Brent Burns already had the beard. All he needed to play a Viking was the outfit and a chance.
Two years after filming, the San Jose Sharks defenseman finally made his debut in the historical drama series "Vikings," which airs on Amazon Prime Video.
Burns, sporting long braids tied together, plays Skane while appearing in the 13th and 14th episodes of the series' sixth season. In the first of Burns' episodes, he is in an election scene and is introduced to the crowd by King Harald, played by actor Peter Franzen.
In the second episode, Burns begins by being a menacing figure lurking behind a post. But before you think this is just another stiff cameo from a pro athlete, Burns actually delivers his lines speaking with a regional accent. And maybe it's from all those years in hockey but he really has the sneering down too.
"Peter Franzen I worked a lot with and, God, he was just incredible," Burns said. "That election scene that he does, the first one he ripped off the whole thing and the whole crew and everybody gave him applause after and then we shot it about 70 more times. It was definitely something different, incredible. Then he'd be talking about his farm in between takes and right away he's back to being King Harald. It was just so cool."
The show is filmed in Ireland, so Burns had to travel there to play the role and he said he made sure to try out a few Irish pubs while he was there.
"To see where they film it and how it's all done, it was unbelievable, such a cool experience," he said. "Definitely it was one of my favorite shows, if not my favorite show."
Already a big fan of the show before he landed the gig, he had to lobby to get on.
"I had a guy I work with pounding on the doors to try to get me in there," Burns said. "It was one of the coolest things I've ever done, to see the characters in real life and meet the actors that portray those guys and see how amazing they are."
Burns also said he didn't feel out of place on set even though he was an acting newbie.
"They welcomed me in," he said. "They were so accepting of my lack of acting experience. I had no idea what I was doing. It was just awesome."
NHL.com staff writer Dan Rosen contributed to this story.