Recently I had the fun opportunity to work on a Vikings hair tutorial with Amy Bailey (Queen Kwenthrith). Her hair is very short now, so we created a video teaching you how to take iconic Vikings braids and translate them into techniques that work with short locks. Find the video here to see the results!
Afterwards, I asked Amy several questions about hairstyles, costumes, and funny stories from the set of Vikings. Check out the full interview below to get all the insider knowledge about Vikings!
Hairstyling Like a Viking
Silvousplaits : How do they normally style you on the show?
Amy Bailey: Actually they use a lot of jewelry – like neck and arm pieces in our hair. They source stuff from opera houses in Italy and they will weave necklaces and things like this up in our hair and in the braids.
S: Do they add any extensions to your hair?
A: Yes. So on Vikings, I used to have naturally long hair but then I had a hair extension piece that was probably 3 feet long. They would weave it into my natural hair in the back so that I just had more and more hair. A hell of a lot of hair.
S: I have a lot of people say that they think their hair is too thin for all these hairstyles. Like, “why can’t I have hair that thick?” and I’m like, “girl, there’s no one who has hair that thick.”
A: Oh gosh no. I had a team of people working on my hair, so it wasn’t anything that I could have done by myself. For the camera you want to be able to pick stuff up, so they wanted to be able to have a lot of volume. A lot of times it would be so frustrating, because I would spend an hour in hair & makeup and it would look like I had this beautiful bouquet of danishes on the back of my hair. It was all gorgeous. And then the whole scene would be shot only in the front. We missed a lot of it, but it was amazing.
Designing the Hairstyles
A: Shout out to Dee Cocoran, who is our hair designer. Amazing woman, and phenomenal hairstyling.
S: You had a big team working with her.
A: Yeah, lots of people. So she designs it, but they’re very open as well, so if any of the actors had suggestions or thoughts about the hair Dee would always listen to us and we would kind of create the style together. In fact in season 3, when Kwenthrith got to sort of go to battle, she finally gets to go with the Vikings, who she loves. I said to Dee, let’s do it as if Kwenthrith is trying to be a Viking. So we did like a pseudo sort of shield maiden style, as if she was copying Lagertha on purpose. I don’t know if you noticed that – her hair changed for season 3.
S: Yeah, it was less drapey and more like structured braiding on top.
A: Yeah, and that’s because she was desperately trying to fit in with the cool kids.
In the Makeup Room
S: Are there any other cool stories that you have from the makeup room?
A: Well an interesting thing about Vikings is that usually when you’re filming, the women all have 4 or 4:30am time calls because they take longer with the makeup and all that kind of stuff. On Vikings, the men take much longer because they have longer hair and they wear makeup, while the women don’t. Well I didn’t, anyways. I loved it, I would come in and have like no makeup done and then an hour in the hair chair. The guys were in for two hours or longer, because they had to have scars put on, they had to have full body tattoos… So that was interesting that the guys actually had to go earlier than the girls.
S: Haha! Longer line at the men’s bathroom, finally!
On Costumes and Props
S: Do you get to keep anything from the show?
A: If you’re really nice to the department, you can ask to keep some things. Sometimes they’ll gift you things when you leave. When Torstein got killed off, they gave him his shield. And they are real Viking shields. I can hardly even lift them. They’re incredibly heavy. And he was given his shield. Once they… oh, I can’t say that, it’s a spoiler.
A: Nevermind! But the thing about giving us stuff is they have to be careful, because a lot of it’s very authentic. So they can’t give away one of a kind pieces. Our costumes are incredible, they all come from antique places.
S: So with real shields, they must do a lot of fight training.
A: Oh, a lot. All of our Viking actors are amazing athletes and they work really hard with the stunt teams. They’re very very strong. And they fight hard! But I got to watch all the battles from the ship. They would film and shoot back on me, and I was on the ship going, “AH! Ragnar! Please don’t die!” And then they would shoot the battle, and it was really happening. It was so exciting and so scary, that I was not acting. I was really scared, and really excited for real. They had the camera on me and I was really screaming my guts out. Going, “aaahhh this is amazing!”
S: That’s so cool! You even got to fight too, in this last season.
A: Yeah, yeah I did. I was very pregnant. Very pregnant, with twins. It was hard, I was exhausted, my feet and ankles were massive after the shot. But it was cool. It was probably my favorite scene that I’ve done so far.
Fun fact: The Mercian Tower fight scene was shot when I was 6 months pregnant with twins. This is the rehearsal before we went to set. Had to work out how to hide my 'babies' bump 👶👶 Massive thanks to our stunt team, whose clever choreography made it an exciting scene + kept my babes safe. @historyvikings #vikings #Kwenthrith #stunt #twins #TVdebut
Do you know any other Vikings fun facts? Share them in a comment below!
And if you’d like to see more videos on how to do Vikings hair, visit my Youtube playlist for the show.
Congratulations to Amy Bailey for an excellent performance as Queen Kwenthrith, and a major thanks for giving us this interview!