The wonderful Eugene Simon agreed to our interview with him, but he was bemused as he watched us argue for about two minutes beforehand. You see, a couple of us knew it was Lancel Lannister, but another member of the group, who shall remain anonymous, was “pretty sure” that it wasn’t. “Pretty sure” = “Not at all right, not even close” in this case!
The Lancel character is an extermely interesting one since he’s been instrumental in some key moments and yet his role in all of that can easily be overlooked. Part of that is down to Lancel merely acting on behalf of others so far, whereas the likes of Baelish, Varys and so on try to steer their own destinies.
We’ve just had an argument over whether you were Lancel or not.
Yes, a lot of people have told me they didn’t recognise me and I can see why. It’s a weird look.
Are you sure that’s you (points at photo)
It’s definitely me, yes!
What it is about your character that you really like?
What I love about Lancel is that it’s not as easy as all that to make him out necessarily as a bad person. I like the complexity – while his actions are quite violent, quite aggressive, quite unpleasant in nature they’re not done out of a sense of… they’re not evilly driven as someone like, I dunno, Joffrey or say Iwan’s character. He’s not inherently evil – he believes himself to be on the righteous path and I think the juxtaposition of righteousness combined with evil – I find that whole theme very interesting.
In order to play that role though do you sometimes have to go to a darker place?
Yes, you do really. The challenge of bringing it forward is finding a sense of tranquility, calm and inner stillness when it comes to performing acts that are, at their very nature, violent. When you drag out a High Septon or you’re arresting someone for just being who they are, for being gay, there always has to be a sense within him that he is doing this for the right reaons. No-one can live with themselves if they think they are doing things for the purpose of being evil, no-one does that really, I don’t think people like that exist – they make up these things or they create a world in which the circumstances dictate that they’ve got to behave in this way. And for Lancel the way that he does it is by being calm and tranquil and at peace, at one with the gods. Which is a disturbing prospect.
Do you think George Martin has been very clever by having gay relationships on screen challenging beliefs and that Sci-fi and Fantasy lead the way in equal rights, very much like Star Trek had the first interracial kiss depicted on a scripted American television series to a substantial audience?
I would say that I find it more interesting. Personally the most interesting aspect for me is that whenever you come to rather totalitarian religious beliefs that sex is always something that’s always viewed in a very orthodox way. It’s something inherent in human nature that intimacy and sex must be done, in their eyes, or in the eyes of people with strongly held religious, zealous beliefs, in a totally controlled manner. There is no room for what they consider to be unorthodox when really it’s no-one’s business but one’s own. I find it definitely quite interesting that George Martin has, in his own way in the books, paid particular attention to that bizarre aspect of totalitarian religion.
And locking Cersei up
Locking Cersei up was certainly a very dramatic scene. It was like being next to a giant magnet – you could feel the gravity of the scene and just how much it was going to start spinning off into a whole new storyline and a whole new sequence of events that even we didn’t know about. It’s coming towards the end of the season now and we don’t know what happens to her, so for us, the actors, we’re still very excited to see what we’ve done. We don’t know fully what we’ve done, what courses we’ve set in motion, so it was just as exciting for me as I hope it was for you.
With the books and TV series, there’s a difference, and some haven’t reacted well with that deviation from the books, how do you feel about it?
I have always been very supportive of the decisions that have been made that deviate away from the books because very often what they allow us to do is give you an opportunity for characters that do not encounter one another in George’s books to meet. I always say I really like when The Hound met Brienne of Tarth. It was a literally larger than life physical and character encounter. It was fantastically well done and it gave The Hound the perfect emotional perspective that he needed and it gave Brienne of Tarth the perfect physical and power perspective that we needed on her. It was brilliantly done and I think I’m really supportive of the decisions they make.
What projects are you working on at the moment?
I’m doing a film at the moment, or rather a sequence of small films which are coming out hopefully some-time next year – I’ll tweet about them at a later date. I have a film that is called “Eden” which is a Lord of the Flies-esque survival horror film – I play an American in that, one of the leads in that called Kennefick and he spends most of his time covered in blood and being very badly physically abused. It was a wonderful opportunity to play a role like that. I had a very bad experience at my school with bullying and to have the opportunity to play this role of someone who is the underdog for no other reason than people see him as the underdog, for no particular reason at all – they just decide he’s the one they want to pick on – it felt very cathartic to play a character who felt so close to home.