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Ivo Alexandre: “Taking part in the Vikings was a unique opportunity, an incredible experience.”

The beginning of the end of “Vikings” arrives in Portugal this Wednesday January 13th. The second half of the sixth and final season will be premiered at 10:10 p.m. on TVCine Action. The final episodes, in addition to the conclusion of this epic saga, could especially arouse the curiosity of Portuguese fans.

After Albano Jerónimo, another national actor takes part in the series. We’re talking about Ivo Alexandre, 43, who plays a real historical figure, Bishop Leon. The first Archbishop of Kiev was appointed at a time when the region had recently been Christianized.

The first part of the season ended with an epic battle between the Vikings and the Rus (people who are at the origin of Eastern European areas such as Russia and Ukraine). In a confrontation, the brothers Björn Ironside (Alexander Ludwig) stand alongside King Harald (Peter Franzén) and Ivar the Boneless (Alex Høgh Andersen) on the side of the Russian armed forces trying to dominate Norway to protect their country.

After participating in projects such as “Lua Vermelha”, “Coração D’Ouro”, “Os Nosso Dias” or “Belmonte” – among others in the films “São Jorge”, “Snu” and “Ruth” – Ivo Alexandre came to of this great international production through Passport, a program promoted by Casting Director Patrícia Vasconcelos and the Portuguese Cinema Academy, which brings together national actors and casting directors from the major overseas productions.

Ivo Alexandre will take part in two episodes that were recorded in the summer of 2018. The good news for fans of “Vikings” is that this universe may not end there. Netflix announced in 2019 that it would produce a spin-off whose story takes place about 100 years after the events of the original series.

What was that experience like taking part in a large international production like this one?
It was an incredible experience, a once in a lifetime opportunity to work with fantastic directors and actors, a tireless team that was always there for us. A few small, big differences are noticeable in terms of production on this scale. Because these are productions with a much larger budget than here in Portugal. But you can also see that we can do very interesting things with the little that we have. It is obvious that in terms of the decor, the ability to have 200 extras, we suddenly feel like we are really in this room. The actor’s imagination, as everyone knows, is immense, but it is obvious that when the actor achieves such a decor, the work is made easier, because in fact everything is there – all the details of the time.

And that should help get into the character and spirit of the series. When did the audition and then the recordings take place?
I’ve participated in the Passport program since the first issue. Frank Moiselle was one of the casting directors I met and there was great empathy there. He immediately showed an interest in what he had seen in my work. It is obvious that deep down there is always hope that an opportunity will arise, but since it was the first issue we didn’t even know what would or would not happen. But I realized that Frank liked my showreel and enjoyed my work. I didn’t know whether it would happen or not. But when an opportunity came up, Frank suggested me and I did the casting and they chose me. Since I met Frank, it must have been three years before Albano took part in the series. And in summer 2018 I filmed my participation.

How long did the recordings take?
I was in Ireland for about two weeks – different weeks. It was 60 kilometers south of Dublin in a town in Wicklow where the studios are located. We recorded in the studio and outside.

Did you already know the series before the casting and do you follow it?
Yes, I wasn’t exactly up to date or properly following the show, but I’d already seen a season or two. It’s kind of a series that I’ve always liked because it’s a historical series and in this case it has a lot of historical references, including the character I went to, Bishop Leon. It was a challenge that I really enjoyed.

What was the specific preparation you had to do for the role?
I had a trainer who helped me with ancient Greek and had to speak. And my participation has a lot to do with the question of whether the bishop is an Orthodox Catholic and comes into town in procession. It would be mandatory to speak in ancient Greek – and also in English. In this regard I had the support of the Greek teacher who was an incredible help – and I actually wish I had more time to study, I found it very interesting but you will have to stay for another opportunity.

What surprised you the most when you arrived at the studios in Ireland?
Maybe the dimension because it is incredible indeed. Usually in Portugal we have a wardrobe, makeup and hair section and there I don’t know if I’m exaggerating but there are 10 or 20 makeup and hair support rooms. It’s all huge. And the detail of the wardrobe in terms of figuration is incredible. It also comes from the fact that there is a very large budget to do everything accordingly. We are there with 200 people and every costume has all the details, it’s nothing more or less. If we pass a place where the residents of the village sell live animals or handicrafts or cook something, we are there and smell it because the fire is really burning there and something is preparing. When I say that it makes our work easier, I mean it. Suddenly we’re really in this place and it’s funny, that kind of rigor.

What did you like best about this character?
It’s very interesting. Technically, that’s what I said – it required the ability to speak ancient Greek as well as English. In a way, the character can trigger a small change in Oleg’s mindset, and then there are some moments of tension with Ivar’s character.

Two and a half years have passed since the recordings. Do you look forward to seeing your scenes on TV?
Most of all, I’m excited to see what the result of this work is, what I may or may not have achieved with the character – as I said, there is this side of the Orthodox Catholic Bishop, and he is extremely passionate about religion. It was also attractive in character building and I’m excited to see how far I’ve come.

Have you done more auditions or taken part in more international projects since “Vikings” was recorded?
I’ve done a lot of self-tapes, which happens all the time now, and the pass has opened up opportunities for many actors – and many come to fruition. Little by little we’ve achieved some more and some less, but it’s like everything. I think there will always be more space for the actors. This was something that was perhaps a little further away when I started working that could be a Portuguese actor in the international market. And nowadays we realize that any kid, actress, or actor who is just leaving school believes, rightly, that a year or two later they can “easily” think that it can happen. Why not? The market is not far from us. And everything is much easier with self-tapes. I’ve done a few gigs. I did “L’Enfant” last year, produced by Paulo Branco by two young French filmmakers, which was a lot of fun too. I also took part in “Fátima” by Marco Pontecorvo.

And I suppose that after this experience in “Vikings” your idea could include participating in more projects abroad and beyond.
Whenever there is an opportunity, of course it does. We actors, and I think it’s general, are always looking for bigger and bigger challenges. And it is logical that this type of productions enriches us in an incredible way, because we speak in other languages ​​or just because we are the only Portuguese there and get along with a number of actors and technicians and the whole team of different nationalities. And what we also gained with regard to the backstage conversation: I still clearly remember that at the time I wanted to start staging Molière’s “O Misantropo” and talked about it several times at intervals. This type of exchange of experience between actors is very interesting and important, and we also get it from this type of experience that is unique.

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