The Onion Knight speaks

Ac­tor Liam Cun­ning­ham talks about Game Of Thrones’ Sea­son Seven. OK, not re­ally.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - TV - Sto­ries by MUMTAJ BEGUM en­ter­tain­ment@thes­tar.com.my

HBO’s Game Of Thrones (GOT) Sea­son Seven trailer fi­nally ar­rived late last month, build­ing up the hype around the hit se­ries’ penul­ti­mate sea­son. It has the out­cast queen Daen­erys Tar­garyen (Emilia Clarke) declar­ing she was born to rule the Seven King­doms and that she will; there is more plot­ting and strate­gis­ing from the newly-crowned Queen of the Seven King­doms, Cer­sei (Lena Headey). And now that the war is here, the trailer prom­ises mul­ti­ple bat­tle se­quences – one is led by the new King of the North, Jon Snow (Kit Har­ing­ton), with his main man Tor­mund Giants­bane (Kristofer Hivju), in a snow-filled land­scape, while an­other fight scene sees Dothraki on horses charg­ing in a sun­nier sur­round­ing.

There’s a lot more within the 90-sec­ond pre­view, of course. We also hear Ser Davos Sea­worth (Liam Cun­ning­ham), also known as the Onion Knight, pro­vid­ing coun­sel that if ev­ery­one doesn’t band to­gether to fight the Night King and his army of the dead “it doesn’t mat­ter whose skeleton sits on the Iron Throne.”

All very ex­cit­ing in­deed. But, we need to know more!

It has been al­most a year since the sixth sea­son ended with yet an­other as­tound­ing cliffhanger, which hap­pened to be one of the most-watched episodes ever. Ti­tled The

Winds Of Win­ter, the episode saw 11 se­ries reg­u­lar and re­cur­ring cast mem­bers get­ting killed. It also set in mo­tion sev­eral key sto­ry­lines like the dis­cov­ery of Jon’s par­ents, Cer­sei of­fi­cially sit­ting on the Iron Throne, and Daen­erys set­ting sail across the Nar­row Sea to con­quer Wes­teros with the help of Yara Greyjoy’s fleet of ships, her drag­ons as well as the Dothraki and the Un­sul­lied war­riors.

So when we got the chance to query cast mem­ber Cun­ning­ham on the phone while he was in Bangkok to pro­mote GOT, we asked him what hap­pens next, de­spite be­ing warned not to broach the sub­ject dur­ing the 20-minute in­ter­view.

It turned out to be a fu­tile ex­er­cise. The Ir­ish­man proved adept at be­ing cagey, hav­ing been on the show since the sec­ond sea­son.

He did say this, how­ever: “Sea­son Seven is go­ing to be un­like the pre­vi­ous six sea­sons. We have seven episodes, which we’ve taken the same amount of time to shoot our usual 10 (episodes). So it’s go­ing to have a dif­fer­ent feel. What­ever it is you think is go­ing to hap­pen, that may be it or you might be wrong.”

Al­right then. Maybe he’ll talk about the dreaded White Walk­ers, one of which is fea­tured promi­nently in the Sea­son Seven poster. Does he en­counter th­ese hard-to-kill hu­manoid ice crea­tures, or at least has he seen them yet?

“This is un­be­liev­able. Is it go­ing to be like this for the whole thing?” he asked in mock-anger ... or so we’re hop­ing since he greeted us jovially when he first got on the phone.

“I have seen the White Walk­ers on TV, yes – like you have – but not on the set. If I told you that, my ca­reer will be over, so will yours... This is un­be­liev­able. I feel like a politi­cian.”

GOT has got­ten a rep­u­ta­tion for be­ing highly se­cre­tive – manag­ing to keep both its big and small plot twists out of the public eye for years. That se­crecy has in­ten­si­fied as Sea­sons Six, Seven and Eight have gone be­yond its orig­i­nal source – Ge­orge R.R. Martin’s best-sell­ing epic fan­tasy novel se­ries

A Song Of Ice And Fire, which is still a work in progress.

Luck­ily, the good-hu­moured ac­tor, who turned 56 on Fri­day, was more than will­ing to talk about his char­ac­ter. Davos is a for­mer smug­gler, and one of the few char­ac­ters on GOT who is nei­ther morally am­bigu­ous nor a per­son hun­gry for power. Over the course of his story arc, we have seen Davos be­ing loyal to Stan­nis Baratheon, the Lord of Dragon­stone, who was eye­ing the Iron Throne. After Stan­nis’s death, Jon Snow be­comes Davos’s new boss.

“I re­ally like Davos be­cause he is de­cent, loyal and hon­est. And as he says, he doesn’t take the easy op­tion. He is a quiet hero.

“Morally he is a cool kind of guy. I think maybe the show needs a cou­ple of peo­ple like him, peo­ple who al­most speak for the au­di­ence. So when they watch some charac-

ters do ter­ri­ble things, as they do, they can go ‘Come on, say some­thing, Davos’.”

On this show how­ever, be­ing the moral com­pass or con­science may well spell the char­ac­ter’s doom. While Cun­ning­ham con­firmed his char­ac­ter is still alive in the first episode of the new sea­son, he re­fused to di­vulge any­thing fur­ther other than to say: “I would love him to last. I hope he lasts. I like him, the au­di­ence likes him. But know­ing (cre­ators) David (Be­nioff ) and Dan (D.B. Weiss), and (au­thor) Ge­orge R.R. Martin, that is a good enough rea­son to kill him. So, who knows?”

He added on a more con­tem­pla­tive note: “If we were do­ing our job prop­erly in telling this story, then we should be able to hold a mir­ror to our so­ci­ety. We know bad things hap­pen to good peo­ple. And good things hap­pen to bad peo­ple. That’s just the way of the world. The dif­fi­culty is, do you have the strength to be a good per­son even when the easy op­tion is to be bad? So the ex­am­i­na­tion of that in the show is very clever, show­ing the ef­fects de­sire has on peo­ple. It’s like al­co­hol and drugs. Pur­suit of power is a dan­ger­ous thing. Power cor­rupts. Ab­so­lutely. The na­ture of power, fam­ily, para­noia and all th­ese won­der­ful hu­man drama (what makes) the se­ries a gor­geous, beau­ti­ful, ta­pes­try of life.”

Mov­ing on, who does Cun­ning­ham think will sit on the Iron Throne?

“I will tell you what Ge­orge R.R. Martin said,” he an­swered. “He said ‘it will be a bit­ter­sweet end­ing.’ I don’t know what that means. It could be any­body re­ally, it de­pends on where the story brings us. Even on the set, when we are sit­ting in our cos­tumes, we look at each other and say, ‘Who do you think it’s go­ing to be?’ We don’t even have to men­tion the throne any­more. We spec­u­late when we’re hav­ing a cup of tea, sit­ting in our cos­tumes. None of us can predict. No­body knows apart from Ge­orge, David and Dan. And they aren’t telling any­body.”

Looks like we’ll just have to wait and see.

Game Of Thrones S7 pre­mieres on July 17 at 9am on HBO (As­tro Ch 411/431).

Cun­ning­ham says: ‘I am ex­cited as ev­ery­one else about Sea­son Seven of Game Of Thrones which prom­ises to be big­ger, bet­ter and more cin­e­matic.’ — Pho­tos: HBO

Davos and Jon Snow must fig­ure out how to take on an army of the un­dead without the weapons to kill th­ese crea­tures in the new sea­son of Game Of Thrones.

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