Vikings is wrapping up its fourth season, and after building to it for a while, the cult favorite is going out in grand style with a battle between the sons of Ragnar and the army of Wessex. But this final episode won't just put a capper on Season Four, it will also set up things for Season Five, which is reportedly already deep into production.
To insure that Ivar and his army have a formidable enough opponent not just for the end of Season Four but for future episodes, Vikings has enlisted an actor in Jonathan Rhys Meyers who has plenty of experience at donning period costumes and acting really crazy. It sounds like the "acting crazy" part of Rhys Meyers' repertoire will come in handy as he tackles this new, bonkers-sounding character.
Vikings creator Michael Hirst talked to EW about plans for the show's season finale, which will feature an epic battle between Rhys Meyers' new character Heahmund and the sons of Ragnar. The inspiration for Rhys Meyers' character came, like so much of Vikings, straight from the pages of history, as Hirst explained:
"I was looking at the history books, and I came across these warrior bishops. The antecedents of the Knights Templar: these are people who were absolutely religious, yet they put on armor and they fought. They were crazy! They believed totally in Christianity and the message, and yet, on the battlefield, they were totally berserk."
Hirst then zeroed in on Heahmund himself:
"He’s a man of Wessex, and he’s gonna come in as a worthy opponent to Ivar. His whole life is about deeply passionate commitments. He’s a wild card who happens to be [played by] Jonathan Rhys Meyers, who is himself kind of a wild card!"
Jonathan Rhys Meyers is no stranger to historical melodrama. Of course he played Henry VIII for four seasons on Showtime's The Tudors, winning critical acclaim along with the series, but that's not the only time the actor has donned period costumes. Rhys Meyers played Cassander for Oliver Stone in the historically less-than-accurate Alexander, took on the villainously lewd role of Chiron for Julie Taymor in Titus and was George Osborne opposite Reese Witherspoon's Becky Sharp in Mira Nair's adaptation of Vanity Fair. He also tackled Dracula for NBC. An image (see above) from Vikings shows Rhys Meyers all ready to unleash some berserk warrior-priest mayhem on some Norsemen.
Rhys Meyers sometimes gets noticed more for his off-screen activity than for his performances, but that doesn't diminish the fact that he can be a powerful actor when given a juicy role. The role of Heahmund sounds more-than-juicy-enough for Rhys Meyers. Hirst says Johnny is just perfect for this crazed, religiously obsessed guy, who is also a sinner. He’s a passionate guy, drawn towards women. He sins, and then when he sins, he punishes himself.
That sounds like it's right in Rhys Meyers' wheelhouse. If you want to see Jonathan Rhys Meyers playing a "passionate" character who believes in Christianity but can't stop sinning and goes berserk on the battlefield, be sure to tune into the final finale of an already shocking season.
Vikings airs February 1st, 2017 on History.