I attended a round-table interview with some of the cast and producers of HBO’s award winning new series Game of Thrones. They were in town for the press launch of the Season 1 DVD/Blu-ray, which is available now. We reviewed it HERE.
In the lead up to the Season 2 Premier on April 1st, we will be posting the series of interviews to whet your appetites for what will surely be another monumental season.
Alfie is the son of film producer Alison Owen and actor Keith Allen, but most of you will probably recognise his sister, pop singer Lily Allen. He has appeared in small roles in films such as Elizabeth and Atonement and in 2008 took over from Daniel Radcliffe as the lead in Equus. Alfie is now making his own name on Game of Thrones as Theon Greyjoy, the young Iron Islander who is ward (hostage in reality) to Ned Stark (Sean Bean). His role in Season 1 may have been small, but expect to see big changes in Season 2.
Please note the interview was from a roundtable session and not all questions were asked by WhatCulture…
Q. You’ve come from an already successful media family, does that make it harder to stand out for yourself?
Alfie: Well I’d say my Dad was a massive part in me wanting to become an actor in the first place but I don’t really feel like I’m under any sort of pressure to prove anything to him because (whispers) I think I’m better than him anyway! I think it kind of annoys me, that sort of stuff (nepotism) because it’s like, if you’re a plumber, and your son wants to be a plumber, you’re going to help him be a plumber. I had a choice of whether to go to drama school or whether not to and I chose not to because I had an agent at the time and I think if you go into work you can learn just as much from teaching yourself as you can from somebody else teaching you. I think that’s the best way to learn things is just to do it yourself to be honest.
Q. So has Game of Thrones been a real break in terms of showing people what you can do?
Alfie: Yeah, I reckon so. I hope I’ve done a good job on it, I don’t know yet, but I think I have. I think it’s time for people to sit up and take notice because I’m good!
Q. Did you expect the success of the first season; was it something you were prepared for?
Alfie: You never know really do you, but I think through the fan base that it had accumulated through the books anyway there’s going to be a huge interest in the first place. You need to do it justice and I think the boys, David (Benioff) and Dan (Weiss) and us as a cast definitely achieved that. I don’t think I felt any sort of pressure towards that. The fans of the books tend not to like my character that much so… (laughter) I wasn’t really concerned with people not liking him but I wanted people to sympathise with him so if I’ve achieved that then I’m definitely happy.
Q. When was the first time you knew the show would be huge?
Alfie: I think… you know what, just being part of an HBO series, that is huge in itself but I think when Peter Dinklage started winning the awards (Emmy and Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor in Drama Series) it garnered a lot of interest from that and then afterwards I sort of realised, “Wow, this is pretty massive!” Also the first day I got on set and I just saw these huge sets, all these extras, and it was just on a different scale to anything I’ve ever done before.
Q. Were you nervous on the first Season?
Alfie: Yeah for the first series I was definitely and then on the second series when we started filming it I was definitely not as nervous about it. It was funny being on the second series and you’re seeing people who are nervous and you’re kind of going: “It’s alright!” It was weird but it was great!
Q. Did you find that you had a lot more to do in the second series with Theon’s larger role and let’s say… change in morality?
Alfie: (laughs) Yeah I did, but I don’t really think he… It’s not like I really knowingly did that (changed morality). I don’t think he changes. I don’t think I’m allowed to say this so I won’t say much but I think he just makes the wrong decisions through thinking that he’s making the right ones. So his morals are constantly the same but he’s just not that smart in his decision making so ultimately that kind of changes what he does. I don’t think his morals change in his head but I think he sets out to do the right thing but he just ends up doing the wrong thing.
Q. Do you enjoy playing the villain?
Alfie: Yes! Yeah I do, definitely. I don’t think I’ll ever play James Bond but I might play a James Bond villain!
Q. What was your favourite part of the first season?
Alfie: My favourite part? I thought some of the stuff between Cersei and Robert was brilliant, that scene where he basically just says, “You know I’ve never really liked you that much,” and she’s like, “I was in love with you but now I’m not.” I thought that was pretty amazing, that scene was fantastic. Then obviously, (whispers) the person who dies, you know, that scene.
Q. And what about from your own scenes?
Alfie: From my own stuff, I like my scene with me and Ros, I thought it was great I was wanted to know what it looked like on camera. I was really happy with it when I saw it. I was in training for four months previously and I wanted to see what I looked like, how much my body had changed so that was interesting. Esmé Bianco, who plays Ros, she made that scene so much easier for me and it was just fun.
Q. Playing in Equus, you’ve had experience with nudity before, did it get easier this time around?
Alfie: I’d say it was easier on stage actually, yeah, because you’re more in the moment. You can’t really see anyone’s faces looking up at you because the lights are just blinding you so you feel like you’re more ‘there’ but when you’re on a set, there’s people holding radio mics and I’m half naked and it can be a bit strange but you just get into it. It’s all about the person you’re working with as well you know, if that person doesn’t feel comfortable then you don’t feel comfortable but if you’re kind of not so serious about it and you joke about it then you can just get on with it.
Q. What’s it like to watch those scenes back if you’re with friends and family?
Alfie: I haven’t done that, I’m not going to do that! No, no, no! I find it hard enough when complete strangers are watching it with me so when it’s with your family it’s just unbearable!
Q. Would you even want them to watch it at all?
Alfie: Yeah of course! Definitely! I’ve been telling them to. They can get their heads round that, it’s only a bit of nudity. In other projects I’ve done I’ve died and stuff like that so I think they find that harder to watch but we don’t really talk about it you know, “How did you find that sex scene Dad?” (laughter) I haven’t really had that conversation with them about it but I think they’re happy with it, I hope they are.
Q. Moving on, what projects have you got lined up in the future?
Alfie: I’ve just done a low budget feature with Daisy Lowe and Eliza Bennett. (Confine) My character in that is, I don’t know if any of you have watched The Only Way is Essex, but I sort of based my character on Joey Essex in this film, he’s just kind of a bit of an idiot but he’s harmless at heart. It’s quite cool; I’ve just got to be tortured the whole time in it. So yeah I’ve done that and then there might be something going on in the West End for me but I’m just going to see what happens really, I’m trying not to put too much pressure on myself.
Q. Was it a difficult process to get the part of Theon in Game of Thrones?
Alfie: Well the casting process, I’ve never experienced anything like it. I did like, seven auditions and that was the same for everybody else. I went up for several parts. The Americans cast in a different way to the English because they make a choice of who they like as an actor and then they think “OK, what part would he be good for?” So I ended up going for loads of different parts and then Theon came along and they figured that one was perfect for me. It was nice going up for something and them not knowing who I was at all; I was just an unknown actor to them.
Q. You mentioned going for different parts, what other parts did you go for? Was Theon your first choice?
Alfie: Oh, I don’t know if I can talk about this… I hadn’t’ read the books, so I didn’t really know much about it. It’s funny when people ask me, “What attracted you to this role?” and I’m like, “Because they offered it to me!” I’d love to have that luxury of being able to choose my roles but I’m not there yet so I just got into it straight away and just got on with it.
Q. Having seen the first two episodes of Season 2 with the other cast, what is it like to guard all the spoilers from your friends and family?
Alfie: It’s really hard, I want to tell you everything but sorry, I can’t! It’s torturous. We watched it and people were saying afterwards, “Oh God, I wish I hadn’t come to the screening because now I’ve got to wait a month and a half to see the third episode!” You want to tell people what’s going on but then obviously you’d probably get the sack so, that’s kind of your motivation not to.
Q. What other TV shows are you watching, besides of course, Game of Thrones!
Alfie: I’m watching Friday Night Lights at the moment, which I quite like. It’s really good isn’t it? It’s not my sort of show really but then I sort of started watching it and I thought it was great, it’s really, really good. So I’m watching that at the moment and also Boardwalk Empire and The Sopranos I finished recently. I can’t believe it took me that long to get round to The Sopranos! So I’m getting into the box-sets. TV’s like the new cinema now, I think people kind of prefer to sit in and blast a box-set in a weekend then go out on a crappy romcom date on a Friday. You’d much rather sit in with your partner and just watch a whole box-set, which is cool. It’s not the new medium but I’d say it’s newish.
Q. So you’re getting into the right business then! How about the fantasy element, is that a boyhood dream come true?
Alfie: Yeah definitely, although that’s the thing, it’s not really you archetypal sort of fantasy show, there’s not really much sort of magic involved and stuff like that it’s kind of just more about the politics and about the writing and about the characters. People aren’t really black or white in it and I think that’s a big trait in HBO shows is that you don’t really know where the characters are going to go and I think that’s one thing that I’m very happy to be a part of… and obviously I get to just play with a sword!
Keep your eyes peeled as we post more of the interviews in the days leading up to the Season 2 Premier on April 1st. For our top 10 reasons to watch Season 2, read HERE.