‘Vikings’ wannabes have an axe to grind as open call returns

There was no shortage of facial hair at this year’s auditions for extras for the TV drama

The sixth season of Vikings held an open casting call for extras in Dublin and enthusiastic thespians travelled from across Ireland to flex their axe-wielding acting muscles.

 

There were none of the queues around the block seen in previous years, but this year’s open casting call for extras for the next season of the TV drama Vikings was doing a brisk trade all day Tuesday in The Complex building just off Capel Street in Dublin.

There was no shortage of facial hair or creative hairstyles on show either, as would-be Norse warriors wielded their biros to fill out application forms and queued up for a photograph.

Derek O’Shaughnessy has been a Vikings extra before, but this time he showed up fully armed and clad in vaguely Dark Ages clothing (including, impressively, a real torc).

“I just thought I’d make the extra effort this time to show I’m interested in getting the part,” he said. “Obviously I’m hoping to be a warrior. That’s why I brought my own sword.”

In Derek’s experience, if you do get hired, there’s no telling what you might end up playing. “You might just be a silhouette or you could be a shopkeeper or something like that. Everybody gets to play a different role or be a different person.”

Derek O’Shaughnessy at the ‘Vikings’ auditions in Dublin. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times
Derek O’Shaughnessy at the ‘Vikings’ auditions in Dublin. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

The team running the audition process expects 4,000 wannabe Vikings to show up over the two-day open call. Each applicant fills out a simple form, before getting a photograph taken which is then filed away.

They’ll all be considered for inclusion in the sixth season of the show, which will film in Ashford Studios and on location in Co Wicklow from mid-September until Christmas.

Season five, meanwhile, will air in North America on History from November 29th, with Amazon streaming it in this part of the world.

International audience

Vikings doesn’t quite have the epic sweep or massive audience of Game of Thrones, but it’s still a major international production.

Student Joaquín Estevan said it was a big hit in his native Chile. Joaquín and his friend Gabriel Poeta, from Brazil, found out about the auditions from WhatsApp groups and Facebook posts. When I ventured that both of them are a little on the dark side to play Vikings, they both laughed.

“Sure. We’ll just last one episode, then I’m killed,” said Gabriel.

Robin Twist at the ‘Vikings’ auditions in Dublin. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times
Robin Twist at the ‘Vikings’ auditions in Dublin. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

In fact, this year’s call specifies that extras from different ethnic backgrounds are being sought.

Extras co-ordinator Dan Lloyd said they were trying to get a very broad range of people.

“Because this year the Vikings basically go everywhere. The show has become more multicultural as they’ve gone to different lands and brought back slaves who become Viking villagers. Obviously, we still love the beards and long hair, the biker types . . . We try to get as many looks as possible. Shaved at the sides. Mohawks. To be honest, a lot of what we want looks modern in this era.”

Hermi and Louis Wildenboer and their daughters Mia and Lulu don’t have long beards or strange hairstyles, but they definitely look Nordic. Hermi and Louis are originally from South Africa, but have been resident in Ireland for 17 years. What persuaded them to apply?

“I would like to be one of the Vikings’ wenches,” said Hermi, with a glint in her eye. “I love the series. And we live in Carlow so it’s just around the corner from us.”

“I made a Viking spear,” Louis said proudly. “We all do a bit of javelin as a sport, so we feel well equipped to be Vikings.” Mia wants to be a spear maiden, while Lulu would like to be “anything”.

Ryan O’Sullivan Keating at the ‘Vikings’ auditions in Dublin. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times
Ryan O’Sullivan Keating at the ‘Vikings’ auditions in Dublin. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Will the girls get off school if they make the cut? “Oh definitely,” Hermi said, with the confidence of a not-to-be-messed-with Viking wench. “The school is very accommodating.”

If you feel the need to release your inner Norseperson, it’s not too late; get your axe, don your helmet (no horns, please) and launch your longship in the direction of The Complex on Little Mary Street at any time between 10am and 5pm on Wednesday.