Actress Dianne Doan is the latest Canadian star to jump back in time to the Viking Age. The Vancouver native joins fellow Canucks Alexander Ludwig and Katheryn Winnick in the fourth season of the hit historical series Vikings (Thursdays, History).
Unlike her last project, which saw her play Mulan’s daughter in Disney’s hugely successful and light-hearted made-for-TV movie Descendants, Dianne takes on a much darker role in Vikings, playing a slave within the royal household. “Yidu is strong-willed and embodies a very strong independence,” the actress tells Hello!, adding that she wanted to avoid playing her as “a victim.” She notes that Yidu's enigmatic allure ultimately catches the attention and interest of leading warrior Ragnar. "There's a sense of mystery and curiously about where she comes from."
Here, Dianne opens up about filming the series in Ireland, friendly Canadians and why she won’t be letting her father watch her episodes.
You must have been thrilled to see so many fellow Canadians on set! Did you know any of your cast mates before filming started? I hadn’t met anything of them. Alexander was really the first person to welcome me to set. At the table read he was like, “Vancouver!” so we had that mutual respect going on. Katheryn was lovely. There was a real sense of home on set.
Was it easy to settle into life in Ireland? It took a little bit of time to adjust for me personally, but I mean the whole cast and crew are stuck in Ireland so we all just became such a close-knit family and were really supportive of each other.
What did you miss most about Vancouver while you were away? I really miss the people. I’m very family oriented so being so far away from a support system is always an adjustment for me. Sometimes it’s not even about missing home, it’s just about the people.
Did you do anything special to prepare for the role? I wanted to make sure that I knew about that era and the dynasty that I came from and what rights women had and how Yidu would act. And then when it came time for set I got to work with Paul, the lovely dialect coach, just to make sure that my accent was what history needed. Obviously not too broken but at the same time authentic enough you could understand where I come from.
What does your family think of all your success? My parents are very traditional so the arts and acting has never been an option for them, but they've been very supportive. I actually don't think they understand the whole industry just yet. I don't think they get it.
Vikings is known to have racy scenes from time to time, do you think you'll let them watch your episodes? My dad unfortunately watches the show so I've told him that he's not allowed to tune into season four (Laughs).
What about your mom? Probably not. She would be terrified of the show. Are you kidding? She'd be terrified! She would think that everyone got murdered for real and that it would be too realistic to be fake.
If you were really sent back in time to the Vikings era, what three things would you hope to have with you? Hand sanitizer(Laughs), a phone and a pair of waterproof boots. You wouldn't even know the amount of times my boots got soaked through and I had to walk around in squeaky boots!