Game of Thrones star talks about their shocking death in the season 7 finale


Any proper Game of Thrones season finale has a shocking death, and season 7’s “The Dragon and the Wolf” was no different. We said goodbye to a longtime character, and the actor who played him or her sat down with Entertainment Weekly to discuss it. SPOILERS follow below.

Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish is a championship player of the game of thrones. Rising from an obscure house to become Master of Coin in King’s Landing and eventually Lord Protector of the Vale, Baelish outwitted and outsmarted the best of them. But that didn’t stop actor Aiden Gillen from receiving “the infamous call” from showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss before season 7 began:

"It’s so obvious what it is. [Weiss and Benioff] never ring you up — maybe once in six years. I learned about that call from [Roose Bolton actor Michael McElhatton] when he told me about his call and he talked about how it made him feel. And I thought if I get that call — or rather when as this has got to happen sooner or later to a character like Littlefinger — I wondered how it would make me feel. Because the show is such a part of your life for so many years, you start to think, ‘What will your life will be like outside of it?’ It’s a potent loss."

So Gillen learned of the call from Michael McElhatton, one villain to another. “You’re left a little bereft,” he continued, “for your character and for your experience. It also immediately makes you quantify the hugeness of what that experience has been over the last seven years, which has been massive.”

Still, Gillen seemed happy with how his character went out: executed by Arya Stark after Sansa, using information given to her by Bran, shined a light on the many crimes he’d committed over the seasons.

"They just promised me a “river of blood.” Well, it wasn’t really a river of blood, but they promised me more than poor Michael got. It’s better to go out at the end of [the season] with a good arc then at the start of episode 2. Even if I’m only in a few episodes — like last season I probably had less than any season — once your character is established as part of the world people feel like you’re there all the time. So it’s not really an issue for me how many scenes I’m in as long as the scenes are good, and they’re well put together, and your contribution is good. Then people feel like you’re there all the time. I’m glad I had a good story to finish with."

Littlefinger’s demise came after he tried to drive a wedge between Sansa and Arya Stark, a risky endeavor. “With carefully laid plans there’s always a bit of risk involved,” Gillen said. “He’s put himself in a situation that could backfire on him.” And it did.

"[A]s soon as he walks in that room and Arya produces the dagger he knows the game is up. He at least suspected the game was up back in episode four when Bran told him, “Chaos is a ladder.” For Bran to come up with that is beyond coincidental. That’s when the ground started to shift beneath my feet. At that point, I knew the things I’ve done in private are not necessarily private."

And yet Littlefinger didn’t hightail it for the Vale after that incident?

As for his actual death scene, Gillen thinks it hearkens back to a pivotal moment in Littlefinger’s life: his rejection by Catelyn Stark.

"There were more feelings for Sansa than I’ve let on the in the past. It becomes obvious. It’s an emotional farewell. And it’s a humiliating position to be in. He’s back in the sort of humiliating position that has been a driver for him: The rejection of Catelyn Stark, the humiliation by [Ned Stark’s older brother] Brandon Stark — back when he cut him from navel to collarbone and didn’t kill him [after their duel over Catelyn in their youth]. He’s put back in that position again."

Gillen also revealed that his death scene was not the last scene he shot, but rather one of the first. “I quite enjoyed doing things that way — shooting [Littlefinger’s death] and then shooting what comes before. When you know what’s coming you relax a little in the way you interact with the others. There’s something else that seeps into your performance — a kind of serenity.”

"But yeah, I did find it quite emotional [shooting the finale scene]. And I don’t necessarily mean that I was sad, but it’s an emotional moment for the character so I felt what he was feeling. For the real last day at work Dan and David weren’t there but [co-executive producer] Bryan Cogman called people in and said a few words and my son was there with me. That was quite something. And I got my mockingbird pin. I had already let them know I wanted it, and I cleverly worked it so I got two. There’s one from my cloak and one from my tunic. So I got the large and the small size — one for me and one for my son."

Littlefinger gonna Littlefinger. “You know, I did pretty well,” he said, looking back on the life and times of Petyr Baelish. “The character did pretty well. They need to hone [the cast] down. That’s not an issue, really. The end is when it happens. I don’t think beyond that.”

Next: Knee-Jerk reactions to “The Dragon and the Wolf:” Five Best and Worst Moments

Farewell, Mr. Gillen. We won’t miss Littlefinger, but we might just miss you.

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