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Game of Thrones’ Alfie Allen on Theon’s Finale Speech, His Daddy Issues, and George R.R. Martin’s Love of Lily Allen

Alfie Allen as Theon. Photo: HBO

In the world of Game of Thrones, Theon is a great case for ward reform. Although he grew up with Starks, he was never one of them — a fact of which he was constantly reminded by visiting Lannisters, prostitutes, wildlings, and others he deemed beneath his station. And once he finally returned home to the Iron Islands, he got a harsh wake-up call that the Greyjoys weren’t about to accept him either. If he weren’t responsible for the deaths of innocent children, you’d almost feel sorry for him, especially after Sunday’s finale, in which [SPOILER ALERT] the betrayer was betrayed, capping Alfie Allen’s breakout year as an increasingly lost character. His older sister, the singer Lily Allen, once chided him for “wasting his life away” in the song “Alfie,” but she might want to consider revising that statement now. Allen chatted with Vulture about Theon’s last stand, using sex as a weapon, and which plot secret George R.R. Martin shared with him.

How do you feel about the finale?
I haven’t seen it, but I know [showrunners] David [Benioff] and Dan [Weiss] are really happy with it. I’ve got a really good scene, and they wanted to show it to me after we shot it, but I was like, “No, no, I don’t want to know.”

It didn’t play out like it did in the books. For instance, we weren’t introduced to someone calling himself Reek.
I think Theon’s first mate Dagmer Cleftjaw took the place of Reek in some ways, for now. But I love how prior to all that, there’s an added scene that definitely didn’t happen in the books, and it wasn’t even in the original script, either, but it’s such an amazing scene: Maester Luwin and I have a little chat in the chamber, very Richard III-style, where he says, “You’re not the man you’re pretending to be. Run. You could go to the Wall and all your past crimes will be forgiven.” And I talk about my dad and his rejection of me. It’s the first time where I’m honestly pushed to a point where I can’t go back, because I’ve got to carry on in this same vein, even though it’s not really me, and it’s heartbreaking. It’s a lost cause. So when I go out into the courtyard to rile up the soldiers who didn’t respect me before, but are now at the point where they are starting to respect me, because I’m prepared to go out and die in battle, and I’m giving this big speech when Dagmer just smashes me in the head with a spear from behind! I still love that line: “I was wondering when he would shut up.” And I remember when we were shooting it, I was really into it, I was all riled up, and Dan was laughing. He kept bursting out laughing. [Laughs.]

Theon’s never really fully belonged to either the Stark or the Greyjoy families. Maybe if the Starks had given him one of the direwolf pups, he would have felt more included.
[Laughs.] Kit [Harington, who plays Jon Snow] and I joke about that. How he should have given me a pup. Completely. It’s fucked up that he gets a pup and I don’t, right? Because we’re both outcasts in Winterfell, but he’s got more honor about him. Maybe it’s the genes. We all joke about all this stuff together. Kit gets called a bastard, and Richard [Madden] gets called “King in the North.” But we don’t have a nickname for me yet.

What about Reek, or Theon Turncloak?
I’ll take that for sure. Gwendoline [Christie, who plays Brienne] calls me “Alien,” for a laugh, but I’ve never asked her why.

Did having a big sister ever help you with the sibling scenes? Minus the incest, of course.
[Laughs.] I guess, because we nitpick at each other, but it’s not cool, completely not cool what Theon does to his sister. It’s horrible. It shows you what kind of person Theon is, so there’s a reason why it’s in there. But you know, they didn’t know I had a big sister when they cast me for this. They had no clue. They didn’t know who I was. Although George R.R. Martin, when I spoke to him, he asked me about my sister. He became a fan of hers during the auditions.

What did you ask him about in return?
You know, I asked him about who Jon Snow’s real parents were, and he told me. I can’t say who, but I can tell you that it involves a bit of a Luke Skywalker situation. It will all come to fruition eventually. The whole thing with all the fight over proper succession is partly inspired by the War of the Roses in the late 1400s, and back then, to ensure pedigree, the monarchies were kind of inbred. It’s definitely fucked up, but it definitely happened back then, so that’s why there’s incest with the Targaryen line. It’s toned down, though.

It’s talked about more than shown this season, except for Theon’s feeling up his sister. Comparatively, that was pretty chaste, given that you did full frontal for the scene with Ros.
Hey, I’m allowed! [Laughs.] I did that for the first season, but people seem to think that I do that all the time. It’s cool. If you’re going to do that, you should be 100 percent comfortable, and for that scene, I really thought it needed that. When you see sex onscreen, it can be really lovey-dovey, or it can be realistic, and I thought it was important to show that, and Esme [Bianco, who plays Ros] made me feel very comfortable and fine with it. She was brilliant, that girl. Same with Amy [Dawson, who plays the captain’s daughter]. She was unbelievably good at making it sort of uncomfortable, because she wants to be off the boat, and she only sees the good in me.

Theon acts like a completely different person when he’s with these women.
It’s because it’s the only power he has in that world — over women in the bedroom. It’s his only weapon. He’s got nothing else. He has no real power whatsoever. So he’s at the mercy of sex, which is the only place where he gets to make his own decisions. But it’s definitely used against him, with Osha. I mean, this is a guy who nicks off little kids. If Bran weren’t in hiding, he would have totally stood up to him. Arya would bring him down to earth, too. She would teach him the ways of the world.

Do you have any favorite fan videos?
I’m so computer illiterate, I barely know how to send an e-mail. I mean, I have a laptop and Gmail, but I don’t really look at it much. Kit’s the one who finds all the parodies — he said there was a great one on Saturday Night Live and he was going to show me that next. I haven’t seen it yet. I’m not going to say I’ve never Googled myself before, but …

If you did, you’d come across the video where you say you peed on your sister’s head. What was up with that?
We were young, and in the bath, and I wish I had never said it. [Laughs.]

So I hear you’re starting to work on some music videos?
I’m just sort of learning now, like to do the graphics and the software. It’s just for fun, just for friends, some grime artists who don’t have the budget for much. I’m just messing around, though; it’s not anything serious. [His other phone rings.] Hold on. Sorry about that, I’m actually heading out to L.A. for three weeks, so I’m looking for a house out there, and I have to take those calls, because I need a place to stay. I’ve got to strike while the iron is hot, while people in America kind of know me! [Laughs.]

George R.R. Martin Is a Lily Allen Fan