In conversation with Alexander Dreymon
Interview by Jana Letonja
Actor and director Alexander Dreymon is best known for portraying Uhtred of Bebbanburg in the BBC series ‘The Last Kingdom’. He recently reprised his role as Uhtred in the film ‘Seven Kings Must Die’ for Netflix/Carnival (UK), which premiered globally on 14th April.
full look PRADA
Alexander, you recently reprised your role as Uhtred of Bebbanburg in Netflix’s film ‘Seven Kings Must Die’. The film is the 2-hour follow-up to the series ‘The Last Kingdom’. How exciting was it to do this film, following-up the long-running series?
It was thrilling to be able to bring our show’s story to its end. Gareth and Nigel had only ever envisioned 5 seasons, so that was my expectation from the beginning. But then, while we were making the 5th season and heard we could make ‘Seven Kings Must Die’, we all realized that we had the opportunity to provide an even smoother landing for most of our characters. We got to finish Uhtred and England’s arcs in their twin quests for identity. It also meant that we got to finish the story that Bernard Cornwall told in his books, which made me very happy.
How would you sum up the ending of the film and the conclusion of the whole story?
The ending is a mixture of ambiguity when it comes to some of the characters and history when it comes to England. That’s the fun of historical fiction. We all know how England’s story goes, but we follow these characters as they weave their way through the histories we already know. When it comes to Uhtred, that’s where the ambiguity is best deployed, I think. After all these seasons of investment in his quest for identity and destiny, I think it’s a satisfying conclusion.
jacket OFFICINE GÉNÉRALE
shirt GIORGIO ARMANI
pants HUGO BOSS
Your leading performance as Uhtred is one that required emotion and heart, combined with incredible technical skill. What preparations did you have to undergo for this role?
This role was one that really called on every cell of my body and I just hope I’ll have the chance to do something as all-consuming again someday. We worked with an amazing stunt team, led by Levente Leszák. He taught me so much about horseback riding. And working out choreographies with my stunt double and the show’s fight master, Toma Katrics, was one of the wonderful treats the show had to offer. We all put in year-round effort to achieve a level of realism and believability for the months of our shoot.
As for the emotional preparation, after a while Uhtred became like a second skin for me. You hear actors say this a lot after playing someone on a series for a while, but it’s very true. However, it’s one thing to slip into character to do a scene where he’s walking into a tavern and asking someone some questions and it’s another entirely to mourn the loss of a child. Going to those emotional depths is, for me, the only way to bring real heartbreak across. But as painful and exhausting as that is, those days are always exhilarating. And it helped to have such a phenomenally talented cast to work across from, as well as directors and a crew who have always been thoroughly supportive and considerate.
You also made your directorial debut for the final season last year and served as an executive producer onthe film. How exciting was it being in a different role, as a director and producer?
I’ve been a producer in some capacity since season three, but it was wonderful to be given even more responsibility with the title of EP. And it was a real honor to be a director on our final season. I’m grateful to Nigel and Gareth for their trust. I worked my ass off to make sure they didn’t regret it. I loved it even more than I thought I would and I am in the process of deciding what I want to direct next. I have the bug.
You knew early in your life that you wanted to be an actor. What made you passionate about acting and so sure that this is something you want to do?
The passion really began thanks to Mr. Gibbs, my English teacher, who introduced me to Shakespeare when I was about 12 years old. I know that many kids read it for the first time around then, but I just fell in love with it. Then, once I started seeing it performed and tried performing it myself, the passion grew. I guess you could say that it’s still growing. Every time I face a new challenge or role, it makes me love my job even more. I’ve never had a back-up plan, although I’ve had many jobs to pay the bills over the years.
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jacket FILIPPA K
You were born in Germany and grew up in the US, France and Switzerland. How did your experience of growing up in different countries shape you as a person you are today?
I feel extremely lucky to have been raised in so many different places. I feel like it’s an enormous gift just on a human level, but I also feel like I have benefited from it as an actor. I feel like I’ve lived many lives already, which makes it easy to find my way into different experiences. I guess the one drawback is that whenever anyone asks me where I’m from, it’s always a longer answer than they’re expecting.
How would you describe the experience of living in each of these countries?
Maybe it’s because I’ve been talking about ‘Seven Kings Must Die’ so much or maybe it’s this time of the year, but of all the places I’ve lived, Hungary is the one I’ve been thinking about the most lately. Ever since we started filming ‘The Last Kingdom’ there in 2014, I’ve spent a ton of time there. It has become one of the many places where I step off the plane and feel like I’m home.
My Hungarian friends and co-workers are generous and open and kind and talented and incredibly hard working. The landscape is stunning and so varied. Budapest is so alive and such a cultural melting pot. There’s such a rich history that is visible and well preserved everywhere. I can close my eyes right now and transport myself into those July sunflower fields. I miss being there.
sweater ISABEL MARANT
You have a backround in martial arts and have also learned to ride horses while living in South Dakota. What are some of your other passions and hobbies?
My passion at the moment is trying to figure out how to blow the perfect, giant bubble for my son in our backyard. Or cracking the mysterious code of what food he’s going to want to eat on any given day. Or just staring at him. Honestly, that’s really it. My other passions and hobbies are taking a breather, they’ve got some big competition.
How has beconing a father changed your life?
I think the above answer sort of covers it. It’s changed everything about my life.
Alexander, what can you share with us about your upcoming projects, as an actor, director and a producer?
I don’t have anything that I can announce right now, but I’m really looking forward to the next chapter of my career. I’m trying to be very thoughtful and picky about my next ventures, both as an actor and as a director. As a producer, I want to continue supporting the projects I believe in, whether there’s a role for me in them or not.
top ISABEL MARANT
pants HUGO BOSS
talent ALEXANDER DREYMON @alexander.dreymon
photographer DENNIS TEJERO @dennistejero
stylist TYLER OKUNS @tyleeresosa
groomer LAILA HAYANI @lailalhayani @forwardartists
retouching JOSEPH PARRY @jpretoucher
production ALECIA RODRIGUEZ @aleciarodriguez___
photography assistants JOHN GREGORIOS, JOANNE TINSAY & KEVIN LIEW @thisisjaynyc @joannetinsay @ayokl
editor TIMOTEJ LETONJA @timiletonja