Posts Tagged ‘George R.R. Martin’
Don’t call it a comeback! Stefan Sasse & Sean T. Collins return with our first BLAH since June, and we’re bringing our chum Amin Javadi of the mighty A Podcast of Ice and Fire along for the ride. It’s basically two episodes in one: For the first half hour or so, we discuss Stefan’s essay “Savoring the Taste?: On the Role of Revenge in A Song of Ice and Fire” from the expanded Collector’s Edition of Tower of the Hand: A Flight of Sorrows — TotH‘s excellent collection of essays by various luminaries in the ASoIaF community. Stefan argues that quests for revenge, no matter how horrendous the crime being avenged, are self-perpetuating engines of violence that have had awful consequences for these characters and their culture. Please note that the Collector’s Edition — a print book, no less — is only on sale through the end of this Friday, November 1st, after which it will disappear forever. Buy it now and let’s talk!
In the back half of the ep, we get exquisitely nerdy and discuss various what-if scenarios, predicated on major events and decisions going a different way than they had before. I had an absolute blast teasing out the consequences of each of these divergences and hope you’ll enjoy it too. It’s good to be back!
Two great tastes that taste great together: Over at BuzzFeed Music, I wrote about the ways in which the music and career of the great Scottish eletronic-music duo Boards of Canada, whose excellent first album in eight years Tomorrow’s Harvest came out this week, mirrors the A Song of Ice and Fire/Game of Thrones phenomenon.
Was it enough to make up for the tone-deaf moments? I’m not sure. The show’s previously been careful to maintain a heterogeneous look for most of the cultures Daenerys encounters in her travels through the eastern continent of Essos, so the uniformly brown skin tone of the freed slaves worshipping the blondest possible savior figure was surprising and disconcerting – doubly so since, in the books, much is made of just how many different kinds of people had been forced into slavery by Yunkai and then freed by Dany when she took the city. This uncomfortable contrast kneecapped what could otherwise have been the most purely uplifting and cathartic moment in the series so far. Plus it gave the episode its title and was, you know, the final shot of the season – a rough one to go out on.
The “Mhysa” sequence will receive the most scrutiny, and rightfully so, but Dany’s triumph outside the gates of Yunkai came with its fair share of visual and narrative warning signs that we’re not to take it at face value. There’s that conqueror/liberator exchange between Dany and Jorah, which sounded like something you’d hear on a Meet the Press interview with Dick Cheney circa March 2003. The grinning joy on her face was carefully contrasted with Jorah’s concern; yeah, that could have been simply his regret that the khaleesi now has tens of thousands of admirers just as ardent as he, but it can also be read as fear that it won’t all be crowdsurfing and dragon flyovers forever. Add in the separate conversations between Tywin and Tyrion, and Stannis and Davos, about whether the ends (victory in the War of the Five Kings, peace in the realm) justify the means (the Red Wedding, burning some poor kid alive), and I half expected Drogon to be trailing a “MISSION ACCOMPLISHED” banner behind him.
I reviewed the Game of Thrones season finale for Rolling Stone. A compelling, sometimes stunning, sometimes troubling episode.
This is awkward to bring up, but you’re a good-looking guy. I think that’s safe to say.
[Laughs] Thanks, Sean.
My pleasure! There’s a sense that with your character, and then this season also with Robb and Jon and Jamie, that there’s now a movement within the show to show off the male characters the way the female characters have been shown off. When you have those scenes where you take your tunic or whatever off, people go berserk. I’m curious what that’s like as an actor.
It’s kind of weird, because from my personal point of view, you don’t really want to do nudity unless it’s appropriate, and unless it’s relevant to the storyline and it makes sense to do it in the scene. There’s a scene in Season Two where I’m forging a sword with no top on for no apparent reason. It’s amazing what a bit of soot and shaving can do for muscle definition, honestly. I didn’t recognize that torso.
I think David [Benioff] and Dan [Weiss, the showrunners] still try to … there is a bit of a responsibility to try and even up the balance a little bit. You can’t let the ladies do it all. But I think they do try and keep it within reasonable parameters. That scene where I’m forging the sword, I’m saying that it’s gratuitous, but the idea they wanted to convey was that … it was more for Arya than anything to do with my character. It was them trying to imply that Arya’s becoming a woman now and she’s dealing with feelings that she’s maybe not experienced before. I think they just want to hint at that – I’m saying “subtly,” but … [Laughs] But it’s not something I want to make a particular habit of.
When I was cast as Gendry, I didn’t have any of the physical attributes the part required. I was astounded that I got the role, to be honest. But David and Dan said, “We need to die his hair black … and it’d be great you hit the gym before we start filming.” So I was told to get in shape. I suppose you’ve got to look like you’re made of steel for nudity. You’ve got to get some arms on you. The reaction is not something I pay too much attention to. You don’t want to be a torso. You don’t want that to be what you’re known for. I think if it’s overshadowing your acting, you need to up your game a little bit.
I interviewed Joe Dempsie, aka Gendry, for Rolling Stone. Another thoughtful, insightful, articulate, engaging actor from this cast. It’s really been eye-opening, talking to these people.
I had a nice long conversation about two of my favorite shows with one of my favorite critics, Alyssa Rosenberg, on her Bloggingheads.tv show Critic Proof. Topics include the Red Wedding (of course), Catelyn Stark, spectacle and gore, the horrors of war, world-historical events as “monster of the week,” whether character growth is necessary, repetition vs. novelty, and much more. At the link, you can even download an mp3 version if you don’t feel like watching it as a video. Enjoy!
The death of an idea can hurt just as badly as the death of a person. People are mortal, after all, and come with an expiration date – it’s the cost of doing business with them. But ideas often have a wider impact than any one person. They’re passed down and passed around, like heirlooms or viruses. It’s easy to convince ourselves that an idea that gives our life meaning will outlast our life, any life, in turn. To lose an idea like that leaves us adrift, with no shore in sight.
You’ve spoken very frankly about how your unusual height has affected your life, and some of your modeling work seems to touch on this as well – taking ownership of your physical body. Brienne has struggled with her physicality as well. She’s gone a different road, obviously – she’s a warrior, not an actor – but I wonder if you see overlap between her and yourself.
Absolutely. That’s why I wanted to play the part so much. I never thought I’d ever come across a part like this. I was always told about this in drama school, that occasionally you might come across a part where you say, “Yeah, I know that. I know it. I don’t have to pretend to try and get there. I know this.” As soon as I read about the character, I had to play it.
And it’s a character that we don’t see that often. I’m certainly really rather tall at 6 foot 3, and I’ve been this way since I was 14, but for years women who are even 5 foot 10 have come up to me in the street and said, “Oh, it’s so nice to see a woman who is taller than me. I’ve always felt like a giant.” They describe it to me like outsiders. It sounds a bit worthy, but I genuinely feel that as an actor part of my job is to highlight those recesses of human life and human psychology that we don’t see that often. And if I have the opportunity, which I very luckily have, to play the part of an outsider, then I felt like I might be doing some good. Occasionally I get messages from women saying that I’ve brought them some joy, and that’s unbelievably thrilling.
An additional wrinkle for Brienne is that she’s pretty much universally seen as ugly. When you’re made up to look that way, when you change your hair and your demeanor and your physicality to look that way, does it change how you feel?
Yeah, totally. As a woman, we all want to feel attractive. We all want to feel that we’re making the very best of ourselves so we can accept ourselves. It’s like all of these gorgeous, devastatingly beautiful actresses in the show, and then there’s me harrumphing around. [Laughs] So it can be tough to look like that.
But you have to step outside of that and think about what these things really mean. I am still a person with a sense of superficiality that I’m trying to challenge. I hope that it makes us examine exactly what “unattractive” is. Perhaps it’s not the conventions that we have or the blueprint in our minds. And if it makes people question for a minute what unattractive is, and the way in which we may respond as people to what we think unattractive is, then it’s worthwhile.
I interviewed Gwendoline Christie, aka Brienne of Tarth, for Rolling Stone. Man, this interview. Even by the high standards of this (in my experience) extraordinarily insightful cast, this was something.
Newcomer Daario Naharis is a man the Hound would recognize – a killer for cash. Unlike the Hound, he seems to take pleasure in the badass trappings of a successful sellsword – the rep, the women, the tricked-out dagger hilts – while the Hound himself takes pleasure, and barely, in the act of killing itself. But because of this, Naharis has the flexibility to bend before he breaks. Confronted with a physically stunning, tactically advantaged opponent in the form of Daenerys Targaryen, he kills his comrades and switches sides rather than toss himself into the fray on behalf of a wealthy but likely defeatable city. (As an aside, a show that can find time for an extensive visit to the camp of the Second Sons ought to be able to give Catelyn Stark more to do this season than scold her dopey son Robb. Okay, moving on.) Duty to his captains and his client would appear to leave him little choice, but “Daario Naharis always has a choice,” he tells Daenerys. Judging from her outrageously pulp-fictional bathtub dismount, he chose wisely.
Episode 20 of my A Song of Ice and Fire podcast the Boiled Leather Audio hour is up! This week, my co-host Stefan Sasse and I are discussing the combined reading order for A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons that I came up with in order to reunite what is effectively one giant book split by character rather than chronology. It’s worth doing!
It’s a remarkable turnaround for a character we first really got to know when he took a break from fucking his sister to toss a little boy out a window. By that time in his life Jaime had spent 17 years wearing his last great crime, the murder of the king he was sworn to protect, like a crown. He’d made a decision in the heat of the moment and adamantly refused to submit himself to anyone’s judgment, even if it meant hiding the fact that he’d saved, by his estimation in this episode, half a million lives. Squint at it long enough and it’s easy to see his defenestration of Bran Stark in a similar light: Kill this boy to cover up the crime, or watch as an enraged King Robert kills the sister he loves, the children they secretly had together and Jaime himself – and probably his father and brother for good measure. Prolonged exposure to Brienne, his first close contact with someone outside the closed systems of his family and the Kingsguard in years, forced him to think outside his snap-judgment comfort zone. With any luck, she’ll be the first of many people to benefit from his growth.
How do you avoid mustache-twirling supervillain stereotypes while performing [Littlefinger's malevolent monologues]?
Keep the mustache short. That helps.
She obviously has family on her mind in this episode. But when she tells Gendry “I can be your family,” it sounds like she might mean something very different – even if she herself barely realizes it yet.
When I first read that scene, it really got to me. I always knew that Arya and Gendry were going to take separate paths, but when you actually see it… I was really getting on well with Joe [Dempsie], and it was just like “Oh, this is going to end now.” Then you go in do it. At first I read it as “You can come to Winterfell, I’ll show you how everything goes, and you can come and sit at the table with us.” I thought it would be a bit like Theon. But when I was doing the scene, [director] Alex Graves said “When you say that last line, ‘I can be your family,’ say it like ‘I love you.’” And that’s the take that they used. On the day, we didn’t cut in between. We kept going, and going, and going again, which I really liked; otherwise, you get out of it and you have to try and build yourself back up to that point again. Sometimes I was really crying, and then we’d pull it back. I don’t know how many we did, but the last one we did…We settled on the one when I said it like “I love you,” and it really works.
It was an emotionally merciless episode throughout. Delirious from pain and heat and 17 years of bitterness, Jaime reveals to Brienne that he slew the Mad King to stop him from burning King’s Landing to the ground, but refused to tell anyone because he was so outraged by Ned Stark’s pre-judgment that he couldn’t even bear to defend himself with the truth. “By what right does the wolf judge the lion?” he demands, weeping through the dirt and shit caked on his face. As if his system can’t withstand honesty he then passes out, his nude body cradled against Brienne’s own in a shot that rivals last episode’s Jaime-and-his-hand tableau. “My name is Jaime,” he insists, at long last deciding to be less, and therefore more, than his reputation would make him out to be.
I reviewed last night’s episode of Game of Thrones, which I absolutely loved, for Rolling Stone. All-time Top 5 episode.
The latest episode of my Game of Thrones/A Song of Ice and Fire podcast is up. This week my co-host Stefan Sasse and I talk about three powerful women of Westeros: Margaery Tyrell, Melisandre of Asshai, and Lysa Arryn. Enjoy!
When you look at Theon’s situation, where do you come down on what he wound up doing? Do you find fault with it? Aside from the child-murdering, of course, which I’d hope you do.
I would say that the worse thing he does is the kids, yeah, but I definitely think he’s just trying to prove himself in a really fucked-up way. With the child-murdering … I’ll be honest with you, mate. When I was shooting it, I had a bit of a problem. There’s this look of regret that I gave when the bodies of the two children bodies get raised on the ropes. I look torn about it. And I always thought Theon would just enjoy playing the trick on the whole village. That’s how I would’ve liked to have played it. Then we sat down with David and Dan and [director] David Nutter and decided that there needed to be some sort of regret there, to make it morally correct. But I always thought for Theon that he would just sort of enjoy playing the trick on Winterfell.
Started strong, ended strong, maybe a little shaky in the middle but who cares: I reviewed tonight’s episode of Game of Thrones for Rolling Stone.
[NIKOLAJ COSTER-WALDAU:] The thing that I love about all these things that happen – some of these really horrible incidents – is that the characters actually are really truthful. I can totally understand why Locke gets so angry with Jaime. I mean, I don’t know anything worse than when I meet someone who has a sense of entitlement just because of who they are – “Hey, I’m famous, so I should be treated differently.” When you meet people like that, you just want to punch them. And that’s exactly what Locke does. Granted, he takes it to an extreme because he’s also a bit of a psycho, but I think you still understand where he comes from.
Same with some of the things that Jamie says to other characters, like Brienne. They’re very hurtful, but most of the time he actually comes from a coarse truth, which makes it bite so much harder.
[ROLLING STONE:] That’s what was devastating about what happened to Jaime: For the first time we see him perform a truly selfless act, putting himself on the line to save Brienne from Locke and his men, and he’s immediately punished for it.
[Laughs] I know, I know. Now, what if the question was put to Jamie – “You can either save this lady or you can save your hand.” I’m pretty sure he would save his hand, I’m sorry to say. Maybe losing his hand will make him answer that question in a different way later on in his life. For him as a character, for him as a person, I think, he needs to lose that hand.
I reviewed tonight’s intricate and nasty little episode of Game of Thrones for Rolling Stone. I thought they handled that final sequence awfully well.
I interviewed Sophie Turner about playing Sansa Stark on Game of Thrones for Rolling Stone. She’s terrific in the role and very very smart about the character, who’s become maybe my single favorite in the series.