Alexander Ludwig shares with DAMAN about the ending of “Vikings,” the character arch for Bjorn Ironside and his role on the upcoming “Bad Boys 3”.
There are two possible scenarios for a child actor. One: You get a few good roles then fade away into the background as you grow older. And two: You evolve, you get better and land great roles along the way. For Alexander Ludwig, it’s definitely number two. Acting is a chosen career path for him, as it was he that convinced his parents to let him pursue acting as a child instead of the other way around.
Today, he has quite a long filmography. “The Hunger Games” fans would recognize him as Cato, the antagonist from the first movie in the series and avid “Vikings” fans would recognize him as Björn Ironside, who was introduced in the second season of the show. As “Vikings” now enters its sixth season running, Ludwig—his character, that is—has become King of Kattegat. And even though “Vikings” is ending soon, Ludwig has quite a few appearances lined up before the year is over. Things are looking really good for the Vancouver-born actor.
DAMAN: Hi Alex, thank you for squeezing us in your busy schedule. How are you?
Alexander Ludwig: Doing great, thank you.
DA: You have a lot of projects coming up and you recently wrapped the long-awaited action movie, “Bad Boys 3.” Can you tell us about your role in the movie?
AL: I play a member of the AMMO team, which is an elite unit that helps Will Smith’s and Martin Lawrence’s characters throughout the film.
DA: What was it like on the set of “Bad Boys 3” with those two?
AL: It was a totally surreal experience. I loved those movies growing up, so to be working on one of them was amazing, not to mention working with legends like Will and Martin. We created a great family dynamic on set.
DA: How often did you watch the original two “Bad Boys”?
AL: I’ve watched both so many times I can’t count anymore! [Laughs]
DA: Moving on, the final season of “Vikings” airs this December, with a special two-hour premiere. What can audiences expect in this final season?
AL: Björn is now the king and his abilities as a leader will be seriously tested. A lot of fan favorites aren’t going to make it. It is, without doubt, one of the most intense seasons, yet.
“Travelling the world and getting out in the elements is a huge part of my life. It’s what keeps me sane”
DA: Now that Björn Ironside is the new leader of Kattegat, will we see any any significant changes in his behavior or character?
AL: Absolutely. At this point in the season, he is not only a king, but also a legend. He has to live up to that, which isn’t easy to do. So much of his growth has been dealing with who he is as a man; now it’s about how he will be remembered as a king.
DA: Personally, how do you see Björn as a character?
AL: A fearless leader with a huge heart. However, has many flaws that he needs to overcome and make peace with.
DA: After six seasons and 89 episodes, “Vikings” has become a big part of your life. How do you say goodbye to Björn?
AL: It was bittersweet. “Vikings” is the best thing that has happened to me as an actor. It was an incredible learning experience and I will miss playing Björn and all the complexities that come with him. That said, there comes a point where you feel you have done all you can and I feel we have reached that point. We truly are ending this the way we always hoped we would, which is a magnificent feat.
DA: Do you also enjoy watching “Vikings”?
AL: Yes and no. There are scenes I am not a part of that I enjoy watching, but I am always hard on myself. I will say that I am so proud of this show and I would consider myself a fan of it.
DA: Let’s talk about one of your upcoming movies: “Midway,” which is about, well, the Battle of Midway during World War II in the Pacific. Tell us more about your character, Lieutenant Roy Pearce, and his role in this film
AL: When I was approached about portraying the character, I was very intrigued. He has a small but pivotal role at the beginning of the film during the inciting incident. He acts with a level of heroism that is amazing and I would say his character is a tribute to all those people who acted so selflessly during the fight. I always wanted to work with Roland Emmerich and the story is phenomenal, so it was a no brainer to sign on.
“I want to tell stories that matter to people, that make people think and that move them”
DA: Other than “Midway”, you’re also starring in and executive producing “Peace,” a WWII action thriller based on the bestselling novel of the same name. Tell us about your experience with this upcoming title…
AL: It was a wonderful experience to be involved in something from the ground up. Similar to “Midway,” it was a special story. However, I would say this project is more of a character piece, diving deeply into one’s mindset during these tumultuous times when you must confront your own morality. I certainly hope this is the beginning of many films where I can have this kind of creative input on.
DA: It seems that 2019 has been good to you. And you still have two projects coming up in pre-production, “Swing” and “Heels”. How do you manage your time between the two and go in and out characters all the time?
AL: [Laughs] It’s hard, but whenever I get a chance, I try to go on an adventure to clear my head. Travelling the world and getting out in the elements is a huge part of my life. It’s what keeps me sane. Also, I find that it’s what’s most important in my life. Being able to experience these things with the people I love is the greatest gift.
DA: You’ve been acting since you were 9 years old. What would you say does it take for an actor to make it in today’s entertainment world?
AL: Don’t ever give up. Ever. It’s as simple as that. If you love it, whatever it is, you owe it to yourself to give it your all, no matter what. But you must love it and do it for the right reasons. Never has here been a time in this industry where there is so much opportunity, so I would say to anyone who wants this to go for it, but go all in. Study, do your work and prep. Learn what it takes to be great and always continue to learn.
DA: All in all, are you happy with where your career is right now?
AL: Beyond. To be an actor working is a feat in itself. The fact that I have been involved in so many things that I am proud of is incredible. I feel so lucky; though I must add it is always important for me to remember to be grateful for where I am, not where I am not. Success will come if you believe it will, just never when you want it to or how you want it to. But, if you believe it, it will happen.
DA: You have an impressive filmography including both movies and TV shows. What are the next career milestones that you want to tackle?
AL: Creating my own content is my main priority. I want to tell stories that matter to people, that make people think, and that move them. I would also say I want to do that on the music side as well. I have just finished recording my first EP in Nashville, which I will be releasing in January, so look out for it.
DA: As you take on more prominent roles, there’s an increase in public interest in you and your personal life. How do you deal with being in the limelight?
AL: I try not to think about it. If someone notices me because they liked what I have done or they enjoyed my work, I am nothing but grateful and I love it when that happens. I think we all deep down want some sort of validation and that certainly is what I get when that happens. I would say it takes more of a toll on the people around me than it does on me. Most people are respectful. Every once in a while, I get tested and need to remember to be grateful for where I am because at the end of the day, this is just a byproduct of what I chose to do with my life.
DA: You’re often involved in action and drama films. How about romance? Is that something that you would be interested in one day?
AL: I just finished a Netflix film that is being released on Christmas next year. Total feel-good movie unlike anything I have done, so I think I just checked that box. I just go where the good stories are and try not to be too particular with what I do. I want to keep everyone guessing.
DA: If you’re not busy on set or promoting, what do you do on your free time?
AL: Right now, I’m usually writing music or something for film and TV. If I get more time off, I’ll try to go on an adventure. I just got back from great white shark diving with my cousin, James, in Guadalupe through this company called Nautilus, which was amazing.
DA: What are some of your big plans for 2020?
AL: Take over the world. Or just Netflix and chill, not sure yet.
DA: What was the best advice anyone has ever given you?
AL: Put in the work and stay out of the results. Success will come, but first, you must put in the work and leave the outcome to the universe. It’s never going to happen when you think or how you think it will, but it will happen if you believe in it and never settle for less. We master our minds so we can master our lives, so that is what I am working on now. Getting a daily routine, living with gratitude and loving with all my heart. Life is too short to live any other way
PHOTOGRAPHY Mitchell Nguyen McCormack
STYLING Monty Jackson for SWA
GROOMING Christine Nelli using Tom Ford at the Wall Group
SHARE THIS ARTICLE