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Alexander Dreymon: “I have so much respect for girls with long hair now”

Alexander Dreymon, star of the BBC’s historical epic The Last Kingdom, talks Viking playgrounds, furs and hair care tips

What made you want to be involved in The Last Kingdom?

Because I was a starving actor and they offered me a job. But honestly, I was so excited to do the project. I loved the story and the character. They wanted to shoot it very documentary style and the actors were left so much freedom on set, we were given our playground and let loose.

Of all the different kinds of playgrounds you could play on, a Viking themed one seems like it would be good fun.

Oh yeah. I spent so much time on a horse riding through forests, making campfires, having sex in furs, sword fighting – that’s every boy’s dream!

Do you miss those things or have they carried through to your personal life?

You know, I spent a little part of my life in Switzerland when I was growing up making fires in woods was a very common thing to do. We would always go out and build a fire from scratch. I’d love to be building more fires to be honest, but I live in California and I think you’d end up behind bars pretty fast over there, and rightfully so.

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Horse riding, making campfires, having sex in furs, sword fighting – it’s every boy’s dream!

You play the main character Uhtrid in The Last Kingdom, but do you actually like him? Would you want to hang out with him in real life?

Yeah I definitely would because I’d never know what’s coming next. He’d always keep me on my toes and he’d always make me laugh. I like that twinkle in his eye, he’s got that boyish charm and impetuousness.

Is the twinkle and boyish charm in the script or does that come from you?

I think he needed to be that person. In order to make it interesting for the audience and not just be another sword fighting warrior who cuts people’s heads off, he needed to have something more. We wanted to stay away from the sulking, brooding hero archetype. Horrible things happen to him in the first two episodes and he deals with it and moves forward and keeps going and I think that’s a great quality to have in life.

Uhtrid’s quest is about finding his own identity. Is that something you related to?

It was quite easy for me to relate to him because I grew up in so many different places and I know what it feels like to always be the outsider and not really belong to a place. That always comes with advantages and disadvantages and that part was quite easy for me to understand because I’ve always lived it and still live it. But I’m also grateful for it so I live it quite positively.

There are no solely good or solely bad characters. Was it important that everybody was a shade of grey?

Of course, I agree. What I love about it as well is that you want the Saxons to win but you want to be a Dane. Danes were the rock stars of the time, they were so cool. The Saxons were pious, never dared to have a carnal thought and if they did they’d punish themselves for it. The Danes would kill, they would fuck, they would gorge themselves, they had so much fun.

What did the Vikings do for us?

For one, they were a lot more groomed than the Saxons were. Even though we don’t know much about the Vikings because they didn’t write anything down, we always found relics of combs and even tweezers – things that at the time weren’t necessarily used in Britain. Hopefully it rubbed off on the Saxons a little bit in that way.

But Britain still has a reputation for bad hygiene.

Do you? I don’t know about that. French girls apparently have a reputation for having unshaved legs – most of my girlfriends have actually been French because I grew up for quite a while in France, and I’ve never met a girl with unshaved legs. Or armpits for that matter. But I’m not sure how much reputations are true. Thankfully.

Maybe you’re just lucky.

I knew how to pick them!

Was everyone on set talking about hair care tips and shampoo?

You have no idea. Before the show I would wonder, what the fuck happens in the bathroom when a girl goes in there? She falls into a blackhole of time that swallows her up. You sit outside and wait for fucking hours and you’d be late and you’d be yelling at her through the door, you’d never know what goes on. But now I know what goes on in there and I have so much respect for girls with long hair because I know how difficult it is to take care of.

Maybe girls spend all that time in the bathroom shaving their armpits.

I’ve learned a lot.

The Last Kingdom airs on BBC Two

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