George Blagden is the kind of person you feel lucky to meet. Starring in the hit show Vikings on History as Athelstan, he’s incredibly talented and fascinating. George was humble, full of life and genuinely made the room feel warm (even if his presence was over the phone)! Read about when he wanted to be an actor, filming Vikings, and how his first awards ceremony went!
The 24-year-old actor has known his path since childhood, and I could summarize what he said, but there is something charming even about the way he speaks of his first interest in the craft:
"I realized I wanted to be an actor when I was 8/9 years-old and I went to see a production of The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe at the Sadler’s Wells Theatre in London. It was this really magical production, and I remember sitting next to my mum and at the end when they all came out for the bow and the curtain when up, saying I really want to be one of those people up there and that was really the start of it. I went back to school and applied and auditioned to be in my school play, and I was in school plays until I was 18 and then I went to drama school in London. So it was kind of always something I wanted to do and something I wanted to be and I never had a backup plan, so it kind of made it all the more easy. "
After year of educating himself and gaining more roles, Blagden is just starting to see the fruits of his labor with awards for Les Misérables, a February 2014 theatrical release for his role in After the Dark, and regular filming schedule of Vikings in Ireland.
As he adds television to his resume, he explained the transition in acting styles and skills required. "The main difference is the amount of time you get to work on any specific scene. For the movie, a sequence that lasted 7 minutes of running time in the film underwent 3 weeks of shooting. It was very stop and start. On Vikings, we shoot an hour episode in 10 working days, getting 5 minutes of footage a day. We do one take. Acting has to be instinctive, so there’s a big shift."
Besides asking about his career, I really wanted to learn more about this kind-hearted guy, and who he really is. I asked him about his hobbies, and really it’s everything you’d expect without realizing it. He is into snowboarding, affectionately mentioned his girlfriend Eli (Elinor Crawley) and told me about his love for music and singing.
We of course briefly spoke about TV shows- as we both realized what actor doesn’t like to watch movies or TV? And George said he just watched the first episode of Black Sails, and that his flat mate (roommate) hasn’t seen Breaking Bad, expressing, "You have to watch Breaking Bad, because who hasn’t? I’ve rewatched parts of it with him and to see Walter go through it all again is really really amazing."
Speaking of amazing, he gave a raw look into who he admires in the industry and who he would want to collaborate with… "There are lots and lots of actors I’d like to work with in the future. I have an admiration for James McAvoy. I think it’s because someone told me lots of years ago, that I was very similar to him and I guess when you’re told as an actor, that your similar to someone you go okay, who is this person I need to watch a film that they have done. And I thought, wow he’s really brilliant- and that’s a huge compliment, I’d love to work with him one day. I think he’s had a really interesting career and he’s made some really smart choices, his recent work has been especially exciting. "
It seems George has been making brilliant choices himself as well, getting him invited to his first award show, the IFTA Awards this past weekend. George said, "It was an interesting experience. They asked me to present best actress; I wondered why when there were amazing actors like Colin Farrell there. It was terrifying. I can’t really remember what I did, but I came back and sat down and asked Eli how I did and she said, ‘Good, but you were serious.’ I guess I sort of turn off and put up my British side. Though the whole thing was good fun!"
After hearing all this, I really got a sense of how down-to-earth he was, and wondered how it’s been to gain such a growing fan base. And with a sort of confusion he replied, "I suppose the only kind of reference point I have is social media, I get to talk to a lot of people who want to talk to me which is very lovely and very nice." Not even realizing how much of a star he really is. "I don’t really see myself as having a big fan base." Continuing on to explain how foreign the phenomenon is to him. "For example, Les Misérables, I didn’t realize how much of a massive fan base it had until I was part of the film, it was the first musical I ever did as a boy when I was 13; I played a beggar at school. I thought it was a good show, and then I went to see it in London, I obviously loved it. But I didn’t realize it had such a following worldwide, and when I was part of the film, and particularly being the part I played (Grantaire), I didn’t realize how much the character was revered by the fan base."
Blagden has mostly performed in period pieces saying, "It’s like an escape. It’s fun." His work is admirable and growing, and while we eagerly await to see his next move... let’s indulge in the newest episode of Vikings tonight! (Watch the episode free on ShareTV here.) Thank you for your time George! It was a pleasure getting to know you.
Follow George on Twitter at @gblagden for lots of behind the scenes from Vikings, fan art and more!