Liam Cunningham, who plays the loyal and honourable Ser Davos Seaworth on fantasy drama TV series Game of Thrones, speaks exclusively to dna and gives us his take on his character, the ongoing fourth season of the show, and where he thinks it's all headed.
Did you ever imagine Game Of Thrones would become so big?
This is a unique world. It’s an absolute global operation. Most dramas have five or six main characters. Here you’re talking 25 or 29, or whatever it is, people coming in and coming out and they’re full on, fully formed characters, in addition to the hundreds of extras that come in on a regular basis. I mean, this is an expensive production to put on, but it’s required – and most of it is backdrop to the intimate tales of family jealousies and legacy and power and corruption.
I wasn’t the sort of person to be in to epic fantasy, but this is definitely different – I refer to it as this incredibly lavish backdrop to a story about paranoia, legacy, family and jealousy. It’s like the most high quality soap opera you could possibly come across, with all these families coming in and how they’re influencing each other being played out. However, this thing is done with such attention to detail, and such a complexity of characters who aren’t black and white, who are grey. Your sympathy shifts, you understand the bad things that people do because they are, to them, justifiable. It only works with three-dimensional characters and it’s incredibly difficult to write for. But week in, week out the writers deliver.
Has your character affected you as a person or as an actor?
I’ll tell you what’s interesting about it: I have done my fair share of never-do-wells and baddies, and from an acting perspective, they’re a complete joy to play. However, one of the things I love about the show is that perspectives change. You can use Jaime Lannister as kind of a metaphor: throughout season one this guy was despicable and very easy to dislike. Since then we’ve seen his character progress, meet with Brienne, show a spark of humanity, and it’s delightful to watch audiences changing their sympathies and recognising the complexity of it.
How do you think the character development of Davos has been so far?
In Davos’ case, he’s an everyman, almost like an audience member who’s put in the thick of this. He’s a simple guy who has found himself in a nest of vipers, and that’s what I liked about it, because he makes you ask, 'What would I do?' Especially when Stannis is essentially crapping on him because he’s not getting what he wants. I mean, he doesn’t wish any ill on Davos, and he does go to him because his strategic thinking is good. But Davos has this thing of honour and principle about him, which he has got from his humble beginnings. It’s a constant: he’s trying to hang on to those principles in a world where lack of principles gets you further. That’s his dramatic conundrum, really, which is interesting to play.
What do you think season four has in store for Davos?
When we left him he was not a popular man – he’d been jailed and my boss (Stannis Baratheon), to whom my allegiances are oblivious, had just called for my death. But, strangely enough, the red woman, Melisandre, had said, “Let’s keep him alive”. She saved my life. As we’re entering season four, Melisandre has ‘seen’ this threat. She’s realised it won’t be the Lannister threat, the Battle of Blackwater threat, the threat’s going to come from somewhere else – Davos is going to be required. So basically, going into four, what we’re seeing is these boys regrouping and, as the season progresses Melisandre, Stannis and myself are on various missions.
Who is your favorite character and why?
I’m a big fan of Tywin. Charlie Dance is a fantastic actor. I mean, he’s a national treasure in this country and he’s one of those guys that is just eminently watchable. He always brings something sexy and deep and full of gravitas to the role – only a man like him can walk in and have Cersei, Tyrion and Jaime cower like children in front of him. It’s the same with Peter [Dinklage]. Peter’s such a fantastically subtle actor and he has some of the best lines in the show. And then to see the development of somebody like Rory McCann, (The Hound), who’s essentially a thug in season one, and an enforcer – to see the humanity coming out in him is glorious.
'Game of Thrones' Season 4 airs on HBO Defined, at 9.00 pm on Sundays.