What happens when a French princess marries a Viking brute? All kinds of spectacular fireworks. In the first episode of Vikings season 4, Princess Gisla is married off to Rollo in order to preserve the peace. But that doesn’t mean she’s going quietly into marital bliss. OHSOGRAY participated in a press call recently with Morgane Polanski (“Gisla”), who hints that Rollo is about to meet his match.
Vikings airs Thursdays at 10/9c on History.
How was it to film the wedding scene, where Gisla marries Rollo?
It was hard. I mean, every emotional scene, especially emotional scenes when like 300, 400 people are watching you and she was being emotional in public. So that’s even harder because I feel like you try to find the balance between your emotion that you kind of hide yet you’re in public. So, that was hard but I just, yes, trained myself before to get there, yes, to get there. But definitely emotional scenes are harder when you’re in the public space rather than intimate.
How will the relationship between Rollo and Gisla evolve?
That’s hard to say without spoiling. Let’s just say that there’s a journey going and ups and downs and yes, there’s some – let’s just say that stubborn people don’t stay stubborn forever. There’s stuff going, happening, going back and forth, so yes. He definitely will have to work hard I think with how stubborn she is.
How is Gisla’s attitude going to change towards Rollo? Or is it?
In season three we sort of left it where her father after Gisla’s been defending Paris and basically saving her – doing what her father was supposed to do, he is behind it, accepted without even asking it to her for her to marry Rollo in order for him to defend Paris if his brother attacks. So I think for her like that was the biggest slap in the face; that was humiliating just because he even accepted without consenting of her or asking to her. So I think, yes, so that was her ego it seems is completely smashed. So in season four, we pick up at this wedding which she doesn’t want to, but has to happen, and then they’re going to go on a journey from there. Stuff is going to change, twists and turns and ups and downs. And yes, there’s been really cool stuff to discover so I’m really excited for you guys to see it.
Do you have a favorite scene or episode so far?
The wedding scene was pretty epic to shoot just because like – first of all, I never went to a wedding so that was my first ever wedding. And like the veil, the whole thing, I mean, yes, that must be to look at. There’s some really amazing stuff I’ve shot after that, but that must have been – and especially the – I mean, I’ve never met anyone that will go in a wedding like sobbing, like they’re walking to the death chamber or something. Yes, that was pretty epic. That was my favorite I think.
How is it playing a strong female character in a period that was, historically, not really friendly to women?
I think with Michael Hirst, we’re pretty lucky to have – he likes to write for strong female characters. And I mean, it’s so exciting for me as an actor because although you think you have the fairy tale of the princess she is, she basically does the job her dad is supposed to do and it’s so brave and ballsy and will not – she has so much it seems and she’s so humble that she just won’t allow people to walk on her, yet she has to be the face of the people. Especially this season, my character goes through such a journey and going from adult to a woman and taking a completely different direction and it’s just so interesting as an actor to have that sort of material to bite on and especially as a woman. Yes, it’s really exciting.
Rollo doesn’t know much about the political maneuverings within the French court. Will Gisla help him?
Behind every strong man stands a stronger woman. So I think she’s smart and she knows if she doesn’t contradict for her father, she’ll do it through Rollo. She takes her title – she will defend her county until the death. Like if she could be on battle, she would but she can’t. But she would – so she will defend this country until she dies, so.
Is there any additional pressure to “get it right” when playing a historical figure?
No, obviously it’s always pressure playing someone that existed, but I think there’s so little on that time and I think Michael really appreciates like him giving up us the script and us taking the freedom to just do it as we would do it. At first I really, you know, but then I took ownership of it and, yes; there’s so much you can do, you know?
Can you talk a little bit about how you’re shooting your scenes? Are you guys shooting kind of apart from the rest of the cast and how is to work with Clive Standen?
It’s not that [we] shoot apart, it’s just a lot is on location and a lot is in the studio in Ireland. So the studio where France is, is not in the same set of Vikings so I get to see them a lot but not just work with them a lot. And working with Clive is absolutely amazing. He is so easy to work with, we get along really well. He’s a very good friend and it’s very easy. Yes, really, really cool.
Do you think that Gisla is underestimating how ruthless Rollo can be or do you think she understands who he is at this point?
I think it’s hard for her to understand without them speaking the same – like before they start speaking the same language. I think she’s definitely fascinated by those Vikings and what they are and what they represent and she I think is sort of in her deeper, inner soul, she feels close to them yet completely doesn’t understand them.
Can you talk more about how Gisla sees Rollo?
I definitely think he will have to work – I mean, always inside her there will be that, “Does he really mean it? Will he turn on me?” It’s not even to trust the blood. So I think that always will be, but I think he will have to, depending on his actions and how hard he works and how much he proves, I think she’ll, you know. You sometimes you try to fight it but you just allow the benefit I think.
Will some of Gisla’s vulnerabilities start to show through?
Yes. Well, she’s going to put the guards down a little bit. Or, well, it’s just that you will get to see her – as you just think about it in season three you mainly see her in public or rarely see her in an intimate space or somewhere where people aren’t looking, so you will get to definitely see her surrendering.
There are a lot of strong women on Vikings, but Gisla is a bit differenet.
I think she is as strong as the Vikings but in a completely different way. I think that’s what Michael tried to represent with the difference of culture of the Vikings culture and of the French culture and actually she I think a lot of the times she just – I think the main thing with Vikings is they are as they come. I think the French have – what he tries to… is there’s much more layers, there’s much more I think agendas and look over your shoulder. And I think she just adores how straightforward Rollo is, or they are, and I think she is just careful that he – she just teach him the different rules. Yes, the rules are sort of different I think in France and I think she just got used to that, and is very witty and she just knows how to take people. Like she just even with her dad and him and stuff, she just knows how to work around it.
Will Gisla temper Rollo’s impetuousness?
I just think in every – opposites attract and I think that’s what’s so brilliant when you’re opposite someone that’s so different than you. I think if you’re both open to just learning, you can both take from each other and just sort of meet in the middle. Yes.
What has your experience been like working on Vikings, just the whole experience of it and what do you like about it and what have you learned from it?
I mean, it’s been an amazing experience. It’s been so good to be just able – I think you only get to do this on the TV shows, to just have the same character go through so much different emotional journeys. So that’s been amazing, and as a character, to go from a girl to a woman and to just explore the different aspects of her and like not in public spaces and to just see how she would be behind closed doors. What I’ve learned is I mean working, it’s just I’ve learned is it’s just very quick how you work for TV. So, it’s been the best training and just to have amazing costumes and those sets and Ireland is the most – I mean, I’ve never been to Ireland before and I had the most amazing time there and everyone works so hard and they’re on it, so it’s really been lovely. Really, really been lovely.
Is there anyone on the show you haven’t worked with, but would like to?
As characters, I always would think that I’m Gisla and I guess I should – like I think Lagertha…. I think she just doesn’t imagine that women like these are allowed to be like this but wishes that, so I think it’s… yes.