OK —Winnick: But I will tell you this: It was definitely my highlight of working on it. I asked Michael Hirst, I want three things out of my directorial debut: Give me a big event. Give me something epic and amazing. You will see that is actually in the trailers right now. So there is a big event. I wanted character-driven material that I can push the actors, my fellow costars, to new levels that the audience hasn t seen them do before. And I m happy to say that I definitely put Alexander Ludwig through the ringer. And even Marco and Jordan — Hvitserk and Ubbe. The third thing is just coming from a martial art background and doing my own stunts and being passionate about the fight choreography, I asked him for a big fight, a big epic battle, and you will see that as well.(Photo by Jonathan Hession and History)Now that you re facing the the tail end of your series, what will you miss most about your time on the show?Winnick: I don t miss getting into the costume hair and makeup, because that was always a process. We tried to get it down at the end. That wig was a challenge because we were shooting in high definition and you only get X amount of space to glue it on. Or even the prosthetics with the latex around the eyes — I have very sensitive skin, so the process was definitely a process.What I won t miss: The coffee in Ireland s not the best. I ll tell you that. They made instant coffee. Our craft table was pretty always kind of scarce, but it kept us lean. But yeah, the instant coffee I m not a huge fan of.What s coming up next for you? Winnick: I ve had a really busy year. Really excited to say that I ve done three projects, three different independent movies. There s an incredible script called Flag Day, written by Jez Butterworth (who just won the Tony for Ferryman), and Sean Penn directed and starred in. I play his wife, and our daughter is played by his real daughter, Dylan Penn. We ve got Regina King in this, you ve got Miles Teller, we have Josh Brolin. It was really an amazing experience on set to work with Sean, and especially becoming now a director myself — I just did a show on Netflix; I directed, Wu Assassins — but it s nice just to see him [work]. He s so accomplished and brilliant as a director and knows what it takes to get the performance out of you, but also aesthetically knows what is pleasing and what he wants. I wanted to really see him work and spend time with him on set and create something that hopefully people will realize how special it is, because I have a place in my heart for that as well. And to go through like three decades, we went through 60s, 70s, and 80s, and to have that physical change of — there s prosthetics, there s hair changes — It was a very interesting movie, and I m really passionate about that one. Great experience.I did a movie with Liam Neeson I just finished called Minuteman. I ve been a fan of his since back in the day, obviously, Taken and Schindler s List. He s also from Ireland. I played his daughter. That s coming out. And did a movie this summer also with Tommy Lee Jones and Aaron Eckhart, more of a conspiracy theory, written and directed by a female director, April Mullen, so it s nice to be able to support a female storyteller.(Photo by Jonathan Hession and History)Speaking of women in power, Lagertha has been such a huge influence on women because she s such a strong character. She s one of the most powerful women on television. How do you feel about portraying a character like that? What are some of the responses you ve gotten about being her from women?Winnick: I am still blown away when I meet fans that are diehard fans, and such loyal fans of Lagertha, just because it s — not just women and girls, it s men too that really look up to her, respect her, like her. So it s nice that it s reached both genders. But more importantly, it s also around the world. I ve been lucky enough to travel for the last few years. I was in India, I was in Brazil, I ve been in Argentina, Canada, and all over Europe, really, and all around in different cultures people from all around the world, not only recognize her and me, I guess, but they also really feel the same way, and then really feel that there s a part of them in Lagertha, or they look up to her, and that s been remarkable to see.Even in India, you can go to different villages and people, they live on their Netflix. And Philippines, people don t even have running water, but they all have cell phones and they watch Vikings on their cellphones. It was just amazing just to see how it can inspire people everywhere.It s a little strange when you see somebody, when they have your face tattooed on their bodies. That s a little surreal because I feel kind of uncomfortable with it just because it s like, Hey, you re stuck with me for life. No, but on one hand you can t ask for a bigger compliment than to have such loyal fans.On the flip side it s also made it hard to find projects that I m also as inspired, and work with writers that can write such a complex, strong, yet vulnerable character. It s been a challenge. I ve read a lot of scripts that I m not wanting to sign on to because I feel that the characters aren t — or the woman character is underwritten or their voice isn t as multi-dimensional as I would want it to be. And I think we still have a long way to go, and hopefully we encourage more female writers, female directors, and female producers to be able to tell those stories. Have the men do the same as well.(Photo by Bernard Walsh and History)Are you saying that Michael Hirst has ruined you for life?Winnick: I m just going to have be in a Michael Hirst movie for the rest of my life. How about that? Not really. Yeah. He set the bar really high, and I wouldn t want it any other way. Especially in TV when you re signing up for multiple months, if not years, of your life, you want to make sure there s a character you can really sink your teeth into and be inspired.I learned a lot from Lagertha. I really, truly did. And the truth of the matter is, if I was 100-percent honest with you, I ve yet to really say goodbye. I actually have a hard time watching it. I haven t been able to watch the episodes in this season. I prepared, obviously, as a director to watch certain ones, but as a whole, it s just so close to my heart still. And now that everybody knows that this season s finished, I think maybe next year I ll finally get a chance to sit down and binge-watch all of them, but it s still too fresh for me. It feels like you re saying goodbye to a big part of yourself and life. It s hard to say. You go through a mourning process a little bit because, as you know, the show ended.The fans are there mourning with you, but, you know, Valhalla. Winnick: To end on an up note, this season s been amazing. It s going to be surprising. It s definitely going to be a bunch of shockers, and the fans will not be disappointed. They re going to be ecstatic when they see this season.Vikings returns for its final season on Wednesday, December 4 at 9/8C on History.
surroundings. The show itself created all of these little definitions and buzzwords to categorize when people do certain things (“close talker,” etc.) that has since given us a lexicon to understand that behavior. It also encouraged us to do that in our own lives, so it not only created this vocabulary to understand the world but inspired us to expand it. And it, of course, deeply entertained us with each new reminder how times may change, methods of communication change, how we process the world may change, but what we do within that understanding really doesn’t change all that much. Which feels like a suitably bittersweet lesson for the show’s misanthropic view to impart.Allison Keene, TV Editor, Paste Magazine: The nothing-ness of the show encompasses all of the little universal experiences and pet peeves and desires that transcend its time and place. Seinfeld is wacky, hilarious, and incredibly smart, but the conversations and arguments and observations remain with us because we ve experienced them, too. The touchstones of the series — whether it be low-talkers or seeing someone sneeze while naked or the results of The Contest, etc. — all speak to the fleeting, mundane thoughts we have, but here they are augmented into something important and meaningful. Seinfeld gave context and importance to life s weirdness, and that s why it still resonates today.(Photo by Castle Rock Entertainment/Courtesy Everett Collection)Liz Shannon Miller, freelance TV critic for Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, and The AV Club: It s strange to look back at Seinfeld and realize just how much of an impact it had on pop culture, an impact that still resonates today with phrases we use. They re real and they re spectacular is still something I say on a semi-regular basis, just because after 20 years or so, certain phrases get hardwired into not just our brains, but society itself. In the future, as we cluster around trash fires in the ruins of civilization, someone somewhere will probably tell a friend, No soup for you! Even if the context is lost, the meaning will endure.Peter Mehlman, writer and producer for Seinfeld: For the most part, [the show s most quotable lines] just came organically. In the case of double dip … it doesn t take any big genius to come up with that. With some of the others, like master of my domain and sponge-worthy, they were more creative and brilliant — they just came up as a natural bit of writing. It wasn t a concerted effort to come up with new terms for things. There was no poignant moment ever in a script — it was all about just being funny.Jennifer Keishin Armstrong, author of Seinfeldia: How a Show About Nothing Changed Everything: In many ways both social media and streaming have bolstered Seinfeld s legacy. The show and its characters lend themselves well to memes, and several sites, artists, and internet personalities have dedicated themselves to keeping Seinfeld alive. In 2013 a street artist named Jayshells made a reproduction of the poster for Rochelle, Rochelle, one of Seinfeld s fake movies, and put it up in Manhattan. Photos of it went viral online. We had @SeinfeldToday on Twitter, which pitched ideas for plots that could be on a modern version of Seinfeld. And we still have @seinfeld2000 on Twitter, an internet character obsessed with getting Seinfeld back on the air. (He s a creation of a TV producer named Jason Richards.)The characters were hilariously specific and oddly relatable(Photo by Columbia TriStar Television/Courtesy Everett Collection)Gilchrist: Their personalities don’t always translate directly to ourselves or our circle of friends, but the behavior of Jerry, George, Elaine, and Kramer is deeply recognizable to us, and quite often in an unflattering way. We’ve all made choices, had social gaffes, and discovered little superficial patterns of behavior that became ridiculous pet peeves among both the people we cannot stand and the people with whom we’re the closest. We become our own obstacles to happiness because we can’t put aside those things — discarding friendships, relationships, and business exchanges because of an infringement that crossed an imaginary line in the sand. We may even be technically right to do so! But the wonderful thing about the show is that as entertaining as it is for us to watch, those decisions very seldom brought the characters greater or lasting happiness. Mostly, just the opposite.Tom Nunan, Oscar-winning producer and lecturer at the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television: It s so funny because these characters are so relatable. And everything about them seemed kind of right down-the-middle: The way they dressed and where they lived, everything was pretty ordinary-looking. They never tried to make it feel like fantasy. The Friends apartment just seemed like a fantasy version of being 20 years old in New York. Everything about Seinfeld s world was really kind of drab, and I think that s why we relate to it so much more. It was obviously a super-sophisticated, brilliantly-executed show, but they made it all look so normal, and I think that s what makes it so popular.Rick Porter, staff writer, The Hollywood Reporter: Because it was so huge in its time, it seeped into the larger culture in a pretty big way, from yada yada to master of your domain and having fundamentally unlikable people be the center of a show. It probably doesn t get enough credit for the last part, but the characters were all low-key awful a good half-decade before The Sopranos.Armstrong: As horrible as they were, why did we love them? They re just really well-defined. Part of the reason people loved @SeinfeldToday so much was that they loved imagining these characters in modern scenarios, and that s because we know them so well that it s easy to imagine what Kramer might do with Amazon or Elaine might get into on Tinder. These characters — and many who came after them — are proof that viewers aren t particularly interested in watching characters because they re good people. They want to watch characters who are interesting, and interesting people are often somewhere between imperfect and awful.Mehlman: It was before political correctness got completely out of hand, you know? There was a certain kind of innocence about it. Because it s all about just being funny, and just observing the world and not really making points. Characters on shows now are basically so good to each other and if they are not, they apologize. On Seinfeld, they screwed each other over every single week and remained best of friends the next week.Seinfeld disrupted the TV sitcom formula(Photo by Columbia TriStar Television/Courtesy Everett Collection)Nunan: The ambition that Jerry and Larry had for this — these multiple story lines and multiple scenes per episode — mixed with a cast that was a murderer s row of phenomenal, superstar comic talent … that kind of magic is rare. And then there s that old saying that this is a show about nothing. In other words, it s not about family cohesion; it s not about romantic comedy; it s not about politics. It s about what Jerry Seinfeld became known for as a comedian before ever signing onto his own show, which was about the little observations in life — these little things that are universal and that we all share in common.Thompson: It wasn t really about nothing. It was just about different things that television generally didn t deal with. It was about the kind of details of daily life that people go through. For example, the classic Chinese Restaurant episode that was not something about nothing, it was about something we very much deal with on a daily basis: waiting in line for a restaurant.Mehlman: You know, we didn t have a writers room. You basically pitched ideas to Larry and Jerry for each of the characters. They d say, I like that, or, I m not crazy about that. And you d go off and write on your own. The very first script I wrote for the show [was The Apartment ]. It was the first outside script they produced and it was just about Jerry absentmindedly telling Elaine that an apartment opened up in her building. That was the whole thing that they sent me off with. I added in this whole story about George going to a party wearing a wedding ring to see if it would really attract women. I just added that in as I was writing. And Larry and Jerry had no idea what that was going to be.The jokes were the priority, and no topic was off-limits(Photo by Columbia TriStar Television/Courtesy Everett Collection)Porter: I think it s the template for most of the hangout comedies that followed it. Stakes are never terribly high, which allows more room for jokes and bits of character work and giving everyone in the core cast their time to shine. You can see its DNA in everything from Friends to Happy Endings to The Big Bang Theory. The low stakes and jokes-over-all ethos of the show also gives it a more timeless feel. They all have landlines and stuff, but with a handful of exceptions, stories don t hinge on things that are so of their time that it feels dated. There s a B-story in one episode where Jerry taped a Mets game and doesn t want to know the score before he gets home to watch it, which How I Met Your Mother riffed on in a Super Bowl–themed episode and this still plays well in the current spoiler-phobic era.Mehlman: It was a very male-centric show. I think the big upside of that is that you got to see conversations in mixed company that you never saw before. You know, we got to talk about anything. So I think that made a lot of people feel kind of liberated. It was kind of a very male show, yet, I always felt that if you didn t have a good Elaine story, or if Julia didn t have a big part in an episode, there was no way it could be a great episode. All the great episodes needed to have really strong Elaine stories or you were in trouble.Seinfeld is available to watch by subscription on Hulu and to purchase in its entirety on FandangoNow, Amazon.com, iTunes, and other sites where you buy video on demand.