Pilou Asbæk explains how Euron Greyjoy got a “happy ending”

Image: Game of Thrones/HBO
Image: Game of Thrones/HBO /

Crazy old Euron Greyjoy may be dead and gone (we assume), but actor Pilou Asbæk is alive and talking a mile a minute, discussing his exit from the show with The Wrap and revealed why he thought it was “very important” that we not actually see Euron die onscreen in the latest episode of the show, “The Bells.”

So we all watched. Euron and Jaime Lannister fought on a beach outside the Red Keep, with each mortally wounding the other. But we do not see Euron die. For that, we have Asbæk to thank:

"The reason why I didn’t want to die [on screen] is because I thought it would be so much fun to tease [showrunners D.B. Weiss and David Benioff], because of course they wrote the scene as if he would die. So did [director Miguel Sapochnik], he wanted to direct it as if he would die. But I didn’t want to do that, because you know sometimes you gotta take a piss at the showrunners. And I was like, “What if I don’t die? What if I just smile and look off?” And they were like, ‘Yeah, that’s nice.’"

He put it another way on the Making Game of Thrones blog: “I had a long conversation with [director] Miguel Sapochnik about it. Dan and David were like, ‘and then Euron dies’ and I was like, ‘No he doesn’t.’ And they said, ‘What do you mean?’ I said, ‘I’m not going to close my eyes. I want to smile up at the sky like life is beautiful, and then you guys have to cut away.’ Miguel kept saying, ‘Close your eyes!’ but I was like, ‘No.'”

Asbæk sounds like a handful on set. As usual, Game of Thrones knows how to cast people.

He also talks about Euron’s last words: “I’m the man who killed Jaime Lannister!” Of course, Jaime actually died with Cersei in the collapsing ruins of the Red Keep, but Euron couldn’t have seen that coming. Egomaniac Euron was happy to take all the credit. “He’s that kind of guy, he’s in self denial,” Asbæk said. “He just wants to see the world burn, you know what I mean? He just wants to see people die.”

"That said. I think he meant it. He’s the one who got Jaime Lannister, a guy who he has admired because Jaime has been one of the best fighters in the world and is the Kingslayer and has created a name for himself."

The Wrap asked Asbæk why Euron didn’t try to run and save himself rather than returning to fight Jaime. The answer is a tapestry of madness:

"Reason number one is his entire fleet just got burned down by a dragon, that’s pretty devastating for a guy. He’s been swimming several miles in his leather suit, so he’s tired and he doesn’t want to go out on a boat again for a while. And he loves the queen, Cersei, and the queen will always be in love with her brother, Jaime Lannister. So for him to get the woman he loves, he needs to kill the guy. And if he can go and show her the head of Jaime Lannister, she will be so afraid of Euron Greyjoy that he would make her be with him so he would reign with power. And he’s one of those guys that wanna see the world burn. I could give you a long story about why, etc. and so on, but at one point you just gotta go with what is given and how they wanna do the scene, and that’s how they wanted it. They wanted Euron and Jaime to fight. Also because I think Dan and David might have thought it would be fun to have two Danes fight each other (laughs). But I think Euron wanted to kill Jaime for the love of Cersei."

That’s a lot of swirling emotions.

Daenerys’ reign of fire has stirred up a lot of controversy among fans. What does Asbæk think of it? “First of all,” he began, “the diversity of the fans and the passion they bring to the table is admirable, and you want to have all of it … You cannot satisfy one billion people, it’s not possible. But you want to have them commit to the show, even if they don’t like it. There was a guy called P.T. Barnum who said ‘There’s no such thing as bad press, there’s only press.’ And I welcome everyone, people I agree with or people I disagree with.”

"… it’s totally cool, it’s passionate. And you’ve gotta love that. Besides that, for me, the twists and turns was logical, because this is Game of Thrones, and people have to die. And I would be very, very surprised if we end up with a happy ending next week. I know how it’s gonna end, so I’m not gonna say a word. But Dan and David have delivered for seven seasons admirable content and I would say they have delivered extremely well again this season. But again, you can’t please everyone."

No happy endings, folks (shiver).

Back to the Making Game of Thrones blog, Asbæk dug a little deeper into the Euron-Jaime fight:

"David [Benioff] and Dan [Weiss] thought it would be more interesting if it was between Jaime [played by Nikolaj Coster-Waldau] and Euron rather than the Greyjoys. Everyone expected it would be me versus Theon, but Theon’s story is much bigger than that. He needs to redeem himself, and having him do that in “The Long Night” was a much better storyline than doing something with me."

Asbæk loved filming the fight-to-the-death scene with Coster-Waldau. “That was a great sequence. Two men enter one man leaves. It’s always wonderful to do physical scenes, especially with Nikolaj because he is a very fit guy, so we could really go for it…and we really went for it in that scene. We took the time to film it over a few days, and it was fun.”

The last shooting day the Euron vs. Jaime scrap was Coster-Waldau’s last day of filming, and it was a special memory for Asbaek: “[I]t was a very emotional thing when it all ended for him. I’m just happy and proud that as a fellow Dane I could be there to celebrate with him on his last day on Game of Thrones.”

Asbæk loved playing Euron Greyjoy, a “unique” kind of villain who operated in a sort of organic fashion, a guy who sailed along and took advantage of whatever fate threw his way. “He’s very ‘just go with it,.” Asbæk said. “He kills a dragon in ‘The Last of the Starks,’ which was so fun, and then in ‘The Bells’ his fleet burns and he doesn’t give a shit. He’s just a survivor. Life goes on — things come and they go.”

"But you also know the biggest twist of Season 8 is Daenerys — the person we’ve been cheering for — ends up destroying so much, and Cersei ends up being pathetic and sad. It turns everything about heroes and villains upside down. And that’s why Game of Thrones is such a magical land, that’s why it’s so beautiful and powerful."

Asbæk offered some final words on how Euron checked out. “Everyone else has a terrible death, or are in a position of, ‘OK, the world has burned down and now I have to rebuild it.’ Euron isn’t. He’s just like, ‘Yay, I killed the Kingslayer! I’m going to go into history.’ I’m the only one with a real happy ending.”


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Whatever makes you happy, crazy. So long, Euron Greyjoy. What is dead may never die.

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