Robert Eggers’ new Northern European thriller just added some Icelandic authenticity to its credentials with singer and songwriter Björk joining the cast in an unspecified role. This puts Björk in a company of performers that includes Bill Skarsgård, Anya Taylor-Joy, Nicole Kidman, Alexander Skarsgård, and Willem Dafoe, just in time as the movie begins its production in Ireland this week.
Beginning filming after the coronavirus pandemic delayed filming earlier in the year, The Northman marks the third historical drama from Robert Eggers after he made two of the most interesting horror movies of the last decade in The Witch (2016) and The Lighthouse (2019). But whereas those films examined Puritanism in early 17th century New England and the livelihoods of lighthouse keepers in late 19th century Maine, The Northman promises to be a bigger and more ambitious effort set during the distant age of Vikings.
Eggers co-wrote the latest film with Icelandic poet and novelist Sjón Sigurdsson, with the aim of creating a “revenge saga” set during the 10th century. This is around the period when the Vikings were pillaging as far and wide as the English coast. Originally expected to star Alexander Skarsgård as a Viking prince, new reports suggest brother Peter Skarsgård is the eponymous Northman who seeks revenge over the death of his father. Both actors have found acclaim as of late, with Alexander winning an Emmy for his chilling turn in Big Little Lies and Peter starring as Pennywise the Dancing Clown in the recent two-part adaptation of Stephen King’s It.
Oscar winner Nicole Kidman, meanwhile, is expected to play the mother of the hero, ironically after portraying Alexander Skarsgård’s abused wife on Big Little Lies. Taylor-Joy and Dafoe’s roles remain a mystery, though their appearances mark a reunion with Eggers. Before starring in Emma., Taylor-Joy saw her breakout in Eggers’ debut film, The Witch, which won the writer-director the Best Director award at the Sundance Film Festival. Dafoe, in turn, starred in Eggers’ The Lighthouse as a crusty wickie who might be mistaken for a corncob pipe with legs.
The emphasis on historical authenticity continues in The Northman, as glimpsed in the above photo of a medieval Vikings village being recreated on the Irish coast. According to Getty Images, the photo was taken at Torr Head County Antrim, a remote area of Northern Ireland.
Given that both The Witch and The Lighthouse are among the most original recent genre films of the last few years, The Northman is one we’re keeping a weather eye open on before it comes raiding for us.