Lady Cat: Her strengths, frail­ties and flaws

Game of Thrones has sur­passed all the ac­tors’ ex­pec­ta­tions, writes Guy Davis

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - PLAY CONTENTS -

THE epic fan­tasy Game of Thrones re­turns with the third sea­son of the award-win­ning drama fast-tracked to our screens af­ter its US pre­miere.

One of its piv­otal characters is Lady Cate­lyn ‘‘Cat’’ Stark, the no­ble­woman de­ter­mined to re­turn her fam­ily to its right­ful place in the feu­dal hi­er­ar­chy of the land of Wes­teros.

Ir­ish ac­tress Michelle Fair­ley, who brings a fierce, unstoppable and com­plex spirit to her por­trayal of Lady Stark, speaks about Game of Thrones’ tough, and com­pelling vi­sion.

Michelle, please tell us about your first en­coun­ters with Game

of Thrones.

The first scripts were kept un­der wraps for a very long time and then we had a ta­ble read when ev­ery­one had been cast. (US net­work) HBO filmed that, which was ter­ri­fy­ing – you thought they were go­ing to look at it and go, ‘‘OK, you’re sacked, you’re sacked’’. From there, it was on to the first day of film­ing, which again was in­cred­i­bly ex­cit­ing but nerve-rack­ing. There was al­ways the pos­si­bil­ity they might not like the way you came across on cam­era.

It seems like no char­ac­ter on the show is safe from the axe ei­ther.

As the se­ries pro­gressed, you be­came aware of the na­ture and the qual­ity of the pro­duc­tion . . . the ex­tra­or­di­nary sets, the props and the cos­tumes, all per­son­ally made for each char­ac­ter. The time, the ef­fort, the re­search that goes into the writ­ing and di­rec­tion. As an ac­tor, you’re the last link in the chain. You want it to work. We knew (it was) qual­ity; we didn’t know how pop­u­lar it was go­ing to be. It’s gone be­yond ev­ery­one’s wildest ex­pec­ta­tions.

What are your thoughts on Lady Cate­lyn Stark? Her strengths, her frail­ties, even her flaws?

I’m glad that you said flaws be­cause that’s what fas­ci­nates me about play­ing her. In Game of Thrones, the Starks may rep­re­sent some kind of mo­ral cen­tre in this cor­rupt world where life is cheap. As par­ents, she and Ned try to im­part to their chil­dren good qual­i­ties of faith and moral­ity and good­ness and not abus­ing power. Cat is from a no­ble fam­ily and even though hers is an ar­ranged mar­riage it’s a suc­cess­ful and happy one that pro­duced won­der­ful chil­dren. But as a hu­man be­ing she is com­pli­cated and flawed and she bat­tles with the ac­tions and de­ci­sions she’s made in the past. She has to come to terms with her grief as a widow. Then there’s the loss and dis­per­sion of her fam­ily and her ef­forts to bring them all back to­gether. The grief isn’t mak­ing her crum­ble – it’s

mak­ing her stronger, build­ing her up.

Do you con­nect with her more the longer you’ve played her?

Cat is quite a dif­fer­ent char­ac­ter in the

Game of Thrones books. But, for the ac­tors, the more (showrun­ners) David (Be­nioff) and Dan (D.B Weiss) get to know the char­ac­ter and get to know your strengths . . . the scripts are con­stantly honed and shaped – they get richer. Ev­ery word is there for a rea­son.

Are you ever taken aback by how graphic Game of Thrones can be?

Peo­ple were. But the world that’s been cre­ated is sim­i­lar to the world we live in, I think. Peo­ple do des­per­ate things in des­per­ate times. They sell their bod­ies or sell their souls. It’s a tes­ta­ment to some characters that they can do that and keep go­ing. The show is about how peo­ple treat one an­other and how they in­ter­act. You have to play the game clev­erly if you’re go­ing to sur­vive. You learn quickly how to be a tac­ti­cian. Cat acts im­per­fectly and makes mis­takes, but acts for her fam­ily’s sake. She wants re­venge for her hus­band’s death. She has a dark side.

I’m guess­ing you’re bound by iron­clad con­fi­den­tial­ity agree­ments, that you can’t say any­thing about se­ries three.

You’re right. I can say noth­ing. I’ve got four peo­ple watch­ing me with steely eyes. I do un­der­stand the need to want to know, but I be­lieve the en­joy­ment comes from watch­ing it un­fold and per­haps hav­ing that gut feel­ing about where it may be go­ing.

Michelle Fair­ley

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