Alexander Siddig

Welcome to Dorne

Words: Holger Potye
Photography: Getty Images 
 

Alexander Siddig’s Doran Martell, ruling Prince of Dorne and his personal bodyguard Areo Hotah played by DeObia Oparei are two of the many new faces on Game of Thrones this season. THE RED BULLETIN found out what lies ahead for the Dornishmen.

THE RED BULLETIN: DeObia, you play prince Doran’s bodyguard in season 5, how easy is it going to be to keep him safe?

DeOBIA OPAREI: 
Things kick off straight away in season 5. Oberyn is dead, and everybody in Dorne wants revenge. Ellaria (Sand) turns up looking for justice, she is hot hearted, very fiery and this is a great season for her. She really comes into her own. Then there are Oberyn’s children, the Sand Snakes. We get introduced to them and they are all skilled warriors. They all have fighting talent, and they want heads to roll!

ALEXANDER SIDDIG: They are really children. I mean these are acting kids, and they all have different amazing martial arts talents, terryfing! And they are not happy with me.
 

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

Why aren’t they happy with you?

AS: Because I haven’t immediately avenged their father. I am not spontaneous. I don’t spontaneously go and invade King’s Landing.

So you like to go slow and steady?

AS: The issue is something that has got to be discussed. Oberyn is dead. How will we react? Everybody knows Oberyn is dead, and as far as the world is concerned, Game of Thrones doesn’t go two minutes without someone avenging a death or getting killed. So what card are we going to play? That is a question that myself and Areo have to discuss. 

Your character is wheelchair bound because of a bad case of gout. How did you prepare for your wheelchair journey through Westeros?

AS: I never sat in a wheelchair to prepare. I didn’t pretend that I was disabled or anything like that. He is a politican, but he is also one of the Dornish people, too. They are passionate. I think Pedro (Pascal) set the template of how the Dornish would be in seasons to come. His performances were simply amazing. So we had to try and find his passion and the way he likes to express himself, but impose it on different personalities. I am a much more balanced individual, more politically cautious.

“I wanted to discover life first. So I became a stripper, I became a dancer, I learned how to write. I became a drag queen, and I lived this broad brushstroke, throw the paint at the canvas lifestyle.”
DeObia Oparei

How are the Martell’s of Dorne different to the Lannisters?

DO: The sexuality of Dorne is right there on the table. The Lannisters live for their brothels, but they do it behind closed doors, in darkened holes and dungeons. In Dorne it is right upfront and centre. And as far as colours go it is beyond comparison. We shot parts of season 5 in the Alcàzar Palace in Spain. It is a feast of the eye in terms of architectural design where the moorish kind of muslim like mosaics meet western art. The marble work is just fantastic. I am sure we are going to see that. And then there are the characters themselves. You had the hot headed, very colorful character of Oberyn. Pedro’s performance was amazing and he set the scene of what Dorne should be like. We see that come out in the new characters as well. 

 

How did you prepare for the part in terms of Hedonism and Dorne?

DO: Well, in terms of my past, there is a licentiousness in terms of saying where I came from was a very stoic, very disciplined, ordered world. I was a classical theatre actor going from play to play at the Arc (Theatre) and the National (theatre) and different theatre companies in the country, and I got to 22-23 and I was like: “I need to live! I am living in a rehearsal room. I dont know what life is!“ And so I went on tour to Sydney when I was 22, and I said: “I want live here, but not as an actor. I want to discover life.“ So I became a stripper, I became a dancer, I learned how to write. I became a drag queen, and I lived this broad brushstroke, throw the paint at the canvas lifestyle.

It really did benefit me as an actor, because when I came back into film, my first role was Moulin Rouge, and suddenly I was a different person. I think the world of Dorne is very much like that. Areo is a more restrained character, but he is still bridling in that energy and that anger and that force. It is great for me to play a character like Areo, who is stoic and represses that primal urge, so that when he does wield his axe, it is exacting.

Meet the Sand Snakes

In season 5 of Game of Thrones we will get to know Oberyn Martell’s daughters.

Alex, you spent seven years on Star Trek: Deep Space nine, which was a huge show for its time. Did you jump on board immediately when you got the offer to do GoT, another massive show?

AS:
 I was so happy to do this show. Let’s not beat around the bush. This is good for an actor and I love the show. I  have seen Pedro (Pascal) do his thing. I have watched those scenes like 50 times. And I watched it all backwards. I watched season 4 first, season 3, season 2 and season 1. I thought it was just great. I thought the writing had real integrity. They really tried to make something happen. There were all sorts of interesting parallels with the real world. Deep Space Nine intended to do that in a very antiquated way, but it did.

DO: Was Deep Space Nine as big as this in its time?

AS: It was allegorical, but no it was nothing like as big. Star Trek is as big. 

DeObia, is your character just a bodyguard or is there more to him?

AS: No, he is more. He is not just a bodyguard.

“My character is really two people. DeObia is the masculine side of me and I am just the brain. It is an interesting combination.”
Alexander Siddig

DO: He is not just a factotum. I think something that Game of Thrones does really well is the expression of power. It shows powerful people who are physically incapacitated. You have the young boy Bran (Stark) who needs Hodor. You have the unrelentless childish power of Joffrey, and then you have the prince of Dorne, who is powerful but is incapacitated and can’t walk. To balance this out you have someone like my character Areo Hotah, who is their as physical power, but I also think there is a mental, a spiritual capacity there, too. The books do it so well. George R.R. Martin talks about “Hotah really feeling the prince’s pain.“ So Hotah really has a sense of when he is in pain and when he needs to be moved or carried, or the kind and level of pain he is in. I really got a certain sense that Hotah is also empathetic to this man’s life and is also integral to his life as well. So without him, I don’t know how his power could function.

AS: I think the dynamics between our characters is a good challenge for us and it is a good challenge for the audience, too. And it is fun, because we have to make one person into two. My character is really two people. He (points at DeObia) is the masculine side of me and I am just the brain. It is an interesting combination.

Are you guys worried about the end before the beginning - as in your characters being killed off?

(Both laugh.)

AS: No! I expect it every show. From now on the first page is like: “Oh, I’m not dead! I am not dead yet! Good!“ So when it happens, I will be okay.   

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