The History Channel interrupted its regularly scheduled programming of Nazi documentaries and Civil War reenactments to premiere a new scripted series: Vikings. The drama series by The Tudors writer Michael Hirst centers on Viking Ragnar Lothbrok (Travis Fimme)—along with his wife Lagertha (Katheryn Winnick), brother Rollo (Clive Standen), and friend Floki (Gustaf Skarsgård)—and his struggle to raid his way to independence and riches under the stifling grip of their flock’s villainous chieftain Lord Earl Haraldson (Gabriel Byrne).
The show’s violence, sex, and sort-of-English accents got us thinking…about another show: Game of Thrones. So, how does the History Channel’s first dramatic series Vikings stack up against the sword-swinging, vaguely historical drama?
If you’re one of the holdouts to HBO’s Game of Thrones because shadow babies and snow zombies strike you as fantasy, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, who plays the rakish Jaime Lannister, won’t hold it against you. Although the books have sold more than 20 million copies and spawned moblike forums berating author George R.R. Martin for not yet having completed the series (“Pull your fucking typewriter out of your ass and start fucking typing”), the 42-year-old Dane admits to having reservations about the genre. “It’s probably my own lack of education,” he says carefully, “but you know, it’s always good guy against bad guy, and there are those really tacky book covers.” What eventually sold him on the show, though, is its all-too-human characters with their flesh-and-blood ambitions and flaws.
In real life, Coster-Waldau has kept a low profile, though that might change this year after he appears in Tom Cruise’s postapocalyptic Oblivion and in the horror movie Mama. The latter is another genre about which he’s squeamish: “I had to watch it with the sound turned way down. I’m such a wimp.” One can imagine certain other names GoT fanboys might call him for that.
With her role as an exiled queen on Game of Thrones, Emilia Clarke converted a whole lot of fantasy-averse American men into swords-and-sorcery nerds. And she did it all while wearing nothing but her long platinum tresses and several clingy baby dragons. More accurately: because she wore nothing but her long platinum tresses and several clingy baby dragons.
So now that you know, you totally see it, right? That even without that stare-at-the-sun-white wig, Emilia Clarke is totally her: Daenerys Targaryen, a.k.a. Khaleesi, a.k.a. the super-naked Mother of Dragons, a.k.a. the most immediately recognizable among the ninety-sevenish characters on Game of Thrones. “Which is exactly true, but also so funny, because I’m so immediately unrecognizable,” Clarke says. “It takes a die-hard fan to actually spot me. These HBO events, where I’ll be talking to someone for a fair amount of time, and then suddenly they’re like, Oh shit! That’s what you do!—they think I’m some crazy Brit who snuck her way into a Hollywood party.” Which sounds like a nice deal for a suddenly very famous young actress—to hide in plain sight. But in Morocco, where Dany’s season-three scenes were shot over six weeks last summer, might it have been tempting to stay in character sometimes? “I keep asking to go out with the wig at night, but they insist there’s no way.”