Alfie Allen might just be the most underrated actor on Game of Thrones. His character, Theon Greyjoy, had an arc that would put Jaime Lannister’s to shame. Theon was taken from his father at a very young age and raised by Ned Stark as his ward to prevent any further uprisings from the Iron Islands. He became a brother to the Stark children and even sat on Robb Stark’s war council before betraying him and sacking Winterfell at the behest of his father, Balon Geyjoy. After that, Theon was mercilessly tortured by Ramsay Bolton before deciding to help Sansa Stark escape Ramsay’s clutches at the end of season 5.
Theon then returned home to confront his sister and became her most trusted advisor. With him at her side, Yara was able to forge an alliance with Daenerys Targaryen, but when Euron Greyjoy smashed their fleet at sea and held Yara by the throat, Theon, suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, jumped into the water, leaving his sister with their evil uncle.
Soon after, Theon — along with the Ironborn whose loyalty he’d won — rescued Yara, then returned to Winterfell to help defeat the army of the dead. In the end, Theon made the ultimate sacrifice and died defending Bran Stark, which may have given Arya just enough time to sneak past the White Walkers and stab the Night King before he could kill Bran.
While speaking with Thrillist about his new movie, Allen reflected back on the rollercoaster that was Theon’s storyline. “At first it was great, it was brilliant,” he said. “And then my character started to get tortured. So it got a little little bit dark.”
Yes, being tied to a cross and having parts of you removed bit by bit definitely qualifies as “dark.” Allen says he listened to Elbow’s “The Loneliness of a Tower Crane Driver” to help him get through those scenes, as just being Theon in general. “I just thought that kind of encapsulated Theon’s position, being alone in this world and also being at the behest of this huge machine but not really knowing what to do with it,” he said. “Also just looking at things from a bird’s eye point of view, just down on low and everyone being out of reach but seemingly within reach.”
In his newest film — director Taika Waititi’s WWII satire Jojo Rabbit — Allen plays Finkel, the bumbling idiot second in command to Sam Rockwell’s Nazi Captain Klenzendorf, who runs a Hitler Youth camp. Allen says Waititi’s direction meant he and his co-stars improvised a bit, which is something he couldn’t do on Game of Thrones.
"No disrespect to HBO or any of the directors I worked with — after a while because it’s such a juggernaut of a show, you owe more to the words that they write than the kind of character that you think that you’ve created yourself. You kind of have play this game of respecting what they’re doing, but also respecting what you need to bring to it as well."
Not long ago, Allen was up for an Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series, alongside his Game of Thrones co-stars Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Jaime Lannister), and Peter Dinklage (Tyrion Lannister, who actually won it). Allen actually submitted himself for consideration, something he did with only 10 minutes to spare before the cutoff.
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – SEPTEMBER 22: Alfie Allen attends the 71st Emmy Awards at Microsoft Theater on September 22, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
“Way back when we started doing Thrones, I’m not going to try and pretend I’m totally naive to the Emmys, but I thought about it,” he said. “I was like, wow, maybe one day I’ll be up there but it disappeared. That dream disappeared a long time ago.”
While he was shopping, Allen learned — in a text from his agent — that he got the nomination, and it gave him quite a shock. “I just sat down on the pavement,” he said. “I went inside and talked to the lady who had just been serving me and we just had a glass of champagne together. It was great.”
As far as staying in touch with his former Game of Thrones cast members is concerned, Allen says they all still keep in contact. “I’m sad that I don’t get to spend as much time with all the people,” he said. “That is something that I really, really, really am going to miss. But we all keep in contact, we’ve got a WhatsApp group going.”
"We all kind of went through those muddy fields and gas heated lamps just huddling around them. We’ll always share those experience together, but in terms of missing doing Thrones, I think I’m happy that it’s over."
Thanks to Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, we know Allen posts original songs in the group chat. Oh, to be a digital fly on the wall.