It's hard to ignore the controversy around Game of Thrones' many explicit sex scenes, and Alfie Allen, who plays the treacherous Theon Greyjoy, has been at the center of more sex scenes than almost any other character on the show.
Wetpaint Entertainment recently had the chance to talk to Alfie, and after telling us all about why Theon is sympathetic, he weighed in on the controversy, and explained why sex is so important to Theon's character. Plus, he shared his thoughts about his incredible castmates, which characters he'd like to see Theon interact with, and much more.
What was your favorite scene that you did during Season 2?
For action and visuals it was the beheading [of Rodrik Cassel in Season 2, Episode 6: "The Old Gods and the New"]. It's a realistic beheading. It's not just one clean swoosh of the sword and the head comes clean off, it's hacking away at it. That was fun, I really enjoyed that. And the scene with Osha as well. I thought that was kind of funny, that definitely made me laugh when I'm biting into the apple: "What do you want then, other than your miserable life?" That definitely made me giggle quite a bit. And I love being able to eat food while I was doing a scene. So I really liked that scene. That is probably my favorite scene actually.
You've had a fair number of sex scenes. That's something that happens a lot with Theon, which is actually true in the books as well.
Yeah, totally. I think it's one of the only places where he can have power, where he has authority. Because he has no sense of authority in any part of his life, because everyone is making decisions for him, and that's the only place — in the bedroom — where he has a sense of authority and power. Even though he's kind of paying for it, he still thinks that that's where he can assert his power. It's a funny, funny concept, but I think it's kind of true.
Obviously there's a lot of controversy about whether or not there's too much nudity in Game of Thrones, and about whether the show relies on it too much. What do you think?
Needed. I think think it's always needed. I think it's very important to the show. And, come on, we all love to see it, don't we? It's fun. There's a lot of food, a lot of violence, a lot of sex in this program, and that's definitely three staples of life that we all love.
Tell us about where you shot the scenes on Pyke. It was gorgeous on screen.
Yeah! I would love to say we went over to New Zealand and had a great time, but it was all shot in the northern coast of Ireland. Some Northern Ireland and some Ireland. It was just absolutely beautiful. It was absolutely amazing. If they had better weather, Ireland could have been like New Zeland. It's unbelievably gorgeous. That was all along the north coast of Ireland. I think it will definitely do good things for the Northern Ireland tourism industry.
The entire cast is really good, but we've been particularly impressed by the child actors. What's it been like to work with them?
Oh my god, they're amazing. They're just fantastic. I haven't gotten to work with them a lot, but they do amaze me. They're incredible. I mean Maisie [Williams], Isaac [Hempstead Wright], Sophie [Turner] — even little Rickon. Rickon — Art his name is, Art Parkinson — doesn't get much to do. But on set, the kid is unbelievable. He'll just reel off accents to you. He's like a chameleon. He's this little Irish kid, he's got a really thick, strong Irish accent, and he just impersonates everyone around him. It's just so — they're so good at their jobs. Nina Gold and the casting agency, and [creators David Benioff and D. B. Weiss]. They just chose the right people. I really think — I mean Arya is just brilliant, Maisie's fantastic — but I really think Sophie has really come into her own this season [as Sansa]. I think she's been absolutely brilliant. Top props to her. And not only are they great actors, they're such lovely children. Isaac is one of the the coolest and smartest kids I've ever met in my life. If I had a son I'd definitely want him to be like Isaac.
Who are your favorite cast members to work with?
Gemma [Whelan]. She's great. I really liked working with her as Yara. She was fantastic. I also liked the sex scene with Esme Bianco as Ros. She was great, she made me feel completely at ease, and she's a brilliant actress as well. And, I mean, I liked some of my stuff with Richard [Madden, who plays Robb Stark] as well. I really liked acting with Richard. He's just a brilliant actor and he's easy to work with.
Obviously Game of Thrones is a fantasy world, but it's rooted in reality. Did you do any real life research to prepare for the part?
Not really, no. I'll be deadly honest with you. I know that [writer] George [Martin] sort of based in on the War of the Roses in the 1500s. That's where his inspiration came from. I don't know the ins and outs of it, to be honest. I know that a king died and there was no rightful heir to the throne so all the richest houses in the land were vying for the throne, saying we have a right to it because we have the most money. I knew all that backstory, but I don't think there really is much real life research you can do for it. It's a fantasy kingdom. It is what it is and you just kind of make it your own. I think that's even true for the writers and directors — everyone just has to make it their own, in their own way. The more we kind of leave it up to these talented people to make those decisions, the better.
What kind of physical preparation and training did you do for the role?
I had a lot of horse riding to do. I was also just in the gym a lot. My body was just completely different from when I did the first series. I kind of looked around at some of the actors and went "god, I need to get in shape." So I did that. I also wanted — and I think HBO, this is the reason they got us into the gym, not really for any vanity reasons, they just wanted us to be stronger. The wanted us to feel like warriors, and feel battle-hardened, and feel like we could go into war and wield a sword quite easily. That's how I definitely saw it. Obviously I had my sex scenes and stuff, and I wanted to look good in those, and wanted to look tip-top shape. But also I wanted to feel like Theon, I wanted to feel strong. So that was my primary reason for getting into the gym. You couldn't really ask for anything more — getting a job and they say right, we want you to get really fit, get really strong, and we're going to pay you.
In the Game of Thrones world, characters end up interacting with all sorts of people you wouldn't expect them to. Who would you like to see Theon spend time with that he hasn't already?
Two people. I would like to see him interact with Arya, because I think she would be able to sort of show him the rights and wrongs of the world and go "no, Theon." It would be just really sweet to see little Arya put her arm around big Theon and go "no mate, this is the way you do it." Because she's so cool. She knows what's she doing, and she's got a real wise head on her shoulders. And also I'd liked to see Theon and Varys somehow have something. Because I just love Varys, and the way Conleth [Hill] plays him. And it would be cool seeing Varys maybe lead Theon in the wrong way, and use Theon to his own advantage. Because Theon is quite easily led. So that would be interesting to see.
We feel like Theon would have no idea how to deal with Varys.
Exactly! Varys is way too smart for Theon, and could use him to his own advantage for sure, and that would be interesting to see.
If you could play a different Game of Thrones character, who would you pick?
I'd says Varys again, because I really like his character. And I like Jaqen H'ghar, he's just really mysterious. I like his character, and he's a shapeshifter as well, so I'd like to sort of go into that. Oh yes — Pyat Pree [the warlock]. I'd like to play Pyat Pree, he's a scary man. He's got some brilliant lines in there. He would be an interesting character to play. Tywin as well. I think Tywin's a brilliant character, I'd like to play him, he's cool. And just the way Charles Dance does it, he's brilliant. He's a very likeable. Sort of, I hate using this term, but a likable baddie.
Other than Game of Thrones, what are your favorite TV shows?
There's a show in the UK called Black Mirror that's really good. Charlie Brooker wrote it, who is sort of — I'd say he's a journalist, but he's more of script writer now to be honest. There's a French cop thriller called Braquo that's really cool. Obviously things like The Wire and Boardwalk Empire I'm in love with. But definitely for something to check out, Black Mirror and Braquo.
For more from Alfie, check out part one of our interview with him, and remember to tune in this Sunday, June 3 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on HBO.
Rebecca Martin is an editor at Wetpaint Entertainment. Follow her on Twitter @BeccaMartin47.
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