It’s hard to predict where memes will come from. Lino Facioli, who played the monstrous child Robin Arryn on Game of Thrones, woke up Monday morning with no idea that he’d been transformed into a meme overnight. But he had. After several appearances as an obnoxious, sociopathic lordling in the earlier seasons of Game of Thrones, Facioli’s character had no major role in the series for the past few years. When he turned up in the final episode having grown up quite a bit in the meantime, the internet lost its mind a little.
Vulture spoke to Facioli after the episode aired about what it was like to find himself transformed into a meme, how he spent the day after, and how his mom feels about the fact that everyone thinks he’s hot now.
What have the last few days been like?
I didn’t really know for certain if I was going to be in the last episode, so it was almost as big a surprise to me as it was to everyone else. I’d done the scene, but with things like this you never know if it’s going to make it to the last cut.
And you never know — especially because it’s the last season, there were a lot of rumors going around that this was just an alternate ending. No one knew, or at least I didn’t know, exactly what was going to happen. So when I woke up on Monday morning here in England … I try to stay as far away from my phone as possible when I wake up. You know, I try and detox. Try and get away from it when I wake up. But I just couldn’t that morning. I woke up and all I heard was my phone going “ding ding” nonstop.
You’re not gonna believe me — I’d forgotten that it was going to be airing the night before. So when this happened, I looked at my phone and the first thing I saw was a friend of mine going, “Congratulations! You made it!” And I’m like, What? And suddenly it’s dawned on me, and everything’s going crazy. But it was wonderful. It was a really big surprise.
So you had no idea Sunday night this was going to happen?
I knew it aired on Sundays in the States, but it had just gone over my head. And to be honest, because I wasn’t so sure about being in the last episode or not, I hadn’t wanted to put my hopes up and get too excited about it.
And when you woke up your phone was going bonkers?
Yeah, I thought it was my alarm or my phone was malfunctioning. I went to my Instagram, and I gained more followers in a night than I did throughout my whole time on Instagram. I’m still a bit like, Is this real? To me, I don’t feel like I’ve changed that much. It’s just a funny situation.
Were you talking with friends about it? Or your parents?
To be honest, I’m still taking it all in. My parents are just … we were laughing, we were like, This is hilarious, this is crazy. I’ve got friends being like, “You’ve got memes about you, man.” That’s their definition of fame.
Did you go out afterward? What does the rest of Monday look like for you then?
After a while, I was like, Shit okay, I’ve got to do something else. I’m gonna go take a shower, go for a run, clear my head out. And when I came back, it was still going! I was thinking it’d run out, but it just kept going. I thought, I’m gonna wake up any second and I’ll just go back to bed.
Did your parents come over, or did you go to their house?
I’m 18. I’m still at my parents’ house!
Oh, right! So your parents were there the whole time!
Well, my dad was at work, but yeah, my mom was there the whole time.
Is it weird for your mom that the internet’s decided that you’re very attractive?
I guess … she’s happy? I think it was more surprising for me than it was for her. You know, she was, “You’re a beautiful son!”
That’s such a great mom thing, to be like, “Oh, of course!”
Exactly! But to me, it was very much a surprise. And my dad as well. So we went out for a dinner just to celebrate the whole thing, and for the first time in ages I was spotted on the street. With my character being not that big of a character, and me having grown up a lot since, people generally don’t notice it. And especially in London, with people being slightly more reserved than they would be where I’m from, in Brazil, people don’t tend to just approach you. But we were out to dinner and suddenly people were just eyeballing us, and I was like, Okay, let’s keep walking. And one of them ran up to me and was like, “You’re not on Game of Thrones, are you?” I was like, “Yeah!” So yeah, that was … that was my first experience getting stopped on the streets.
At dinner I just ended up turning off my phone for a while, but eventually I went back to it. The temptation to look at my phone was just too much. I tried to read a book, I tried to do other things. Because it’s true, as much as I try to stay away from it, try not to get too caught up in it … it’s an exciting event, you know! I’m just trying to enjoy it.
When did you actually watch the episode?
We came back from dinner and it was maybe ten, and we watched it then. I had to cancel all my friends.
Your friends didn’t want to watch it with you?!
No they did! But my parents wanted to watch it with me. They were like, “This is an event.”
Have you been watching the show all along?
No! I was too young when I started off, I never watched. And eventually when I got old enough, I felt like I was over it? I wasn’t that keen, for whatever reason. Now I really want to watch it, binge-watch the whole thing.
All of the memes out there are about the fact that you’ve grown up and people have decided you’re attractive, but a lot of it is also about the breastfeeding. Is that … weird? Does that feel uncomfortable?
I’ll be honest, this is the best I’ve ever had it in terms of memes. Being that weird kid on Game of Thrones … when I was a teenager, I was like, “How do I deal with this?” I was not that comfortable with it. But it made me get tough skin and have fun with it. Even when it’s something that’s mocking you, it’s about just laughing at it and carrying on and enjoying it. It’s a better position that I’m in now, to be able to have more confidence in terms of that critical voice when I didn’t know how to deal with it.
You were 10 when you started to film some of these scenes, and it seems like a very strange thing to have to try to describe to a 10-year-old what was happening and how to shoot it. What was that like?
It wasn’t the most simple thing to do. It definitely wasn’t. But I think … the idea of breastfeeding, I never really thought of as a taboo? I really did just see it, you know, as a practical thing, as a natural thing between a mum and a child. Obviously not that natural at that age! But in general people seemed to think that it was a lot more impactful or traumatizing than it really was? It was just something that happened. As far as I saw it, that was what my character did, that was a part of the scene, that’s what I did. And that wasn’t even the hardest part of doing the character.
What was the hardest part?
I think it was being able to play a character that was so crazy, so different to who I am. Becoming an absolute prick, and not holding back.
Yeah, Robin Arryn was not a pleasant person. Are you afraid you’re going to get stuck with another character like that?
For any actor it’s not good to be cast in one role constantly, but as a general rule I don’t mind doing a character that has more darkness.
Are you in school now or are you mostly working?
I’ve just finished an arts-and-design foundation at Camborne College of Arts in London, and I’m doing a play at Covent Garden in London.
Are your friends going to tease you about being Hot Milk Boy for a long time now?
They’re definitely going to tease me about it. They already have. But I’m mocking myself about it too. I’m just enjoying it. At the end of the day, I am pretty happy with what’s happened.