Norwegian actor (and former professional soccer player) Rune Temte stars in The Last Kingdom as Ubba, an unpredictable Viking warrior. Here he shares the inside scoop on his goof that made it into the show, working with Rutger Hauer, and how he imagines the Vikings to have lived.
How would you describe Ubba?
Rune Temte: Ubba is a Danish warlord, and he runs the show when it comes to invading Saxon lands. He has a very dry sense of humor and is full of life. He teases people all the time, but he’s also quite straight to the point — either you die, or you live.
Can you tell us about filming one of your epic battle scenes?
Temte: There was one big battle scene that we were filming all day. I was at the back on a huge horse called Flossy, and we watched people being slaughtered and the Viking shield wall move forward. Flossy was so good and stood still, but next to us, Guthrum’s horse was the complete opposite. He had to hold on to keep from falling off. It was so funny that I let out this huge Ubba laugh, unintentionally. Nick Murphy (director) called cut and I thought I’d screwed up the whole scene, but he kept it in. He thought it showed the madness of Ubba. It was hilarious!
Tell us about Ubba’s relationship with Guthrum.
Temte: Guthrum is another Viking warlord. We have similar responsibilities, but Guthrum is still Ubba’s opposite. Ubba is always on the front foot and is more overtly emotional. He’s also a psychopath and you never know what he’ll do next. Guthrum, on the other hand, is more settled and always takes a moment to think first.
How much training was required for Ubba’s stunts and swordplay?
Temte: I’m fortunate enough to have two great friends in Norway who are part of a Viking reenactment society. I’ve been working with them since November 2014. It takes thorough preparation and a lot of time.
Did working with a multi-national cast bring something different to the set?
Temte: It’s great because it’s changed the atmosphere so much. It adds a weight to the story and makes the whole setting stand out and feel real. When reading the script together, we found that there were seven different nationalities.
What was it like to work with Rutger Hauer?
Temte: It was a dream come true for me. He was extremely caring and generous with his time. Rutger’s a superstar, and I was so pleased he was as friendly as he was. He was always teasing us to keep the mood buoyant. His character was fantastic, and I cannot believe he’s seventy-one and looking as great as he does. Working with someone like him gives you a lot of energy.
Tell us about Ubba’s look.
Temte: The make-up team designed the pattern on my face, which is a snake and dragon combined. They used it because of Ubba’s skill as a warrior, and also because he is a feared man. I added a piece of ribbon to keep my long hair out of my face while fighting. Ubba was cast without a beard, and my beard is real and took a while to grow, so I’m glad I got to keep it. I also had an axe and a short sword as my weapons, and of course a shield.
What do you imagine life was like for the Vikings?
Temte: In my mind, life was so different. Could you imagine going to bed with an axe because you were always in danger of being ambushed? Some people believe that the Vikings were a strong and selfless community. For example, if their boats got caught in a storm, they would sink if they didn’t loose weight. There was no problem with having five or ten men jump overboard in an act of selflessness in order to save the rest. They were also very close to nature and they would follow their gods closely.