It’s the beginning of the end for Vikings.
Ahead of the History hit series’ sixth and final season premiere, Katheryn Winnick tells PEOPLE what fans should expect from her final act as shieldmaiden-turned-queen Lagertha.
“We’ve seen her, like the queen, we’ve seen her being a farmer, shield maiden, fight wars. And this chapter really, she’s kind of gone back to her roots and wants to simplify her life,” says Winnick, 41. “You’ve seen the trailers that she’s buried her own sword and really says that she’s no longer a shield maiden anymore. Now I think, she herself is trying to redefine her final chapter and find her purpose.”
“And she wants to go back to where she was most happy, which is really being a farmer and a simple person that’s living a simple life,” the Canadian actress adds. “And that’s where she’s at.”
However, Winnick says that Lagertha’s yearning for a simple life may not come so easy: “There’s still a massive battle, if not a physical, emotional battle that she still has to overcome,” she says.
The actress also shares what her favorite thing about playing the Viking goddess has been across six seasons.
“I was so challenged by her for the most part and up to the battle sequences were very challenging and physically demanding and amazing,” she says. “I come from a martial arts background, so I really enjoyed that. But more than being in just with her sense of strong moral character, she is somebody that I learned a lot.”
“Now stepping away from a year and a half later, I looked back at Lagertha, and sometimes when I have a conflict that I need to deal with or figure out a solution of a problem, I ask myself, ‘What would Lagertha do?’ ” Winnick says. “‘What would Lagertha do in this situation?’ But she’s definitely a force to be reckoned with and has a strong sense of willpower and really chooses the higher ground when dealing with conflict more so than her male counterparts.”
Along with her starring role, Winnick worked behind the camera this season in her directorial debut for the eighth episode, which she says was a monumental moment in her career.
“I’ve always had a strong need to tell a story behind the camera, and to be able to work with the crew members and my fellow friends that are actors,” she says. “And to be able to work with them and tell a story through a different lens more as a whole, was just not only the most challenging thing I’ve ever done, but also the most rewarding.”
“Big set designs, and costumes, and crazy weather, such as shooting in the winter, it was just a huge challenge,” she adds. “But I’m extremely proud of it and I think people it’s going to really, really please.”
Vikings season 6 premieres with a two-hour episode on Wednesday at 9 p.m. ET on History.