Why this Game is se­ri­ous busi­ness

Star­ring in one of the big­gest shows in the world cer­tainly isn’t a game for either Liam Cun­ning­ham or Carice van Houten, dis­cov­ers

The Press - The Box - - PAY TV -

Game of Thrones star Liam Cun­ning­ham has a sim­ple ex­pla­na­tion as to why there isn’t more male nu­dity on the show. ‘‘Be­cause women are much in­fin­itely more beau­ti­ful to look at than men are. Men are built for f...ing dig­ging holes and pulling ploughs. Women are there to be painted and adored. That’s the only rea­son,’’ says the Ir­ish ac­tor who plays smug­gler turned knight Davos Sea­worth in the fan­tasy drama that re­turns to Sky TV’s SoHo chan­nel on July 17.

It might not be the fem­i­nist thing to say he’s told as we sit down for a chat along­side fel­low Thrones ac­tor Carice van Houten (Melisan­dre) in Lon­don’s Corinthia Ho­tel .

‘‘Well it’s not the les­bian thing to say ... no you know what I mean,’’ says Cun­ning­ham.

Well not re­ally, be­cause the re­al­ity is it’s hard to know just how se­ri­ously to take the for­mer elec­tri­cian who spent three years work­ing at a sa­fari park in Zim­babwe be­fore re­turn­ing home and turn­ing his hand to act­ing.

Take a sug­ges­tion he made ear­lier this year that the ad­vance of Game of Thrones‘ zomb­i­fied ice crea­tures The White Walk­ers is a metaphor for cli­mate change.

‘‘I opened my f...ng mouth,’’ says the 56-year-old ac­tor, when re­minded of his views.

‘‘What did you drink. What were you on?’’ asks Van Houten.

‘‘Some drug I was on. I don’t know what is was at the time. They said it was heroin. It f...ing wasn’t heroin,’’ says Cun­ning­ham.

‘‘No, I’m only jok­ing. I don’t like get­ting too heavy about this, but I kind of thought it’s not beyond the realms of pos­si­bil­ity to com­pare The White Walk­ers com­ing from the north as cli­mate change.

‘‘Don’t for­get in Wes­teros, we’ve been deny­ing them, no­body be­lieves them, it’s myth, it’s leg­end and this, that and the other, it can’t hap­pen. We ob­vi­ously know on the show they’re on their way and no army, no one army, no Daen­erys army, no Cer­sei army, no Jon Snow army is go­ing to be able to de­feat [them]. They’re very dif­fi­cult to kill and I just kinda said at the time maybe it’s a lit­tle like cli­mate change.’’

It’s not a view shared by 40-year-old Van Houten who says, ‘‘To me I see The White Walk­ers as a metaphor for death com­ing for all of us and whether you’re a king or a peas­ant, man, woman, strong or weak or what­ever, you can’t es­cape’’.

And also what she can’t es­cape is com­ments about the amount of nu­dity on the show, es­pe­cially as far as Melisan­dre is con­cerned.

But she says, ‘‘When I say I am com­fort­able be­ing naked, that’s not en­tirely true. I just feel like it’s part of our job. If it’s just about naked­ness and tits, I agree, I don’t like that either. I wouldn’t agree on do­ing that but if it serves the pur­pose, and if it’s part of a char­ac­ter, and in my case or in my char­ac­ter’s case, it’s a weapon [’’A f...ing dangerous weapon,’’ chips in Cun­ning­ham] – that’s when it’s a lit­tle dif­fer­ent.

‘‘In Amer­ica, it’s still re­ally un­com­fort­able with nu­dity, so that’s some­thing I’d like to ad­dress some time ... oh s..., my English has gone.

Strug­gling for words, the

Dutch ac­tress adds, ‘‘It’s hyp­o­crit­i­cal when you can show ma­chine guns and peo­ple blow­ing their heads off ... but if there’s one nip­ple ...

‘‘It’s just about how un­com­fort­able peo­ple are with sex­u­al­ity in gen­eral, I think. I don’t want to be the woman who likes to al­ways takes her clothes off. Def­i­nitely not. Es­pe­cially after giv­ing birth and es­pe­cially now I’m a lit­tle bit older woman. I’d re­ally rather not any more, but if it serves the pur­pose it can be beau­ti­ful to show, you know, cel­lulite. Of course, I’m also a vain per­son, but if it’s about the arts then you have to sur­ren­der.

That’s part of our job.’’

And part of the job, for Melisan­dre at least, is a pos­si­ble al­liance with Daen­erys in sea­son seven, as she faces up the the re­al­ity that she might have backed the wrong horse in sup­port­ing Stan­nis and burn­ing his daugh­ter Shireen at the stake.

It was a scene that out­raged fans but not, says Cun­ning­ham, to the ex­tent they were up­set by the Sansa rape scene in sea­son five.

‘‘The in­ter­net went mad, every­body went mad with Sansa – the whole rape thing,’’ he re­calls.

‘‘ At the same time, there wasn’t the same furore about burn­ing a lit­tle girl to death. I’m not say­ing one shouldn’t have been talked about, but I was sur­prised. I was kinda look­ing at the lev­els.

‘‘What I kind of got with the whole Shireen thing, and again the best writ­ing is open to in­ter­pre­ta­tion, it’s not this or that, it’s not a les­son, but for me it was ‘look what the de­sire for power can cause a sane per­son to do’.

The drug of power that drives peo­ple to hor­rific things. I’m sure Barack Obama didn’t want to be send­ing drone flights to kill in­no­cent men, women and chil­dren in Pak­istan, but he felt the need to do it.’’

Van Houten de­scribes the burn­ing scene as ‘‘the worst scene I have ever shot’’, but says that it is only since giv­ing birth to Aus­tralian ac­tor Guy Pearce’s son Monte in Au­gust last year that she has felt its full im­pli­ca­tions.

‘‘I couldn’t re­ally feel what it meant. I just knew it was a hor­ri­ble thing. And now I can­not even watch any­thing on TV with chil­dren or an­i­mals. You’re an open wound once you be­come a par­ent,’’ she says.

And moth­er­hood even led to tears on the set when she re­turned to work six weeks after giv­ing birth.

‘‘One scene, that I did, I was in the green room, and I just sort of broke apart be­cause I was alone and some­one came in and said, ‘Are you OK’ and I said, ‘I just want to go to my baby’. It all be­came unim­por­tant to me. It’s a great, im­por­tant show but once you’ve just had a baby, noth­ing else re­ally, re­ally mat­ters more than that.’’

Sea­son 7 of Game of Thrones de­buts on Mon­day, July 17 on SoHo. It will also be avail­able to stream on Neon.

Game of Thrones’ Liam Cun­ning­ham is not a man who likes to mince his words - either on or off screen.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.