Ian McElhinney talks Barristan Selmy in video interview

Flicks And The City caught up with our very own Barristan Selmy, Ian McElhinney. Ian discusses Barristan’s story so far, as well as his journey moving forward, and answers some general Thrones questions about dragons, deaths, and more.

Talking points:

  • His Red Wedding reaction
  • How he feels about Barristan’s storyline in Season 3
  • What advice he would give to Barristan moving forward
  • The relationship between Barristan and Jorah
  • If he could choose Barristan’s death, how would it go?
  • The best Game of Thrones deaths so far
  • Who he would like to see on the Iron Throne
  • What he would like to see from the dragons in Season 4


  • Selmy’s scenes last season were disappointing, I know there is time constraints but I’d like to see D & D have Dany interrogate Barristan about her brother and father.

  • :o He read the books! Rock on Ser Barry :D

    Maximus: At my signal, unleash Mads Mikkelsen as Euron.

  • Love Barristan Selmy (and Ian McElhinney is a perfect actor to play him)

    But, i really hope they start to do more with him in the show. Last season he was almost pushed aside in favour of Jorah and Daario so i hope we get more of him this year

    (and i know its a small little thing to be upset about, but i was slightly annoyed when Daario said he would pick Dany’s two best men and chose Jorah and Grey Worm. It felt like they wanted Jorah to come across as better than Barristan)

  • Ian appears to be exactly the type of cast member that super-fans love. That being, a fellow super-fan. It seems like he’d be willing to sit all day and discuss topics about the show and books.

  • They really need to show how awesome he is in the show. He hasn’t done anything since joining Dany. I was hoping they would have him fight the Meereenese champion but from the trailers it seems that that will be Daario…

  • probably the best interview I’ve seen so far leading up to season 4. I already loved his portrayal of Barristan, but now I like the actor even more knowing that he has read the books.

  • I really hope they expand his role because for all we know only Michael Huismann and Nathalie Emmanuel have been promoted to main cast for Season 5. It would really disappoint me if they decrease his role and give his (awesome) parts to Daario.

  • I think it’s great that he has read the books. You can tell that he really understands the story. Ser Barristan is a very important character and he pretty much carries the Essos story once Dany disappears

  • Could Ian McElhinney do a convincing fight scene? I assume so since Kit could do one with a broken leg

  • Walter Harrow: It felt like they wanted Jorah to come across as better than Barristan)

    I got that sense as well! There’s also that scene wherein Jorah starts lecturing Barristan about how to be a good knight to Dany I was like… wut.

    I still hope that Barry will be the one to reveal Jorah was a traitor. It would be good revenge for these sorts of things.

  • House Mormont: he doesn’t know it was Jorah spying in show canon

    This isn’t really a spoiler is it? Since it was in S3?

    I read that scene as Barristan intentionally not letting on what he knew. The two of them seem to be sizing each other up in that scene and no one is revealing everything. I think his motivation here is to keep what he knows under wraps so as to give Jorah a chance to prove himself.

    Ultimately he’ll decide Dany needs to know anyway. Possibly because he’ll decide Jorah’s not to be trusted for some other reason(s).

  • queenofthorns,

    Kind of is, it suggests that Barristan tells Daenerys in the books, half spoilers are just as bad as spoilers because anyone with a mind can put them together, just from hearing “lady stoneheart has to be in mhysa” “she represents a mother” I figured out cat would come back to life
    and really? I saw that it was friendly chit chat (i was nearly the first man to piss on the kings’ boot) till Jorah’s like… “we already Ser barristan?” and Ser Barristan really wasn’t in any of the shows council meetings so it’s not like he’s lying

  • Interesting that he believes his character knows of Jorah’s history. He explains that he was technically part of Robert’s council even though we did not see him attend onscreen. Was he told to play Barristan as cagey? Does this mean he will definitely be the whistleblower? Or is he just going on his book knowledge and show-Barristan is actually unaware?

    Also: still cool when you hear an actor discuss his character’s issues saying “I” or “we”. Makes it seem like he cares.

  • My favourite character is the series – the one truly honourable person left standing (could maybe also make a case for Stannis in an odd way). I watched Season 1 before I read all the books, so it was Ian’s portrayal of Barristan that made me interested in the character – he is brilliant.

    I agree he needs more to do and was somewhat unfairly pushed aside in season 3. At some point they really do need to show us “the painter who only uses red” – having him replace Belwas against the Mereen champion would have been ideal. But not to be.

  • The show only establishes that Selmy wasn’t welcome on Robert’s small council. It does not establish that only the small council could possibly know Jorah was spying. If the show keeps Selmy as the one to tell on Jorah, no explanation is necessary beyond, “I still worked for Robert when that guy was spying for Robert.”

  • Flicks and the citSHWA! What will we do with out them, and their (admittedly similar to a horror movie ghost woman, in a good way) interviewer? They’ve got GOT.

  • such a good interview. good questions. spot on. love Selmy’s character. and it makes it so much more amazing that he’s read the books

  • Speaking of Jorah being banished and Dany finding out about him, I don’t get the feeling that is going to happen this season. I would expect it to happen early next season, with him bumping into Tyrion late next season, perhaps in the finale.

  • Tyrion Pimpslap,

    Hmm, there is a clip in one of the trailers that seems to show Jorah being in bad straights with Dany and co. so I think it is likely to happen this season and then Jorah will next be seen either later in next season or in the following season.

    RE Selmy, I was thinking it might be cool to have Jorah attack him when exposed as a spy, and then have Selmy effortlessly disarm him- especially since we know that Jorah is a fairly good fighter.

  • God, Barristan Selmy seems like a big time ASOIAF fan! He’s up to date on everything and even shares some fan theories… I approve.

  • House Mormont: and really? I saw that it was friendly chit chat (i was nearly the first man to piss on the kings’ boot) till Jorah’s like… “we already Ser barristan?” and Ser Barristan really wasn’t in any of the shows council meetings so it’s not like he’s lying

    Like Killgore said, he doesn’t have to be in the small council to know.

    If Barristan knew, he wouldn’t want Jorah to know he knew, otherwise there would be no good excuse for him not to tell Dany about it, and at this point he might hope that Jorah’s earned the right to have this particular secret stay a secret. He wants to get the measure of Jorah by seeing how he acts once he thinks he has the upper hand. And in fact, Barristan sees that as soon as Jorah is certain that Barristan doesn’t know anything, he starts acting cocky (“WE” already?). Jorah antagonizes him again later with the line about serving the queen whatever the cost blah blah. He’s kind of digging his own grave.

    If Jorah ended up proving himself (in Barristan’s eyes) truly honorable I think Barristan (in both books and show) would have taken the secret with him to his grave. Instead he decides to sit on it for awhile until he gets Jorah’s measure.

  • Tyrion Pimpslap,

    Considering episode 3 is called Breaker of Chains… That means a certain event will be happening MUCH earlier than expected. That leaves 5 episodes of Meereen (since episode 9 is only at the Wall), or at least 4. We know the burning child will be there. We know Dany will set her slaves on the slavers (the trailers imply as much). But that’s only two episodes’ worth of stuff. There are 2-3 more episodes left to fill up, which I imagine will focus on the Jorah-Dany-Daario love triangle and subsequently to his banishment (which is the only good ending I can think of for Dany’s arc this season, as opposed to a random stop). Also, there was one clip where we see Jorah approaching Dany’s throne and Barristan and Grey Worm standing in his way looking pissed at him. That might be the banishment scene.

    I don’t know. It makes sense to put it in this season IMO, but it really doesn’t matter (as long as it happens).

  • Finally an actor of the “old guard” who has read the books! Big ups to Barriston the Bold, the discarded knight, lord commander of the queensguard!

  • King of the Ashes,

    Ah. Thanks! I just never heard a username being called a handle before… Forgive my insolence, I will whip my self if that’s what you want.

  • queenofthorns: I got that sense as well!There’s also that scene wherein Jorah starts lecturing Barristan about how to be a good knight to Dany I was like… wut.

    I disagree. Jorah was speaking out of his own insecurity in those moments.

    Hand of the Kingslayer:

    I said in a good way! And I love her, she’s a great interviewer and always has the right questions.

    She certainly knows the material.

  • Between her choice of questions, and his knowledgeable answers, that may be the best interview with a GoT actor to date. He really seems to love the entirety of the story

  • Wow. Ian sure knows his ASOIAF. He seems the most knowledgeable of the books of the entire cast.

  • Trav,

    They’re consistently the best ‘Thrones interviews, it’s good to see more of them. It’s a good thing 95% of the cast is “local”. Still holding out for an interview with Jerome or Conleth.

  • What accent is that?

    He looks a lot different here as well. May be just the way he looks at her.

    And I’ll pray to the Warrior day and night to read about a super epic combat between Barristan the Bold and Victarion Greyjoy. And then watch a super epic combat between Ian McElhinney and Ray Stevenson.

  • queenofthorns,

    House Mormont,

    I believe he very “discreetly” answered all your questions, when asked about Barriston’s relationship with Jorah cause I don’t wanna spoil anything, even discreetly. Total bummer about Stoneheart, HM. I feel for ya.

  • Veltigar:
    Maximus: At my signal, unleash Mads Mikkelsen as Euron.

    You guys made me watch some of his videos on YT to see what all the hype was about and now I can only agree with you.

    >>>>> RELEASE THE DANISH KRAKEN!!! <<<<<

  • Ser Lucas Tyrell: You guys made me watch some of his videos on YT to see what all the hype was about and now I can only agree with you.

    >>>>> RELEASE THE DANISH KRAKEN!!! <<<<<

    Praise the Mads :D Another convert :D You Ser, have very good taste! What did you watch on yt?

    Ser Lucas Tyrell,

    Yeah. No.

    Come on Ry, don’t be a drag :p Join the Dark side. We’re having a Mads party :p There will be wangs just for you :p

    If little faults proceeding on distemper shall not be winked at, how shall we stretch our eye, when capital crimes like not casting Mads Mikkelsen as Euron, chewed, swallowed and digested appear before us?

  • Rygar,

    I played you. How weird.

    Some Hannibal stuff, along with some interviews. And Casino Royale, I did not know he was on it. And the Three Musketeers, although that movie was… well, there was a lot of good actors on it.

    That is the way the world ends, not with a bang but with Mads Mikkelsen not being cast as Euron.

  • Ser Lucas Tyrell:
    What accent is that?

    You mean Ian Mc’s real life accent? It’s Irish.

    He’s from the north, their accent is slightly different to what most people outside the UK/Ireland think of as regular Irish.

  • What is with this interviewer’s obsession with death?! “How do you want to diie in the show”? “What is your favourite death in the show”? she does it ever interview haha.

  • Hand of the Kingslayer:
    King of the Ashes,

    Ah. Thanks! I just never heard a username being called a handle before… Forgive my insolence, I will whip my self if that’s what you want.

    That goes back to the old CB radio days (short range radio communication). Users had “handles” to identify themselves over the radio.

  • Ser Lucas Tyrell:

    Thank you for clarifying it, it sounds very light. Michelle is N Irish too I think and shes got THE accent.

    Ciarán Hinds also has a N Irish accent IRL.

    It’s a little different to the rest of Ireland partly because Ulster Irish (which was the native language before English became dominant) is a little different, plus the Scots plantations etc, all had effects.

  • Absolutely love this actor :) also want to see him and Dany discuss Rhaegar and Aerys. Maybe they will, considering that we will be hearing Oberyn discuss his sister and children (hopefully). So, it could make for some interesting differing viewpoints on Rhaegar, like in the books.

    I see both Davos and Barristan as more or less epitomes of honour and integrity. They both are seasoned men who are constantly trying to make the best decisions in the situations they find themselves in. The deeper I got into the books, the more they started becoming some of my favourite pov’s. However, people seem to forget about Jon – with his own code of honour and hero’s heart, if you will – who is trying to do the same thing. When people discuss who is the honourable characters in the series, he seems to get passed over because he is younger and less experienced, and arguably, finds himself in more difficult situations throughout the series, but especially in aDwD. Arguably the show’s portrayal of Jon could also play a role, but I thought his leaving Ygritte to go back to the Watch makes it clear where his heart truly lies. Just my personal opinion.

  • I think this will be a good season for Barristan. He’ll snitch on Jorah and we’ll see the tensions rise, we might get to see him fighting slaves in Meereen too. I hope we get more dialogue with Dany asking him about Aerys too. His importance to the overall Meereen arc needs to be somewhat asserted this season to pave the way for his lead role when Dany leaves.

  • The article should come with some warning that it contains some spoilers…one in particular…which I won’t mention, well…because…its a spoiler!

    Great interview by the way, Ian McElhinney is an excellent actor, and I like his cool and calm demeanour as well as how he dishes out his knowledge and wisdom…all coming from his persoal and professional experience! Perfect for Barristan Selmy, he completely sounds like a knight…and I love his voice!

    PS I want Ana Torv in “Game Of Thrones”…

    PPS “You are now with the Yellow King in Carcossa…”, “time is a flat circle…”, “You have a darkness in you…”, “My family has been here a long time”… as in reasons to absolutely love “True Detective”!

  • I think Ian does a very good job of discussing his thoughts on his role, and some of the earlier questions in the interview are quite good, but… some of us think there’s more to this show than gruesome death scenes and CGI dragons. It’s the emotional impact of the death scenes, not the special effects used to bring them to life, that make those moments memorable to me.

  • Great interview despite the fact it’s hard to give us information without spoiler. Glad to know that he read the books. Ian is a good actor and when I read the third book I was so happy he’s come back. I am sure his character is going to have more importance.