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We seem to be living in the golden age of cinematic bear attacks. First we saw Leonardo Dicaprio’s Hugh Glass get viciously mauled by a grizzly in The Revenant, and then on the small screen, in Vikings, we saw Bjorn Ironside take one on. Whoever said actors have it easy clearly doesn't know what they're talking about. According to the actor involved, the Vikings bear attack sequence could have gone horribly wrong incredibly quickly.
Speaking with Zap2It, Vikings actor Alexander Ludwig recently spoke out about the bear attack scene, and how the crew used incredibly low-tech methods of keeping the vicious animal in check:
There’s a walkway for the bear, from its trailer where they hold it to the actual set, that’s surrounded by an electrical fence. Where I was filming, where I was across from the bear, it wasn’t. It was just a clothesline, but the bear thought it was an electric fence. I kept saying to the producers, ‘I can’t wait for you guys to have to rewrite this ending of the bear fight, when the bear gets hungry and realizes there’s no electric fence.
That’s about as sketchy as it gets when it comes to working with a wild animal. They literally tricked a grizzly bear into thinking they had confined it within an electric fence, when they most certainly had not. If the bear at any point figured out that the wire they had strung up had no electric current running through it, there really wouldn’t have been much that the cast and crew could have done to prevent it from attacking Alexander Ludwig.
Filming this scene is actually much more dangerous than the attack from The Revenant. Unlike the recent blockbuster, which used stunt performers and some of the most technologically advanced CGI we have ever seen, Vikings actually utilized a real grizzly that could have easily killed the actor.
If you feel as though you have seen that bear before, you’re right. Alexander Ludwig would go on to praise the bear’s professionalism, which makes sense considering the animal has a long entertainment industry resume extending as far back as one of Will Ferrell’s best movies:
I will say the bear was a better actor than I was and it hit its mark… I was a huge fan of it’s work, it was in ‘Anchorman'.
If it’s good enough to take on Ron Burgundy and the San Diego news team, then it’s good enough to do battle with a Viking. We’ve heard of films and TV shows going to some insane lengths to nail awesome sequences, but this story most definitely takes the cake.