New Zealand Woman’s Weekly
Aidan’s SHOCKING NEW Aidan's SHOCKING NEW ROLE
THE GAMES OF THRONES STAR HAS A HOST OF TRICKS UP HIS SLEEVE
He’s well known around the world as conniving Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish from Game of Thrones, but followers of the fantasy TV series might not recognise actor Aidan Gillen in his next major role.
He’s playing controversial Irish comedian Dave Allen in a TV biopic and he’s so convincing, it’s hard to believe it’s the same person who portrayed one of
Game of Thrones’ most hated characters for six years.
In the flesh, Aidan (49) bears only a passing resemblance to Dave, who died in 2005 aged
68. But he spent many hours watching video clips, studying the way the comedian walked, talked, smiled and even tilted his head when telling his irreverent stories.
“It’s not a question of being a lookalike, it’s about capturing those things that made him,” says Aidan. “Thoughtfulness and melancholy really come through when you look at him, either on or off camera.”
Dave Allen at Peace delves into the life of the comedian, whose stories and skits poking fun at the Catholic Church and religion in general made him hugely popular but often landed him in trouble.
One of his sketches featured the Pope doing a striptease and he was banned from the church by order of the Vatican. His show was a huge success but his career was effectively ended when he swore on TV in 1990 and questions about his suitability to be on screen were raised in the British Parliament.
The movie covers these incidents and also addresses the mystery that perhaps intrigued people most about Dave – his missing fingertip. The comedian constantly made up stories about what happened to the finger, from it being bitten off by his brother to it dissolving in a glass of whiskey.
“As soon as anyone hears about this project, they all want to know if it will tell the story of his missing finger,” grins Aidan. “We do show what happened.”
But he’s not going to reveal that here.
Like Dave, Aidan is Irish, and as a child growing up in Dublin, he didn’t want to do anything but act. He moved to London and spent 10 years working in theatre before landing a role on the groundbreaking gay TV drama
Queer as Folk.
His career took off and he went on to appear on Broadway and in the acclaimed US drama series The Wire. Film roles have included a CIA agent in The Dark Knight Rises. He’s also appeared in UK series
Peaky Blinders, but it’s as manipulative Littlefinger that many people know him.
He says he had no problem playing somebody treacherous and evil. “I like dangerous characters,” he admits, adding, “The difficult bit was for six years I had to wear the same very tight tunic. Every year, I’d have to do six weeks of cycling up and down mountains to make sure I could get into it.”
Being part of such a big show was a “good ride”, Aidan tells. “I recall being in Belfast just after I’d been cast. I was up there in this film festival looking out of a hotel window at the city thinking, ‘This place is going to be home for I’m not sure how many years.’ But I did have a sense I was going on an adventure and a strong sense that I was going to be part of something quite remarkable. And it was.”
He knew the day would come when Littlefinger would be killed off and when he got the news from the show’s producers last year, he was “a little bereft” but not gutted. “It’s a liberating moment to say your last-ever lines in a show because you get to move on, and this job is all about moving on and doing
– or being – something else.
“I loved GameofThrones and I still watch it. I particularly loved that the biggest TV series in the world was made in Northern Ireland, something that would have just seemed impossible when I was growing up in the Troubles.”
Aidan has two children with his estranged wife Olivia O’Flanagan and is now in a relationship with Irish singer
Camille O’Sullivan. He moved back to Ireland recently after living in London and Los Angeles for many years. And it’s nice to be home, he says.
“I don’t think of myself as a celebrity,” he explains. “I’m just a man doing a job I like and trying to make it interesting.”