Exclusive Game Of Thrones Interviews

We chat to stars Mark Addy, Jason Momoa, Harry Lloyd and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau about the George RR Martin adaptation

(opens in new tab)

Epic fantasy doesn’t come much more epic than George RR Martin’s A Song Of Ice And Fire series and HBO – the US network behind critical darlings like The Sopranos , Six Feet Under and True Blood – is bringing it to the small screen. Ahead of its debut on Sky Atlantic this week ( Monday 18 April at 9pm ), we have a word with four of its stars to find out what to expect when we travel to the world of Westeros…

First up: Mark Addy (click next)

(opens in new tab)

Mark Addy on King Robert Baratheon (the main man in Westeros)

You play a womanising, hard drinking king… It’s not the kind of role you’re usually associated with!
No, possibly not, but it’s a great one to play, mainly because of all the flaws. Just about all the characters in this are not perfect, they’re real in that sense, it’s the imperfections that make them human, and Robert is certainly riddled with imperfections – he’s a drunkard, he likes the whores, he’s trapped in a loveless marriage that was there for basically political reasons to try and firm up a power base, and he realises too late that he’s surrounded himself with enemies, that there’s nobody watching his back, and there’s only one person he can trust, which is his lifelong childhood friend, Ned Stark [Sean Bean]. He’s depressive, understandably so, and being king is not the bed of roses he thought it might be initially.

Is playing that moral ambiguity more fun?
Absolutely. There are so many different degrees of right and wrong amongst all of these selfish characters, and that’s what gives the story it’s drama. It’s fantasy, but it’s grounded in reality. I know George talked about that when he was creating the books he researched the War Of The Roses, so you’ve got an American fantasy writer looking at British history as a kind of inspiration for this work. Maybe there is an element of Henry VIII in Robert in his later years. The Henry VIII that we’re used to seeing, the big, beardy guy, was at one time a good looking guy like he’s portrayed in The Tudors, and it’s the same with Robert, but by the time we meet him those days are gone. BBecause he’s been unchallenged as far as the monarchy’s concerned he’s taken his eye off the ball and got complacent and he’s slid into a fat, drunken decline.

Is action a big part of it?
It’s reliant on the dialogue rather than huge action sequences. There will be elements of action that come in as the story goes along, but it’s about the story and the political struggle for power in a violent world – it’s not sequences of action interspersed with the odd bit of dialogue, it’s the other way around. There are little bursts of sex and violence.

Did having the character described in the book make it easier to play than if you’d had to develop him from scratch?
From an actor’s point of view it’s great, because you’ve got all your character history which usually you have to create yourself. All of your homework is done for you, and you bring all that with you to the character, and it forms a part of the person that you’re playing. I found that a real boon. There are some people that possibly didn’t read the books, they wanted to make it their own, but I found it really useful. I can see why he’s depressed, why he’s turned to the bottle, I know exactly what makes him tick. It’s a great position for an actor to be in.

As a northerner yourself, did you find it interesting to play around in a fantasy world with a clear north/south divide?
There’s always a north! It’s great, and the fact that Sean and I are both from the north, it helps with that feeling. But this is a world where it’s been summer for 10 years but the seasons are changing and it’s going to be a colder winter than we’ve ever experienced and it’ll last for 10 years. The idea of being in Scotland in the worst weather they’ve had, FOR TEN YEARS… So they’re tough and they’re hardened people living in that environment.

Next up: Jason Momoa

(opens in new tab)

Jason Momoa on Khal Drogo (Dothraki warlord – very hard, but doesn’t speak much)

You didn’t wear many clothes in Stargate: Atlantis , you’re taking your top off in Conan The Barbarian , and you don’t have much on in Game Of Thrones … Is there a bit of a theme here?
I’ve done stuff with clothes, without clothes, that’s not my deciding factor whether to do it or not. Drogo’s just an amazing role, I’ve never seen anything like it on TV, and then it’s on HBO, so you’ve got that level of writing and directors, so I knew I was going to be in a good place. It was just a brilliant role.

You don’t speak much, and when you do it’s in the Dothraki language.. .
Yeah, we have this made up language which is perfectly linguistically made – it’s like this German/Arabic thing, which was scarily daunting to do at the time. It took me a while because I don’t know any languages, but it was amazing because it just sinks into the character. It’s so brilliant, especially when the big monologues come up. It makes him who he is.

When you’re performing in a made-up language, are you thinking about what you’re actually saying, or just about the sounds – as if you’re singing a song?
I had no other way to learn but memorise in the sense of almost like memorising a bad song with no melody! And then once it was in my DNA I just basically went through words and when I hit those words I knew exactly what I was saying. I trained so well. I couldn’t hold a conversation doing it now, but I knew exactly what I was saying so to communicate. It was just the most work I’ve ever put into a role.It took a while to learn, but it’s like that in the book and that’s what we wanted to stay true to for the fans.I don’t think I’ll ever do a role like that again.

When we first meet Drogo he’s a bit of a hard ass. Will we see a softer side?
That’s the great thing about George Martin. He presents you with these characters where you think this is the way he is and I come off as this hard ass. But then a woman arrives and she calms him and he falls in love with her, and he slowly sees things the way she does. It’s neat that a lot of these characters who are bad, you see that they’re actually really good, and the characters who look like they’re good, they’re actually really bad. The characters are very rich.

Genre’s been very good to you. Are you a fan?
It’s kind of panned out that way. I do love the genre, because there’s no limitations to what you can do in sci-fi and fantasy. The level of what you can do as an actor is not really based on reality so you can go to places that aren’t realistic and I like that. And the fans love it. I would love to do sitcom and do comedies and I don’t want to limit myself to anything, but I do enjoy this make believe. I enjoy going to these worlds.

Click Next to see what Harry Lloyd has to say

About Fox

Check Also

Have you tried… deep-sea puzzle-solving in Silt, the underwater Limbo?

I always imagined that when you go underwater in the ocean that it would be …

Leave a Reply