TRAVIS Fimmel says he never had ambitions to be an actor.
That makes the laid-back Aussie's starring role in the hit medieval drama Vikings all the more remarkable, considering he only moved to the US to have a go at acting because he caught the eye of his agent while bartending in London.
"I still don't want to be an actor," he says over the phone from California.
"I just went to classes and that over here ... I was trying to avoid a real job."
It's early on a Saturday morning when I answer the phone, expecting to hear a conference call operator on the other end ready to connect me to Travis in Los Angeles.
Instead Travis answers with a cheeky "morning princess".
Raised on a large dairy farm near Echuca, he was a promising young footballer before a broken leg dashed any hopes of an AFL career.
After he was discovered by a model scout at a Melbourne gym, Travis went on to become the star of two Calvin Klein underwear and fragrance campaigns. The fashion brand reportedly paid him six figures for an exclusive one-year contract.
That on-camera magnetism has translated on to the screen, where Travis starred opposite Patrick Swayze in The Beast before landing his current role as farmer turned Norse legend Ragnar Lothbrok in Vikings.
Ragnar's not the biggest or the strongest man on the battlefield, but he has the mental toughness and intelligence to rise up the ranks of the Viking tribes.
"One of the things I like about him most is how inquisitive he is and what lengths he'll go to discover new things and learn," he says.
"He realises there's a lot more out there than just his little community. His culture needs new places to go."
The second season, currently airing on Foxtel's FX Channel, sees Ragnar carry out further daring raids into England.
But marriage troubles with Lagertha also see him separated from his beloved son.
The upcoming third season, which premieres in the US on Thursday, will see the Vikings go even further afield to Paris.
Travis has a legion of dedicated male and female fans around the world thanks to his portrayal of the mohawked Ragnar, but the attention doesn't seem to faze him.
He's self-effacing, preferring to talk up the other cast and crew rather than himself.
"I don't have to do much to be honest," he says.
"I just learn my lines and the other guys make me look a lot better than I am.
"We're like little kids running around playing with swords and getting paid for it. I really can't complain."
Vikings airs on Wednesdays at 6.30pm Qld, 7.30pm NSW on Foxtel's FX channel.
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