If you’ve been following the TV series Game of Thrones, it’s still a bit difficult to figure out where Theon Greyjoy stands in the TV adaptation of George R.R. Martin’s novel, is quite unsure. “I haven’t really figured that one out. Let’s wait and see. For me, Theon is one of the most human of all characters in the show; he clearly makes mistakes. But whether I see him as a bad guy or a good guy, half the time, it’s more about finding empathy for him,” says the 29-year old English actor. He adds that show creators Dave Benioff and D. B. Weiss write the story in such a way that people can both see the good and bad in his character, which he plays exceptionally well. “Whether he’ll be a good guy? That would be gratifying,” confesses Alfie.
Still a bit jetlagged from his trip to LA where he attended the Season 6 premiere of Game of Thrones at the TCL Chinese Theater, he was also in Australia then New Zealand to promote the show’s latest season. “I’m just sorting through different time zones as of the moment, but I’m very grateful just to be able to travel and do stuff like that—so I’m a happy boy—I’m not complaining, I’m just tired.” A son of an actor and movie producer, he was exposed to the industry that he’s in now at a very young age. He first appeared in a British TV comedy called You Are Here in 1998, and in the same year, also made a cameo in the film Elizabeth starring Cate Blanchett. Aside from portraying Theon, his other notable portrayals were of Alan Strang, a role that he took over from equally talented actor Daniel Radcliffe in the play Equus, and Iosef Tarasov, and the puppy-killing son of a powerful Russian businessman in the movie John Wick starring Keanu Reeves. Taking a break from promoting the awaited season, he sits down with us to talk about being in Game of Thrones, the progress of Theon, which dead GOT character he would bring back to life, and what he thinks about the song “Alfie” by his sister, singer-songwriter Lily Allen.
It’s probably rare for you to get some downtime, but when you do, what do you like doing?
When we’re on location, I try to see the sites from where we are. If not, I’ll just be getting on with learning stuff for my next scene or just try to get another job [laughs]. But I also like to spend time with my friends a lot, and I also like to watch some football. I like to watch my team Arsenal.
What part of being in Game of Thrones do you enjoy the most and why?
The ongoing security of having a job [laughs]. But then you never really know with Game of Thrones whether they choose to let you live or die, but for me, I’ve been lucky to be a part of it for so long. And it’s also nice to see yourself on TV with such a huge cast, and to be able to have them as friends for life, especially with people like Iwan Rheon who plays Ramsay Bolton. I’d spend a lot of time doing scenes with him so me and him are very good friends. And people like Kit [Harrington], whom I’ve been in scenes with since the beginning, and Sophie [Turner], and Maisie [Williams], they’re really nice people that are now part of my life.
On being Theon, without spoiling anything, will the fans be happy with him this season?
It’s subjective because some people will be happy with the scenes that I’ve done or some might not be too happy. I can’t really say much but all I can say is that you’ll get to see more Greyjoy this season, and if that makes people happy, then that’s great.
Attitude and personality-wise, what will he be able to have that he never had in the previous seasons?
In the start, you will see him come back to being more human again rather than being Reek,or the victim. His concern with somebody else is there. He’d be less motivated by fear. He’s being motivated to discover his identity because he hasn’t really had one for so long. Now, he has this whole new adventure with Sansa [Stark] beyond the walls of Winterfell.
If you were given a chance to rewrite Theon’s character, would you change anything?
No. There are stuff that I would like to happen to him but in terms of what has already happened to him? Not really. I’m just very lucky to be able to sport so many different characters in one person, and I’m happy that I was able to tackle them all.
How do you want Theon Greyjoy to die?
I would like it to be heroic, painless, and quick. I think it will be appropriate for him to drown because of his family history of the Drowned God.
If you can bring one character to life in Game of Thrones, who would it be and why?
One character that I would bring back to life would be Catelyn Stark because she seems to be one of the nicest people in the world of Game of Thrones, without a doubt. She’s part of my family in Winterfell. And I love having Michelle Fairley on set because she’s an amazing woman and an incredible actress.
What’s the most difficult thing about being in a hit TV series?
I don’t think that there are many downsides to it. It’s amazing to be part of something that’s huge worldwide. Sometimes, playing a character for so long can be quite exhausting, but nobody’s complaining because there are other actors who would chop their right arm off to be at the position that I’m in.
What do you enjoy doing most, film or TV?
It’s nice if you’re doing a movie and you’re in one location for a while as compared to doing Game of Thrones, wherein you’re back and forth between sets. It’s quite sporadic when we’re working. It’s nice to be able to come home anytime. When you’re on set in a movie, you’re likely to spend more time in one place and you get the feel of the crew and cast, although for Game of Thrones, I’ve been doing it for six years so I know the cast and crew pretty well.
What has been the best career advice you’ve ever received?
The best advice that I got came from another actor whom I respect: never concentrate on whether you are better or worse than someone else. Just do your thing.
What sort of role would you want to play in the future?
I’m going to give you the classic clichéd answer from an actor, which is I would just like to be able to do something exactly different from the last thing I did; that’s my only plan. I’d like to get a lot of different type of characters in to my career, if I get to play anymore [laughs].
On a side note: When your sister Lily wrote the song “Alfie”, what was the first thing that ran through your head?
I was actually in Canada at that time, getting qualifications on how to teach kids to snowboard. That’s what I was going to do if the acting thing didn’t work out. Then I saw the song on MySpace. It feels good to be immortalized in a song. Essentially, it’s a song about love because I was away for a long time. I think my sister just missed me.
What are you looking forward to the most this year?
I can’t really talk about it yet but there’s something really good gleaming in the horizon, something with a great cast and director. I’m looking forward to spending time in London; Summer in London is the best place to be, but Jamaica and the Caribbean wouldn’t be too bad also.