Exclusive Feature: Clive Standen

DON’T MESS WITH THE BRIT. A swashbuckler on TV screen, Clive Standen has had many titles under his belt. And thanks to his illustrious acting foundation and Muay Thai background, this suave Brit gets no trouble in rolling out with the punches on the latest TV cable series big hit: Vikings.

Outfit by Sarar

It’s a fact that only few were chosen to take part in the “Vikings” series. A story untold before, challenging the myths and folklores, the show whisks the imagination away to the northern turf of the planet, where the midnight sun lies. Ask Clive Standen, the versatile actor playing the lead character Rollo who dabbles in Muay Thai and fencing. Cutting his teeth in the National Youth Theatre at the tender age of fifteen, the athletic gentleman had had a fair share of horse riding and sword fighting before during his stint as a professional stuntman in Nottingham when he was just twelve years old.

Now the 30-something actor is a face to reckon in the TV entertainment industry. Not only did he star in epic dramas including “Robin Hood” and “Camelot”, Clive has also made a break into the movie industry, with this year’s release of “Hammer of the Gods” – another Viking-inspired story plot.

Blazer, pants and shirt by Sarar, shoes by Mezlan

DA MAN (DA): Congratulations on “Vikings” being picked up for a second season! What were the keys to the show’s incredible success?
Clive Standen (CS): I think “Vikings” is event TV series at its best. It’s set in an incredibly visceral, epic, and unworldly landscape. It’s got action, adventure and strong historical context, a period of time and culture of people that has never been portrayed on screen from the inside out. The Vikings’ way of life is so incredible and fascinating to witness. But deep down, at the heart of all of this, is a family drama, and I think that’s what people can really relate to. A man trying to provide for his family and better his life in a harsh and unforgiving climate.

DA: Tell us a bit about “Vikings” and your character on the show.
CS: I play a Viking called Rollo. He is the brother of Ragnar Lothbork, the first Viking to build a boat, use a new system to navigate across the sea, and discover new lands and riches to the West. Rollo is far more impulsive and hedonistic than Ragnar, and is very much a loose cannon. As the series progresses, and Ragnar rises to fame, Rollo feels that they are no longer equal as brothers, and begins to feel he is living in his brother’s shadow. This causes all sorts of conflict between the two.

Shirt by Calvin Klein, suit by Tom Ford, belt and shoes by Mezlan

DA: What’s the most interesting thing you learned about the Viking culture?
CS: They are nothing like the image most people associate with the word Viking. The horned helmet, for instance, is a myth, a costume created by Wagner in the Victorian era. They were tremendously creative and inventive, almost the Da Vinci of their day. Coming from the land of the midnight sun, they weren’t able to rely on stars to navigate. They had to invent new ways of conquering the seas and oceans. Farmers and traders grew up with their axe as a mandatory tool, and could use it in combat with brutal efficacy. They believed that the day of their death and the length of their life was fated long ago, which makes them an awesome and fearless force to contend with on the battlefield.

DA: The most challenging part of filming the first season was…
CS: We use real seaworthy longboats in the show, and History and MGM who produce the show were adamant they wanted the actors to be able to sail the longboats ourselves. So all of us were really put through our paces and were taught how to row the ship, man the rigging and main sail, until we were eventually left to our own devices on the water alone and unaided.

DA: You’ve done Muay Thai boxing and been a champion fencer. What is it that draws you toward the combat arts?
CS: I always try to use a fight sequence for  a chance to continue telling the story or to show an extra aspect of the character I’m playing. A good fight should be able to transport the audience into the action with you, so that they, too, feel the danger, the fear and the aggression. There needs to be moments of vulnerability, the audience need to buy into the idea that, at any moment, your character could slip up and be cleaved in half. If I can achieve all that, then there is an incredible sense of achievement!

DA: Can you tell us a bit about your upcoming “Hammer of the Gods” and the character you play?
CS: ”Hammer of the Gods” is a like a dark ages apocalypse on acid! It’s a very violent, action-packed movie, definitely not for the fainthearted.

Suit and shirt by Tom Ford, tie by Sarar

DA: You look great in the photo shoot you did for us. Is being fashionable something you put much effort into in your personal life?
CS: To be honest, it never used to be, but as I’ve got older, it has become more so. You do begin to learn the value of a well-tailored suit, and you become more akin to what you can and can’t carry off, having fashion faux pas en route! Having said that, I actually prefer the simple and classic look, paired with a few signature pieces and some vintage aspects. I love my Belstaff trialmaster jacket that I never travel without. I bought it in 2007, and it just gets better with age.

DA: What do you like to do with your free time away from the set?
CS: Right now I’m doing a lot of scuba diving. I love the sea and have a whole heap of places that want to explore in the ocean. Last year I was cage-diving with great white sharks in South Africa, which was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever done. Currently my aim is to become proficient in ice diving so I can get into Arctic waters. The marine life under the ice is just out of this world! Other than that, my free time is taken up with giving my incredibly patient wife a break from my three amazing kids and making up for the time I spend away filming. I’m usually found surrounded by teddy bears and Barbie dolls, playing princess tea parties or racing toy cars and diggers around the kitchen floor!

Photographs: Mitchell Nguyen McCormack
Styling: Juliet Vo