Jack Gleeson was always one of those guys you’d hear great things about, but couldn’t quite imagine. He didn’t do too many interviews, or even big splashy premieres; he was always just a bit removed from the usual frenetic Game of Thrones hubbub.
Still, we can say we know more about him now than we did back when the casting was first announced. Back then he was just “That kid from Batman Begins.” (Touting a cute face and a pretty darned good American accent but not much else, really.)
(In fact, one early casting mention affixed a picture of deceased American Hollywood icon Jackie Gleason, if you can believe that!)
Of course once he strutted onto the screen in his Joffrey boots, well, there was little doubt that this kid was Joffrey Baratheon.
He was, at the very least, the Boy Who Launched a Thousand Memes, and the YouTube video of Tyrion slapping him for ten minutes straight (to the jolly tune of Led Zeppelin’s Achilles Last Stand) basically went viral.
Certainly, Joffrey could seem two-dimensional to some. He had few, if any, redeeming qualities. It was easy to hate him.
But I’ll say this for Jack: he played the role with vicious relish. And just when you thought he was coming close to caricature, he’d throw us a performance like in The North Remembers, playing so brilliantly off of Lena Headey’s Cersei, or in Dark Wings, Dark Words, where you see Joffrey’s cautious but burgeoning attraction to Margaery. Gleeson and Dormer had very interesting chemistry.
My absolute favorite, however, was his throne room scene with Charles Dance in The Bear and the Maiden Fair. Jack plays Joffrey at first in control and looking to gain a little traction on ol’ grand-dad… but as Tywin slowly ascends those stairs, you see Joffrey slowly shrink away; Jack’s shoulders squeeze in, his body looking almost tortured. He’d rather be any place but here. It’s a fantastic midstream physical transformation that, for me, was the telling scene in Jack’s gloriously portrayal of this narcissistic psychopath.
I know, we say it so often it’s rote: In Nina Gold we Trust. But it’s remarkable, isn’t it? She finds the perfect pieces, and in Jack she grabbed for us the perfect actor to portray the one we most loved to hate.
Of course the rumor mill is rife with word that Jack does’t intend to act any more–at least not onscreen. Some people are fine with this. I am, if it makes him happy. It can be an empty career choice if the obvious rewards aren’t what pull a man’s heart. In the interviews I’ve seen and read, Jack seems like he’s got a good head on his shoulders. He’s still pursuing an academic career. Our loss would be his students’ gain, and really… isn’t that a better way to impact young lives?
Whatever his road, I wish him the best. It’s been a five year journey, and he’s helped to tell a tale that I think will be seen as one of the hallmarks of the early 21st century. He owes us nothing else.
But if he ever does decide to wander back onto our screens, be they silver or otherwise, you can bet I’ll be in line to see what Jack Gleeson has in store for us.
From the bottom of our bottom-supporting hearts–Thank You, Jack.