Interview: Liam Cunningham and Richard Dormer look back on 'GoT' experience

Reta Lee
Editor-in-Chief, Lifestyle
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 12: Actors Liam Cunningham (L) and Richard Dormer attend the Premiere of HBO's "Game Of Thrones" Season 7 after party at Walt Disney Concert Hall on July 12, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images)

SINGAPORE — When it comes to ‘Game of Thrones’, some of the principles on the show that transcend the fantasy are unwavering loyalty, politics and camaraderie between some of the characters, including Ser Davos (played by Liam Cunningham) and Beric Dondarrion (Richard Dormer). Given that they are both loyal to the Stark family and Jon Snow (played by Kit Harrington), and their promise to take down the Night King, it is an imperative life lesson to watch and learn.


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To recap: (SPOILERS ALERT) As a smuggler who was then knighted by Stannis Baratheon (played by Stephen Dillane), Ser Davos is loyal to his Lord because of the opportunities presented to him, even though they may not see eye-to-eye.

Beric is part of the Brotherhood Without Banners, an outlaw group originally formed by Ned Stark (played by Sean Bean) to bring justice to Ser Gregor Clegane after he starts to ravage The Riverlands. Ultimately, six-times-resurrected soldier Beric joined Jon in his quest to take down the Night King, and was met with a dramatic ending.

When Yahoo Lifestyle Singapore met with Liam and Richard in London, the two actors heaved a deep sigh over the end of the series, and how there was an incredible sense of pride from everyone working on the show.

Kit Harrington as Jon Snow. (PHOTO: HBO)

Your character is loyal to Jon Snow in many ways. Can you tell us what the principle of loyalty is, to your character?

Liam: I think loyalty is a set of principles; I don’t think he ever sat down in the evening and go, ‘Well, I’m going to be loyal (to Jon Snow).’ He was once loyal to Stannis (Baratheon), who then put him in jail and threatened to kill him. When he eventually ended up with Jon, he was still the same guy. It was a good teaming, and it has been a great joy. He’s kind of a decent man, in a nest of snakes.

There are so many characters on the show who are arrogant, greedy and power hungry but Ser Davos is the kind of guy who would put his hands up and go, ‘How can you do that?’ I wish I was as brave as he is. Unfortunately I’m not one of them. Bad things happen to good people on our show. People in the show get killed when you least expect; I got blown off in the Battle of the Bastards episode and when I was going to be killed, the Red Woman saved me. So he's been on the edge of death a couple of occasions and made it through till now.

The series is coming to an end. What do you feel about it?

Richard: Well, all good things come to an end. That's how life is and the only thing is, we're not going to be doing this again; all the actors, we're not going to be able to get together again and have a laugh.

Liam: It was incredible; we were like a family and I've never come across it as a job. Everybody was so precious about their responsibility, whether it was the costume designer, or perhaps a production designer, whoever it may be.There was an incredible sense of pride. I remember looking at Kit one day, and we kept saying this is the last day on set; there were lots of ‘lasts’ which was very, very weird. It was like, the last day was coming at you, and you’re looking at the front of a train and it was unavoidable. There were tears from everybody and we were aware that it was unique and we will never ever be able to do something like this again.

Liam Cunningham. (PHOTO: Helen Sloan/HBO)

Is there a character you don’t necessarily interact with but are a fan of?

Richard: I suppose it is Peter (Dinklage)’s character (Tyrion Lannister) because he’s just brilliant, resourceful, determined, funny and he’s a survivor.

Liam: I have a soft spot for Tywin Lannister (played by Charles Dance). The first time we ever met him was in a tent with Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, who is an arrogant pup (pauses) don’t quote me on that. Charles was skinning a deer in Season One and from an acting point of view, I’m not going to discard that... that’s not easy. That’s the first time he said, “The Lannisters always pay their debts’ and Charles was a f*ng joy to watch.

This has been the most popular series of all time. What effect do you think it has on the film industry as a whole?

Liam: It embarrasses them and it should too. The long-form storytelling that we have, season after season, people really love it as you can see the transition. Like, going back to Nikolaj’s character Jamie, who was in the beginning a d**khead and self-serving, but when we watch his scenes with Brienne of Tarth (played by Gwendoline Christie) and a speck of humanity shines through. After hating him for an entire season, maybe you’ll go, ‘hmm that was a bit hasty’.

The Jamie we saw in the last season compared to the Jamie in the first season; that’s a different character because of the journeys they went through. You don’t really get that opportunity in a film, within two hours to tell a story. I think people are turning away from a superhero story and how loud you can make an explosion; it’s just a rehash of old stuff.

Did you bring home any souvenirs from the show?

Richard: Lots of them.

Liam: I’ve got a full-sized Dothraki sword.

Richard: I’ve got an eye patch.

Richard Dormer. (PHOTO: Helen Sloan/HBO)

Was it hard to play a character that gets killed and resurrected over and over again?

Richard: The character is actually very young, so they cast me because the idea is that, if you know you die six times, the hard part was being engaging as a performer. He’s literally half a man, and all his memories are disappearing. He has Thoros of Myr (played by Dennis Pennis) and he has to kill Gregor Clegane, the Mountain (played by Conan Stevens in Season One; Ian Whyte in Season Two; Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson in Season Four onwards). It was very difficult to play that kind of character who can basically cannot show that much emotion or feelings, or you know he doesn't remember much.

Do you have a favourite scene?

Liam: One of my favorite things was in Season One, which was this wonderful scene with Lena Headey (who played Cersei) and Mark Addy (who played King Robert Baratheon), where they discussed page after page the state of their marriage. You just kinda go, ‘f*k me, this is not your normal drama here.’ And Lena turns to Mark and goes, ‘Did we ever like each other?’ and he replied, ‘You know, it was a marriage of convenience.’ This is grown-up stuff, and it got my attention.

What’s the most challenging scene for you?

Liam: The Battle of the Bastards was the hardest and most challenging scene. It was a f**king pain in the ass; look, the worst time you’re having is the best it looks on screen. It’s like some ironic joke from God; I remember it was fairly difficult with a lot of people on set, a lot of repetition, and a lot of camera angles. It’s like a love scene, when you have a camera and ten people in the room, with a microphone up your nose and you’re trying to look sexy. They look wonderful and romantic sometimes, but at the same time, it’s a dance. It’s very choreographed and it’s not the same with sitting down with a script or a dialogue between two big characters.

New episodes of the eighth and final season of GAME OF THRONES premiere same time as the U.S. every Monday at 9am exclusively on HBO GO and HBO, with a same day encore at 10pm on HBO.

This story is the result of a trip that was sponsored by HBO Asia.

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