Featured Game of Thrones Interview Littlefinger Season 5

Conleth Hill (Varys) on why he’s going to best Littlefinger in the Game of Thrones


Conleth Hill, the man who has so expertly portrayed the Spider, Lord Varys, on HBO’s Game of Thrones, spoke to i09 at the Entertainment Weekly party during San Diego Comic-Con, last week, and gave some insight on the mind of his character, and how he plans on besting Littlefinger, his arch-nemesis, in the actual game of thrones.

Hill was asked about Varys’ and Littlefinger’s rivalry, and if all the events in Game of Thrones are a direct result of their “sparring.” Hill carefully (noted by i09) replied that he didn’t know if that was the case, but that he could see how the assumption could be made. If you think about it, Ned’s death in Season 1, really and truly sparked the beginnings of the War of the Five Kings…a direct result of Littlefinger and Varys’ Chaos Ladder building, diabolical political maneuvering.

Varys is in favor of order, while Littlefinger wants chaos. “So they’re good polar opposites.”

Without Ned’s death, his son Robb would have never called the North’s Banners and marched to fight Tywin Lannister’s army, eventually resulting in the Young Wolf’s untimely demise at the infamous Red Wedding. Had Ned been allowed to carry out his machinations of placing Stannis on the Iron Throne, after the death of King Robert, then there is no need for Melisandre to creatively come up with ways to burn folks with “King’s blood.” Renly probably lives, Stannis may not convert to the religion of the Red God, the Battle of Blackwater Bay never happens and therefore Davos’ sons are still alive. Also, Shireen doesn’t get sacrificed, Selyse doesn’t commit suicide, and more importantly, Gendry doesn’t have to endlessly row his boat in some sort of deviously concocted purgatory by our overlords Benioff and Weiss.


In this scenario, Winterfell is never sacked and burned. Ned has returned home after making sure Stannis is settled. Theon is never tempted to betray Robb, Bran and Rickon don’t have to escape, and Ramsay is more than likely executed by Lord Eddard, after he marches to free Lady Hornwood from the Bastard of Bolton’s despicable clutches. So, as you can see, without Varys and Littlefinger’s medieval version of Spy vs Spy, then Game of Thrones is quite boring.

Hill goes on to say that while Littlefinger’s Chaos Ladder is all about a self-serving goal, Varys seems to want to see other people placed in power. My personal take on the Spider, is that yes, he wants other people in power, but he also wants to be the one pulling that person’s strings. Both men seem to be cut from the same Kingmaker cloth…two sides of one coin, as it were.

When asked about Varys and Tyrion’s relationship, going forward in Season 6, Hill was more forthcoming:

They’re now left in the position, at the end of series five, where they have to restore order to a city that’s in chaos. I think that’s their challenge, primarily. And they’ll probably have a bit of quipping and bitching along the way.

You can read i09’s interview with Conleth Hill in its entirety by clicking this link. Final note: I am probably more excited to listen to Tyrion and Varys “quip and bitch” at each other in Game of Thrones Season 6, than I am about seeing how Jon Snow will be revived. /wink


  • Conleth/Varys had a very interesting take on how we have arrived at this point in The Game. If you think about it, these two characters Varys/ Littlefinger, orchestrated or has had a hand in everything that has happen so far. I’m wondering which one feels they are more in control of the events so far. Varys is Mereen with the ultimate player in the game Tyrion supporting Dany. Littlefinger is in Kings Landing, controlling the outcome there. Can’t wait to see these two playing a chess game again!

    • Great point! I would think that Littlefinger’s hubris would have him thinking that he was winning. Varys probably is self deprecating enough to keep him slightly more humble.

    • They’re both in charge of some epic train wreck but Varys (and Tyrion) are building from the bottom up a mess of someone else’s, and they have (hopefully) powerful allies that are more than happy to help them.

      By contrast Littlefinger is trying to control a very slow but much larger train wreck where he keeps managing to lose allies like a leaky boat and everything that could go wrong has. I think the War of the Five Kings was a controlled chaos he could easily operate in but with the mess Westeros is in now I have no idea how he’s going to dig himself out of that. At least the commoners don’t really know who he is.

      • It’s not hubris, he is winning. He busy singing the tune of what ever audience he currently talking to, and constantly doing what ever it takes to further his own means. The only clue he leaves his victims is his mocking bird sigit. Varys and possibly Olenna are the only ones to recognize how dangerous he is.

    • The whole mess actually started with Littlefinger convincing Lysa to poison her husband Jon Aryn. Without that, Bran is never pushed out the window at Winterfell, Lady is not butchered (as well as the Ginger), the Starks never leave Winterfell, Arya never starts her list and Ned actually has the time to tell Jon Snow who his parents are.
      I think littlefinger gets his due this coming season…

      • Well struck. I hope so too.

        Many felt he either held a perverse interest or a genuine soft spot for Sansa. Even if we play Devils Advocate and say he didn’t know what a psychopath Ramsay was, he showed his hand in his dealings with Cersei.

        He plans to use Sansa as either a Puppet or a martyr to gain control of the North. He would have used her as an ally if Stannis had beaten the Boltons. He will dispatch her as an enemy if he must placate Cersei. Or he will try and marry her to become the Warden of the North.

        LittleFinger is always keeping his options open.

  • Book version is a lot more complicated, with Varys backing a different contender. D & D created a gigantic plot hole by dropping Young Griff, switching Varys to Team Dany but still having him orchestrate the plot to poison her at Robert’s behest. It makes no sense. He had no way of knowing that Jorah would intervene.

    • Varys had to do as Robert requested to maintain his position but he warned Jorah that the wine was poisoned to stop Dany from drinking the wine. Dany didn’t get poisoned and only Jorah and Varys knew to stop it, and who were they gonna tell? ;)

      • Did Varys warn Jorah? I didn’t think so. Jorah became suspicious of the wine merchant when he changed casks of wine when Irri informed him it was Dany.

    • You’re actually making a big assumption when you say D&D dropped Young Griff. It’s still entirely possible that Young Griff is introduced next season, but just in a way that is much different than in the books. Also, what Varys is trying to accomplish doesn’t really change if you think about it. Do you recall what Young Griff was initially going to do before Tyrion suggested that he go to Westeros instead?

    • Book version didn’t specifically have the council planning to poison Dany. It was brought up by varys and shot down by Robert as a cowards weapon. Just as Pycelle suggested the faceless men to have littlefinger shoot it down due to cost. In truth Varys just put out the word of a promised lordship and riches to whoever killed her. Really he was more hoping some dumb fool would try to strike her down and be killed by dothraki before he could finish the deed putting the dothraki on alert. Just as littlefinger claimed to Ned that he was hoping for by turning down the faceless men proposal. So all in all Varys was still supporting Dany secretly while ensuring his own survival

  • I agree that listening to Peter and Conleth trade snide remarks is always a GoT high point. I’d rather watch the two of them than a battle with 1,000 extras.

  • Whilst acknowledging that Varys & Petyr Baelish are serious movers & shakers at the point were the books & TV show stand, hubris lurks in the background for both, especially Littlefinger. Tyrion & Sansa especially as well as Brienne & Davos are all canny enough to spoil the plans of both.

  • IMO, Hill’s analysis is spot-on about Varys and Littlefinger. Varys has played an even longer game–since Aegon’s reign and has kept his eyes on the prize. His patience is unprecedented. He’s reacted to events only when necessary; otherwise, after Tyrion’s escape, Varys might have stayed in KL and explained away his absence. But normally Varys steers events towards some goal far in the future. He’s still doing this via being interim co-controller of Meereen for Daenerys.

    OTOH, Littlefinger is frequently a gambler. He creates chaos, surely, but with chaos cards fall where they may. Even when his actions have several plausible outcomes, usually he is NOT in control. The possibility of something backfiring on him is ever-present. His immediate long-term goal seems to be to have everything Ned ever had–land, title, wife (with Sansa as the Cat-substitute), but there are so many moving parts. From the moment Littlefinger betrayed Ned to his death (I’ve always thought that LF suggested–openly or subliminally–to Joffrey to kill Ned), the door was open for LF to get everything he really wanted. We’ll probably never know whether LF motivated Joffrey, but it makes sense to me. Ironically, because LF either poorly vetted Ramsay or just took a chance on his promised good behaviour, he’s likely to have lost his protege/pawn/Cat– Sansa. I think we’ve ALREADY seen the wheels start coming off Littlefinger’s bandwagon. Varys (and Hill) surely knew that Littlefinger would overplay his hand at some point.

    • I agree that Varys is more patient and cautious. He plays the slow gambit.

      LittleFinger is a maverick gambler. He makes sure that however the cards fall, he has a plan and an exit strategy. Yes I think he desires either consciously or unconsciously what Ned had. BUT if that were his prime directive, he would have kept Sansa in the Vale under lock and key. With Catelyn dead, Sansa is the only Stark left to keep that Fantasy alive.

      I think his Chaos is a Ladder speech says it all. He wants it all, and he will throw anyone under the bus that gets in his way and will use everyone he can to keep climbing the Ladder.

  • Varys motives have always been what is best for the realm. I think it would be intriguing if they did bring young Griff /Aegon imposter??? to S6. Varys would be even more interesting, because his motives would be an actual blood relative on the throne. Theories are young Griff Aegon is Varys nephew (only if Griff is imposter theory) his sister was married to Illyrio, who is Varys co-conspirator who are direct descendents of Blackfyre. But the showrunners don’t have time, to add this, so they are infusing Danys character, to become Queen on The Iron Throne. I really think I will begin reading the books.

  • LF has a gaping weak point in the show right now – Sansa. He has no idea how she was raped and brutalized, and how she loathes him. She will kill him (or more specifically, have him killed) in both S6 and TWOW, and the giant will fall.

    • Sure she will honey.

      It always amuses me when people think Littlefinger cares about anyone or anything but himself. He knows but he just doesn’t care either way he gets what he wants i.e. more power so it really doesn’t matter to him. Sansa is real gullible too, all he has to do is tell her he had no idea what Ramsay would do.

      • Where is it revealed that Varys sister is married to Illiyrio and that young Griff could be his nephew? Where is it said he/they are Blackfyres?

        I obviously need to reread those chapters.

        • I read this theory, on wiki Westeres, reference: A Dance with Dragons, chapter 5 Tyrion, “I think it’s possible, I’m just starting to read the books, I don’t think the show will introduce this character. But in the books, Vayrs motives could be different, the theory goes on to say, Varys has royal blood, that’s why the sacrifice was made on him when he was young. Also he keeps his hair bald because he has Blackfyre traits. The Golden Company in the books, are secretly in the plot to put a Blackfyre back on the Iron Throne

      • Agreed.
        1) LittleFinger is only concerned with The Climb. Everyone else is simply a pawn.

        2) Sorry Sansa fans, she does not have a talent for violence or plotting revenge. She depends on others to save her. She is the quintessential Damsel in Distress. Her only weapon is her courtesy, a rather poor weapon in the Game of Thrones.

        • I remember that Littlefinger speech, “I want everything” he said. He has taken treachery to a new level! I read on a WiC archive, 12 months ago, Sansa/ Sophie said she was going to manipulate Littlefinger with her new found sexuality in season 5.. What happen?? Did they rewrite her script? I’m still not sure if she’s ready to take control of her life either, maybe being on the run with Theon/Reek she will gain confidence, and control what happens to her

          • I saw Sophie say that as well. I think many times the actors say things in interviews that are to distract or misdirect the show watchers. They have to shake things up and keep fans guessing. Otherwise it would be terribly dull for them and watchers.

  • Robb didn’t call his banners and start the war because of Neds death. He had already done that because of his arrest. But I guess that doesn’t matter too much.
    Neds death wasn’t supposed to happen, he was just supposed to go to the wall. It’s because of Joffrey that Ned died. But the results would’ve been the same if he had lived.

  • Sansa going to outplay little fingershe in his game she will come out on top and more powerful in s6 varys and tyrion is going to be class in s6 fuck littlefinger he’s a cunt going to cercei

  • Regarding Varys’ involvement in the assassination attempt on Dany in Season 1. *

    Dany was a mere pawn in the Game of Thrones and only becomes an actual player after this event. Remember that Viserys was still alive when the plot was initiated so Dany was probably viewed as expendable.
    Events in Westeros are moving too fast ( largely due to Littlefinger’s machinations ) and Varys and Illyrio need Drogo’s army to be ready sooner than they anticipated. Varys doesn’t believe he can stall the conflict so they need to accelerate things at their own end.
    An assassination attempt ( and success doesn’t matter here ) would actually spur the Dothraki into action, which indeed it does.
    Listen carefully to the conversation between Varys and Illyrio in the Red Keep dungeons and this makes a lot of sense. I think Varys actually says to Illyrio ‘ Delay you say, make haste I reply’ and this scene precedes the very Small Council meeting that orders the assassination.

    * Note that I’m discussing the show here. In the books Varys actually warns Jorah and is clearly trying to foil the murder.

    • Agreed Steve! I just watched that episode. Arya was hiding out down there listening. It’s an important conversation in the sense also, that the writers, have decided I think to fused Daenerys character, and we won’t see Young Griff. Varys is solely supporting Dang at this point. He goes on to say they couldn’t wait any longer, The Wolf and The Lion are going to war soon, and the plan was to put either Viserys or Daenerys a Targaeryn on Irone Throne. Littlefinger is only for what he can gain not what might be good for the realm. I think S6, Littlefingers motive will be to get sweet Robin on the Throne somehow, when chaos begins again. I’m curious how his plans could change once he learns of Daenerys rise to power, and Jon for that matter, but that’s too much speculation.

    • Agreed Steve! I just watched that episode. Arya was hiding out down there listening. It’s an important conversation in the sense also, that the writers, have decided I think to fused Daenerys character, and we won’t see Young Griff. Varys is solely supporting Dany at this point. He goes on to say they couldn’t wait any longer, The Wolf and The Lion are going to war soon, and the plan was to put either Viserys or Daenerys a Targaeryn on the Irone Throne. Littlefinger is only for what he can gain not what might be good for the realm. I think S6, Littlefingers motive will be to get sweet Robin on the Throne somehow, when chaos begins again. I’m curious how his plans could change once he learns of Daenerys rise to power, and Jon for that matter, but that’s too much speculation.

  • I hope the TV show is going to make Prince Doran Varys’ co-conspirator in Westeros as this would be a good way of involving the Martels in the story. Given that the so called Dornish Masterplan seems to have been cut Dorne would feel a somewhat pointless inclusion in the show otherwise.

    It makes sense because they’re natural Targaryen allies and would provide Dany with an army and base within Westeros.

    Notice how Doran has so far managed to keep Dorne outside the war. If he is on Varys’ team this makes a lot of sense. Notice how Littlefinger has kept the Vale out of things also.

    Dorne and the Vale are both militarily powerful and the only two kingdoms to be completely unscathed by the conflict that has engulfed the rest of Westeros.

    Varys and Littlefinger have both manipulated this conflict and each potentially controls one of the only two kingdoms that are unaffected.

  • I don’t think Tyryon/Varys will do something remarkable in Mereen.


    Tyrion will be eaten by the dragons in S6

  • Littlefinger killed Jon Arryn via Lysa, led Ned down the path to find out Joffrey’s parentage, betrayed Ned once he attempted to make a move, forged the Tyrell/Lannister alliance that defeated Stannis at Blackwater and therefore sealed the fate of the war he started, killed Joffrey along with Oleana- betraying the Lannisters, killed Lysa-took over the Vale, sent Sansa to Winterfell, sold out the Boltons to Cersei (and I expect kill at least Roose and remove the Bolton’s from power next year but we’ll see). I forgot others I’m sure. Outside of Jon and Dany’s arc, Littlefinger is behind almost every overreaching plot point outside of the Red Wedding, which is in itself a side effect of his actions. Littlefinger did a lot more to dictate the events then just the build up to Ned’s death.

    • Batman you just laid out every single, diabolical, not to mention the despicable things he did with his whores poor Roz,, that Little finger has done. But sometimes we forget about the evil, hateful, vengeful man he is because it’s all in the game for power and anything goes!! I will no doubt cheer with jubilation when his day of reckoning arrives. I do love to hate this character, he is so wicked!!!

  • Maybe Littlefinger is trying to destabilise westeros for the almost imminent invasion of the White Walkers from the north? He took care of Ned Stark, and the Stark family’s position in the north. Planted seeds of mistrust in Kings Landing, even helping to kill the king. Hell he even managed to elevate a Kid as leader in place of his mother who was promptly dispatched. He’s a very very bad man.

    Varys always struck me as the guy who sees everything falling apart around him and just wants to see it back the away it all was.

    • Philm, I agree.

      Varys wants a peaceful and prosperous kingdom. He is willing to sacrifice those who intentionally or unintentionally cause chaos, like Ned Stark.

      While LittleFinger has one goal, to be the king, even if he is King of the Ashes as Varys said.

    • No one knows about The Whitewalkers except The Nights Watch and the Wildlings or does Little finger have a little birdy???? He could be plotting with The Night King for all we know, I wouldn’t put anything past Lord Baelish