Friday, February 28, 2014

A Conversation with Michael Hirst

By Nancy Bilyeau

Michael Hirst & Henry VIII
After years of admiring his work--writing the screenplay of the film "Elizabeth" and creating the Showtime series "The Tudors"--I got the chance to interview Michael Hirst . He most recently created the History Chanel series "Vikings" and, on the eve of the second season première, made himself available to the press. I'm a huge fan of "Vikings" and jumped at the chance.

Michael was thoughtful and honest in our talk, and passionate about turning history into visual stories. I felt as if I were talking to a fellow historical novelist:

Nancy Bilyeau: I can’t give it away here because it’s a spoiler, but something happens in Episode Four to Athelstan that is truly horrifying. Is that taken from history too?

Michael Hirst:  It’s based on something that happened to a monk, yes.  I feel better writing about it that I haven’t made it up. That’s the way I work. I don’t think I could write a totally original screenplay. In fact, I’m not interested in writing one. I like it to be rooted in reality.

To read my review for DuJour magazine, go to:


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