“Knowing that Leif is a real person I was, I suppose, opening spiritually to his essence. He’s greatly admired by many people, but at the end of the day, kind of stripping a lot of that away and realising he’s just a guy trying to find out who he is. In that week, I tried to open myself to anything that wanted to come through, and how I might be able to honour this character.”
When I join a Zoom call with actor Sam Corlett, it’s hard to believe that the mild-mannered person on the other side of the screen is the same one I watched embark on epic journeys and fight heroic battles in Netflix’s new Vikings: Valhalla series – but I suppose that’s what makes a fine actor. The show begins with his character, Leif Eriksson (who is based on the real-life Icelandic explorer) arriving at Kattegat from his native Greenland to seek revenge on the English who had exterminated the Vikings from their land. As conflict and hardship ensue, it’s evident that Eriksson is a warrior, but he also has a gentleness about him that, as I can now see, clearly stems from Corlett’s own persona.
Covering our Spring 2022 issue, Sam Corlett spoke to Catherine Santino about bracing himself for fame, honouring his character and the demanding process of becoming an on-screen warrior.