We talk to Richard Madden, Kit Harington, Natalie Dormer, Joe Dempsie, Rose Leslie, Gwendoline Christie and Sophie Turner about the Bafta Radio Times Audience Award nominee

Born in Renfrewshire

Who do you play in Game of Thrones?
I’m Robb Stark, King of the North and Lord of Winterfell, who at the end of the last series was betrayed by his closest friend and lost his castle.

Has life changed since you joined the show?
When I got the part I went into full-blown horse training – Robb has grown up with horses, so I started going riding four times a week. I couldn’t walk properly for three months. But now I’m really confident on the horse.

How are you with CGI wolves?
Much better than I am with real ones!

Last year you appeared at the world’s biggest fantasy and sci-fi convention, Comic-Con in San Diego. How was that?
We shoot in the middle of nowhere in Ireland and you forget that there are fans all over the world. There were thousands of people when I arrived, chanting “King of the North!”, which was just crazy.

Born in Berkshire

Who do you play?
I play Margaery Tyrell, an ambitious young lady with aspirations to be as grand as the Queen. I don’t find her malevolent, or nastily crafty, but it’s quite hard to tell where her sincerity stops and Machiavellian intent starts.

In season two she suggested a threesome with her husband and brother…
She’s a pragmatist. She wasn’t offering a threesome for sexually perverse reasons. She knew she needed to get pregnant and was trying to entice her sexually confused husband into bed.

Can you relate to Margaery?
In the new series, Margaery is taken under the wing of her grandmother, Olenna, the Queen of Thorns, played by Diana Rigg. She teaches her how to be a strong Tyrell woman, who knows her mind and can play the political game at its darkest and most deadly. The parallel for me, as a young actress, is working with someone like Diana Rigg, who has been doing phenomenal work for decades, whether in Medea on stage or The Avengers on TV. I feel I have also been taken under her wing every time she says, “Oh darling, I’ve been there and got the T-shirt, let me tell you a few stories…”

Why did you sign up for Game of Thrones?
Playing an ambitious young woman whose family push her to be a queen had echoes of past choices I’ve made, and I was worried Margaery was too similar to Anne Boleyn, whom I played in The Tudors. But joining the GoT cast was a no-brainer. The first series was such a phenomenon – so brave in its writing and bold in its production values.

Born in London

Who do you play?
In the GoT world, I’m Jon Snow, the illegitimate son of Ned Stark. And in that world, if you’re a bastard child you’re normally treated as if you’re nothing. But he’s been brought up quite well by his father and he’s a good person, which is unusual.

Has life changed since you joined Game of Thrones?
It is a physically demanding role, so I have to keep really fit. When I have a couple of months off I’ll use that time to go to the gym, although, just before filming began this season, I broke my ankle climbing up through my bedroom window trying to get my keys. Yes, I was drunk.

Who’s your favourite GoT character?
Tyrion Lannister, played by Peter Dinklage. He’s the only person who talks sense. Everyone is completely nuts – nuts for power, or just insane. And he’s an outsider, like Jon Snow.

The show doesn’t shy away from graphic scenes of violence and sex…
You’ll turn up on set and they’ll say, “Right, you can just gut this chicken.” It’s very real – if there are dead rabbits hanging in the background, you can guarantee those aren’t fake rabbits. That realism is also why people respond to it – if you do fantasy cheaply, it doesn’t work.

Born in Liverpool

Who do you play?
Gendry, a blacksmith in the royal armoury at King’s Landing. To his knowledge he’s an orphan, and he has no idea who his parents were, but then he’s visited by Ned Stark and asked about his parentage and later realises there’s a bounty on his head… but he has no idea why.

Did your role in Skins help you get your part in GoT?
Gendry was the fourth GoT part I auditioned for, so probably not! I think half of London went for the part of Jon Snow. Then I went for both Pyp and Grenn.

Who’s your favourite GoT character?
I didn’t audition for Joffrey, the sadistic tyrant, but that’s the part I’d love to play. I’ve still never met Jack Gleeson, who plays him – the cast is just so vast. You know how in London you’re never more than ten feet from a rat? Soon you’ll never be more than 50 feet from someone in Game of Thrones!

Born in Aberdeenshire

Who do you play?
Ygritte, a wildling living north of the Wall, who was introduced in season two. Jon Snow and his men jump her and her friends. Everybody is slaughtered, but Jon Snow realises he can’t kill a woman, and she exploits that hesitation.

Why do the wildlings have northern English accents?
The wildlings are ruthless killers and a clipped English accent wouldn’t work. It was the same accent I did in Downton Abbey [as housemaid Gwen], which made it easier to get to grips with.

You may be the only cast member who grew up in a castle – Lickleyhead in Aberdeenshire. Does your family have a motto?
We do: “Grip fast”. It means hold on for dear life! It relates to staying strong through any situation.

What do your parents – Sebastian Arbuthnot-Leslie, a chieftain of Clan Leslie, and your mother Candida – make of the show?
They’re a little bit sceptical about season three – there’s a cave scene coming up in which Jon Snow and I have… intimate relations.

Born in Sussex

Who do you play?
Brienne of Tarth, a female knight – well, she wants to be a knight! She is the greatest swordswoman in the land. None of the blokes can hold a candle to her. She’s a woman in a man’s world, amplifying her masculine attributes in order to survive.

Can you relate to Brienne?
To be involved in something that is genuinely challenging gender stereotyping is what I’ve always wanted. I don’t have to worry about whether I look attractive. Brienne looks like a bag of dung – that’s the character and that’s fine – so I can focus on other things.

Has life changed since you joined GoT?
People used to come up to me and say: “Excuse me, how tall are you?” [She’s 6ft 3in]. Now they say: “Excuse me, are you in Game of Thrones?” And that is delightful. I can die happy.

Born in Northampton

Who do you play?
Sansa Stark, who started off as a naive little girl who believed in a fairy-tale world. Then she gets betrothed to Joffrey, and everything goes downhill. She’s a pretty depressing character to play!

Why did you sign up for Game of Thrones?
I’d love to say it was the writing, but I was 13 and was just super-excited to get an audition!

Do your classmates treat you differently now?
You quickly learn who your friends are. Luckily I’ve been friends with mine since I was four, so they just think of me as weirdo Sophie.

Do your friends watch GoT?
My teachers do. Which is kind of bizarre. They’re like, “Last night’s episode was fun!” And I’m like, “Can we just get on with maths.”

Interviews From 2013

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