From the international catwalk to Nordic royalty. Alyssa Sutherland is a model Viking
EVEN on the catwalk, Alyssa Sutherland was never anyone’s fool.
Graceful, intensely beautiful, with a look unique enough to earn her an exclusive contract with
Vogue Australia, this savvy runway queen made the business of fashion work hard for her.
While others were content to be just a pretty face, local industry experts will tell you the Brisbane-born model was possessed of something more.
Now starring as Princess Aslaug in her third season of drama series Vikings, Sutherland has realised that potential on the small screen.
Take the current storyline which sees her at the centre of a love triangle with fellow Australian actor Travis Fimmel (as warrior Ragnar Lothbrok ) and co-star Katheryn Winnick, who plays his first wife, Lagertha. Rather than play to audience expectations of a throw-down, drag-out cat fight,
Dynasty- style, Sutherland and Winnick took a more subtle approach.
“Neither of us wanted to play it obviously with these jealous women,” Sutherland says.
“We really liked the complications of that storyline, especially for that time period as well because, morally what we adhere to today, or what we’d like to adhere to today, is different from what the Vikings believed in.”
Striking a balance between the history lesson and the relationships is at the heart of this smart drama, Sutherland says.
Its appeal with audiences worldwide has opened up new opportunities for the “rookie” actor, who knows to use the success as a broader launch pad.
“It allows you to be a little bit more fussy about what you’re doing and that’s really cool,” she says. “I don’t do things half-heartedly.”
So much so, Sutherland admits, playing the pregnant princess in season two saw her literally waddling around the Ireland set.
“If you see your reflection often enough, you start to believe it.”
Aslaug’s arc has been deeply satisfying for Sutherland, who has seen her austere character mellow with motherhood.
“It was a really nice place to get to from where she started.
“She’s royalty and definitely high in status, but I like to think underneath that she’s a big, old, insecure ball of anxiety and spends most of the time trying to cover it up.”
Any of Sutherland’s personal hangups, about her body in particular, had to be parlayed after making her debut in a skinny-dipping scene.
Despite years stripping in front of strangers backstage for fashion shows, the naturally modest former model still had to calm her nerves.
“How can you not get nervous about having to do something like that? But it ended up that I was out in nature, in Ireland, underneath a waterfall, surrounded by these beautiful mountains and forests, kinda like, ‘Well, if you’re going to do it anywhere, this is a pretty beautiful place to do it’.”
VIKINGS SEASON 3, THURSDAY, 8.30PM, SBS ONE SEASON 2, WEDNESDAY, 6.30PM, FX