So she actively went after it. “I actually ended up taping myself in my living room. I used my curtains as the backdrop, I taped myself and I fought for the role. I ended up going to Toronto and doing a screen test. They flew me back to LA, and I did a screen test with Travis [Fimmel] to see if there was chemistry and five days later I was off to Ireland [the set for Vikings]. It did happen quickly but I know that they did an extensive search for Lagertha around the world to find someone who not only had her physical capabilities, but also that sense of strong will. I feel that my martial arts training has really allowed me to connect and to understand her as a person because of that training and that sense of self.”
Winnick continues to train for her role, but in different disciplines, and she does her own stunts. “When I was first hired for Vikings, I had no experience with a sword or a shield, so for me that was a very different way of learning to be able to defend yourself in battle. For me, the sword should be an extension of your own arm – instead of doing a punch or a strike, it would be the act of the sword, and a thrust or an attack. I really fought for making her believable,” says Winnick. During filming she insists that Lagertha, “takes some hits. She may fall, she may trip, she may lose her sword, she may have to pick up someone else’s axe – it’s really fight-or-flight mode. I think that’s what makes it real.”
Marvelling at how she balances being a self-proclaimed tomboy as well as an elegant star of the screen, she explains to me: “Yes, I feel like a tomboy at heart, but I also feel that there is strength in femininity. I think that strong is sexy, and that elegance is also sexy, but can be strong, too. For me, it is not two different worlds and these are the same characteristics that I would use to define Lagertha and to define myself.” Raymond Weil clearly agrees.