The following was commissioned by Femalefirst
Vikings have a bad reputation in history. Their triumphs tend to be overshadowed by the rape and pillaging. The History Channel’s Vikings is humanising them, so as the show returns on 30th November, Femalefirst spoke to Maude Hirst to find out what we can expect from Vikings and in particular from Helga.
How does Helga fit into the current movement where more complex female characters are appearing onscreen?
I’m very glad this movement is happening. It’s so important there are more complex women in TV and film. I think Vikings, in general, portrays lots of different women with lots of different complexities. In terms of Helga, I think she is portrayed as a woman of deep integrity. She’s very complex and even though she came in as Floki’s (Gustaf Skarsgård) wife and is there to support him, she’s really grown into her own. I think having lots of different sides to her personality shows the complexity of a woman going through trauma.
In light of this, how does she represent women of the 21st century?
I’ve been thinking about that a lot, recently. She’s very relevant in terms of all the issues she goes through. She has to deal with Floki’s (Helga’s husband, played by Gustaf Skarsgård) mental health issues. She loses her child. She also gets injured. I think these issues are still relevant today. There are people dealing with partners with mental health issues. She’s very lighthearted at the beginning but she grows up as life gets more complicated. I think people relate to that.
You touched on Floki’s mental health issues so how has Helga has handled that and how will she handle that in the future?
She’s handled it brilliantly and far better than I could. She’s empathetic and she deeply loves Floki. They’ve had this connection since the beginning and they are both fundamental pagans. They feel there is more of a spiritual connection between the two of them, so she has forgiven him and shown him great love. She has been loyal throughout the ups and downs.
A friend of mine once described Helga as a psycho but a loyal badass bitch.
(Laughs) That’s a brilliant description of someone with lots of different dimensions. I don’t know if she’s definitely a psycho but possibly. There is a saying, apparently, in the mental health field called Folie à Deux, and it’s when you look after your partner with mental health issues and sometimes, apparently, it rubs off on the other person. I certainly feel that, with Floki and Helga, is true.
How do you stop Helga coming home with you after cut is called?
During filming, and we film for large chunks of time, it is sometimes quite difficult to turn Helga completely off. Especially with the traumas Helga and Floki have gone through. It’s quite difficult after big dramatic emotional scenes to switch off right away. But, I think its quite healthy to socialise in the evening, to keep it quite lighthearted and not be bogged down by some of the storylines that deal with some of the hardest things anybody would have to go through in life.
Obviously you can’t give us many details but where is Helga’s story heading?
I can’t give away too much but the first half of season four for her has contained one of the biggest emotional journeys an actor or character can go through. So, going forward, it’s looking at how her and Floki can recover and fill that gap left by the death of their child, which I think for any human is a great challenge. We’ll see how their dynamic changes because of it.