For audiences of Vikings, hearing that Katheryn Winnick has confessed to being “a tomboy at heart,” is anything but difficult to believe. While stunning with a palpable femme fatale air about her, the Canadian actress does, after all, play Vikings‘s most resilient hero—male or female. In the role of Lagertha—a shield-maiden with fists of iron and a heart of steeled conviction—Winnick is not the sort of woman that spends extended periods of time contemplating her wardrobe choices.
The same could be said of the actress off-screen. Though the starlet has played the “beauty” card in roles past, dating back to archival hits like Student Bodies (Canada’s answer to Saved By the Bell) and more recent reoccurring guest spots on television series including Bones, cast as Hannah Burley (the well-intentioned heartbreaker and the would-be-fiancé of Agent Booth (David Boreanaz), it’s Winnick’s aptitude for drama cut with regular spurts of hand-to-hand combat that has garnered her an army of loyal subjects in TV land.
A force to be reckoned with since her preteen years; back then, while other girls her age might be found decorating Barbie’s dream home, the actress was busy building up combat cred as a student of both Tai Kwon Do and Karate. Evidently perfectly cast as History Channel’s number one contender in Viking battles, Winnick’s powerhouse performance as the fearless Lagertha has many fans heralding the actress’s character a contemporary female icon. “She’s extremely proud, opinionated and strong willed,” Winnick affirms.
Aside from her forte for hard lefts and roundhouse kicks, clear-headed humble intelligence, too, is something the actress shares with her character; but then, as she gushes, the similarities and bond between her and Lagertha only increase with time, as the show moves into its forth season. “She’s always felt like a part of me,” shares Winnick.
With fashion admittedly not ranking high on Winnick’s personal list of interests, somehow the actress still manages a red carpet style we can’t help but covet. And though the petite beauty is seemingly more comfortable wielding a sword than fawning over gowns, fashion is growing on the actress. She’s even gone as far as to expand her wardrobe to welcome the likes of girly sundresses, a change from the sweats she confesses to gravitating towards. “I do appreciate fashion and dressing up,” says Winnick. “It’s a different transformation process; you can change your look through clothes and hair and makeup.”
From her home in Los Angeles, Winnick takes a moment to chat to FILLER about the up-and-downs of life as a Viking shield-maiden and her wanderings into the glamourous world of designer fashion.
You’ve been playing Lagertha going on four seasons now with the recent Season 3 finale in April, does it feel like she’s a small part of you now?
I definitely feel like I can relate to Lagertha, especially now with that much screen time and that much experience living with her in Ireland (laughing)…it’s close to my heart.
How would you say the way in which you play your character has evolved since Season 1?
Every season, she’s in a different position. In Season 3, she’s an Earl in her own right, figuring out, what’s next for her. She’s now a free woman. She doesn’t need a man; but can choose one if she wants one.
What’s something that you’ve created in Lagertha’s backstory that perhaps viewers might not pick up on?
I’ve definitely had some sort of relationship with Rollo, which is a backstory that we touched upon. She’s adventurous, she definitely likes to explore her sexuality with men or women. I don’t know if you know, but Lagertha was a real shield maiden. She did lead an army, help save her husband and stab her second husband in the eye. It all actually existed, and I just try to keep it as authentic as possible, not in a superhero way.
Some viewers have championed Lagertha as a feminist, do you see that in your character?
It’s hard for me to answer that because I feel like the word “feminist” has had such a negative association, and yet, there’s so much power and strength, if you just define the word. If you’re question to me is: do I see her as a strong woman character? Then yes, I definitely do. I don’t feel like she feels like she has it all put together or that woman are stronger than men…and I don’t think she has that kind of mentality. But, I don’t think she’s one to back down from a situation…physically, mentally or emotionally.
I this audiences would agree with you on that. In the show, your character is more a no fuss natural beauty; personally, do you prefer your own wardrobe to be more about casual practical clothing, or do you lean towards ultra-feminine glamourous looks?
I literally just went through my wardrobe…I tried to clean out my closet. I’m a tomboy, I’m a tomboy at heart. If I’m at home, as I am today, I’m still wearing shorts and a T-shirt. I think because I never really played dress-up as a kid—I was such a tomboy: jeans, T-shirt, hair in a ponytail and going to Tai Kwon Do—so for me, putting on lipstick is even a challenge. I don’t put on lipstick, I eat it (laughing). I still find myself a little bit like a fish out of water when I dress-up…truthfully, I’d rather wear sweats. I think there is a way of being fashionable, but comfortable at the same time.
How would you describe your personal style in a nutshell?
Sexy, comfortable and stylish at the same time. I would always go for comfort, except I would always wear a good pair of heels.
Often, people unintentionally end up with something of a “uniform” in their closet, a staple look that they depend on. Do you have an outfit from your wardrobe that is like this, something quintessentially “you?”
Lululemon pants and a T-shirt. That’s when I’m at home. I live in Venice Beach remember, you can’t get away with much more. In terms of going out, a pair of beat of pants, Manolo pumps and a white silk blouse.
What about your red carpet style, do you have a particular “look” you gravitate towards?
I’m still trying to find myself, and explore things outside my own comfort zone. I find what works is a form-fitting, lace, elegant, classy look.
What’s your favourite personal red carpet style moment?
I just did one…I was happy how everything turned out for Vanity Fair‘s Oscar night. I wore a gorgeous gown; I felt like a jewel, like I was dressed in gold liquid. It’s one of those dresses that fit perfectly, I didn’t have to do any alternations. The hair was just down and wavy…I think it was a good look for me.
What item in your closet would you never want to part with?
My purse. It was my first big paycheque and splurge to buy my first Chanel purse. And there’s so much meaning behind, not the purse…the fact that I would spend X amount of dollars on just one item. For me, it was monumental, that all my hard work was paying off and I could buy myself something that was a splurge.
What item in your closet might have already overstayed its welcome?
Oh my gosh…I would say like 80 percent of it. I live in Ireland for half the year, for the last three years, so the rule where if you haven’t worn it for a year, you should throw it out, doesn’t apply to me because I’m in Ireland in Ugg boots the entire time I’m on set! It’s hard for me to go through and figure out what I haven’t worn. I would love a whole wardrobe makeover.
Any particular summer trends you’re excited about this season?
I love summer dresses. I really feel feminine, fun and pretty in them. I was just in Brazil and they’re great with dresses, so many options over there. I went a little bit nuts…I think I bought 10 dresses in a day there! You can wear them with flip-flops on Venice Beach, or put on a pair of pumps and wear them out to dinner.
On the topic of trends, are you one to chase the latest looks off the runway, or would you say you prefer sticking to classic ensembles?
I am definitely more of a classics girl. I think you can have a few pieces to accessorize, to be fun and trendy, but in terms of clothes, I’d rather find something I could wear five years from now, or even 10 years. I feel like that’s more the way to go.
What are some of your favourite designers?
I was just in Prada yesterday. I love Prada. It depends, I like Alice + Olivia, and I like the basics, like Gucci. I have a few black cocktail dresses from Gucci that I’ve had for years. They never let me down, whether it’s a meeting, a dinner or a charity event. Good staples.
What style trait do you feel like is most attractive to people? In other words, if you were looking to attract attention from someone, what element of your personal style would you seek to highlight?
That’s a really good question. I think clothes should be a complement of whom you are, not so much a distraction. I feel like some people go on the other end and you can’t see their personality because they’re trying so hard for their clothes to be loud or different or unique.
Who is your style icon and what do you love about their signature fashion look?
I know a lot of people say this, but it’s true: Audrey Hepburn did it well. She came across with such elegance and grace, which I admire.