19 July 2020 06:30

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Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More Gustaf Skarsgård reveals how Vikings helped him prepare for Cursed If you recognize Merlin on Cursed, Netflix's new King Arthur-inspired series, don't be surprised. Cursed's take on the famous wizard might be brand-new, but the actor who plays him has been around for a while. Before stepping into Merlin's robes, Gustaf Skarsgård played the talented-but-neurotic shipwright Floki for five seasons on History's prestige series Vikings.

Gustaf Skarsgård reveals how Vikings helped him prepare for Cursed

He also appeared on season 2 of Westworld as Karl Strand, one of Delos' villainous executives, and in movies like Evil and The Way Back. In fact, if you look to projects that have come out of Skarsgård's native Sweden, you can see the actor in films dating back to 1989, when Skarsgård was just nine years old. Naturally, all of that experience helped Skarsgård immensely when it came to playing Merlin. As Skarsgård explained during a roundtable interview for Cursed, in which Looper participated, Floki and Merlin have a few things in common. "It's a very physical role," Skarsgård says of Merlin. "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." Skarsgård's time as Floki, as well as the rest of his 31-year acting career, also helped prepare him for the immense pressure that comes with playing one of the most well-known characters in the entire world. "As an actor, you always perform under pressure. From your childhood, from your first auditions, from even getting up on stage, it's a tremendous pressure on an actor to perform under," he says. "Unless you can perform under pressure, you won't have a sustainable acting career." "The only way I can sort of balance out that pressure is by making sure that I do my utmost [best] and come prepared. That's the same for every role," Skarsgård continues, although he does note that Merlin has been adapted and re-envisioned so many times that there's a type of freedom that comes with the part. "Merlin is an iconic character, but he's also a character that we've already seen interpreted in so many different ways. In that sense, it sort of leaves an open playing field for this very particular interpretation," he says. The biggest difference between playing Merlin and playing Floki? According to Skarsgård, it's the weather: "It was a bit drier of a drier experience than on Vikings for me, 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."