Hunky 'Vikings: Valhalla' Star Leo Suter Talks Growing Long Locks and Getting in Sword Fighting Shape

Everything to know about Leo Suter, the charming Oxford-educated star of the hit Netflix series Vikings: Valhalla

Leo Suter
Photo: Bernard Walsh/Netflix

When Leo Suter landed a starring role on Vikings: Valhalla, the actor knew he'd be in for an immersive experience. The principal cast members were put through the requisite physical conditioning, sword fighting training, mastering proper Scandinavian accents and for the men, growing out facial and head hairs — which led to a surprise that Suter did not see coming.

"I've never had long hair before and I didn't realize it was curly," the 28-year-old says with a laugh. "When I came back from [filming in] Ireland, my hair was longer and the beard was actually longer. There were old school friends and university friends who I would pass in the street and they did not recognize me. It's quite nice to like to do a part and to really like feel a transformation, it's good fun."

"And my dad told me that no Suter has ever, or will ever grow a beard and I proved him wrong, thank you very much," he adds with a smile. "So there's an element of pride in keeping it at the moment just to rub it in his face."

The London-born actor will be needing his longer locks and beard relatively soon as production on season 3 of the hit Netflix series is set to begin next month. (Seasons 1 and 2 were filmed together, and the second season will be released in early 2023.) In the series, which is set 100 years after the events in the original Vikings, Suter plays Harald Sigurdsson, who is based on real-life former King of Norway Harald Hardrada.

Here's everything you should know about the rising star.

Leo Suter
Tyree Harris

He was bitten by the acting bug early

"I was the main part in the Christmas Nativity play at a very young age, so maybe that was a sign," he says of early indicators of his career path. "But it was at school when I was doing school plays, probably around 13, when I realized I really liked it and had a knack at it. I think that probably there are elements of wanting to be the center of attention, but hopefully, I've gotten rid of that. I think I was always a bit of a performative kid. I used to do impressions, that sort of thing.

Bonus pre-TV and movie actor fact: Suter was a pre-med student at Oxford where he got a degree in Human Sciences. "I got really into genetics and molecular genetics, but that was a very different career path to acting," he says.

Leo Suter
Bernard Walsh/Netflix

He is a great (fake) fighter

When it comes to mastering the complex fight and battle choreography required of his character, Suter says he went all-in.

"For it to be believable, you have to really commit," he says. "And that means that at the end of a day, you are already physically exhausted, as well as emotionally exhausted because, with good fights, you have emotional drivers behind them. So add that to the fact that you are really pushing yourself to the limit, and that the stunt teams have come up with choreography that in many instances is much longer than what audiences will see so you really are panting and out of breath by the end of it. I have done a few other things where it's been really physical, but this physicality was a really key part of this project."

When the Valhalla cast wasn't working, they were playing

"Frida and I played tennis," Suter reveals about making the most of his downtime and quarantine with his costar. "Frida Gustavsson's double-handed backhand is a menace, you ought to be careful. Hit to her forehand. But yeah, Frida and I played a lot of tennis together, and we also played with [showrunner] Jeb Stewart a bit, which was cool. And then we also went on these road trips."

Suter adds, "Once things opened up a little bit, we could drive out west and camp. And we had some amazing adventures, saw shooting stars, went to these beautiful idyllic little hamlets in Ireland and really got to explore the countryside, which was very good fun. And then towards the end, things began to open up even more and we did go to the pubs and drink some Guinness, which was really nice."

Leo Suter
Richard Young/Shutterstock

He is a Jack of many trades

In his free time, Suter says he immerses himself in other arts as well as the occasional amateur gardening.

"I like playing my piano, I like reading, and well for [Vikings: Valhalla], fitness had to become a part of my routine in a way it hadn't before. But I actually quite enjoy that because I can go and listen to the radio and slowly scroll through, probably Instagram, as I do my exercise," he says. "But I also like seeing my family as well because sometimes this job takes you away from home for a while. So when I'm [in London], I spend time with them, help out in the garden, that's usually quite nice."

He gives good season 2 teasers

"Harold is a real character who lived an incredible life, so Google [his real-life fate] at your own volition," Suter says with a smile. "What I would tease about season 2 is I would say, at the end of season 1, these three characters who we've come to sort of hopefully know and love, their worlds are all a little uprooted and the world is a little uprooted. Kattegat's changed hands, it's all at boiling points. So yeah, these characters have been pushed to their extremes."

Vikings: Valhalla is now streaming on Netflix.

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