Vikings Interview: Kevin Durand on Playing Harbard, Enchanting the Viking Women

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Kevin Durand is a fine actor and leaves a memorable impression no matter what role he's playing.

The man is a chameleon of sorts, he disappears brilliantly into his characters and is barely recognizable. His visit to Kattegat on Vikings Season 3 is no exception, especially with that bushy Viking beard.

Kevin recently spoke to the press via conference call and shared his excitement about joining a series he was a fan of, Harbard's hold over Queen Aslaug, Siggy and Helga, the influence of Rasputin on his character and plenty more.

Kevin Durand as Harbard - Vikings

So what do we know about Harbard so far?

Not much really, he's a curious character and revealing too much would spoil the fun. That said, promotional materials for this season inform us that Queen Aslaug, Siggy and Helga all share the same dream of his arrival. Harbard conveniently turns up when Ragnar and his men are away raiding. That can't be good right?

When asked about the information show creator, Michael Hirst, gave him about the character Kevin said "you know, in our initial conversations we talked a lot about the characters. He’s a mysterious character and nobody at this point knows who he is, but Rasputin was definitely a big influence in his [Hirst] creating this character and then me playing him."

"Most of what I did was read about Rasputin and along with a couple of other figures that I cannot mention. I read about his life. I read about - he’s such an interesting character and such a walking circus of contradiction. It was really fun to get to play with those extremes with Mr. Harbard here."

It was great to learn that Kevin was a fan of the series. He elaborated by saying "I’m a big fan of the show. I watched the first season before I first heard from Michael Hirst. He was interested in me coming in and playing the character and when I started hearing that I watched the second season and its become one of my favorite shows on television. They started sending me some pages and - I mean the words were so alluring that we’re on the page and I thought, wow, this is really interesting. I’ve never played anyone like this and how great to be a part of this great show."

Kevin has played many villains over the years, and he spoke a bit about not judging his characters and bringing truth to his roles.

"You know for me, I think when I was younger I would categorize characters maybe as a good guy or a bad guy but now I don’t really judge them that way. It’s not really my job to judge them. All of us human beings have the potential to do great things in life. We have the potential to do horrific things. For me, it’s just really about trying to bring truth and sincerity to whatever it is I’m asked to do. Hopefully it ends up being compelling."

When asked about some of his favorite lines on the show, Kevin talked of his excitement at getting a chance to speak Michael Hirst's words.

"Well there’s really lot of - the speech that Michael wrote for Harbard when he’s first taken in by Princess Auslag and when I basically kind of tell the them story and kind of enchant them – well, at least I enchant Auslag and Siggy’s still a little bit skeptical of me but that speech that - when I first read that I was so excited to get a chance at saying those beautiful words that Michael wrote."

There were a few precious nuggets of information Kevin shared during the call that might be considered spoilery. One of these involved his character's most important episode.

"Well I have to say the fourth episode is probably the most impactful one. Harbard’s actions will pretty much change the course of action for all of the other characters in that episode and he leaves a pretty deep kind of a wound I guess - a deep mark and I would say that that’s probably the one that has the most impact."

Several times Kevin reiterated that his story arc primarily involves the Viking women, and we learned that "He’s [Harbard] kind of a - he’s a mystical character. He’s a healer." Kevin went on to say that his character "seems to have kind of a hold over some of these characters and as you’ll see in episode four that mysticism I think plays into why he ends up being so impactful on many of the lives of the main characters."

Kevin also confirmed he is in a total of three episodes. Will he return for a fourth season? You will just have to tune in to find out.

When I last spoke to Kevin during The Strain Season 1, he had just joined Twitter and told me he was always weary of social media. Since then, he's really taken to the platform and I made sure to compliment his "behind the scenes" tweets. Fans simply love that stuff.

With that out of the way, I asked Kevin what it was like joining the Vikings cast and whether or not he had been pranked by Travis and the others.

"You know what? They didn’t get me because most of my work was with the girls. So the guys didn’t get a chance to torture me, but the one thing that I did notice is that I hadn’t really experienced before was this crew and this cast they’re so tightly woven and so tightly knit and have such great chemistry. It’s really like kind of being accepted into a family and it was [Laughter] really kind of - just such a wonderful experience to be welcomed in and what a pleasure to work with such a great bunch of folks."

Catch the Vikings Season 3 premiere on February 19 at 10/9c on HISTORY.

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Vikings Quotes

Ragnar: I have something to say. I did not become Earl because I aspired to be one. It came about because of other people's actions. And I did not become king out of ambition, but once again I had no choice as a result of other people's actions. But nonetheless, I am king. King Ragnar, that is my name. What does a king do Bjorn?
Bjorn: He rules.
Ragnar: Yes, good... he rules. And as a ruler, I have the last say. Me! Not you, not you and not you.

Ragnar: What do you see?
Bjorn: Power, the power of a king.
Ragnar: Power is always dangerous. It attracts the worst and corrupts the best. I never asked for power. Power is only given to those who are prepared to lower themselves to pick it up.