“Everything We Know about … ” is Paste’s series of deep dives into the forthcoming projects we’re most excited about. Explore them all here.
Between The Lighthouse and his debut The Witch, Robert Eggers has emerged as one of the most ambitious and intriguing directors in the industry today, creating evocative, impeccably researched period pieces that feel prescient. Fans of Eggers’ work will now have a new film to look forward to: The Viking epic The Northman. “You’ve gotta make a viking movie when you get the chance,” the director told Paste last October.
Here’s everything we know about Eggers’ new project so far.
News of Eggers’ forthcoming film first broke on Oct. 16, 2019. Outlets like Deadline, THR and IndieWire announced the project with updates on the potential cast.
On Jan. 30, 2020, cinematographer Jarin Blaschke, who shot The Lighthouse, discussed the film briefly with Screen Daily. According to Blaschke, “Rob [Eggers] says very little. It’s a bigger movie than the others. I can say it’s a Viking revenge movie and we are shooting in Europe. I think he feels a responsibility to do a trilogy. It’s dark and unusually violent.”
It’s quite impressive to see The Northman described as “unusually violent” for a director who made a film about violent urges and a descent into madness. Blaschke also confirms that the film will be a part of a spiritual trilogy with New England period epics The Lighthouse and The Witch.
While not much is known about the plot, we do have a brief logline. The Northman will be a “Viking revenge saga set in Iceland at the turn of the 10th century,” as per Deadline. The film will focus on “a Nordic prince who set outs on a mission of revenge after his father is murdered,” according to IndieWire. Eggers and Sjón, the Icelandic poet and novelist who collaborated on Lars von Trier’s Dancer in the Dark (starring Björk), are co-writing the script, so viewers can probably expect something quite innovative.
Speaking of Björk, rumors are circulating that the polymathic singer and Cannes award-winning actress may be joining The Northman’s cast. Although, sadly, those rumors are not yet confirmed, a recent interview with Totally Dublin says that Björk and Eggers were at least in talks to collaborate on the film. If true, The Northman would be Björk’s first feature film in 20 years, since Dancer in the Dark in 2000.
But on to the cast members who are confirmed. The Viking saga will see some familiar faces from Eggers-land. Anya Taylor-Joy, who led Eggers’ debut The Witch, is set to climb aboard. So will Willem Dafoe, most recently a dour star of the endlessly beguiling The Lighthouse. Nicole Kidman, Claes Bang and the Skarsgård brothers, Alexander and Bill Skarsgård, are also set to appear in the production, according to Deadline. Alexander Skarsgård might be up for the role of the prince, while his former Big Little Lies co-star Kidman is in talks to play his mother.
Lars Knudsen, a producer of The Witch, is set to reprise his producing duties for The Northman, according to THR. New Regency will be financing the film, as per Collider. The company previously financed The Lighthouse along with A24. IMDb lists Mark Huffam and Arnon Milchan as additional producers, and Alexander Skarsgård as an executive producer, but that is not yet confirmed.
Eggers fans will have to wait for a little bit. A release date is not yet known, but The Northman is expected to begin filming at the end of March, as per Totally Dublin. That may mean a premiere at some point in 2020 or 2021. The good news is that The Lighthouse and The Witch can withstand repeated viewings.
On Feb. 17, The Belfast Telegraph published images of the anticipated filming location, set for a remote area of Torr Head in picturesque Ballycastle, Northern Ireland. Eggers is reportedly already living locally and production is expected to last around 19 weeks. If shooting is anything like the making of The Lighthouse (Dafoe spoke with Robert Pattinson for Interview Magazine, saying “the conditions were so harsh that [the pair] hardly talked outside of scenes”), production could be grueling.
“I always like a challenge,” Eggers told Paste. “When we were scouting for [The Northman], now that we know what it is, I was with Sam Hanson from New Regency, and we were on the side of a volcano, and the winds were, you know, windy. And Sam was like,”OK, you’ve done it: It’s worse than The Lighthouse!”
Watch this space for further updates on The Northman and read Paste’s 2019 interview with Eggers here.