Spoilers ahead for the season-six finale of Game of Thrones.
After the deaths of Joffrey and Myrcella, Cersei finally started to believe the prophecy given to her as a teenager — that she would have three children, and each of them would die. Did this make her more protective of Tommen? Yes, but not in the ways that mattered. Sure, she kept him away from the Sept of Baelor (via the Mountain), but she didn’t anticipate his reaction to watching the explosion, or what it might mean to him, or how being alone in his room while she went off to torture Septa Unella might put him at risk. Actor Dean-Charles Chapman chatted with Vulture about Tommen’s suicide, face-planting on a crash mat, and the fate of Ser Pounce.
How did you first find out Tommen was going to die?
I first found out when we got flown out to Belfast for a table read with the cast, and the night before, I got a call from [showrunners] David [Benioff] and Dan [Weiss]. As soon as I saw it was them, I knew it was over. I answered the phone, “Hey, how are you doing? You’re going to kill me, aren’t you?” “Um, yeah.” But they said it really, really nicely, and I thanked them, because they had given me two roles, Tommen and Martyn Lannister. And then I told my mom, and she was like, “Aww, man!”
When I first signed on to play Tommen, I started speculating about when he was going to die. I sort of knew he wouldn’t be the last one on the throne, but Tommen doesn’t really deserve to have his throat slit or his stomach jabbed. In a way, Tommen died the way he was — it was a peaceful death.
What was it like shooting it — Tommen’s reaction, the actual jump through the window?
The stunt wasn’t too hard. I walk to the top of the window, fall off on a crash mat, and I basically face-planted. [Laughs.] It’s really draining. The whole sequence, where he’s getting dressed, sitting on his seat, and the Mountain comes in, that was all one day. And the whole death scene, that was a long, long time. I’d say, Jesus, falling onto the mat? It’s got to be 30 times, or more, for all the different angles. I took a lot of face-plants. It’s all good!
We did try Tommen’s reaction loads of different ways, but the one note I got on the day was, instead of Tommen curling up into a ball and crying his eyes out, or screaming with rage, or crawling onto the bed and covering his face with a pillow, let it be shell shock. Let it sink in, what he’s seeing. It’s more of him not believing what he’s seeing at first. So instead of walking away and confronting his mom, let it get to him, so he would commit suicide. But filming that day, it was sad. Previous to shooting it, I’d known about it for four months, and to be honest, I was dreading it. I didn’t really want to face Tommen’s death, to get into that state of what Tommen was processing. At that point, I think I had another two months of shooting, so it wasn’t my last day. I probably would have been crying my eyes out if it was.
What did you think was going through his head, what he was processing? Do you think he knew when the Sept exploded that Cersei was behind it? Did he intuit that?
Definitely. I’d like to think that before the day of the trial, he was starting to think about what his mother was up to. That’s one of the reasons he’s late to the trial. He was just dreading going. And when the Mountain comes, he knows that his mom was up to something. The Mountain is with Cersei 24–7, and the Mountain was standing in his way. And when he sees the Sept explode, he knows.
Tommen was a sort of pacifist king, which made him powerless …
In a way, he was also powerless because Cersei, Margaery, they all had their own game plan to use him to soak up as much power as they could. And when the High Sparrow finally came into it, he had his own plans, too. Everyone was just using Tommen. He was a little too gullible. And I blame Cersei for that, because she always shielded him, but she was really shielding him from politics, and the world, and how cruel people really are. He didn’t get the life lessons he should have had. He just thought, “Okay, I’ll shut up and do as they say.”
When he talked about it feeling odd that he was the king, I think he did feel guilty that he took his brother’s place. And he couldn’t do anything. When Margaery got in trouble with the Faith, he couldn’t change anything. When Cersei got in trouble, he couldn’t change anything. He just had this massive guilt on his shoulders, that maybe he could have changed the outcome. I think a lot of that guilt is why Tommen decided to jump as well.
Maybe if he had known more about what was happening, he could have made better decisions? I don’t think he realized that the Faith Militant had power by his own decree, and he could revoke it. Perhaps he didn’t read the forms he signed.
That’s the main fault of Tommen’s, that he didn’t even look at what was in front of him, really. And he didn’t think things through. He didn’t go, “Okay, this is the situation. My mom’s in trouble, my wife’s in trouble, so I need to get an army,” or whatever he needed, “and I’m going to make a plan and I’m going to stick to it.” Just grow a backbone! Force yourself to rule! Don’t let people tell you what to do! Maybe even confront Jaime and Cersei about it, and go, “Look, let’s talk about it, and make a decision together?” Maybe that way, they could have had some justice and made things better and be happy and whatnot. Well, maybe not happy. [Laughs.] The one time he tried, when he went to confront the High Sparrow, he kind of crapped his pants a little. [Laughs.] If he had just gone through with it, even if takes shedding blood, it’s got to be done! I would have done that. But Tommen, he’s anti-violence, anti-hatred, and unfortunately, that got everyone killed.
You can’t really be a king and be anti-violence. At least not in Westeros.
I know! It’s a shame. [Laughs.] Either way, Tommen was always doomed, especially with the prophecy on his back. There was no way he could have had a happy life, especially with a mom like Cersei. There’s no getting over that.
Were you a little heartbroken that Cersei didn’t seem to mourn Tommen’s death as much as Joffrey’s or Myrcella’s?
Yeah, I know! That sucks, doesn’t it? Your son commits suicide, and you’re just like, “That’s fine. Give me the crown.” Selfish. She literally had no expression whatsoever. She’s just like, “Burn him.” I was like, “What?! What’s up, man?” Show some respect. Jesus. Cersei, I don’t think there’s any stopping her. The people of Westeros are doomed. I just hope Daenerys can come and get rid of her, quick.
Tommen didn’t take the time to make arrangements for this, but what about Ser Pounce?
Yeah, poor little dude. Poor little fellow. It’d be a shame if he had watched Tommen jump out the window. It might give poor Pounce some mental problems. He’s probably still in Tommen’s chambers, hidden under the bed, shaking with fear or something. I hope he has no worries. I hope he runs around the castle, sees another cat, has some kittens. I hope he does well in life. Maybe he’ll find Cersei, get a little guest appearance on the throne or something. That would be sweet!
If Tommen hadn’t outlawed trial by combat, dashing the hopes of all who wanted Cleganebowl, is there any trial by combat you would have liked to see?
Well, firstly, it has to be Tommen fighting someone. I think I’d want Tommen to fight the Hound! And the Mountain! The Hound and the Mountain on one side, and Tommen on the other side. That would be so sick. Tommen would smash it!
Really? The poor boy has no fight training!
Maybe wait an episode, come back when he’s like 21, so it’s like four years later, and he’s grown muscles, done sit-ups every day, done some weight-lifting, and he’d smash it. [Laughs.]
Well, I guess if the Hound could recover from his fight with Brienne, and the Mountain could be resurrected, maybe Tommen could survive this version of Cleganebowl.
I’m counting on that. Oh, yeah. Let’s get that trending! [Laughs.]