, doesn’t offer therapy sessions for troubled souls who want to know their future. He’s a professional actor who has starred in plenty of major TV/films, including Braveheart, Florence Fost Jenkins, and Showtime’s series The Tudors as Cardinal Campeggio.
1 Ragnar - Travis Fimmel
Ragnar Lothbrok was the first viking we saw sporting one of the crazy hairdos in the show. Ragnar’s appearance went through multiple of changes, paralleling a time jump for each season.
He started out as a simple farmer. In season one, he wore a headband similar to an '80s rocker with a french braid. In later seasons, Ragnar earns his tattoos as part of his rite of passage. His beard also continued to grow longer.
Ragnar embodied the qualities of a Norse hero. Although a plunderer, Ragnar cared for his family members and kept his word even if it meant that he would be at a disadvantaged. Within the community, he was revered a great leader.
Travis Fimmel is normally seen with a beard. Prior to landing the lead role on Vikings, he was a Calvin Klein model and had a clean shaven face, which turns him into an entirely different person who viewers may not immediately recognize.
He also played in The Beast with Patrick Swayze On the big screen, fans may remember his role as Anduin Lothar in Warcraft.
Did you recognize any of your favorite characters in real life? Can you think of any other Viking actors who look completely different from their characters? Let us know in th comments!