Most of us are used to seeing Iron Man or Loki attack Thor, but in the case of the low-budget fantasy epic Vikingdom, actor Dominic Purcell is tasked with that enormous challenge, made even more daunting because this interpretation of Thor is played by the seven-foot-tall Conan Stevens…
…and he’s a very angry, very red-headed version of the God of Thunder.
Purcell plays a forgotten king, Eirick, who has returned from the dead to lead an army against the mighty Thor, who has grown tired of the humans and their attempt to replace the Greek pantheon with Christianity. Talking with Purcell, he seems to be acutely aware of what kind of movie he’s in and fully expects to fall victim to a few arrow shots from critics.
DC: Was your father Norwegian? Is that right? Did you grow up with more of an awareness of Norse mythology because of his background?
DP: My father was Norwegian, yes, No, I didn’t grow up with Norse mythology. Apparently, when I was younger, I did speak Norwegian but my Dad took off when I was very young so the language fell apart. My connection to Norway was somewhat dropped. Half my family actually do live in Norway; I have uncles who do speak in foreign tongue.
DC: So you don’t actually recall any Norwegian? It would have been cool to speak a couple of lines in the film.
DP: It would’ve been, but I think I’m just too lazy to learn other languages to be perfectly frank.
DC: Do you think fans of Marvel’s Thor will be more interested to see Vikingdom? It seems like it’s a luxury to still be able to use the character since no studio has rights over ancient mythology, and the same goes for Eric the Red as well.
DP: You know, that’s a good question. I think kids will really get into Vikingdom, you know? It certainly a different take on Thor, if you like. Chris Hemsworth’s Thor is blonde and what have you. This Thor is completely different. It’s a bit more abstract, if you like. We’re taking it literally from the mythology that Thor did have red hair. So that might quite shock the younger kids. They might say, ‘Hey! That’s not Thor; he’s got red hair!’ This movie is an action adventure fantasy piece. It’s been described as having similarities to Highlander, Conan the Barbarian, and someone said it reminded them of “Game of Thrones”.
DC: There’s definitely a lot of CGI in this, but it also looks like a very stunt-heavy production. Did you spend a lot of time with the stunt guys on set? With a long shoot, did you guys get into any wild nights or do any practical jokes while filming? Did you do your own stunts? I know that stuntmen can get a little crazy at times.
DP: I did all my own stunts. Time was of the essence and a lot of the stuff was choreographed, but we ended up doing a lot more. A lot of it was very improvisational. I’ve had experience with action components in film so I was able to basically take choreographed pieces and be able to turn them into longer pieces. It was an intense shoot. The other thing that people should know is that this movie wasn’t a hundred million dollars; it was a ten-million-dollar budget. From what I’ve seen of the film, it certainly doesn’t look like a ten-million-dollar movie.
DC: It’s an ambitious film for a Malaysian production, and I think it’s the first English-language film for KRU Studios. Will projects like this help other films get the green light in Malaysia and get more people into theaters there?
DP: I do know that this was KRU’s attempt to make an impression on a global stage. Hopefully, if Vikingdom is released, people will be impressed by the movie. I just know that they see it for what it is – an action adventure fantasy.
DC: It is a lot more fantasy than history. I think the only really historical event in the film is at the beginning with the Lindisfarne attack by the Vikings. I imagine that kind of action fantasy is a lot more fun to shoot than a hard-edged historical epic, especially since you said the conditions were so grueling out there.
DP: Either way, whether it be based on historical fact or not, the same effort is required from the actors. I honestly put everything I had into the movie. Doing the movie, I became aware of the piece that we were making. I had read the script, obviously, and I had seen Yusry [Abd Halim]’s previous work with much smaller budgets. What he was able to do with these smaller CGI films was extraordinary. You know, I took a chance with it, and from what I’ve seen of Vikingdom, it looks amazing. Now, this is a genre that I’m not interested in myself as an actor. I was intrigued enough to partake in this thing that they were trying to make. There are things about the movie that the critics will probably no doubt lambast, but as I said, we didn’t have twenty million dollars for the hair department. So there’s the occasional wig malfunction.
Vikingdom is now available to watch in 2D or 3D On Demand and on Amazon.
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