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Alexander Dreymon broke out onscreen with his starring role as Danish warrior Uhtred of Bebbanburg in “The Last Kingdom.” The 37-year-old actor has carried the historical drama through its transfer from BBC Two to Netflix, earning global attention for playing the Viking hero. The show was recently renewed for a fifth season after its Season 4 premiere in April. He sat with Backstage for an Instagram Live interview as part of our ongoing digital programming The Slate, where he talked about the new season, how he gets into and relates to his character, and what he’s been up to during quarantine.
What’s been most impactful about playing a character for this long?
I think the biggest challenge is to keep it interesting, keeping it alive. You’re playing the same character, and once you’ve seen your lover’s head cut off and thrown at you, where do you go from there? That’s such an insane thing to wrap your head around, and yet more and more horrible things happen to Uhtred.
How do you get into a new character?
I really like to stay in their skin as much as possible, so I like to take them out and try them on, which is so much fun. First of all, you get to experience the world through someone else’s eyes and you answer so many questions about the character on the spot. When you meet people in the outside world and you start conversations with them, questions are going to come up that you might not have the answers to and you might have to make them up on the spot. And what comes out is what feels organic. You learn so much about your character by doing that.
How do your life experiences inform how you play Uhtred?
I think the search for a home is something that Uhtred always goes through, since the beginning. This season, there are some moments in there that really question that specific aspect of Uhtred’s life. What’s his home? What does it mean to have a home? How important is it? I kind of, in the last year of my life, re-asked myself these questions, as well, because I’ve been traveling the world so much. I always felt like I could live anywhere and make any place my home. I feel like I have a lot of different homes in my life. A lot of different places in the world I feel like, when I go back to them, all my memories are here, my friends are here. I have that in Budapest now, because we’ve been shooting here so long.
How close are you with the rest of the cast?
Here it’s like coming out to play with your best friends every day. It’s truly amazing. Of course, that affects the time onscreen, you live through so many experiences together. I think it makes your time as an actor a lot easier because I trust the people I work with on “TLK” so much. Whatever I throw at them, I know that they’re going to have my back, and vice versa.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
I think things had to happen the way they happened. I didn’t work for a long time after I finished theater school. I studied in London, and then before I actually started making a living from my work it was about six, almost seven years. I think that’s the most difficult time. I think people that love their work, which I think is important, [are] going to be hardworking. You’re going to be keeping your instrument alive. You’re going to be working on your craft. You’re going to be doing your homework. And you’ll be ready when the opportunity comes along. The most difficult thing is to hunker down and have that grit to keep going when there’s no work.
Watch the full interview below, and stay up to date with future Backstage Live interviews on The Slate right here.
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