When director Claudio Fäh was casting for Northmen – A Viking Saga, he turned to the closest thing he could get to an actual Viking – Amon Amarth’s Johann Hegg (who not only accepted, but also made his acting debut on the show). Being a fan of Amon Amarth not only made Fäh’s persuit of Vikings that much easier, but a fulfilling experience for Hegg as well.
The action-packed film chronicles a group of Norse warriors who wash up on the coast of Alba. Needless to say, they aren’t taken to very kindly and are met with battle upon battle and inadvertently “kidnap” the King’s daughter. “When it came to the casting they were discussing what they were looking for with this character, and he said he always pictured someone like me, so that’s why they decided to ask me: I look like me!” Hegg said in an interview with Metal Hammer. “I guess for them it wasn’t much of a gamble really, it’s a pretty small part – although at first it was meant to be just a cameo appearance, and then it kind of grew.”
Hegg fully committed himself to the role, performing his own stunts “I wasn’t even supposed to do the fight scenes myself, that was meant to be some stunt guy,” he said. “But by the time I got there they’d changed their minds. They said ‘you can’t very well be in this film and not do your own stunts – because it’s so much fun’! And it was, it was lots of fun. I’ve been doing sports all my life, and the way I looked upon it, I was just doing a different kind of choreographed sport. It was kind of difficult at the beginning; the people doing the stunt training had to tell me to stop, because I was really going at it, having so much fun! They were like, ‘I think you’re done for today, you’re really gonna feel this tomorrow!'”
After experiencing acting from the other side of the stage, Hegg has now made the transformation from writing music about Vikings to actually becoming one (albeit for a short while). Coming off of this new experience, Hegg now understands what it truly means to go out of one’s element in order to play a character:
“It really is astonishing to see them work, to see how deeply they go into it. Most of them didn’t know anything about Vikings before they did this movie so they had to do a lot of background reading. It’s not as if they can just stand there and read the lines, it has to be believable. And if you can’t find the mindset for your character, it’s not going to be believable.”
Northmen – A Viking Saga is available on Blu-Ray and DVD abroad, but has yet to make its way stateside.