Why Vikings’ Katheryn Winnick Joined ABC’s Big Sky So Soon After Playing Lagertha

Vikings Katheryn Winnick Lagertha History
(Image credit: Bernard Walsh / History)

Katheryn Winnick is heading to ABC’s Big Sky after being with Vikings since the beginning of its run. Before the last half of its final season concluded, her journey as fan-favorite Lagertha came to a stunning end just shy of the finish line. Winnick even gave fans a heads-up about her character’s impending fate. Now, she's explaining why she joined Big Sky so soon after playing Lagertha.

It has been a minute since fans have seen Katheryn Winnick on their screens. In November, she'll star opposite Kylie Bunbury and Ryan Phillippe in Big Sky. The crime thriller, set in the present day, is a far cry from the historical sphere of Vikings. So during a press event for Big Sky, CinemaBlend’s Nick Venable asked Winnick about getting to play something so different. In response, Winnick said:

I don’t have to be three and a half hours of wardrobe and braids, covered in dirt as well. [Laughs.] To be honest with you, I wasn’t really looking to sign on for another series at this point. You know, I just did a movie with Sean Penn and I was working on three movies coming out this next year. But when you see David E. Kelley’s name on this and you read the scripts, how can you say no?

David E. Kelly proved to be too much of a draw for Katheryn Winnick to turn down Big Sky. Winnick’s answer sort of mirrors that of her former Vikings co-star, Travis Fimmel, when he explained why he agreed to do Raised by Wolves. The answer? In Fimmel’s case, it was Ridley Scott. Of course, not having to deal with the elaborate hair and make-up Vikings required has been another advantage of Big Sky.

During her last season of Vikings, Katheryn Winnick spoke out about the extensive prosthetics process that went into aging Lagertha. It makes total sense that she would enjoy a break from all of that time in the makeup chair for Big Sky. Between that and David E. Kelly’s involvement, it sounds as though Winnick had a pretty easy decision as she continued explaining:

I had [been a fan] for so long and grew up with Ally McBeal and grew up watching so many of these iconic, powerful, relatable characters – especially female characters and female voices – that I kind of just said, okay. David, do you remember when we met up in your office and I sat with you and I’m, like, picking your brain. I’m like, ‘Okay. What kind of show is this going to be? Is this an ABC thing or are we actually going to try to break the mold and do this a little different?’ And now we’re almost finished. Our first and second episode, we shot in blocks, and I’m happy to say it definitely feels very raw and real, and we’re shooting something really special. I’m excited to be part of this phenomenal cast, because we have such a great group of talented actors, and the cast is just absolutely unbelievable. So, I’m happy to be part of it.

Interesting! Based on Katheryn Winnick’s comments, Big Sky could be a bit different than the usual ABC fare, which tends to be pretty safe due to network standards. Of course, Vikings has also faced its restrictions as a cabler. Whether that particular facet is what she is referring to, I am not entirely clear. What is obvious is that just as with Vikings (and its spinoff), Winnick’s enthusiasm for the project is unmistakable.

Vikings was incredibly fortunate to have Katheryn Winnick for as long as it did. It's heading into the final half without a hugely instrumental part of its cast. Since leaving the show, Winnick has reflected on her feelings over how she exited Vikings and the emotional tax that it took on her. Thankfully, she has some “Big Sky” to help keep those clouds at bay.

Big Sky is one of this fall’s premieres. It will debut on Tuesday, November 17, at 10 p.m. ET on ABC. As for Katheryn Winnick’s former show, a release date for the second half of Vikings’ sixth and final season is pending. It goes without saying but, for this fan, it won't be the same without her.

Britt Lawrence

Like a contented Hallmark movie character, Britt happily lives in the same city she grew up in. Along with movies and television, she is passionate about competitive figure skating. She has been writing about entertainment for 5 years, and as you may suspect, still finds it as entertaining to do as when she began.