Star of popular historical epic series “Vikings”, Katheryn Winnick kicks butt both on and off screen
Playing the headstrong and fearless Lagertha in History Channel’s “Vikings”, Canadian actress Katheryn Winnick has busted out of cameo roles in various crime dramas.
But she’s not just tough on screen – the lady is a fighter in real life too. You’ll be impressed: she holds a 3rd-Degree Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do and a 2nd-Degree Black Belt in Karate, and she’s a licensed bodyguard to boot.
We spoke with Katheryn on the phone from New York to find out more about how it’s like to play a vicious Viking and kick all the boys’ butts while at it.
Apart from “Vikings”, what have you been busy with recently? Is there anywhere else fans will be able to see you?
I just finished Geostorm, a movie by Dean Devlin. It’s one of those big sci-fi movies and I play opposite Gerald Butler, Abbie Cornish, Ed Harris, and Jim Sturgess. The director was a big fan of “Vikings” and he wanted me to be a part of it.
I’m also working on a self-defence company – called WIN KAI Self Defense – that can give women the tools they need to defend themselves. A big passion of mine is giving back and helping other women and giving them the tools they need to feel empowered.
How do you personally feel about your role of Lagertha in Vikings?
One of the reasons I love Lagertha is that she does all her own stunts and she’s a strong woman; very powerful, but she can also be effeminate at the same time.
I like playing all the aspects (of Lagertha) – that’s what makes her so unique. She’s a warrior, but she’s also a wife and a mother. She is the modern woman, in my opinion, and she also has a strong voice.
I really feel that this role was meant for me. I couldn’t find a more perfect role for me and my background. It’s so creatively fulfilling for me.
Has there been any interesting incident on the set?
Just being on set is such a full experience. It’s great. It’s a big production, and it’s just growing and growing. A lot more cast has joined us this year – it’s really exciting to see. When you walk on the set of “Vikings” you feel like you walked into a different time period.
That’s one of the best things about shooting in Ireland. We’re surrounded by landscapes and gorgeous atmosphere and livestock. It’s interesting to see animals all around with my co-stars.
You hold a myriad of martial arts degrees, and you’re a licensed bodyguard. What was growing up like? Did you kick all the boys’ butts?
Yes! (laughs) That was my way of flirting – I would give them a good back kick instead of a kiss. I started training Tae Kwon Do at seven, got my first Black Belt at 13. I started WIN KAI at 16. By 21, I had three different schools around Toronto.
What made you decide to go into acting?
I started by teaching actors martial arts on movie sets. It gave me the work discipline and work ethic. Being on set, I realised how hard yet fun it can be to do this every day, and be given a big challenge.
I wanted to discover parts of personality I wasn’t able to dive into because of my martial arts training, which is very disciplined; it’s not acceptable to be emotional or vulnerable. Acting is a way for me to discover what makes me tick and to know more about my personality.
If you had a time machine, when and where would you go?
I’d go to the future. It’d be interesting just to see where the world would be in 20 years. I would travel all around the world and see different perspectives.
What do you do to relax?
I’m trying to learn how to cook, which is fun! I’m a big believer in keeping your mind and body active and healthy. I love spending time with family and friends.
And I have passion for growing my business, I’ve always had a business mind. So I’m working on bringing my self-defence company to life. I’m going to enjoy my time off because it’s back to work soon!
By Lester Wan and Pamela Chow
“Vikings” Season 3 premieres on Feb 27 and airs on Fridays at 10pm on HISTORY Channel (StarHub TV Ch 401).