Alfie Allen

Theon and Sam

Words: Holger Potye
Photography: Getty Images 

Alfie Allen’s Theon Greyjoy and John Bradley’s Sam Tarly find themselves in very different situations heading into season 5 of Game of Thrones. What is for certain, is that they will both be embarking on very exciting journeys.

THE RED BULLETIN: How exhausting was shooting season 5?

ALFIE ALLEN: Season 5 wasn’t really exhausting. It was great. I have to admit season 3 and season 4 - especially season 3 - was difficult. Season 4 was sort of a continuation of the effects of what had happened to me in season 3. Season 5 was brilliant to act. I enjoyed it immensely. I learned to compartmentalise different things and to just get on with it. It was great.

JOHN BRADLEY: Yeah, I agree. I think season 4 for me and for Sam (Tarly) was really exhausting, emotionally. He goes on such a rollercoaster journey of emotions. He starts the season relatively content. Finds out, or thinks he has found out, that the person he loves most in the world has died, so he has that grief. He then finds out that she is not dead and has that elation. He immediately has to protect her when the castle gets attacked and he fears that she might die “again”. A lot of the time, mental tiredness hits you harder than physical, because you have to be mentally agile, especially when shooting out a sequence that bounces in between all the different emotions.

The great thing about Game of Thrones is that we really get to act everything. We get to play our characters in every different emotional and physical state, which breezes so much life into the characters. You are not playing one character, you are playing so many different facets of one character. They are really psychologically complex which is a great testament to George’s (R.R. Martins) imagination, his attention to detail – and David (Benioff) and Dan (Weiss).

Season 5 of Game of Thrones premieres on HBO on April 12 

Do you like your characters?

I have to! And yeah, I definitely think as actors it is common place to find an actor who finds paralells in their own life to convey those emotions and make them more real through the character. So I definitely like my character and I empathise with him. I feel that he is one of the most human characters on Game of Thrones because he makes mistakes.

JB: I like my character, but I don’t think he is necessarily as easy to like as a lot of people think. I think that Sam is a character that can frustrate people just through his inability to act sometimes, and his creeping low self esteem. I think that people are starting to like him more, but I think when he first arrived and after his first couple of scenes in Season 1, people really didn’t like him at all, because they had no idea why he was putting himself through it. He arrives at Castle Black and he gets instantly beaten up and Jon Snow asks the question: “What are you doing here?” And it is only when Sam is able to explain to Jon why he is there – because he had this relationship with his father and he faked his death and he sent him away – that you realise that Sam is in an impossible situation. He just can’t win in life. 

How are things looking for your characters this season?

AA: You are going to see my character cross paths with characters which he has never crossed paths with before. You will see relationships blossom that you wouldn’t have expected, and maybe, just maybe, there is light at the end of the tunnel. There is a lot of shit he is going to have to go through for it though, and it is a f–ked up light!

“I have to like my character, don’t I?”
Alfie Allen

 JB: He will reveal whole new sides of himself that have not really been touched upon before. We have seen ever since season 1 his capacity for persuasive language and persuasive speaking. I think what you see in this season, is Sam doing that on a grander scale and with greater consequences. He was broken and weak and seemingly completely bereft of any ability or kind of worth at all when he arrived at Castle Black in season 1. What we have gradually seen since then is not only the audience starting to realise what kind of skill-set that he has, but also he is starting to realise it as well. I think by the time we get to the end of season 5, he will be enormously self aware. 



John Bradley (far left) and Alfie Allen (far right) with fellow Game of Thrones actress Emilia Clarke

© Getty Images 

Where is the series taking you this season in terms of locations?

JB: Only Belfast this year. We see people going off to sunny places. (Laughs.) Season 1 it was Malta I think with some bits in Morocco and Croatia. Belfast is kind of miserable in comparison. Don’t get me wrong, Belfast is a nice place and lovely people, but it can get a bit cold. The producers tell you: “You think this is cold? We’re sending you to Iceland for season 2!” And I was like: “Belfast! Belfast!” So personally I haven’t been to a sunny place, yet, but you never know what might happen in the future. You need all of these different places to make the show what it is. We could film all of these on a sound stage in L.A. if we wanted to. Just change the lights a bit and suddenly you are north of the wall, but I think going to locations, as unpleasant as that can be sometimes, really adds an authenticity to it, and a texture to it, that you wouldn’t get otherwise.      

“Try your hardest to avoid dying alone in rental acommodation”
John Bradley

Talking about all the death on the show, how would you like to die in real life?

JB: I’d love to be somehwere sunny, but I can’t really handle the heat that much. When you see death in Game of Thrones you see people having their heads squashed and stuff. But I think if Sam is going to die any time soon, he is going to die in a more low key way. He’ll probably have a cardiac arrest running up the stairs or something (Laughs.) The important thing is: Try your hardest to avoid dying alone in rental acommodation. I’ll stick to that, as a kind of bottom line.  

Alfie, what would your last day on earth be like?

AA: It would consist of roast chicken, roast potatoes, cheese and then a night in, watching Sky Sports News, thanks very much.

In Game of Thrones it is often difficult to understand what the characters are after and what their goals are. Do the scripts still surprise you?

AA: The scripts always surprise me, and there is some really amazing stuff going on this year. In the 3rd season I chose not to read anything else apart from own stuff because I thought that everything that was going on outside of that room where I was captured, was irrelevant to my character. I couldn’t help myself this year! And you are in for some amazing and shocking moments.

Do you worry about the future of your characters? I mean famously anyone could be killed at any moment. Does that scare you?

AA: Yeah, I definitely worried, but not so much anymore, because I know David (Benioff) and Dan (Weiss) won’t really give anything away. I kept asking them over and over again if I was going to die or not in season 2, and that’s when they gave me the fake script.

“My last day would consist of roast chicken, roast potatoes, cheese and then a night in, watching Sports News, thanks very much”
Alfie Allen

Tell us about that …

AA: I said to them, “Look, I know I get hit over the head. Am I going to be in the next season?” And they didn’t say anything. So I was on my way back to London when I read an update draft of the script, and I died. Bran comes out on Hodors back and stabs me in the heart and goes: “This is my Winterfell, not yours!” I have to be honest I felt very grateful to have a great death. Perhaps six months down the line I would have been like: “Damn, I really would like to still be in that show”, but that thought didn’t even occur at the time, I was just genuinely pleased with my death. When we were back in Belfast the actors were like “you guys should tell him it’s a joke. Because he could be tearing his hair out.”

We had a break in between shooting and they called me while I was on holiday, and they were just like: “Hey, so how do you feel about your death?” And I was like: “It’s cool, man! Thank you so much!” “Okay, cool. How would you feel about being a zombie?” I was like: “Yeah, yeah! That’s cool. Okay!” And then they were like: “How would you feel about being a naked zombie with no dialogue whatsoever?” And so at that point I realised they were f–king me around. And they said: “Don’t be silly man, you are still in.” They are just pranksters. 

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04 2015

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