Here is the opinion of David Dawson, who plays King Alfred. I have chosen his most interesting answers from here: http://www.bbcamerica.com/the-last-kingdom/extras/the-last-kingdom-interviews/questions-with-david-dawson/
Before this role, what did you know about King Alfred?
Dawson: I didn’t know a lot, but I am a real lover of history and I love research. You picture Alfred as this heroic warrior king, but then you realize that in our story, he’s far more thoughtful, frail, sickly, quiet, pensive, and calculating. That was what really drew me to the part.
“In a world full of brave warriors, this thin little pale man may not have had the clout physically, but he was the cleverest man in any room.”
Tell us about Alfred’s relationship with Uhtred.
Dawson: What I love about the image of Alfred and Uhtred is that they are complete opposites of each other. In one you have this brave, handsome warrior and then you have this thin, frail, but incredibly clever man, and they both want what the other has.
“It is a bit of a love story, because the conflict between them shows how they need each other to survive in this brutal world.”
Alfred hates Uhtred at the beginning of the story, but realizes that he has value because he has so much knowledge of his enemy.
What was it like filming the series’ epic battle scenes?
Dawson: In scenes when you’re on huge battlefields surrounded by warriors, you realize that to survive this period of time must have required a lot of strength, both physically and mentally. ￼I got to learn how to ride a horse, which I had never done before. I wasn’t very good at the beginning!
“I rode a horse called McFlurry, and he was a bit of a diva, I think. He kept stopping to eat grass, so I kept trying to lift him up. However, I didn’t know that if you lift a horse up by the reins, it means reverse. So while we were filming scenes I would be looking at the monitor and suddenly my horse would be moving backwards.”
I carried on anyway. Once you get the handle of your horse, you do really enjoy it.
What were your costumes like?
“When I first went into the wardrobe truck, I could see all the ‘rock ‘n’ roll’ costumes for the Vikings, with the big furs and the horned helmets. Then I looked at Alfred’s shelf, which was literally just one very dull tunic.”
Although I’m not wearing the most exciting clothes, they say an awful lot about the man inside them. For Alfred, clothes aren’t something that resemble extreme importance — it’s all about a life devoted to God and to Wessex.