Bjorn to be a Viking: Meath teen in dramatic makeover for hit TV series

Irish schoolboy Nathan O’Toole said he barely recognised himself after being transformed into a young Viking for an epic series now being screened on RTÉ.

Bjorn to be a Viking: Meath teen in  dramatic makeover for hit TV series

The History Channel’s Vikings, filmed in Co Wicklow, premiered in the US last spring to over 8m viewers, but the Meath teenager only saw it for the first time when he sat down to watch the first episode on RTÉ at the weekend.

The transition-year student is already being tipped to follow in the footsteps of actors like Colin Farrell and Chris O’Dowd after his critically acclaimed turn in the blockbuster TV series as a Viking child with a clipped Nordic accent.

Nathan, who hails from Dunshaughlin, starred opposite Gabriel Byrne in the Irish-made show, and said his neighbours didn’t know him after he went through a dramatic make- over on the set over a year ago.

“They dyed my hair and I had blue contact lenses. I really have brown hair and brown eyes and they shaved the back of my head. I didn’t even recognise myself.

“A few people that I’d know well in my own town didn’t know who I was. I would say ‘Hi’ and they would just give me a weird look and walk by,” he said laughing.

The series centres on the journey of Norse hero Ragnar Lothbrok, the first Viking to appear on the pages of history.

Nathan — who plays Lothbrok’s son Bjorn — said Byrne gave him lots of tips on perfecting his Scandinavian accent and getting his acting cues on the action-packed drama.

He said: “Gabriel was a really genuine and real down-to-earth.

“He gave me some advice on Vikings and would teach me how to act in different ways. He was a great help with the dialect and the facial expressions. We were in a good few scenes together.”

Although the show has already been seen by millions in the US, the modest teenager didn’t realise it was such a big hit around the world until he joined twitter. “It was shown everywhere. When I went on twitter I got 1,500 followers, mainly from America.

“I didn’t know so many people were interested in my character.”

A second series has already been filmed and a third series is a distinct possibility.

Former Calvin Klein model Travis Fimmel plays his father in the series.

“Bjorn takes after his Dad and he can be very ignorant and confrontational and straightforward. He can be a little brat at times,” explained Nathan.

“He becomes more of a man as he went on in the show. When you get into the character you just go with the flow and no stress or nerves come over.”

His first TV role was on Neil Jordan’s The Borgias which helped him prepare for the History Channel series.. “I went to The Borgias at the end of 2011. I was 13. I flew over to Hungary. That would have been my first set I was on.”

The next episode of Vikings will be shown on RTÉ Two this Sunday, Feb 2, at 9.30pm.

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