When it comes to actors who have ridden the popularity of Game of Thrones to increased celebrity, Mark Addy just missed the boat. As King Robert Baratheon, he had a crucial role in Game of Thrones Season 1, but it wasn’t as crucial as Sean Bean’s role, and King Robert died before the show transformed from cult hit into global phenomenon.*
And apparently, that’s the way Addy prefers it. Speaking on British daytime program This Morning, the actor said he was to glad to be on the show before it became a monster hit. “From our perspective I feel sorry for the guys going into the show now; there’s a huge expectation. For us there was none really…”
It’s hard to imagine a time when Game of Thrones wasn’t scrutinized from every which way, but Addy recalls when “nobody knew the books, over here anyway, it was very limited fan-base. And you couldn’t have expected [the reaction].” Must’ve taken the pressure off. Still, Addy praised the network for taking a chance on the show. “HBO took a gamble, and said ‘we can create this fantasy world.’ And they did a great job of it.”
It does pay to remember how ludicrous the idea of a Song of Ice and Fire TV series probably sounded back in 2010. There had been live-action high fantasy shows before, but they often involved a lot of camp, and weren’t taken too seriously (think Xena, Merlin, and Legend of the Seeker). Looking back, HBO’s innovation was to make a high fantasy show that was also a prestige series, and it’s been reaping the benefits for years.
Addy also discussed his role on Jericho, a new series airing on ITV in Britain. Set in a fictional shanty town in the 1870s, Addy plays a detective brought in to investigate a murder near the construction site of a railway viaduct. Addy described Bamford, his character:
He’s an ex-navvy himself, who’s kind of gone over to the dark side. There’s more money to be made grassing up the people who are not doing their job properly than there is being a navvy. He’s an opportunist, he’s well dressed he’s got money and he’s going to get to the bottom of it.
Check out the trailer for Jericho below.
*In a way, Addy and Harry Lloyd (Viserys Targaryen) paved the way for the actors who came after them. Their onscreen deaths were big deals for people watching at the time, but they happened before the show had taught viewers to expect major character deaths every season.