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Vikings has made its triumphant return, but so far, no Rollo.

The History Channel show last saw the character in April’s mid-season finale, where Rollo made his allegiance clear, and battled it out with Ragnar in the waters of Frankia.
ET hopped on the phone with Rollo himself, Clive Standen, on Tuesday, where he dished on his character’s recent absence — and revealed that since the series’ time jump, Rollo has “seemingly everything he’s ever wanted.”

“He beats his brother in battle, he goes back victorious, he has this lovely princess to go home to, and a whole realm that kind of worships him as the savior of Paris,” he explained, before noting that Rollo still yearns for the Viking life. “He’s having a bit of a Viking mid-life crisis. The only difference is that in modern society, the cliché is that the man pines for his Ferrari or his Porsche, whereas Rollo is pining for a longboat to take him back to be the warrior for one last voyage as a Viking.”

Rollo’s allegiance to Frankia — and seeming betrayal of Ragnar (Travis Fimmel) and the Vikings who came to claim the territory in the last half of the season — was a major turning point for the characters, but Standen said Rollo’s big move is completely warranted given Ragnar’s past treatment of his brother.

“He was kept in the shadow of Ragnar for years… There’s only so much a person can take,” he said. “When Rollo goes to Frankia, he finds people who actually respect him and worship him…He may be betraying his people, but he’s not betraying his roots. He’s still a Viking. He just has no choice but to go to Frankia and start a new life, take on a different guard, and everything that comes with that in order to accomplish his fame in the society at the time.”

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If you tuned into the Season 4b premiere of “Vikings” and were sad to see it Rollo-free, fear not. Ragnar’s (Travis Fimmel) treacherous brother (Clive Standen) is going to play a big role in the rest of the season — and for some time to come.

When it was announced that Standen had been cast as the lead in NBC’s adaptation of “Taken,” many fans assumed that would mean the end of his “Vikings” story. Creator Michael Hirst assures viewers that isn’t the case, though.

“There’s a great line that Rollo has that you can never fully abandon your Viking life,” he teases. “Once a longship comes around the corner, the blood beats in his veins again.”

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An exclusive interview with the actor behind fan-favorite Rollo on making smart choices, building a career, work-life balance… and why just WANTING to be something isn’t enough.

You may not think of it this way, but actors are definitely entrepreneurs. To be a successful actor means overcoming challenges and obstacles, seizing opportunities, staying strong in the face of rejection… like becoming a successful entrepreneur, becoming a successful actor requires passion, commitment, and relentless drive.

Prime example: Clive Standen, the actor who plays Rollo (my favorite character) on Vikings, the History Channel ratings juggernaut that starts its fourth season on November 30th. (Clive will also play Brian Mills, the lead character on the TV version of Taken.)

When we spoke, I was definitely struck by Clive’s intelligence and introspection, but don’t let that fool you: as evidenced by one particular scene in the upcoming season (what happens is unfortunately a cat I can’t yet let out of the bag), he’s also a badass in the best sense of the word.

Because of Vikings you might seem an overnight success… but you’ve been doing this for years. How did you hang in there during the lean times?

I’m a husband and the father of three kids. I have the pressure of putting food on the table. The cliché is that when you have kids you stop worrying about yourself, but it really does. Becoming a parent changed everything for me.

When things aren’t going so well, you simply do whatever it takes. When I was struggling I had no pride in terms of what jobs I would take: I drove vans, passed out things on the street, waited tables, did bar work, cleaned houses…. the mortgage doesn’t pay itself. That was motivation enough.

On the flip side, having kids gives you less time to devote to putting food on the table.

When you have kids you think you’ll have less time, but I actually find more time. We waste so many hours in the day procrastinating.

Nowadays those hours when the kids are at school are the ones that I make sure I use to get the work done. I don’t want to take away from time with the kids. I don’t waste it; I use that time. I find myself getting far more done as a parent because I seize those opportunities. Ultimately I do everything for my family. Even if means staying up all night… you make the time.

You asked how I hung in there; when Richard Briers came to our drama school we asked him a similar question. “How do you hang in there? How do you get through the hard times?”

He said, “If you really really really really really really really really really REALLY want to act, don’t. But if you HAVE to act… then do it.”

It’s not as easy as saying, “Well, it’s not working out… so what else am I good at?” That’s another motivation for me. There is nothing else I am as good at as acting that satisfies that hunger as much.

So I didn’t have a choice. I had to hang in there.

Doesn’t that attitude make it hard to turn down less than great roles roles?

You definitely have to craft a career as well. Sometimes the quick route might not be the best route for your career over the long run.

I just finished doing four seasons of Vikings. If I take another role set in medieval times then it has to be as good or better or I’m carving out a career as an actor that just does those dramas — especially if I take on a role or a project that is a step down in quality. You may get a paycheck… but your career will fade.

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Clive Standen just wrapped filming on NBC’s spring series Taken, in which he plays former Green Beret Bryan Mills, the man with a particular set of skills that made Mills famous when actor Liam Neeson played the character in the 2008 film of the same name and its sequels.

From Executive Producer Luc Besson, the TV prequel stars Standen as a younger Mills dealing with personal tragedy as he sets off on his CIA career and hones those skills.

But first, the British actor had to polish his courtly manners for his role as Rollo, sibling to King Ragnar Lothbrok (Travis Fimmel) in History’s Vikings, which returns for its midseason premiere in November.

When we last saw him in April in episode 10 of season 4, Rollo was enjoying the adoration and appreciation of the people of Francia after driving back the Viking horde led by none other than Ragnar. He’s a formerly wild and woolly Viking in the French court who’s been tamed
(somewhat) and groomed (sort of) by his princess wife, Gisla (Morgane Polanski).

Debbie Day for Rotten Tomatoes: Where is Rollo at the start of the upcoming episode?
Clive Standen: We left him being crowned by the king and being called Caesar. He’s seemingly got everything he could possibly have ever wanted and ever dreamed that he could succeed at: He has the princess that genuinely loves him. He has a whole people, a whole realm of people that back him and believes in him. And he has that king, King Charles (Lothaire Bluteau), who’s like a father figure he never had. So now, he really has stepped out of the shadow of Ragnar Lothbrok, accomplished so much, and got so much faith within both Viking society and within Francia.

But as we all know, when you want something for so long and you never really achieved it, you have no idea how it’s going to feel when you get it. So may be a case of the grass is not greener on the other side. Is it all it’s cracked up to be or is he going to be in the middle of a Viking midlife crisis? And rather than be the Ferrari or Porsche that the modern man often pines for in a midlife crisis, it’s going to be the longboat maybe that Rollo is missing and wanting.

It’s still a tricky road for him going into the second part of the season. He was born to raid and fight — those are his own words from season 1. With the responsibility of being the Duke of Normandy and having the whole realm of Francia under his wing, is he going to be allowed to fight? Is he going to be too important? Is he going to be allowed to flex his muscle, so to speak? So, maybe all those type things start to get in the way of his satisfaction and happiness.

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Clive Standen is no stranger to breaking a sweat. The 35-year-old British actor has starred in History’s historical drama Vikings for five seasons of wielding bulky axes and thrashing it out with his rivals in regular high-octane battle scenes.

But Vikings was shot in Ireland, a part of the world renowned for its mild climate, whereas Standen’s new role in Taken, the NBC drama based on the hit Liam Neeson movie of the same name, has meant 16-hour days filming action sequences during Toronto’s hottest months.

“There have definitely been some three-shower days,” jokes the actor who grew up in Leicester, England, and moved to Toronto this year, settling in the Rosedale neighbourhood.

Vikings was inspired by the sagas of Viking Ragnar Lothbrok and the Norsemen of early medieval Scandinavia.

It has been on the air since 2013, and in that time has garnered critical acclaim for its character-driven storytelling, rich cinematography and for the actors’ performances, particularly the show’s lead, Viking chieftain Ragnar, played by Australian actor Travis Fimmel (The Experiment, Maggie’s Plan).

“I think this season is some of Travis Fimmel’s best work in the show,” Standen says. “Where [the writers] take Ragnar to in this season is really mind-blowing. Being on set and watching him has been great.”

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