In the latest GQ+A Aidan Gillen answers questions all about villains. Aidan seems to be the perfect person for such a questionnaire, as his Game of Thrones character Littlefinger is potentially about to get away with the murder of a King.
In the Q+A Aidan gives Littlefinger a generous evil rating, talks about how he created Littlefinger and how he has evolved, and wonders just how you define villain in the world of Game of Thrones.
GQ: On a scale of one (Samwell Tarly) to ten (Joffrey Baratheon), how evil is Littlefinger?
Aidan Gillen: I don’t really think of Littlefinger as particularly evil—practical and clever and ruthless, yes. In other people’s estimation I may be malicious or evil and probably would score a seven or eight. But that’s just me doing what I do. I’d rate a nine or ten, maybe, for determination and execution.
Tell us about creating Littlefinger: his mannerisms, his speech, his close-talker ways.
I first thought of him as some kind of magician—or a politician who thinks of himself as a magician—and two people came to mind, the comic strip character Mandrake the Magician and Peter Mandelson, the British politician who sometimes went by “The Prince of Darkness.” We tried the Mandelson moustache and there was something vaguely feline about it, not leonine though, which put me in mind of Top Cat or one of the Aristocats. This also fit in with the outfits, which are quite slinky. I thought he should sound patriarchal, like John Huston in Chinatown or a bit Hammer Horror. I also thought that these characteristics should be allowed to shift around from time to time. If I’m leaning in when I speak sometimes it’s just to let the other person know that I want them to hear me properly and because I want to see them, really close.
How has Littlefinger evolved? Has he changed morally?
I think as time goes on, he gets more secure amid the insecurity of others. He’s calmer and more collected, and can ponder the world and his place in it a little more. Of course, he has always been conscious of his place socially and of climbing up, and outside of, where he’d been expected to reach. I’d say over this season we may see something of a sweeter man—with maybe even a trace of humility.
How is “evil” or “villain” defined in a world like Game of Thrones?
Well that’s a tricky one, isn’t it, because a lot of the characters have both heroic and villainous traits: Jaime, Cersei, The Hound, etc. It’s one of the more compelling aspects of the series—you’re never quite sure about many of the characters, and there’s always room for a shift in tone. It’s a harsh world and people have to do harsh things to make it through. What elation we felt when Arya stuck her little sword up through that man’s chin—know what I mean?
Every great villain has a great tagline—what’s yours?
From the actual script? It’d probably be “Call me Petyr.”
For more from Aidan on Littlefinger’s villainous ways, and his answers to some general villainy questions, visit GQ.Com!