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