As Vikings: Valhalla arrives this February 25 on Netflix, creator Jeb Stuart explains how this spin-off will be different from Vikings, the original series.
It was tough, but as a huge Vikings fan, showrunner Jeb Stuart took on the challenge of overseeing the Vikings: Valhalla spin-off for Netflix. Finished in 2020 after 6 seasons, the original series by Michael Hirst was a real success. It is therefore difficult to follow Ragnar, Bjorn, Lagertha or Ivar. But rest assured, their souls hover over this new series.
Set 150 years after the original series, Vikings: Valhalla follows the heroic adventures of some of the most famous Vikings of all time: legendary explorer Leif Eriksson (Sam Corlett), his feisty and strong-willed sister Freydis Eriksdotter (Frida Gustavsson), and ambitious northern prince Harald Sigurdsson (Leo Suter).
Through the saga of these three legendary characters, the series will plunge us into the heart of the tensions between the Vikings, already torn between their pagan and Christian beliefs, and the English royalty.
Vikings Valhalla: A brand new story
If showrunner Jeb Stuart (writer on Die Hard and The Fugitive) remained faithful to the spirit of Vikings for Vikings: Valhalla, he still differentiated himself from the parent series, both in content and form, to offer a brand new work with his vision of things, as he explained to Collider: "I'm a very big fan of Vikings. But I didn't want to write a season 7 of Michael Hirst's series."
For this, the showrunner did a lot of research: "I pushed my research on Viking history until I knew nothing about it. Then I found the St. Brice's Day Massacre, [...] which, to me, had cultural resonance and was relevant to the beginning of a plot because there were pagan Vikings and Christian Vikings at that time.
And just like in our modern culture, you have Republicans and Democrats, but when you go to war, when 9/11 happened for example, all of a sudden you forget your ideology, you become American and you are one people.
Inadvertently, King Aethelred gave King Knut a reason to stop killing each other, and a reason for the Vikings to come together across their religious differences. I thought this was a good starting point for the new series."
While remaining true to the essence of Vikings, showrunner Jeb Stuart was keen to break away from Michael Hirst's source material, firstly because "they write in a totally different way": "The pace is different on Vikings: Valhalla. This is part of my speech. I can't write like Michael because I come from the action genre and I like the pace.
I think the action audience likes the kind of intelligent series that moves the characters and makes them think. You're not three steps ahead of the audience, but you don't want to leave the audience guessing what's going to happen next.
I hate those kinds of shows, I have no patience. It's my goal every time to keep the audience on the edge of their seats and wondering what's going to happen next. That particular, difficult rhythm is one of the big differences between Vikings and Vikings: Valhalla."