HB Update And Interview With Michael Hirst

hi guys hope you’re all doing well and enjoying your summer by now I’m guessing that the majority of you have seen my review of Saving Private Ryan where I said I’ll be taking the summer off I’m so happy that the majority of you understand why and I really appreciate it I’m going to be traveling to America on the 21st of July and I’m very excited and one of the reasons why is because I got contacted by history who if you can remember I collaborated with on the Vikings podcasts they’ve kindly invited me to come to the San Diego Comic Con for the Vikings panel to interview the cast and the crew and basically just continue these podcasts promoting season four of Vikings so needless to say I’m very excited because I’ve never been to comic-con before I think it’s on every geeks bucket list or something like that and also I just can’t believe my luck that history have invited me again to work on more of these Vikings podcasts so whilst I’m over there I’m going to see about updating you guys on Twitter and Facebook and hopefully we’ll also be able to post up some vlogs on this channel these future podcasts will be video based and you’ll actually be able to see me interacting with the Vikings cast and crew and with other fans of the show I think it’s going to be pretty awesome so in the meantime just to whet your appetites I thought it would be cool if I would post some of the old interviews I did before I leave for Comic Con if you wish to hear all the podcasts in their entirety then they’re available on soundcloud and I provided the link in the description box below I really hope you enjoy these interviews and also if you have any questions you would like me to ask the actors please feel free to leave some in the comments below so in this video is an interview I did with Michael Hurst the creator of Vikings and we had a pretty interesting conversation about the show and his opinion on history hope you enjoy it throughout your career a big chunk of your work has been focused on historical fiction what is it about Viking history that you personally found so appealing I prefer to work from historical material because in some ways my background is very academic I was at universities for 10 years so one of the things I love is to do the research and out of the research and the reading come characters their voices and generally speaking I find that you can’t make that stuff up the history itself is astonishing and Vikings in some way well it goes back to when my father who every Friday used to come back with a little soldier ways to play with marbles and soldiers and things and one Friday came back with a little Viking of course with the horned helmet and everything and it’s amazing how iconic that Viking figure is all you have to say to someone is Vikings and they immediately have this idea of the warrior and the thug I guess but when we decided or I decided that Ragnar lothbrok was going to be my main character one of the things that drew me to him was the fact that the historical Ragnar claimed to be descended from the god Odin and the god Odin was not only the god of slain warriors in Valhalla but he was also the God of poetry and curiosity so I thought of course Ragnar being his descendant would have the same motivation that he wasn’t going to go out raping and pillaging you what he was curious he was curious about the world he wanted to go out and and see other places and other cultures so that gave me a way into that character in a way of making understandable and giving him a good motivation and then the other way and was was simply say you know these were family people you know husbands loved wives and wives left husbands and they loved their children and and who knew yeah you know so it’s been a fantastic journey for me and with now some absolutely amazing characters who are some of my best friends yeah well also just the fact that’s a the TV show talks about the sagas and you know Ragnar Sark isn’t it yeah yes but I also saw like little elements of other sagas into the show as well there was an episode with Ivar playing that game and correct me if I’m wrong but it seems to be adapted from a Viking called a gal Scala Grimson do you like adapt from a lot of other sagas a lot of other Viking history into the show well let me begin by saying that everything in the show begins with research right Ian’s with real history or what we know of real history this is after all the dark ages and I have a historical consultant as well who gives me material so everything starts with that but I’m not a historian and I’m not writing a documentary I’m a dramatist and a writer I’m a storyteller and I often think this is my saga of Ragnar lothbrok and his sons and in order to write stories you have to find drama which means with the material you have you have to carve out of that shape and form which is my craft and job which means to some extent taking different bits from different parts of history yeah finding the connections between things and as long as it’s plausible it plausibly fits into the whole Viking world that we created and as long as there’s that it’s authentic or as authentic as we can make it authenticity is very important to the show all the departments do a lot of their own research you know the costume department Jen Bergen went to Scandinavia found out how they made clothes then how they make clothes now what materials what dyes what you know but we still don’t know what Vikings actually looked like so we’ve invented a look based on our research in in Scandinavia based on the few images that we descriptions we have but also to get away from the cliche so to give them interesting hair you know yeah so they note they don’t all look like deranged sixties hippies anymore you know with horn helmet you with horned helmets yeah so I’m interested in authenticity but I’m also interested in in truth does it come out of and – under sagas which by the way the sagas were written after the Viking it’s the end of the Viking Age were written down you know by an Icelandic monk so that’s gone through his imagination as well you know it’s it’s wonderful cos ongoing changing evolving story telling and the sagas they’re wonderful material for me yeah you know are you ever frustrated by our lack of knowledge of the time period or does it get actually give you more creative freedom to do what you want I would say it does give me freedom which which is a good thing a lot of my inspiration is actually comes from reading researching and the dryer the book is dry historical accounts and verbatim accounts of things the more exciting it usually is and I get a lot of information from footnotes things that don’t quite fit into the story that the historian wants to tell which may be little personal details so I’m forever beachcombing I’m picking up little nuggets along the way that I can expand and work with and that might give me just some insight into one of the characters in a sense historians right from the outside but as a dramatist I’m working from the inside so a historian will describe what someone wore would describe what they said I’m working much more as what they felt what did they feel in that situation when when they said that what how did they say that what was you know so it’s a different activity often but using the same sort of sources a lot of the actors have spoken to you so far say that you’ve you give them a lot of creative freedom like what is that actually like working with the actors I’ve encouraged collaboration both with directors with indeed all the departments I mean and I love giving them enough freedom so that they can one enjoy what they’re doing and secondly give me something back I want to be astonished I want to be amused of shot you know so if I’m dictating to everyone which I believe some showrunners do I think they miss out on the opportunity natee of being surprised and pleased and thrilled by what they get back like Travis them were looking to see his hand well yes I’m not sure if that was a joke originally or if it really was like a great improvised scene that was the idea of our first director Johan rank I wanted a Scandinavian director yeah to begin with because I thought that would get as close to authenticity as young as we could get also I thought the way he spoke because we had you know we were casting Australians Irish Canadians Brits and they were spoken of course in different accents so there was a big discussion about how do we are Vikings sound and I said they sound like a you had rank who spoke wonderful English but with the pronounce do you know accent is that are all of the accents based on his yeah Wow okay yeah and I’ve encouraged actors to come and talk to me and Travis with his script very very closely annotated we would have to go through it line by line word by word and he would have very strong opinions about things and both he and I got very nervous when the time for our meetings would occur and neither of us knew why because in the end it was always constructive things always improved I would have to persuade him about a storyline or about a phrase and that was good because I you know I have to defend it so it better be defensible so it was it was a good process and to give you an example of that I think the last episode of season 2 during that whole absurd heat learnt the Lord’s Prayer from Athens and listeria our Father who art in heaven our Father who art in him hallowed be thy name thy kingdom come thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven I kingdom come Thy will be done give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us and Travis came to our meeting and said I have an idea he said I don’t want to say anything in this episode except the Lord’s Prayer in the entire episode an entire episode and he said you can give my lines to be owned or whoever else I don’t say anything just the Lord’s Prayer and I said that’s interesting Travis and so I looked through the script and I thought well yeah that can work and I thought it was a very cool idea as well they usually act as fight for life yes they do that’s right I thought that’s so cool but the one thing we can’t do is to tell the Americans that we’re doing that but they leave the character it’s not going to say anything here and actually no one’s ever brought that up there was never brought no one’s notice and one of the reasons is that he’s in those scenes and because of the intensity of his look you think he must have said something or he’s going to say something or you know what he’s feeling because you could see it because a lot of his acting was silent anyway you know he does a lot with looks and he was forever stripping out lines and things right from the start so we collaborated a lot and with Linus it because he’s very experienced he’s very good and he likes to get really deep into the character and everything so he’s pushing me about why did I say that and do you tell him everything right off the cuff or do you surprise him with each new scripts that I try and surprise him one of the things that I surprised him with last season was because we both love TS Eliot and I’d used in just the first draft of one of the scripts I actually used some lines from the book and I showed him the pages and said we won’t have these actual lines in the show but this is what I want to say this is what Elliot says here is what I’m trying to say so he’s those fantastic but every time I try to rewrite those lines it was just turned into a sort of pastiche or it was they didn’t have the power and what the lines were were about time time passed in time future or perhaps contained in time present so in the end he spoke them so a Dark Ages King quotes you know a 20th century poet which by the way wasn’t noticed by anyone until I mentioned it in an interview what might have been is an abstraction remaining a perpetual possibility only in the world of speculation what might have been and what has been point to one end which is always present you know it’s it is about time and and of course he’s not a Dark Ages King he’s an actor in a contemporary drama recreating the past but being in the present I mean it actually works oh so it’s you know it does it’s like one of my biggest pet peeves is when characters in historical media have modern morals and your characters absolutely don’t and I find that so refreshing are there any things that sort of bother you in that same sense yes there are certain contemporary novelists who remain nameless but they write what they call historically based fiction but all the characters are just like contemporary women and men I mean you know their reaction to events and they’re their responses to each other are totally contemporary it’s just visible it’s ridiculous you know and the people writing don’t have the gift of empathy they don’t have that gift that writers have to have is being able to get into someone else’s skin one of the things I do to myself in a way is get my Vikings to do horrible things and still hope that the audience still likes them you know and it’s an is sympathetic even though you know we really see them doing terrible things cuz they’re Vikings you know there’s no getting away from that I’m not rewriting history I’m not saying actually the Vikings were really nice guys you know they’ve been terribly misunderstood they never raped and pillaged because that’s revisionist history ya see wrong that would be totally wrong we have to see them doing what they they did but we have to see it in a much wider context which is what we’re doing yeah which you handled it in a very respectful and mature way and I think that’s what audiences kind of respect from that I mean just to go back a little bit to explain something of course I noted that people said oh the attack on Paris you know that actually happened later you know so what I have to wait to Season 9 before I can show that what might be 100 years old by yes but the point was that in this game you never know whether the next season is going to be picked up or not and they never they don’t decide that until well into the screening of that season before and they look at the audience figures it’s worthless game you know so I knew obviously about the attack on Paris and I wasn’t going to miss out on that yeah you know so I brought that forward obviously and deliberately just so we had it so we could do it and boy did we do it well I think yes he did yeah I messed around a bit you know with this a little bit a people of the fact that you made it too authentic to the time period is something that I truly appreciate and it encourages people to sort of research on their own even a bit more about the time period and and just in the historical advisor said when you think about it it’s amazing because that sight of dark ages Paris with its Roman walls and existed on the Ile de la Cite a where we’re not a dome is that was that that was Paris yeah that hasn’t been seen for hundreds of years and it’s like we’ve resuscitated at least four dead languages you know old Frankish which sounds quite Germanic anglo-saxon but but I’d find it wonderful astonishing that a popular television show has four dead languages in it I haven’t seen it that often to be honest no no fix there you go and thank you so much for
Video source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wjv-uxWvgoc

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