TORONTO â€” With his warrior-like hairdo and passion for history and “Vikings,” Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson was a natural fit to appear on the History series.
But the two-time All-Star says his guest spot on this Wednesday’s episode is not necessarily the start of a new career.
“I’ve always been a big fan of history, honestly, and I really enjoyed the production and everything that was going on with the show, and I felt like it was a neat story and it was just something that I connected with right away,” Donaldson said in a recent phone interview from Orlando.
“I felt it was just a great opportunity,” he added. “I’m not going to say I wouldn’t act again but I don’t know if it’s something I’m going to seek out for sure.”
The episode sees the 2015 American League MVP playing Hoskuld, “a Viking warrior of great skill.”
His teammates were supportive of his acting gig.
“I thought I was going to catch a little bit of grief for it but everybody was pretty positive about it and was asking about the experience and everything,” he said.
“It went over pretty well.”
Donaldson filmed the episode at the Vikings Ashford studios in Wicklow, Ireland in January 2016. He has Irish blood in him and was excited to visit.
“It was actually really cold there and it had been raining and we worked pretty late into the night that night, so there were definitely some elements that we had to work through,” he said.
“But I felt like that made it more real. It felt like it was in the period of time.”
Donaldson has several lines and had to learn a Vikings-style accent.
“Being from the south in the States, I kind of drag some words out, so they helped me focus on a few things and make it sound like it’s more Viking-ish,” said the Florida native.
Donaldson already had a Mohawk hairstyle inspired by lead character Ragner but had to add an extension to make it even longer on top. He also got fake tattoos.
At the end of the shoot, the cast and crew gave him a ball and stick from the Irish sport of hurling, which has similarities to baseball and lacrosse.
“I have it at my house,” said Donaldson. “I need to try to play it, I think it would be pretty fun.”
Donaldson has since cut his now-famous longer locks, which he admitted was unnerving.
“It’s a transition, for sure,” he said. “That was two years of trying to have longer hair and I kind of grew a little attached to it.”
Though his “Vikings” appearance marks his acting debut, it’s far from his first time hobnobbing with the stars.
Donaldson’s sports career has seen him meet a slew of celebrities at various events.
“It’s been very unique, the last couple of years and the people that I’ve been able to meet and kind of rub elbows with and have conversations about,” said Donaldson.
“It’s been at times a little mind-blowing to think that I’m sitting here talking to Justin Timberlake and Clint Eastwood and a few other people, Bill Murray. I grew up watching these people and have always enjoyed their work.
“Coming from a small town back in Florida, you don’t really see yourself doing that, at least I didn’t, and it’s been a little surreal, at the same time it’s been fun.”
Victoria Ahearn, The Canadian Press