Interviews with Gemma Whelan and Conleth Hill
By Winter Is Coming on in Press.

Here are a couple of recent interviews with actors we don’t hear from as much, Gemma Whelan and Conleth Hill. First up, Gemma talks with Flicks in the City about Thrones and playing Ash… er, Yara Greyjoy.

And secondly, a very rare interview with Conleth Hill via the Offical London Theatre website. Most of the interview is about his current West End play, Quartermaine’s Terms, but he talks a little about Game of Thrones.

Yet for all his stage acclaim, TV work has been harder to come by… until HBO drama Game Of Thrones, which Hill describes as “a life-changing job”. But the drama of swords, snow and sauciness too almost slipped through Hill’s fingers like a greasy dagger. He was not originally seen for the part of the bald informer Lord Varys, known as the King’s Spider, but for another role entirely. Exactly which role, I don’t know, as Hill, like all good spymasters, keeps this information close to his chest.

Winter Is Coming: I’m guessing the earlier role he read for was King Robert, as that was a role that was cast for the pilot. Very glad he ended up being cast as Varys instead.


51 Comments

  1. Matt S
    Posted February 5, 2013 at 8:43 am | Permalink

    Meow!

  2. AdrianAegon
    Posted February 5, 2013 at 8:46 am | Permalink

    either king Bob, or Illyrio, I think

  3. Winter Is Coming
    Posted February 5, 2013 at 8:48 am | Permalink

    AdrianAegon:
    either king Bob, or Illyrio, I think

    Ah yes, it very well could have been Illyrio. I didn’t think of him. Either way, I’m glad he ended up as the Spider instead.

  4. Hear Me Roar
    Posted February 5, 2013 at 8:50 am | Permalink

    They couldn’t have found a better man for the job :)

  5. Sam
    Posted February 5, 2013 at 8:52 am | Permalink

    Conleth is one of the most underappreciated members of the cast. His work in season 2 was emmy-worthy.

  6. Javi Marcos
    Posted February 5, 2013 at 8:57 am | Permalink

    Gemma looks prettier in the interview than in the show. A lot of fans complained that HBO’s Yara/Asha wasn’t a hottie. In the books isn’t specified as someone specially beautiful, but most of the people, me included, pictured her as someone really Warrior Princess Xena-esque.

    Once you have chosen the actress (I still think she wasn’t the best choice for the role, not her fault at all but casting department), it’s hard what to do with her about this issue. Yara with something like make-up would be out of character.

  7. swordofthemourning
    Posted February 5, 2013 at 8:57 am | Permalink

    Hear Me Roar,

    Gemma Whelan on the other hand…

  8. Omar Brown
    Posted February 5, 2013 at 9:03 am | Permalink

    Gemma is so charming, I am not sold on her Tv character yet though, but that might be a writing issue rather than her acting. I did like her in the last scene she was in with Alfie.

  9. Javi Marcos
    Posted February 5, 2013 at 9:16 am | Permalink

    Let’s be clear: Gemma sounds like an awesome person and I think she is acting the best she can with the role the writers gave her.
    But she doesn’t look like we pictured Asha and there was not a single moment in the show where we could buy she can command thirty longships or even be the captain of one, being the leader of one hundred furious and mad Ironmen.

  10. Arkash
    Posted February 5, 2013 at 9:16 am | Permalink

    Gemma’s Yara definitly did grow on me… I didnt like her at first, but slowly, through the season, and on my further watchings, I really did appreciate her, she brings something interesting to her character : harsh but motherly too… a warrior woman who can have a softer heart than she shows but knows she must hide it to survive and appreciate to hide it.

    As for Conleth… do we really need to state further more how perfect he is as Varys ? ^^

  11. Hi-Fi
    Posted February 5, 2013 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    Gemma is amazing. Her Yara is great. I was rewatching her introduction episode and the faces she gives Theon in Balon’s chamber after the reveal are just priceless.

    That said, what a missed oportunity. I wish the reporter would have asked her if she’s returning to Season 3.

  12. H. López de Victoria
    Posted February 5, 2013 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    But… Is she returning to Season 3? The reporter did say to Gemma that she was looking forward to seeing her in the 3rd season of the show. :/

  13. Sandsnake
    Posted February 5, 2013 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    Does anyone know if she will be returning for season 3? Not expecting a lot of scenes but a couple of scenes with her throughout the season would be nice for continuity and to keep her in peoples minds.

  14. HouseLark
    Posted February 5, 2013 at 9:57 am | Permalink

    I like how Gemma corrects herself the wrong way round “I think Yara… Asha, sorry”. Maybe she was playing to the book readers :)

  15. AdrianAegon
    Posted February 5, 2013 at 10:08 am | Permalink

    Winter Is Coming,

    Ah, yes! He is perfect as Varys, and a scene stealer! The 2 discussions between him and Tyrion, the one when they threaten one another, and the riddle scene, are my 2 fav from S2! Hope for more Varys scenes in S3!

    about Yara appearing this season (altough I doubt it): They might actually show Balon’s death. I really don’t know what D&D can come up with in her story… there’s not much until the kingsmoot plot, wich would probably be showed in S4.

  16. Zoltán
    Posted February 5, 2013 at 10:24 am | Permalink

    I had zero problems with Yara. In fact, she was one of the most impressive characters for me as a book virgin. I thought the criticisms were very unfair. Now that I’ve read the books, I’m still very happy with her performance. Although this hairstyle would definetely suit Yara better than the one she had in the show.

  17. Reverse Nielsen
    Posted February 5, 2013 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    When would Balon’s death occur? I forget which part of the book it’s in, but it’s definitely aSoS.

    Does Gemma’s CV offer clarification?

  18. KG
    Posted February 5, 2013 at 11:32 am | Permalink

    Javi Marcos:
    Gemma looks prettier in the interview than in the show. A lot of fans complained that HBO’s Yara/Asha wasn’t a hottie. In the books isn’t specified as someone specially beautiful,

    Exactly. Martin specifies that she is average to pleasant. The dreadful fan “artists” are the ones who caused the situation.

  19. Zack
    Posted February 5, 2013 at 11:33 am | Permalink

    Hi-Fi:
    Gemma is amazing. Her Yara is great. I was rewatching her introduction episode and the faces she gives Theon in Balon’s chamber after the reveal are just priceless.

    That said, what a missed oportunity. I wish the reporter would have asked her if she’s returning to Season 3.

    I think I like her in the role more than what I’d been imagining when I read. She comes off like a reaver IMO, and it’s great. I am greatly looking forward to her expanded role to come in later seasons.

  20. serum
    Posted February 5, 2013 at 11:34 am | Permalink

    off topic but for all those in the US that pre-ordered season 2 through best buy, they had a system glich and a number of those orders were cancelled (mine being one of them, hahaha). If this happens to you simply call them and they will submit a new order for you.

    on topic, I think gemma is doing great and I absolutely love conleth!

  21. TonyGen
    Posted February 5, 2013 at 11:48 am | Permalink

    Exactly. Martin specifies that she is average to pleasant. The dreadful fan “artists” are the ones who caused the situation.

    Agreed. She did a great job portraying the character IMO. I hate all the “she isn’t hot enough” complaints that actresses are subjected to. Just because certain fans and artists always wanted to envision the characters looking like comic book women in most cases that isn’t even at all what Martin intended.

  22. Al Swearengen
    Posted February 5, 2013 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

    If I could recast one cast member it would be Gemma, she’s nothing at all what I pictured Asha Greyjoy both in appearence and demeanor.

  23. Udi
    Posted February 5, 2013 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

    “I’m sure I’m missing people” (strong female characters): Emilia!!!!!!!
    Other than that – she is very sweet. Wasn’t too happy with her initial portrayal of Asha/Yara but she did just fine in her final scenes with Alfie Allen.

  24. Joshua Taylor
    Posted February 5, 2013 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

    I love Gemma’s Yara more with each viewing. In episode 5 the scene where she sees Theon off and humiliates him in front of his crew, she was pure reaver there. I can easily see why the Ironborn would follow her. If they had portrayed her as many fans think of her it would not have been believable at all.

    I hope she has a couple of scenes in season 3.

  25. Ours is the Fury
    Posted February 5, 2013 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

    Many people love Gemma on the show, including myself. I have a strong dislike of picking apart women’s appearances. She’s attractive. Yara/Asha was supposed to be attractive but not a great beauty. I would not say that “most people” pictured some kind of Xena Warrior sexpot, because that is not how she was described. I agree that inaccurate fan artists are part of the problem with their habit of turning every female character into a sex bomb, whether or not they should be.

    I adore Conleth Hill. I wish he did more interviews but I can respect that some actors are just very not into that.

  26. Selmy
    Posted February 5, 2013 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

    I mean, you interview an actor from GOT just before the new season is almost about to begin and you don’t even ask one single question about season 3??? Someone please explain to her journalism, she may not be quite there yet.

  27. Al Swearengen
    Posted February 5, 2013 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

    Fan art has nothing to do with it Gemma just isn’t at all what I pictured, I was expecting someone alot more sassy, cheeky and yes more attractive.

  28. Fli
    Posted February 5, 2013 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

    Conleth <3 I'd love if someone interviewed him properly about playing Varys someday, I'd love to know his insights because he's utterly fantastic, but then again I'd respect if he just likes to leave his work to speak for itself.

  29. Soniel
    Posted February 5, 2013 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

    She was fine in the role.

  30. Tyrion Pimpslap
    Posted February 5, 2013 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

    Al Swearengen,

    She was plenty sassy and cheeky. And if you pictured Asha as being beautiful then that is your own mistake. None of GRRM’s description paints her as being classically beautiful. As you can see from her interviews, Gemma is attractive. If anything blame the makeup department for her look in season 2. They clearly have an idea of what they want the Iron Islanders to look like, and it isn’t very flattering for the females.

  31. Syrio
    Posted February 5, 2013 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

    The problem with Asha/Yara isn’t that she isn’t “hot” enough. It’s that Asha is a free spirit, she likes teasing, joking around, she’s the life of the party kind of girl. Her fakeout with Theon makes complete sense in light of that personality. Yara on TV was this grim dark always so serious character that completely lost what made Asha appealing to readers.

  32. Steven Swanson
    Posted February 5, 2013 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

    Javi Marcos: Let’s be clear: Gemma sounds like an awesome person and I think she is acting the best she can with the role the writers gave her.But she doesn’t look like we pictured Asha and there was not a single moment in the show where we could buy she can command thirty longships or even be the captain of one, being the leader of one hundred furious and mad Ironmen.

    Is this the “royal we” you’re using here?

  33. Cary Storm
    Posted February 5, 2013 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

    Ours is the Fury:
    Many people love Gemma on the show, including myself. I have a strong dislike of picking apart women’s appearances. She’s attractive. Yara/Asha was supposed to be attractive but not a great beauty. I would not say that “most people” pictured some kind of Xena Warrior sexpot, because that is not how she was described.

    Hear, hear. I have to say that my internal depiction of what Asha/Yara looks like is not far off from Gemma Whelan’s portrayal.

  34. Jenny
    Posted February 5, 2013 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

    Does amybody else get kind of annoyed by journalists saying how this was a male domination?
    It is probably the most female focussed fantasy in the market today, almost feminist, poeple do some research! Wonderful how Gemma pointed it out.

  35. PeterD
    Posted February 5, 2013 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

    As mentioned upthread, she doesn’t have the look or demeanor that commands the highest level of fear, obedience, and respect that the captain of a pirate fleet would require. Could you honestly see someone like Dagmer Cleftjaw taking orders from our current Yara? No offense meant to the lovely and talented Ms. Whelan, but her size and appearance just doesn’t lend itself to the role.

  36. Mrs. H'ghar
    Posted February 5, 2013 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

    A woman thinks that Gemma is doing a GREAT job as Yara. Her first scenes weren’t that revealing of her character IMO, but little by little one could see how she has the gravitas, authoritativeness, and brains to command a fleet. Seeing her next to Malahide, this woman thought “gods, she LOOKS LIKE his daughter” and her voice and appearance match the reaver look/sound of her fellows/father. It is possible that Gemma told the interviewer that she could not talk about what was ahead for Yara in S3 (off-camera) and therefore those questions weren’t asked in favor of questions where she actually COULD answer.

    Regarding S3, it would not surprise a woman to see scenes with Yara such as her finding out that Balon has died, and working her way back to the Iron Islands through unfriendly territory. Also, could be that she returns to her castle after the Kingsmoot and, figures out that they are about to be attacked and takes off to the woods towards her ships, where she and her posse get attacked viciously and slaughtered/captured. have lost track mentally of which books some events happen in, but there are certainly things that could happen for Yara in S3 to keep her story alive and moving.

  37. Gatorfisch
    Posted February 5, 2013 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

    Seeing this interview with Gemma, all I can say is that THIS is what I pictured Asha/Yara’s hair to look like. I think that is the biggest problem with the book vs tv for the character. They should get rid of that wig from last season! I never pictured her as a blonde.

  38. mariamb18
    Posted February 5, 2013 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

    I have mixed feelings about the character of Yara.

    In the show, the Iron Islands felt dark, gloomy and close to impoverished. Granted, it wasn’t necessarily a happy place in the books but I never got the sense that it was miserable. For me, Yara embodied that darkness. Asha is one of my favorite characters and I never got that sense of darkness from her.

    Tyrion Pimpslap: If anything blame the makeup department for her look in season 2. They clearly have an idea of what they want the Iron Islanders to look like, and it isn’t very flattering for the females.

    Agree. It was also not my image of what the Iron Islanders or Yara/Asha looked like. It took me awhile to adjust.

    Gemma completely won me over in the scene at Winterfell with Theon where she describes his non-stop crying as a baby. I agree with Mrs. H’ghar; Gemma convinced me that she could command a fleet. I look forward to see what she will do with Yara in the coming seasons.

  39. Matt
    Posted February 5, 2013 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

    Ugh

    “…all turned up in the fantastical world of Winterfell”

    Ugh.

  40. sbj2k1
    Posted February 5, 2013 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

    Yara likes axes

  41. lonas
    Posted February 5, 2013 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

    I normaly only post comments about Gemma and ill repeat myself. Yes she is great as Asha/Yara, exactely as i expected, specially when she teases and smiles with sarcasme.

  42. Darker than white
    Posted February 5, 2013 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

    I really liked the Asha character in the book. Her tongue was as sharp as her axe, and both capable of cutting people into pieces. She always enjoyed a good battle whether involving words or blood. The problem for me in the Yara character from the show was in the writing She was too placid. I couldn’t see the fire inside that was needed to thrive in the harsh, cold iron islands.

    Seeing Gemma in the interview, I feel like I could break her in two, like a twig. So petite and fragile looking.

  43. Juego de tronos
    Posted February 5, 2013 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

    I don’t like Gemma for the character of Asha.

  44. KG
    Posted February 5, 2013 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

    Al Swearengen:
    Fan art has nothing to do with it Gemma just isn’t at all what I pictured, I was expecting someone alot more sassy, cheeky and yes more attractive.

    Tell you what, Al – how about you go and actually *read the book*? Maybe a few passes over the parts where Asha is described will help you with your rather addled visualization.

  45. Steven Swanson
    Posted February 5, 2013 at 6:49 pm | Permalink

    KG: Tell you what, Al – how about you go and actually *read the book*? Maybe a few passes over the parts where Asha is described will help you with your rather addled visualization.

    She’s described as having a big nose but being generally lean and sexy with short dark hair. Personally I’m not that hung up on Gemma’s appearance as compared to how her character is described in the books (or most other characters for that matter), but she doesn’t really fit the Asha book description, either in appearance or temperament. She really does look better for the part in this interview, so I don’t know why they felt the need to go with the look they did for the show.

  46. Vince
    Posted February 5, 2013 at 7:44 pm | Permalink

    Good interview, I like this reported. Have seen others and they’re usually long and quite informative! Glad not to get spoilt on season 3 this time, I’m going to look forward to more surprises!

  47. Collie
    Posted February 5, 2013 at 11:19 pm | Permalink

    Gemma is a perfect Asha (Yara), she is described as not being physically beautiful in the traditional sense, but enormously charismatic and sexy. I think she is perfect and I adore her.

  48. Collie
    Posted February 5, 2013 at 11:55 pm | Permalink

    Udi,

    KG,

    Mrs. H’ghar,

    Thank you! Love Gemma!

  49. Olive
    Posted February 6, 2013 at 2:25 am | Permalink

    Gemma is just fine in her role. My issue is with the writing. Asha’s introduction was weak on the show compared to the source material. This has to do with budgeting and time constraints. All that being said, I am dying to see her Husband and Suckling Babe already. There’s no reason we couldn’t have seen her carrying around an axe or two.

  50. Michael Johnson
    Posted February 6, 2013 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

    Whee…I was waiting for something this season to bring out the Gemma/Yara haters and their tired objections yet again.

    Really, all the “not what I envisioned” protests say more about male readers of the series than about Gemma Whelan’s abilities to translate the role of Yara to the screen – she has to act the scenes and character given her, not how the book’s Asha would behave, and it is clear that there are differences between the two. This also says volumes about the fan-base that automatically derides anything in the show that doesn’t exactly mimic the way things are portrayed in the books. Two different media, two different stories – the show is not the books. While I recognize that separating the two is difficult, there are virtually no criticisms to make about Gemma’s performance if you take it entirely on its own merits. People’s inabilities to separate the books from the series in their own minds can’t be blamed on Gemma Whelan, nor should they be. Now, what I am wondering most is will the writers grant Yara an expanded role in the series based on Asha’s increasing importance in the novels, or will she remain a secondary character with little impact on the main storyline? Structurally, omitting the “Asha Factor” from the show will pretty much relegate the Greyjoys to the sidelines since virtually all the Greyjoy interactions that the books develop play off of Asha as a strong woman battling against the male presumptions of her relatives. Gemma-as-Yara has the potential to be one of the strongest actors/characters in the show IF the writers decide to further develop Yara-as-Asha. If not, it will be disappointing but not surprising given the many, many characters and storylines they have to choose from. Personally, I predict more of Gemma/Yara, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Gemma get to kick a little *ss and hopefully silence the repetitive naysayers once and for all.

  51. MX
    Posted February 6, 2013 at 7:14 pm | Permalink

    Gemma is great. She is both attractive and a good actress as Yara in this age of horrible and mediocre acting. Her interactions with Theon were perfect — a mixture of annoyance, arrogance, pity and affection. I would love to see more scenes with her.

    People who whine about her looks need a mirror — they have no idea about real human beings.

    As for Conleth, he is one of the greatest pleasures of the show. Very few people could play that part with such gusto. Bravissimo!


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