Earlier this week, we here at SciFiPulse were sent a press pack, which included a DVD of the first two episodes of Game Of Thrones, and a rather smart looking making-of booklet, which included interviews with most of the key cast members from the new HBO series that will kick off on Sunday and Monday respectively in both the USA and UK.
To give you all a sample of what is to come, here are two interviews with Sean Bean and Mark Addy along with a brief description of their respective characters below.
Playing the role of King Robert Baratheon is Mark Addy, who is perhaps best known for his role in the 90′s movie The Full Monty.
Below is how the press pack describes Addy’s character in the show:
King Robert Baratheon: Having seized the Iron Throne with the help of best friend Ned Stark, King Robert Baratheon has subsequently allowed his waist to expand faster than his kingdom.
More fond of drinking, hunting and whoring than attending to affairs of state, Baratheon orders Stark to run the Seven Kingdoms in his stead.
Outwardly jovial, yet capable of acts of cold-blooded ruthlessness. Baratheon’s failure to deal with the back-biting and treachery in his Court will have dire consequences for the Seven Kingdoms.
The role of King Robert is played by York born actor Mark Addy, and below is the interview featured with him in the press pack, which has been sent out to members of the UK press.
How would you describe King Robert Baratheon?
“Robert is a king who is not happy with the role. He and Ned led a rebellion against the former King, Aerys II. He was a madman who was killing his people on a whim, so he needed to be got rid of. They defeated him and, in the power vacuum, they took over. But it’s not the bed of roses they thought it would be. Uneasy rests the head that wears the crown, because you’re in a dangerous position and there are people out there who would like to have that power.”
Robert has a difficult relationship with his wife, Cersei. Why did he marry her?
“He was advised by Jon Arryn, who was the King’s Hand before Ned, to marry Cersei Lannister because her father had power and this would strengthen the Kingdom. It was a shrewd political move and Robert didn’t quite realise how power-hungry the Lannisters were and what danger he would be placing himself in: not only by having her as Queen but by having her brother as one of the Kingsguard, his close personal bodyguard.”
How doe he deal with this problem?
“I think he realises almost before it’s too late that there’s nobody watching his back, and the only person he can trust is Ned. So he brings him down from his relatively comfortable seat in the North, and into an equal amount of danger in this nest of vipers. Because if they’re going to get rid of the King, they’re going to get rid of Ned as well. So he’s in a tricky predicament, and he’s surrounded by liars and cheats and people who have their own agenda and political ambitions and wants to be sitting where he is. So he’s not a happy King.”
Did you enjoy playing the darker aspects of Robert’s personality?
“Yes. He’s a borderline manic depressive. He’s not facing up to stuff. He’s hiding behind the bottle. He’s a disappointment to himself. All of that is great stuff to play. There are so many facets to Robert that you can tweak the performance like a graphic equaliser and you hit the right balance.”
Lord Eddard Stark: Lord of the northernmost of the Seven Kingdoms and head of house Stark, Eddard ‘Ned’ Stark is an honourable man in a dishonourable time.
Steadfast in his duties, Stark must negotiate a viper’s nest of corruption and back-stabbing when he agrees to be the King’s right-hand man.
A family man, Stark personally dispenses justice in the realm, the only blemish on his honour being Jon Snow, the bastard son he fathered while away at war.
Stark is played by Sean Bean, who is perhaps best known for his role of Sharpe in the hit ITV series of the 1990s and of course Boromir from the first Lord Of The Rings movie. Below is Bean’s interview from the Sky Atlantic Press pack for Thrones.
How does your character fit into Game Of Thrones?
“My character is called Lord Eddard Stark, and he’s Lord of Winterfell, which is this province in the North. There are barriers at the north, south, east and west and he guard’s the northern territory. It has a massive wall about a thousand feet high which keeps out invaders. It’s a big responsibility, but the King is having trouble in the south of the country.
Because Ned Stark is a very honourable and loyal man he reluctantly agrees to go south with his best friend, the King, who he has known since he was a kid, to try to help him with the mess going on there.”
When he gets to the capital, what kind of challenges does Ned face?
“There so much corruption and in-fighting that the King thinks Stark might be the one who helps sort it out, while he goes hunting and whoring. He’s like Henry VIII and Ned is looking after all his responsibilities.
That’s the kind of guy Stark is. He has a big family, he has a good wife and many children too. A lot of the children have to stay up in the North, but he brings a couple of his girls down and has to constantly watch their backs because they are under threat all the time. Everything seems very nice at first but really it’s all a matter of power and that’s the Game Of Thrones.”
Who are Ned’s main enemies?
“His father and brother were killed by the Lannisters, a very powerful family, and their associates, a long time ago. So there is a great deal of antagonism between Stark, Jaime Lannister and Cersei Lannister, who is Jamie’s sister and is married to Ned’s friend King Robert.
There are twists and turns and very complex underlying stories. It has a real edge to it and there are no-holds-barred violent confrontations. It’s very brutal and very sexy, as sex is used as a tool for power by various individuals in the story. So the combination of all those elements make it quite disturbing, but very watchable. It’s real nail-biting-stuff.”
How did you feel about working with HBO?
The fact that HBO is doing it is great. They do quality work and they let you push the envelope and take risks and chances, and that’s what excited me. You can go as far as you want or as the script sees fit. It’s not like doing a medical or detective show or something. It’s the costumes, it’s all the atmosphere around it that has a sort of magical quality that I found really fascinating.
What initially attracted you to working on Game Of Thrones?
“I think when I saw the size of it, the amount of well-respected actors who where all taking part and the costumes, the design and the sets I knew this was something special. I worked on Lord Of The Rings and it had that similar quality of grand style that has a luxurious, luscious, almost decadent feel to it. I knew it was quality stuff and I knew David Benioff (writer/exec producer) from when we did Troy together, and the writing was brilliant. It came off the page so well and it does justice to the book. It looks even better than the book reads.”
Game Of Thrones begins on HBO on Sunday, and will air just one day later in the UK on Sky Atlantic at 9PM.
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By Ian M. Cullen