Aidan Gillen Featured Game of Thrones Interview Littlefinger Sansa Stark

Aidan Gillen on Sansa becoming more like Littlefinger, and what’s next for the schemer

We all saw that look that passed between Sansa and Littlefinger in “The Winds of Winter,” the one he gave her right after the Northern lords made Jon Snow their new king. He didn’t look pleased. What did it mean? What is he up to? After seeing him plot scheme for six seasons, it doesn’t take much from him to make us nervous.

Vulture tried to dig some insight out of actor Aidan Gillen, but he wasn’t budging. “As an actor, I never say, “This is what I’m trying to say here …” I don’t want you to know what I’m thinking.” Thanks, Aidan. That helps. He did, however, reflect on what Littlefinger was trying to do throughout the season, particularly in regards to Sansa.

We only had a few scenes with Littlefinger in season six. But one thing he was trying to do consistently was sow some kind of seed of disquiet with Sansa in terms of Jon, and how closely related they really are, and how valid he really is as a king, or a leader, or a brother, while at the same time encouraging what might be her own position. There’s a certain amount of, “I told you so. Is this what you want? Can you trust him?”

As Gillen points out, Littlefinger basically laid out all these concerns to Sansa in the scene in the godswood. (Interestingly, he also says that we may want to take what Littlefinger said about wanting the Iron Throne with a pinch of salt—you can never tell with this guy.) The look he gave her in Winterfell’s great hall may have been reinforcing those concerns. And they could soon become very important, as that scene immediately after didn’t go the way Littlefinger wanted. He was hoping Sansa would be made the leader in the North, and will now have to deal with this Jon Snow guy instead.

Speaking for Littlefinger, it was one of those moments where you go, “Fuck! Maybe this is a bigger thing than I thought it would be. How are we going to deal with this?” Given that he enjoys chaos and uncertainty and the thrill of all of that, it was a big moment for him.

So if Littlefinger is going to have to work with Jon Snow, what does he think of him? Gillen weighed in on Jon Snow’s bastard heritage, and from the way he talks, it’s sounding more and more like there could be a confrontation between these two in the future.

I don’t think Littlefinger would differentiate between who is highborn and who is not, but it’s a lot harder to rise if you’re not. So there would be a certain respect and admiration, but also wariness about people who made it under difficult circumstance, because if they’ve fought hard for it, they must really want it, and they’re going to fight harder to hold on to it. They’re going to be clever, more ruthless, more adversarial, possibly. Littlefinger has a keen awareness of where people are coming from, and what they want, and what they’ll do to get what they want, and using that awareness for his own benefit while seemingly promoting their cause.

Sansa and Jon at Winterfell King in the North Official

But Littlefinger’s main focus is Sansa. In some ways, it always has been. And if Gillen can be believed, her tutelage under Littlefinger is coming along nicely. After all, she never told Jon about the letter she wrote Littlefinger asking for help. Could she have done with a strategy in mind?

She really is becoming more like me. More Baelish–like in the way she’s operating, and the fact that she’s operating at all. She has become a player under my tutelage, and that’s what I wanted. There’s a scene way back when we’re discussing a battle, a scene with Cersei, and we’re talking about Stannis and the Boltons, and letting the two of them tear each other apart, and coming in at the last minute with the Knights of the Vale. Who’s to say that Sansa wasn’t thinking of doing something like that as well? Let them kill each other. Again, it’s not likely, but not impossible.

That scene with Cersei, from Season 5’s “Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken,” could become very important soon. Back then, Littlefinger promised to take Winterfell with the Knights of the Vale in exchange for being named Warden of the North, and Cersei demanded Sansa’s head on a spike. Well, Cersei is queen now, and Littlefinger is in position to take what he wants. “And I might bring her Sansa’s head on a spike!” he said. Uh oh.

Queen Cersei Lannister Official

Littlefinger’s deal with Cersei isn’t the only thing from Littlefinger’s past waiting in the wings. Vulture points out that the Stark kids, so far as we know, still don’t know that Littlefinger betrayed their dad way back in Season 1. Might that come home to roost?

But that one was so public, how could they not have heard? I guess in times like that, it would be difficult to know what information would be widely, readily, quickly available. By the time a story gets out, there might be 40 different versions of it. And if you are a manipulative, political type, you’ll make sure to get your counterstory out immediately. And then you can assume there’s some leeway — if you ever are confronted with it, you can say, “Yeah, but it wasn’t quite the way you heard it.” I very obviously held a dagger to Ned Stark’s throat, which as television viewers saw in massive close-up, but the part of the story that’s the most damning evidence of betrayal — my holding a dagger to his throat — may not be out there. Everybody didn’t see it. But yeah, things come home to roost, and we are approaching the endgame, and things are going to get trickier for everyone, but particularly for people who have spun webs of lies and deceit.

You’d figure that Sansa, who was in King’s Landing at the time, would have heard about it by now, but then again, she was kept on a pretty tight leash back then.

As for what’s next for Littlefinger, he hasn’t yet been given the “reward” Sansa promised him when she wrote him for aid back in “The Broken Man.” “[I]t could be a place of great influence in her regime, or it could be marriage, or it could be material, lands, wealth.”

I don’t know. But does he not deserve a reward? That would seem like a standard thing in this world. Some people do things out of honor, but it tends to be that you get something for it.

We’ll have to wait a year before finding out what, exactly, Littlefinger gets, although I’m sure we already have opinions about what he deserves.


  • I think people may be misinterpreting that look between LF and Sansa. I think that she looked pleased and happy for Jon. And then she saw LF and the look on his face, and she became concerned for Jon

    • This is what I thought too, and then, I watched the inside the episode, and everyone from Sophie to Liam to D&D said that Sansa became aware in that moment of her own rights, basically. I think it’s very possible for it be both. LF does look like he’s saying ‘I told you so’ when he’s looking at her and in that context, the bts explanations work. I don’t think she’s going to BETRAY Jon or some nonsense but her wanting some control isn’t a terrible thing. It’s good for her as a character instead of her being supplementary to another character’s arc.

    • Thank you. That’s exactly how I read it, too. She WAS pleased for Jon, she meant it when she told him he was a Stark to her. But she, of anybody, would know Littlefinger’s moods and faces, having seen him, maybe more than anyone, in a variety of moods. She looked at him and was immediately concerned. The look LF was giving was sullen and angry. You could almost see the wheels turning as he debated how Jon being made King in the North could benefit him, or whether he should try to destroy the whole thing.

      Once he gets word that Cersei has blown up the Sept and all the Sparrows are permanently plucked and roasted, that means he could come back and reopen new brothels, if he wanted. It depends on whether he wants to return to that occupation, or if he is in “High Lord” mode. If he wants to open the brothels, he’d need Cersei’s permission, and the first thing Cersei will ask is “Where is Sansa’s head that you promised me?” So it does not look promising for either Sansa or Jon.

      I hope he is stopped before he can damage the Starks even more than he already has. And I hope that his conversation with Sansa in front of the Weirwood tree is seen by Bran, and Bran warns Jon that LF could be a problem.

      How many months until next season? AAARRRRGGHH

    • I agree. Sansa was caught up in the moment, then realized that Jon just became an obstacle that LF will crush without any remorse on his way to the Iron Throne.

      My hope is that Sansa was the one who encouraged Lyanna Mormont to make her speech in the first place.

  • Aiden really gets his character. I really am looking forward to LF’s involvement in the North rn. I do think there’ll be a different outcome than Ned’s or Robb’s, for that matter. And, while I think Sansa is becoming more like LF, I do want to see her fight for her rights too, so, I’m into it. I really don’t think she’s going to ‘betray’ anyone or anything like that.

  • Aren’t we forgetting what Littlefinger so recently did to Sansa with respect to Ramsey Bolton?! How she could forgive him for THAT and let him have any influence in Winterfell defies logic. My only thought is that she may practice “keep your friends close and your enemies closer”…

  • Even if Sansa is content with the state of affairs at Winterfell now, that will change when Bran kicks her out of the lord’s chamber so he and Meera can shack up there.

  • But Sansa betrayed her father twice in Season 1, leading first to Lady’s death and then indirectly to his. No doubt she meant well and had no idea of the deadly consequences, but surely she knew Ned would be in deep trouble. (All this is clearer in the books.) From the moment of her reunion with Jon at Castle Black, I’ve felt a subtle chill in their relationship coming from her. Now that LF’s tutelage has helped make her consciously Machiavellian, rescued her and Jon after Jon’s battle planning and execution blunders, and Jon has passively taken the prize Sansa expected from her grasp, it’s most probable she will indeed side with LF. Until she learns that he directly got Ned killed…if she learns. Only then will she do the Arya and silence the Mockingbird.

    • Sigh, for the millionth time, Sansa going to Cersei didn’t happen in the show. So many people somehow don’t notice this. Sansa had nothing to do with Ned’s downfall in the show.

  • Little Finger owed Sansa something due to the fact that he sold her to Ramsey and the bonus that Ramsey was abusive to say the least. She doesn’t owe him ANYTHING!! They’re even!

  • I thing that Littlefinger somehow minulapeted the whole thing to make Jon the King of the North to cause trouble between Sansa and Jon. I see his slimy fingers all over that.

  • Bran is toast next season. Once he brings down the Wall, he’ll be killed.

    And prepare for Sansa to betray Jon…

  • I totally agree with Ludichrissy…Jon will name Sansa warden of the north and heir. He’ll go on with the rest of the northern houses to battle the knight king. His fate will be entwined with Dany’s but they will bring an end to the way things are. In the end they will save westeros, but as for ruling on after the final war…I do not think there will be an iron throne…I don’t think anyone will rule in the end…a new system will replace the iron throne. I don’t think there will be dragons or direwolves, all that was once was will be lost in history…I think that we are witnessing a watershed moment on planetos when all is sacrificed and all is renewed but not as it was…

    I also think that the shorten season will pick up the pace of the show, so the time for subtle manipulation from LF will be limited or not at all…Sansa could have him do something for her then have him killed when the favor is complete. It is a time of wolves…

  • I don’t necessarily like it when interviewed actors say what their characters are thinking. It seems almost like a spoiler. It might be imposing a different interpretation on top of one the audience has come up with. And it’s not always reliable. The writers might have a different idea of what the character’s thoughts are. The writers might even retroactively change the character’s inner thoughts when they write the next season.

    Is it possible that Jamie knew that was Arya at the Freys by any chance???? I can’t find the answer anywhere

    • No. He doesn’t know about Arya training with the faceless men, and hardly ever saw Arya. He might have thought the serving girl was acting suspiciously, but I don’t think he would have worked out that she was Arya.

    • I think most people believe Arya is dead. She’s pretty much been forgotten about.

    • I think when word gets out the Starks have retaken Winterfell alot of people are going to want them as allies. Cersei doesnt have very many friends right now.

  • I personally think Littlefinger planted the seeds of doubt in Sansa on purpose, predicting Jon would be raised up. We are meant to think Sansa doesn’t like where this is going, and LF will help her betray Jon, but I don’t think that’s what will happen. I think LF will convince Jon to lend him soldiers to ride south and help take King’s Landing – yes I think he means to take the throne, and yes I think he will beeline for it. He will convince Jon to do this by telling him so long as he holds Winterfell and is titled the “King in the North”, Cersei will not rest until she has the north back. LF will promise when he takes the Throne with Sansa as his bride/queen, the North can rule themselves and there will be peace and preparation for the White Walkers. He knows how weak King’s Landing is, currently, as is Casterly Rock. The variable in my theory is Dany – I don’t really know where she’s headed first. If she is heading straight for King’s Landing, I could see Cersei needing an ally – enter Petyr with his army ready to go. He makes Cersei promise to marry him, thus making him King, and to sweeten the pot he has Sansa. She agrees, and, honestly, I think they might repel the first Dany onslaught. Not sure how, but I don’t see how it would make for interesting theater to have Dany just walk right in with her dragons and steamroll Cersei and everyone else on the first go.

    Anyway, what I foresee happening, or at least partially, is this – Petyr walking in under a banner of truce, much like Tywin did with the Mad King. Jaime will recognize it all for what it is, Cersei will tell him to be quiet. Then, predictably, LF betrays her, takes King’s Landing. Amidst the battle and bloodshed, LF finds himself in the throne room, alone with the big comfy chair. When he moves toward it, however, Cersei reveals herself, brandishing a knife, and the two fight (yes LF finally gets his hands dirty). Cersei holds her own, but LF ultimately chokes her to death, fulfilling my belief that he is the “valonqar” from Cersei’s mistaken prophecy, where she misheard or just simply was complacent and fumbled the word “valonqar”, which means little brother, with another, similar sounding Valyrian word that actually meant “little finger”. Boom.

    Then Sansa finds out about Baelish and all his betrayals. Cersei could tell her about her father and LF, but I would much prefer Varys telling her somehow, because he has tried and tried to thwart LF’s grand scheme. Sansa will confront him and blame him for the death of half her house and half the realm, but I can’t see her killing him. Instead, I see him dying on the Iron Throne, somehow someway….perhaps Arya is there, since I’m sure she would be gunning for Cersei.

    I have an offshoot theory which is mostly unrelated that it won’t be Bran who brings down the wall or allows the White Walkers through, but actually a Littlefinger accomplice whose soul purpose is to let them through. The reason? Well, with Jon Snow the reborn “chosen one”, as well as Dany and her dangerous dragons, one needs a diversion to take the Iron Throne. Dany may go all Stannis and head north to fight the zombie army, while Petyr secures his new kingly position.

    I’ve said my piece. My wife thinks I’m crazy with this idea, btw, but she still likes it.

    • You thought this out well but remember that LF only has the vale by manipulation. Yohn Royce does not trust or like him. In addition, you have Tyrion and Varys on the way back who both would never trust him. He has quite a few hurdles in his way to get to the throne. My thoughts are he won’t make it to the last season.

  • I’m hoping, that near the end of the series, Varys will play a hand in revealing Littlefinger’s actions, in the coup against Ned, to the surviving Starks.

    • That’s interesting. Remember Varys thought Ned a good person. And smart people like Varys would want Dany to allies with the North.

  • Nice theories Matt.

    What about Euron? Will he feature? Will he attack Dany and her fleet?

    • I think as long as Dany is on her boats there will be a chance that Euron will attack afterall he is the better strategist at sea. If they get onto dry land intact then Euron loses all his advantage as Dany has approx. 100,000 Dothraki, Dragons, Etc.

      Cersie needs a husband now to secure the throne for the future, perhaps Euron will get to put his bid Cxck somewhere after all?????

    • I think it’s likely LF brings them into the fold to fight Dany’s ships, however I cant figure out much from TV Euron because we havent seen much of him. His scheme was to ally with Dany, but he decided to stay at the Iron Islands while the 1000 ships were built #brilliantironborn

      My guess is he would be swayed by LF’s promise that defeating her but not killing her would be akin to forcing her to submit, then he can marry her or whatever. He has to fight her regardless because Theon and Yara are on Dany’s side, and be would lose everything if they were seen as stronger.

  • What the actors are saying between the seasons might just be some clever misdirection, keep that in mind. Without even lying, just not telling everything ( quite easy as they don’t really know everything ) and hinting several possible plot lines, most of which won’t happen.

    LF will do at least some more scheming, but most likely his time on the show is shorter than the show itself at this point.
    Another possible instrument of his demise – The Hound. He knows just enough – about that dagger at Ned’s throat. If those two find themselves together in the North, anything else happening will be too hollow.
    If Arya shows up in Winterfell, she’ll need to pull an FM stunt for her family to not be overprotective of their little sister. Unless Harald Karstark is brought back, LF is a nice target. And if confronted with some truth, he might even try again his dagger gig, taking her hostage. Which will be kinda cute.

  • If LF ends up being the Valonquar who strangles Cercei, that would be brilliant! More so if she takes him as a husband to secure the throne from Dany. Poor Jaime would feel so betrayed. Hopefully, Drogon eats LF!

  • How wrong Littlefinger was when he asked Sansa, who will be the Northern Lords support more, Sansa who is Ned & Catelyn Stark daughter or a no mother Bastard from the south?
    He underestimate the influences Jon have over the North. He maybe a bastard but what Jon showed the North who he really is, he won them over.
    That look of Littlefinger was proof how wrong he was. He underestimate the North.

  • The main reason I don’t buy the whole Sansa is angry and jealous is because in the scene prior to this one she was in the Godswood saying she was a stupid girl for always thinking about what she wanted and not about what she had. Yes, she made horrible mistakes in her life, but this statement shows she has learned from them. She appreciates her home and family. She also appeared to dismiss LF and she apologized to Jon. Despite all of this occurring in this episode, I am suppose to notice a jealous look at the end. I didn’t even interpret this look in that way. It doesn’t add up.

  • I don’t see Littlefinger allying himself with Cersei. He knows she’s a lost cause, and he would never back a sinking ship. And didn’t he say it would be known soon that he declared for the Starks? I think he’s plan will be to take the iron throne from Cersei when he finds out how she has an enemy in just about every corner of Westeros. The only wrench in his plan will be Dany and her dragons.

  • Im the only one believing the REWARD Sansa promised to LF is going to be his death.

  • Sansa is a third Queen on a chessboard.
    Dany will know the good of the Starks from Tryion.
    Petyr does not know everything apparently!!! There is a new Queen coming to checkmate your Queen blindside.
    I doubt Petyr will miss Cersei but,all his plans, his Harrenhal, The Vale, Trying to have the North.
    Yet, once again he has no clue of the epic war from up North.
    For all his scheming & I love both Aidan the actor who plays Petyr so masterfully. But, I think Sansa just said “Checkmate” with that look. She has the confidence, she is at home( abeit) bad memories & she knows she is highly price material.
    She is Princess Sansa or Queen Sansa until Jon marries. Possibly a woman flying down with Tryion on a Dragon??
    Never underestimate the power of a Stark.
    The fun has just begun. Westeros Chess there can be only 5 standing on the same team. My opinion is just that. My mind nothing but a jumbled mess since 10 pm Est on Friday June 24 th D&D did this to me & all summer the hamster wheels are on overtime!!!
    Think Westeros will be reshaped literally.
    I hope by doing this I can clear some space to idk… work on my own book!!!!!

    • Ugghh Sansa is highly sought marriage material as a Princess, as Queen of Winterfell interested Jon marries ( most high Lords are now dead or as u saw 2 old). No, if Jon is with Dany ( Bran confirms), Sansa gets Winterfell.
      We’ll see. Ser GRRM world is not so easy.
      BTW Can I adopt all Tommen’s cats

    • I chucked my last name out sorry not intelligent of me. But there is only one PASHT & I have the tat to prove it 😁😉

  • Medieval rights seem to be in the forefront. If I were Sansa I would be pissed, she and LF saved the day and the northern houses seemed to think Jon did. I notice Jon didn’t speak up and say no, wait, Sansa should be the one etc.

    • Yes, but she also withheld the info about his possible help and then asking him for help. In a crucial battle where the numbers are stacked against you, Sansa should have said something, anything to let Jon formulate a strategy. Also, what was with LF’s timing? He shows up in the waning minutes when Jon and his mates are about to snuff it? How quaint, now he has a mostly intact army while Jon’s is severely diminished. I’m thinking he was hoping Jon would die in the battle, but he didn’t. His look at the end kind of said to me, “time for plan B”, since he got rejected by Sansa, and Jon didn’t die and became King in the North.

  • The timing was not so bad/perfect ( depending on the point of view ) as it was widely expected throughout the season. The battle was 100% lost, but at least half of Jon’s army was still alive, and remained so. 15-20 minutes later, there would have been no one to save.

    The Vale army attacked once all of Ramsay’s forces were engaged. Perfect timing as a strategy, not perfect for LF… go figure how was it intended to look and if there’s any meaning at all.

  • This is what’s in store for LF: he dies, the end. I seriously don’t know what they can do with him at this point as he really has nothing to add that doesn’t distract from the White Walkers. The Knights of the Vale as well as the Stark bannermen have rallied behind Jon and unanimously named him King in the North so if LF tries to do anything he’ll get knocked off quickly. The Game can only extend so far and LF is good at behind the scenes stuff, but when in comes to public actions he’s out of his element.