Twice this season Tyrion Lannister thought he had seen the last of his former flame, Shae, only to have her reappear at his lowest moments. The first when she shockingly betrayed him at his trial, no doubt under the influence of the Lannisters, and again, when he sought out revenge on his father, only to find Shae in the last place he would expect, Tywin’s bed. What happened next was tragic, as two lovers fought to defend themselves, and a heartbroken Tyrion strangled Shae with a necklace he had given her.
In a number of new interviews this week, Sibel Kekilli talks about Shae’s final moments, her last day on set, and what being a part of Game of Thrones has meant to her.
Sibel spoke with TV Line about the circumstances that led to Shae’s betrayal of Tyrion, and how she found herself in Tywin’s bed.
So, what was Shae’s state of mind when she came into the courtroom later in the season and lied under oath while Tyrion was on trial for his life — told the court he’d plotted to murder Joffrey?
I try to understand why she’s behaving like that. She got hurt very much, and all her hopes just disappeared into the wind. Like an earthquake, the foundation she was building on their relationship was just broken. And at that moment, it was revenge, and I really understood that. After years of being loyal, cleaning [chamber] pots for his wife, being treated like a dog, she’s like, “I’m here for revenge. And I wouldn’t be here if you, Tyrion, had left the country with me. You forced me somehow to do this.” And did she have a choice, anyway? If Cersei wants something, if Tywin wants something, she’s a woman without family, she’s on her own. She didn’t have a real choice to say, “No, I’m not going to this trial.” It was revenge, but it was also blackmail and coercion.
Shae’s final scene: How did you feel when you first read the script and realized she was in Tywin’s bed?
Oh God. [Sighs] When I act, I try not to think like Sibel. I try to think like Shae. But, again, she didn’t have any choice after the trial scene. The people hated Tyrion after the trial, and she had been with him. Who could she be with after that? There was one choice. She had to choose the most powerful man in King’s Landing. And who is that? It’s Tywin. If she wants to stay alive, she has to take that step. In the end, she thinks Tywin is in the room, and she says “My Lion.” That expression was for Tyrion only. He was her lion. But because she’s a prostitute again, she’s lost all hope for a regular life, she’s trying to get rid of everything that reminds her of Tyrion — to make nothing special of what they had.
In an interview with Access Hollywood, Sibel wonders if things would have ended differently if Tyrion didn’t find Shae in his father’s bed.
Do you think he would have killed her had he not found her in his dad’s bed? If Tyrion had just run into her after his escape, and he’d just found her serving another lady, do you think he would have still killed her?
I guess, yeah. I think he wouldn’t [have killed] her if he [found] her serving another lady, as you said. Maybe, just, ‘Okay, goodbye.’ It [ends] like that. … Or somehow, they would never be a couple again. … But, to lie in the bed of the father… wearing this necklace, which he tried to give her when he said, ‘I’m gonna marry Sansa,’ and then [she’s] saying, ‘My lion’– it was just for him, this [saying of] ‘my lion.’ And now she’s saying that to Tywin. That was it. It was like, ‘Okay, I’m now really, really angry and hurt and that’s enough.’
Sibel reveals to Yahoo TV that she and Peter Dinklage didn’t rehearse the scene too much to keep the emotions raw, and details her final day on set.
What was the lead-up to filming that scene? Did you and Peter discuss it beforehand?
We had dinner — David, Dan, and Peter and I — one day before the death scene. But we didn’t talk much about the scene. We didn’t even rehearse it, because that kind of scene is so emotional. I don’t like to rehearse a lot, or to talk too much about that scene. It should just happen with the raw feelings. He’s crying at the end, Tyrion.
He should be!
[Laughs.] I know. I think you shouldn’t rehearse this, because it’s so emotional and I didn’t want to talk about it too much. For me, I knew it was going to be my last scene, and I was so sad… I just wanted to feel it in the moment.
Walk me through that last day on set. How long was the day? How emotional was it?
It was a long day, and after the scene, Peter had one more scene to film. And it was late in the day because our scene took a long time. It was a stunt scene, because we were fighting with each other and you have to be really careful and film the [fight choreography] step-by-step, so it took a bit longer.
It was my last shooting day, my death. It was my last scene and it was really emotional [for me]. She’s now at the end, where she was at the beginning before she met Tyrion, you know what I mean? Before she met him, she was a prostitute, and she started to love someone, and Tyrion started to love her. And even though she knows she’s not highborn, she was hoping that she could have a family life with him if he would be stronger than he was.
All this, it’s like a dream which just disappeared, and now she starts again where she was at the beginning. She’s again by herself, on her own, trying to stay alive. I guess people hate Shae, but every woman would be jealous and react emotionally without thinking after a man tells you, “You are a whore, you can’t bear my children.” Even though she is a prostitute, it was like [Tyrion was] spitting in her face, punching her in the face.
Sibel told the NY Times Arts Beat about what happened after she wrapped her final scene, and the souvenir she decided to take home with her.
Do they do anything special for you when you wrap your final day? Are there any traditions or rituals, or do you just leave the set and that’s it?
They came and clapped, and I got my applause. But they had to go on with the other scenes and I was relieved. I didn’t want to stay there and cry. I just wanted to leave. I just wanted to be alone. I asked, actually, for the necklace, if I could take it with me.
You wanted to keep that?
Yes! Of course. I guess I can’t wear it, because a lot of fans would strangle me to death with it. I have to keep it here at home. But I took it with me.
Sibel tells Zap2It that she didn’t initially know about her character’s fate, but fans couldn’t keep the secret for long, and that even on her final day on set she hoped that she could change David and Dan’s mind.
“I didn’t want to [know about the death], but all the super fans were like, ‘You’re gonna die! You’re gonna die!’ And like, ‘Do you know, Sibel, your end?’ Even my friends, I was like, ‘No, I don’t want to know it.’ ‘You’re gonna sleep the father,’ and I was like, ‘No I’m not. No.’ ‘Yes you do, Sibel!’ Oh, Jesus. I was hoping that they were going to change it. … I’m still hoping that I’ll come back as a zombie.”
“It was really hard. It was so hard. Even my last shooting day in Belfast, I was like, ‘No, no, I’m going to die.’ I said to Dan and David, I’m not acting that. ‘No, I will fight with Tyrion — with Peter — so maybe he’s going to die. You never know.’ They said, ‘No Sibel, there is no excuse and there is no exit. You have to do that.'”
In an interview with Vulture Sibel says that she got a very nice compliment from George R.R. Martin, and talks about some of the great death faces we’ve seen on Game of Thrones
Book Shae is very different than Shae on the show. In the books, she really is just a prostitute. On the show, it becomes more of a love relationship. But it’s heartbreaking either way, because you don’t want her to die!
[Laughs] Yes, that’s true. When I met George R.R. Martin for the first time, he said, “Oh Sibel, your Shae is better than my Shae.” It was a really big honor when he told me that. But even though [showrunners] David [Benioff] and Dan [Weiss] changed Shae in the show, it had to come to the same end, somehow.
Of course, the emotional part is important, but Game of Thrones also does great death faces, like Joffrey’s at the Purple Wedding.
[Laughs] That was a great one! My favorite was Oberyn’s at the trial by combat. But I love all the death scenes on Game of Thrones, because it’s really funny. Not funny funny, I don’t mean that, but the people will never forget these memorable death scenes. That’s one of the most important death scenes on this show. Like on the very first season, the brother of Khaleesi, Viserys — he had a golden crown. That was fantastic, and I will never forget that.
Sibel spoke with The Hollywood Reporter about Shae’s end, saying that she doesn’t consider Shae a victim, and knows the fan reaction to her death will be split. And on a final note, she explains what being a part of Game of Thrones has meant to her.
In the end, do you consider Shae a victim?
Not a victim. For me, calling her a victim would mean she was weak. She was low-born. She had a hard life. She had to learn how to stay alive. She was a victim of the system maybe, of life circumstances, but she was also a really strong woman.
What do you think fans will say about Shae’s fate?
The fans are so great — but they can be tough on Shae. They either say “I love Shae or I hate you,” whereas Tyrion is considered untouchable by the fans. Some fans might say Shae somehow deserved it because she’s in Tywin’s bed. But it’s a very emotional and complicated scene.
What has Game of Thrones meant to you?
I can’t really explain it in words. It means a lot to me. It’s a long time to stay alive in this show — four years. To have most of my parts with Peter, I was really, really lucky. I got to see a lot of great actors — young actors — children, like Sophie (Turner). Seeing her grow up was very special.
People who are not at the show anymore kept telling me, “Sibel, please enjoy every second, because nothing can compare to HBO and Dan and David and George R.R. Martin.” Dan and David created such a wonderful show, and George R.R. Martin created amazing books. They gave me, a non-native English speaker, many chances. The first season, Jaime and I were the only ones who were not native speakers, and then I was given more and more and more. It was fantastic.
Be sure to click through to all of the interviews, and look forward to Sibel’s curtain call soon.
Game of Thrones: Should Jaime have freed Tyrion? by winteriscoming
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