A 14-YEAR-OLD Irish actor almost failed to recognise himself after being transformed into a young Viking in a new US TV series.
Nathan O'Toole, from Dunshaughlin, Co Meath, appears with Gabriel Byrne in the Irish-made 'Vikings', now on the History Channel.
The first ever scripted series on the channel, the nine-part production was filmed last year at Ashford Studios in Ballyhenry, Co Wicklow.
It premiered last Sunday on US television and became the number one new cable series launch of the year, with 8.3 million viewers tuning in.
Such was its success that the producers are optimistic it will be commissioned for a second series.
Nathan, who will celebrate his 15th birthday on St Patrick's Day, plays Viking youth Bjorn Lothbrok.
His first TV job was on Neil Jordan's 'The Borgias'. Having made an impression, he was then chosen for the role in 'Vikings' – even though he did not quite look the part.
"I have brown hair and brown eyes, but they were looking for someone with blond hair and blue eyes, so I had to dye my hair and wear contacts. I hardly recognised myself," he said.
The Junior Cert student told the Irish Independent that he wants to make a career of acting, and if he had the chance to work with anyone in particular it would be 'Pirates of the Caribbean' star Johnny Depp.
"He's is someone I really admire. I like Will Ferrell too, but I'm not the comedian type," he said.
Despite having worked with big-name stars, Nathan insisted he never suffered from nerves.
"I wasn't really nervous at all," he said.
"I was actually rather excited about the whole thing. I had a good bit to do, but learning the lines was fairly easy – there was nothing too difficult there.
"Acting is really what I want to do when I grow up. I went to drama from when I was about 10 to Ann Kavanagh's Young People's Theatre and I've just loved it.
"Being on 'Vikings' was amazing, and Gabriel Byrne is a really nice chap."
While he is certain of his future, the teenager knows his studies come first, and he was accompanied on set by a tutor during filming.
Nathan's mother, Tina, told the Irish Independent they had no idea the production would be so big.
"It's bizarre – we didn't realise how huge it would be," she said. "A lot of people are speaking about Nathan now."
Her three other children – daughter Chelsea (17) and sons Alex (8) and five-year-old Glen – have also shown an interest in drama.
"I don't know where it came from, because myself and my husband Anthony can't act at all!" she said.
'Vikings' executive producer Morgan O'Sullivan, who was also behind 'The Tudors', said: "We held showings in London for 150 foreign buyers last month and they all flew in to see it because they were excited.
"We'll sell it all over the world, hopefully, and that means Ireland too, later in the year."
While a second season has yet to be given the green light, O'Sullivan said he is "very confident" another series will go ahead.