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Joe Dempsie: Gendry ‘stupid’ for asking Arya that big Game of Thrones question

By Benjamin Bullard
Joe Dempsie as Gendry in Game of Thrones on HBO

In his head, it sounded like a great idea at the time — one of those things where your infectious enthusiasm is supposed to just rub off on everyone and get them on board for whatever hare-brained, adrenaline-fueled scheme you’ve just cooked up. But this is Game of Thrones, and a guy like Gendry should’ve known better.

Gendry actor Joe Dempsie said even his character probably knew that he was wading into the deep end of the bad-idea pool when he blurted out just such an elevator pitch to Arya Stark in this week’s “The Last of the Starks” episode. And with the world falling apart as everyone gets their game face on for the coming conflict with Cersei, he says it’s definitely for the best that Arya reacted as she did.

**SPOILER WARNING: Spoilers for this week’s “The Last of the Starks” episode of Game of Thrones appear below.**

If there were a Las Vegas for Game of Thrones couples to elope to, that’s exactly where Gendry probably would have headed with Arya this week, when a crazy wave of alternate-reality optimism swept over him just long enough to get down on bended knee and pop the big question.

Drunk on the thrill of their recent sexual icebreaker, as well as the post-victory ennui of the Battle of Winterfell (thanks, Arya!), Gendry’s composure took a definite day off when he threw common sense to the wolves by asking a girl for her hand in marriage. For Dempsie, getting slapped back into reality by Arya’s unequivocal denial was the only right reaction.

“Gendry just got a bit excited, didn’t he?” he joked recently to Esquire. “He’d just been made a lord — he’d known for a while now where he’s come from [as the bastard son of Robert Baratheon], but the recognition of that by someone in authority has given him an ability to find a place in the world that I think he’s been searching for his entire life. And he just got a bit gassed and asked someone to marry him. And she quite rightly told him where to go. What a stupid question! I think he knows deep down in his heart of hearts there is no way Arya will ever be anyone’s lady.”

He's definitely got a point. Does this look like a woman who's ready to settle down to you?

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Despite Gendry’s extended absence following Season 3, Dempsie and Maisie Williams have enjoyed one of the show’s longest-running working relationships over the years. So when Gendry and Arya finally had a night of passion together earlier this season — cementing a would-be romance that some fans have been clamoring for ever since the pair first escaped King’s Landing — it relieved Dempsie from a fan expectation that, in years past, posed an obvious ethical problem.

“I always found that conversation quite uncomfortable at the time, particularly in the early years. I was a 25-year-old man being asked whether I would like my character to get together with an at-the-time 14-year-old actress … It was strange for me having known [Williams] since she was 11 or 12 years old and being asked to play out a scene like that,” he explained, adding that he relates to those GoT fans who felt uncomfortable watching Gendry’s intimate moment with a character they’ve seen “grow up on screen.”

Just this season, both Gendry and Arya have grown almost as much as in all the previous years, through all the imprisonment, the hunger, and the leeches (ouch). We’re just hoping to catch one more glimpse of Hot Pie, their kitchen-loving, early-days GoT cellmate, somewhere in the final two episodes. Season 8 of Game of Thrones takes one more fateful step toward the finish line this Sunday at HBO.