Gustaf Skarsgård Reflects on How His 'Vikings' Experience Helped Him Play Merlin in 'Cursed'
Swedish actor Gustaf Skarsgård's last release was Netflix’s fantasy drama, Cursed.
In the Arthurian-legend-based series, he portrayed the character of the infamous sorcerer Merlin, who served as an advisor to the King Uther Pendragon of the castle of Camelot.
In an interview with Looper in July 2020, the 40-year-old actor shared his experience of portraying the character and explained how his former role as Floki in the period-drama series Vikings helped him prepare for the character of Merlin.
He stated that both of his roles in Cursed and Vikings had a few things in common — they both were physically strong, and their plotlines included “a lot of horseback riding and fighting.”
“It’s [Merlin] a very physical role. There’s a lot of horseback riding and fighting and stuff that I’m happy that I came well prepared for from my previous experiences on Vikings...I’d already done a lot of fighting on Vikings. Didn’t have to spend too much time [training for] that,” said Skarsgård.
The Westworld actor also cited the differences in portraying the two characters.
He said that playing Merlin on Cursed was "a bit drier of a drier experience" than on Vikings for him because Merlin tended to be more indoors than Floki was.
“Floki spent a lot of time in muddy fields shot in Ireland in leather outfits. It was a bit drier, a bit more comfortable,” he added.
Another connection between the two roles was that both Cursed and Vikings are set in the ancient time of the United Kingdom or Medieval England.
Skarsgård's Return as Floki in ‘Vikings’ Season 6B
Portraying the role of eccentric shipbuilder Floki Vilgeroarson in the series Vikings, Skarsgård designed and built the new generation of ships for Viking warrior Ragnar Lothbrok’s excursion across the ocean westward.
Ragnar, the main protagonist of Vikings, would have never been able to meet his visions of discovering new lands and new civilizations without Floki’s help.
In the series, Floki also happened to be Ragnar's, played by Travis Fimmel, closest friend.
But after Floki was seen struggling in an erupting volcanic cave in the season 5 finale, many believed that the erupting volcanic cave took his life away.
Skarsgård was later spotted on the set of Vikings season 6 — and because of that fans expected him to return in the first part of the season. But they got disappointed when they did not see him in the 6th season's part one.
However, that was all part of the plan, according to the show creator Michael Hirst. Speaking to ET Online in December 2020, Hirst said, "That wasn't the way that Floki was going to leave the show or leave life, indeed, because he was the spirit of life."
To fans' delight, Skarsgård returned as Floki in season 6's second part of the show that premiered on Amazon Prime Video on December 4, 2020. The 6th season's part two was also the final season of the show.
[Spoiler alert]: In the final scene of the Vikings, Floki is seen sitting with Ubbe on the beach, where Floki reflects on his relationship with Ragnar.
What's Next For Skarsgård?
Starting his career in the late 1980s, Skarsgård has earned experience working in several renowned movies and TV shows such as Cursed, Vikings, Westworld, Kon-Tiki, The Way Back, 438 Days, and Evil among others.
According to IMDb, his upcoming project is a film titled The Emigrants, where he will appear as Karl-Oskar.
The actor is also expected to reprise his role of Merlin in the second season of Cursed if the show gets renewed for another season. The chances are high!