Ragnarok spoilers follow.
On Ragnarok, Herman Tømmeraas plays an Asgardian giant, possibly one of the frosty variety, but here on Midgard, the Norwegian star just can't get enough of the sun.
When we call him up on Zoom and ask him how he is, Tømmeraas tells us "that Norway has suddenly decided to join in on the whole summer thing," and he couldn't be happier. "The sun is really hot, and it’s super bright. It’s just nice. I feel like everyone is just energised."
And the same could be said for the Ragnarok fandom now too. Following a well received first season, the Norwegian fantasy drama has become even more popular since season two dropped out of the sky in May. In this second chapter, the war between the gods and the giants escalated even further. Magne is technically the hero, and therefore the one we should be rooting for, but Herman's role as Fjor Jutul is also key to what comes next, making him a fan-favourite.
Digital Spy caught up with Tømmeraas to discuss Ragnarok's biggest challenges, that explosive scene from the season two finale, and what Herman wants to do next in season three. In case you're wondering, it's not "play nice with Magne".
Ragnarok season two was even more popular than the first. What's it been like dealing with the show's growing success abroad?
When we launched season one, that was kind of the biggest insecure period, because we didn’t really know how people would react to that. But then after a while, the show started to grow on people and it spread.
So we already knew that people kind of liked the first season, and we knew that what we gave them in season two wasn’t anything else; it was still the same thing as season one, just with a lot more context, and a lot more stories. So we were hoping for a similar reaction to it. But what we didn’t realise was that it was going to go like [snaps fingers] the first day.
Did you feel any pressure coming back with a bigger fanbase this time round?
Absolutely. I think that’s how it goes with every show. Whenever there’s a season that goes really well, there’s always this time everybody wonders, "Are we going to be able to pull this off once again? Are we going to be able to do this?"
But still, after reading the script, I realised that, "OK, what we’re doing now is more of the good stuff from season one." So I was pretty confident that we were going to be able to deliver something that people would at least like as much as season one.
Between Marvel and Ragnarok, there's more interest than ever in Norse mythology. How do you feel about shows like Loki in comparison to your own?
Well, I’m a huge Marvel fan, first of all. I love the Marvel movies. But we’ve established the characters in some kind of other universe. We’re doing it in Norway, and we’re doing it real time, with our generation now, so it kind of feels like a different thing. We are in this time now where we’re able to do several shows with kind of the same concept, without having to collide. And that’s a blessing.
I think we all… Not me, particularly, because I’m doing a giant, right? That’s not really been portrayed in a movie, so I’m kind of off the hook. But I know that the other cast members have been thinking like, "Alright, I’m going up against this actor. I’m going to have to do a better one – at least try."
We were surprised by how quickly season two came around. How did COVID impact production for you and the cast?
There were a lot more precautions on how we did things. There was a lot more testing. I think I did a total of 35 COVID tests. 35 times with sticks up my nose during the production. But that was a good thing, too, because we felt secure. Everyone that did hair with us, makeup, everyone was wearing masks. We took our temp every morning.
It’s a good thing that you felt like it was a short period between season one and season two, because I did not feel that. I felt like it was forever [laughs].
Fjor is technically thousands of years old, but you're also playing the role of a teenager in some sense as well. It must be tricky to balance these two aspects of the character.
The most challenging thing about my character was the fact that, yes, he’s 2,000 years old. That’s one thing. But he’s lived not just at one age for 2,000 ages. He’s been living from being a baby to being an old man during those 2,000 years.
We all figured out that our characters knew what kind of period they were in. Which, of course, made them think a certain way, or act a certain way. They still have their teenage breakout years or rebellious years. And then you have the "old wise guy" years. So I think the lifespan would still be the same, which allowed us to be a lot more like a teenager, instead of being this 2,000-year-old guy who has to pretend he’s a teenager. I was allowed to be a teenager.
But the most challenging part was the scenes together with the family. Because we had to pretend like we were equals, in the sense of age and strength and knowledge, even though we clearly stated that Vidar was the strongest (although that wasn’t necessarily true). We had some discussions, back and forth, to just understand how that worked.
We wanted to ask about Fjor's yellow eyes. Do you use contacts to create that effect or are they digitally added in afterwards?
That’s the fun thing because in season one, we did it practically with these big lenses. And I had never used a lens before. So I had three people help me. One kept my eye down, one up, and one tried to stick it in my eye, because I was going like this [motions at eye scrunched close].
It looked OK, but, still, you could kind of see that it was a lens at some point because it was so big, and it was so weird-looking. So in season two, we just realised, "Scrap the lenses. We’re going to do it in CG."
I actually think that the CG looks better in a sense. I think that gives us the opportunity to make the eyes move more. And also, it didn’t really affect our way of acting, because, honestly, when you wear those things, you don’t see anything. There’s a small hole in the middle and you can kind of see people, but the rest is just yellow [laughs]. So it was the best choice ever to go CG in season two.
Speaking of memorable moments, can you talk us through that scene near the end of season two where Magne throws Mjölnir at you in the car?
So, scenes like that, there’s two ways you can do it. You can do it CG, or you can do it practically. Doing it practically is fine, but doing that in a suburban place, or in between houses like that, is not really safe, unless we’re renting out the entire part of the city. And that wasn’t something we did.
But doing it all CG can also be a bit tacky, too. So we had to do a combination between practical and CG. What we did was, we had this car skeleton that was just the bottom part, which was built in with gas tanks that blasted a fire from underneath the car. And then we did a kind of still shot of the whole thing, straight from the side. Then we busted out the flames from one part of the car, across the whole thing.
Later, it was done in post. The whole car was filled in. And then the hammer passing through was made. And then everything came together with this fireball at the end, which was practical.
Your character changes a lot throughout the first two seasons. What do you hope lies in store next for Fjor?
I hope— and this is just what I’m hoping. This is not how it is. I’ve always felt like the bad guys are the most interesting characters. I always think that the people that are evil are just the coolest thing – or the troubled characters who can’t really decide.
So personally, I hope that I’m going to be able to become the devil in season three – if I can. Let me be brutal, and dark, and troubled, and sinister please. Just let me go the next level in season three.
Have you heard anything yet about season three, or is that up to the Netflix gods?
I still think it’s kind of up to the Netflix gods. But I think there’s going to be some news during the summer – hopefully. I don’t really know. But I hope.
What kind of message do you hope fans take from watching Ragnarok?
Even though it’s about gods and giants and good and evil, it all boils down to figuring out who you are; believing in who you are; sticking up for yourself and the people you like; and using the right you have to be yourself.
That’s something we’ve always been doing since the first episode. We’re trying to make that come through. Of course, life is going to be hard. When you grow up as a teenager, it’s super confusing, because there’s all these laws, and there’s all these rules that had been established a long time ago, and you have to kind of fit into that, even though you’re trying to figure out who you are.
Ragnarok seasons one and two are now available to watch on Netflix.
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