‘Game of Thrones’ actor: Young stars grew up ‘in a bit of a circus’
Joe Dempsie isn’t the star of “Game of Thrones,” but he has the most unique experience of all its actors. Ahead of the final season’s April 14 premiere (9 p.m. on HBO), he sat down with The Post at Con of Thrones, an annual event celebrating the show.
“In hindsight, I’ve had the perfect journey through. To be in something from the start is obviously quite special, but there’s a naiveté to it,” Dempsie (“Skins”) says. “None of us really knew what we were getting ourselves in for. When I left the show at the end of Season 3, it was starting to gain popularity. It felt like event television.”
Dempsie plays Gendry, a blacksmith who’s the bastard son of the late King Robert Baratheon (Mark Addy). He was Arya’s (Maisie Williams) traveling companion in the show’s first three seasons before vanishing in Seasons 4-6 on a much-memed rowing trip. He returned in Season 7 to ally with Jon Snow (Kit Harington) in his fight against the zombie-like White Walkers — which he’ll continue in Season 8.
Gendry’s staggered role gives him a unique perspective on the show that’s become a cultural phenomenon, Dempsie says.
“It was amazing [after Season 3] to take a step back and be able to watch the show become this monster hit that it is now. Every year, you’d see the hysteria surrounding it grow. Then, to get the call back [for the final two seasons] having had that distance [in Seasons 4-6], I think that’s the only time you can really appreciate the size of it.
“I didn’t take a second of it for granted, going back. I’d started to a little, towards the end of Season 2. When you’re in the eye of the storm, it’s hard to see the scale of it all.”
The increase in the frenzy was apparent for his Season 7 return. Dempsie says he was keen to keep it quiet, but, “The first day I filmed a scene on a beach in northern Spain, someone essentially live-streamed it on the other side of the water.”
Thanks to incidents like that, everyone involved in the show has been tight-lipped about the final season’s plot. But Season 7 ended with Jon and allies including Gendry, Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) and Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) heading North to regroup at Winterfell and fight the White Walkers. This means Gendry is positioned to reunite with his old friend Arya for the first time since her pre-assassin days in Season 3.
“It’s been nice seeing her around on set. In terms of whether [we] have scenes together, you’ll have to wait and see,” says Dempsie. “The nice thing about this season is because everyone’s converging, you do get to have scenes with characters you never got to work with before. You’ve seen them in a bar at the end of an evening, but you’ve never gotten to stand opposite a camera from them. Seeing [Peter] Dinklage in the flesh doing his thing is pretty remarkable.”
Dempsie says his fragmented schedule on the show has also allowed him to see how its young stars such as Williams have matured.
“It’s amazing how they’ve dealt with growing up in a bit of a circus. They’re quick of wit, they don’t suffer fools. But they’re lovely people.”
Going into Season 8, Jon, Daenerys and Cersei (Lena Headey) are the monarchs with claims to the Iron Throne. However, since Gendry has Baratheon blood, he could be a dark horse contender. Dempsie plays coy when asked, but he says finishing the final season was emotional.
“There was a real poignancy to it all; a reflective mood on set.”