Did the Game of Thrones showrunners rush through the final season to make Star Wars movies. Joe Dempsie (Gendry) rightly calls the suggestion “bonkers.”
Joe Dempsie was on Game of Thrones for five of its eight seasons, skipping a few in the middle. He played Gendry, a royal bastard turned blacksmith turned warrior turned great lord of Westeros. He packed a lot of story into his fitful appearances, including a one-night stand with Arya Stark (Maisie Williams), with whom he had “we might be about to die sex” right before the final battle against the White Walkers.
For some fans, that scene was a long time coming. Dempsie knew that, and it didn’t always sit well with him. “It was an odd transition purely because I’d seen Maisie grow up,” he told Independent. “I’d met her when she was a child and, during the course of the first three seasons, it was something I was asked regularly because [George RR Martin’s] books suggest there’s a possible romance. It always made me slightly uncomfortable.”
"I know we were recreating fantasy, but we as actors have to make it very much in reality, and they were asking me to comment on whether I – at the time, a 25-year-old man – would like my character to hook up with a 14-year-old. I always avoided answering the questions. But it was something I then had to think about."
By the time the sex scene actually happened, Arya was 18 and Williams 22, and filming it was “absolutely fine,” according to Dempsie. “When we were doing season 8, Maisie was a grown woman. Also, putting that initial discomfort to the side, I didn’t wanna patronize her. She’s an incredibly capable young woman who commanded the respect of that set, so to play up about doing the scene would have been doing her a massive disservice.”
It was a good scene, although it might have gone to Gendry’s head a bit. Not long after, he proposed to Arya and she turned him down. “It never would have worked,” Dempsie said, reasoning that while Gendry was ready to settle down Arya was gearing up to go see the world. “[A]s wounded as he might have been in the aftermath, as soon as Gendry has time to sit down and think properly about it and rationalize everything, it’ll be pretty clear to him that probably the very reason he loved Arya was the exact reason she could never be with him.”
Dempsie also weighed in on the final season more generally, which suffered a massive blowback from fans who thought it rushed towards the finish line, ignoring the character moments that made the bigger scenes meaningful. Dempsie liked the message of the final season overall — “the human race can put their differences aside to defeat a common enemy” — but can see where those critics are coming from. “Watching it back, I think they could have maybe taken a little more time.”
That said, he defended showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss against accusations that they were rushing through the final season so they could start making Star Wars movies, a gig that eventually fell through, calling the suggestion “bonkers.”
I fully agree with that, for the record. Like a lot of fans, I have big problems with the final season, but watching it, it’s also clearly the most effortful of any year of the show, and no one put in more effort than the showrunners. I just don’t think that energy was always spent on the right things…
You can currently see Dempsie in Adult Material, a drama about the adult film industry, on Channel 4 in the UK.