Iain Glen is “very happy” with Jorah Mormont’s eight-season story arc


There were a lot of moments worth writing about from last night’s action-packed episode of Game of Thrones, but the one that hit me the hardest in the feels — and I genuinely wasn’t expecting this — was the death of Ser Jorah Mormont, who had been Daenerys Targaryen’s faithful companion since the very first episode of the series. These two have been together through a lot of ups and downs, and that he got to die defending the queen he loved, and then Drogon hanging his head in sympathy…it got me, by gum.

Actor Iain Glen talked a bit about Jorah’s eight-season long journey to Esquire. “In a chaotic, mad, dangerous, and violent world in which people are generally out for themselves, the purity of his desire to support her—to be there for her—is a nice contrast to the rest of the show. For the first two, three seasons, it was about this desire to express that from his point of view, but never doing it.”

"I think they modulated their journey really beautifully throughout the seasons. I think they found a really compelling root through it, where for you, as an audience, it’s hard to stand from the outside. And I’m not the best person to ask, but people tell me, that you have such a mixture of emotions watching. At first you think, ‘Oh please, go on and say it!’ But then very quickly it’s, ‘Oh god! You shouldn’t have!’"

And then, in the end, you think, ‘NO JORAH DON’T GO HOUSE MORMONT AND YOUR KHALEESI NEED YOU!’ Or maybe that’s just me.

Going back to the beginning, Glen remembers first landing this job, which we learn he had to commit to for four years from the jump. “And they wouldn’t tell you if you were gonna die.” Glen’s team asked for a breakdown for the character season by season, and while he didn’t get many details, he he intrigued enough to take on the role. “I really wanted this. I remember saying to my wife that I had a funny feeling about it. I felt like it was going somewhere.” Good call.

"It’s very unusual to come back to something again and again and again. The life of an actor is very ephemeral. That’s what we’re used to; getting thrown with a bunch of strangers and getting to know each other really quickly and then saying, ‘Right, I’m gonna completely forget about that and now I’m going to jump into something else.’ Certainly, in my experience as an actor, I’ve never done anything like this. And to come back to something that everyone is saying is just going fantastic, that’s a very binding thing in itself. That was very winning."

Over the years, Glen at least had the pleasure of filming in warmer climates while people like Kit Harington and John Bradley were suffering in the cold, but playing Jorah brought its own challenges, particularly after Jorah contracted greyscale and he had to sit for hours while the special effects team applied his body makeup. “It was like coming in at midnight and being ready to shoot at eight, to then do the ten-hour day,” he remembered. “It reminded me of some of the drugs I’ve taken. At university, I was pretty spaced out—but in a nice, helpful, acting way.”

It sounds like there’s more of a story there, but we’ll let it go.

Anyway, it was during the greyscale days that Glen thought Jorah wasn’t long for the world. “[Creators] Dan [Weiss] and Dave [Benioff] really enjoy fucking with the actors—not giving them any sort of clues,” Glen said. “So I asked them both individually, because I couldn’t get the answer. One of them said ‘I’m not saying.’ The other, when I said, ‘Do I survive the greyscale?’ said, ‘You do this season.’” Clearly, Game of Thrones’ epic secret-keeping culture starts at the top.

Now that it’s all over, Glen says that he’s “very happy” with Jorah’s story arc, and that the sheer scale of the production will stay with him always. “When we read all six episodes before we started at the beginning, in a big room in Northern Ireland—Belfast—I thought the writers had managed it incredibly well and thoroughly, in terms of looking after everyone,” he said. “It’s one of the hard things when you write big, sweeping, epic dramas like this. How do you look after everyone’s storyline, individually?”

"I’m proud of the product and I’m proud of any association with that. You can walk around thinking, ‘Didn’t you see my Hamlet?’ or ‘Where were you when I did Henry VI at the Royal Theater Company?’ but you’re wasting your time. [Thrones] is kind of the Holy Grail, to be critically approved but have a massive following? That’s the ticket."

RIP Jorah Mormont. Here he stood.

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