'Vikings' on History Channel: The Actor Who Plays Ragnar Lothbrok / Transformation from Calvin Klein Model [VIDEO]

Gil ShalowitzApr 02, 2013 02:16 PM EDT

'Vikings' on History Channel: The Actor Who Plays Ragnar / Transformation from Calvin Klein Model

Travis Fimmel plays Ragnar Lothbrok in History Channel's breakout hit Vikings, which premiered March 3. Ragnar isn't the first gig for Fimmel. As shocking as it may be the Vikings actor broke onto the scene starring in a racy Calvin Klein campaign over ten years ago.

In the Klein ads Fimmel was a hunky, clean-shaven man with a hint of androgyny, never appearing in more than his underwear. Fimmel was so successful as a 23-year old model he became the first male in the world to sign an exclusive 6-figure contract with Klein in 2002.

Now at 33, Fimmel plays the lead in Vikings. The History Channel show that garnered over 10 million viewers for its first episode demands a much grungier look from Fimmel.

Embracing the beard and deranged appearance, Fimmel appeared at the Vikings panel at 2013 Wondercon in semi-Vikings attire...unshaven but hopefully showered.

Though Fimmel gets a lot of the credit, deservedly, for Vikings and Ragnar's success, the actor defers a lot of the praise to Vikings creator and head writer, Michael Hirst.

"He gave us a lot of background on everything. And I guess it's just our job, as actors, to humanize it and make it relevant to people today and give them something that they can grab a hold of, you know?  It's like everybody's got families and brothers and every family has their own conflicts and that - my character Ragnar is very ambitious like a lot of people and he's just trying to make a better life for himself, you know?"

Tune in to Vikings on History Channel Sundays at 9/8c.

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