‘Glee’ To ‘Vikings’: Jessalyn Gilsig Talks Extreme Makeunder

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There may be very little intersection between those who would watch FOX’s Glee and History Channel’s Vikings. But if you’re a fan of Jessalyn Gilsig, you may take the leap with her.

Probably best known as Will Schuester’s (Matthew Morrison) colorful and conniving ex-wife, Terry, on the musical series, Gilsig wanted to make sure that none of that was present – except maybe the conniving – in her new character on the epic period series (History’s first foray into scripted series TV after the success of miniseries, Hatfields & McCoys).

“I just knew that it was going to be difficult to ask people to make that transition with me,” Gilsig tells Celebuzz.

“So, I felt like I had to let go of a lot of things like change my hair color and commit completely to not wearing any makeup to really make sure that I was as integrated into the role as possible and not have any holds that would take people out of the experience.”

The Canadian actress plays Siggy, wife of the local chieftain, Early Heraldson (played by Gabriel Byrne), whose position becomes threatened by the ambitious Ragnar (Travis Fimmel), a Viking warrior who will later become legend.

This is the kind of part Gilsig has been waiting for. “I felt like when I read it that this show was a lot of why I became an actor,” Gilsig — who also produced and starred in the movie, Somewhere Slow, which is currently making the film festival rounds — tells us.

“I’ve always been quite a history buff and I’ve always loved the idea, the thought of kind of that we’re storytellers and we want to take people out of their environment and give them an experience that’s foreign,” she adds. “And that’s so much of what this show is.”

Of course, one would think that the role of women in the Viking Age’s late Eighth to Eleventh Centuries would be much diminished. But, you may be surprised by the freedom of women in the time.

“What we do know about this era is that the women had more rights than they’ve had often in Western Civilization,” Gilsig, 41, points out. “They could divorce. Rape was not legal within the society. They fought in battle. They were trained in sword fights. And, they could rule. So, somewhere somebody decided to erase the history of the Vikings and the position that women had, but there was a time when women were going toe-to-toe with the men.”

With all that power to protect, what can fans expect from Siggy? “My character is definitely a slow burn, because when we meet her she is in collaboration with her husband, who’s really sort of the face of our power. But, we’re in a really vulnerable position because we have no son. Our sons have died,” Gilsig reveals.

“Siggy’s a pretty ruthless survivor,” she adds. “And she feels very much that sort of a deep drive, not to survive, but always live in that position that’s powerful and she’ll do anything to maintain that… [But], she’s going to lose so much more than what she’s lost already.”

Vikings premieres Sunday at 10PM on History Channel.

Will you follow Gilsig into the Viking era?

Watch below: Vikings star Travis Fimmel describes the new series.

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