The final season of HBO's fantasy hit Game of Thrones is quite a ways away, but at least all of the epic action and bloody betrayals of Season 7 are coming to Blu-ray just in time for the holiday season. What better way to celebrate the holidays than by watching other families fight to the death?
WARNING: Spoilers for Game of Thrones Seasons 5, 6, and 7 will be coming. If you're not caught up (get on that) then read no further!
To celebrate Season 7's release, SYFY WIRE recently caught up with actor Jacob Anderson. Audiences know him as Grey Worm, the leader of Daenerys' Unsullied Army, who entered the show in Season 3.
He was not allowed to discuss the approaching season at all, and in fact is forbidden from even confirming whether or not he is actually in the final season. There was more than enough to discuss, however, so that didn't matter. Speaking in a smooth British accent (a bit of a change from High Valyrian), Anderson talked about who he would put on the Iron Throne, whether he engages with fan theories, other franchises he geeks out about, and everything in between.
Were you a fan of the show before you were cast?
Jacob Anderson: I was, yeah, a few of my friends were in the show, Joe Dempsie (Gendry) and Hannah Murray (Gilly). Joe was in it back in 2009? 2008? Whenever the show started, and yeah, I loved it.
And he (Gendry) finally got off that rowboat, so that was good.
Haha yeah, what was it, "still rowing"? The hashtag, I loved that.
Had you read the books beforehand, or were you much of a fantasy fan in general?
No, I still haven't read the books. I'm kind of… I'm a sci-fi fan, and I like horror, I'm a genre fan… but fantasy's not really ever something I've gotten into. At first, it was sort of a thing that put me off the show a little bit. I hadn't watched Lord of the Rings, I'm gonna get so much flack for this, but I hadn't watched Lord of the Rings when I started watching Game of Thrones.
I thought, my understanding was that it was an adult Lord of the Rings, and I feel now like that really couldn't be further from the truth. And yeah, so when I watched the show I was really surprised by everything else, aside from the kind of fantasy elements. So I really loved the show, and I never thought in a million years that I would have been a part of it.
How did that come to be, your casting on the show?
I mean, I wish I had a really good story for it, but it was as simple as I just auditioned for it. I guess maybe the most interesting thing about auditioning for the show is that I didn't know that I was going to be speaking a different language. So I auditioned in my own voice, and then it wasn't until I got the part, and maybe two months before we started shooting, that they were like, "oh by the way, your character doesn't speak English, doesn't speak the common tongue, so good luck!" (laughs)
With a show like this there must be the constant fear that with every episode you might get the call that you're gonna die, are you surprised that you've survived this long?
I'm really surprised that I survived last season. I think every time Grey Worm kind of finds himself in a tight spot, I've always thought "well, that's it, then." I remember in Season 5, when the Unsullied are fighting the Harpies, I got called in for a prosthetics meeting, and I was told when I first started the show that if you get called in for a prosthetics meeting, that means that your time is up. Actually it was just for the stab, but I got a feeling, I didn't get sent… we got sent scripts in two sort of separate pieces that year, and I'm pretty sure that was episode 4 or 5, and we didn't get the other five episodes after it. So I didn't know…that was the end of the episode, so I didn't know if I survived or not.
On an episode to episode basis, what you find out is limited?
Well it certainly was that year. And even last year with Casterly Rock, getting caught in Casterly Rock, I thought that was it.
Yeah, how did you guys get out of there?
(laughs) We had to walk back! The thing is, it's not that they're stuck, it's just that it's a three-week walk back to civilization. But I just thought, I'm gonna be the first Game of Thrones character to die from starvation. If we had known, maybe we would've packed some tins of fruit or something.
If any group on the show could make that I'm sure it's you guys.
I'd like to think so.
Have you bonded with the rest of the Unsullied? Is it always the same guys who are with you in those scenes?
It's not always the same guys, so I've never really had a chance to properly get to know people, but they're all really nice. There's a guy called Karl Jackson, who plays kind of my second in command, I think it was Season 4, and we became really good friends, so that's good. And last year, my stunt double Louis was one of the two Unsullied who come with me to Casterly Rock, so it was nice to hang out with Louis.
How rigorous is the training to develop the unique fighting style that the Unsullied have?
I loved it. I really, really enjoy it. It's enjoyable. I like as well that I can get away with, cause Unsullied are sort of, they're not particularly emotional in their fighting style, they're quite sort of robotic and methodical. It was quite good for me because it's not like sort of fluid, I actually find that a bit easier to be a bit more blocky and robotic about it. I loved it, it's difficult, and it takes a long time. That's why the fight in Casterly Rock, it took quite a lot of preparation. It was a lot of stunt rehearsals to get that, to get that right. The thing is, I always feel jealous because everybody else gets swords, and a spear is not great in a confined space. It's not very easy to swing that around your head in a small space. So as soon as they said you're gonna go up some stairs, and then down a corridor, I was like, ah… great.
One of the best parts of the last couple of seasons has been Grey Worm's relationship with Missandei (Nathalie Emmanuel), and it's the kind of relationship not normally seen on television. How has seeing the very positive response to it been for you?
It's really nice that the response has been so positive, because I think as well that the thing with that relationship is it's not about power. There's no sort of game in their relationship. They're falling in love with each other and that's kind of it for their story. So it's really nice that that plot that doesn't really forward the overall "game" I guess — that people have the patience for that and that people buy into it is really cool. I think they have a really lovely relationship, it's not really like any other relationship in the show. They don't get anything out of it except each other, which is rare in the world of manipulation and "sex is power." You know?
Do you or anyone else on set pay attention to fan theories?
I don't tend to look at them. Because I just look forward to finding out what's gonna happen, I tend to avoid them for our show. But I can be a little bit like that with other things sometimes, like I'll want to know what the rumors are about the next Star Wars film, I'm a geek about lots of things aside from our show, but because I'm part of it, I'm just excited to find out straight… is it the horse's mouth? Is that the term?
Yeah, I don't know if I just mixed my metaphor. But yeah, I don't tend to pay too much attention. I know that Liam Cunningham (Davos Seaworth), he likes to theorize on what's going to happen. He's very like, engaged with the sort-of online side of the show.
You mentioned Star Wars, which brings us back to something you said earlier about being more of a sci-fi fan — are there any other franchises you're into aside from that?
I'm a big comic book fan, so I'm a complete sucker for the MCU as well. I'm more of an original trilogy Star Wars fan. As a kid, growing up, as far as I was concerned I was Luke Skywalker. Any sort of small victory or any adversity I would come up against at school I was like, "How would Luke Skywalker deal with this?" Everybody was the Empire, anybody who bullied me at school was the Empire. So I watch films and TV almost like as a hobby, not even as a hobby, it's bordering on careerist. It would be easier to tell you what I'm not into than what I am.
Since you mentioned comics, is there a particular character who is your favorite?
My favorite book, my favorite graphic novel is Omega the Unknown. It was a Marvel character I think from the '70s or the '80s, and he was rebooted in the mid-2000s, and they made this really weird comic book with the most beautiful art, so that's really my favorite comic book… but I'm a sucker for Spider-Man. Again, Peter Parker, in the same way Luke Skywalker was me, if it wasn't Luke Skywalker it was Peter Parker.
I don't know how you follow up something like Game of Thrones, but what might the future hold for you?
It's all kind of up in the air at the moment. I'm excited to see what's being made, I don't know, it's a really hard thing to think about at this point. I guess we'll see, I just want to do things that are really fun, and I get to live out those childhood fantasies, in the way that I very much do being Grey Worm, I get to learn these really complex fight scenes and fight sequences, I'd love to do more stuff like that. I want to wear funny costumes and pretend to be heroic, I would love to do that. Maybe I'm slyly trying to hint that if anybody wants to cast me in a comic book movie, I'm down. I'm ready.
If you had to choose any character on the show to put on the Iron Throne, who would you choose?
That's hard. I mean, my favorite character is Brienne of Tarth. I don't know how good she'd be on the throne, I don't think she's power-ambitious, but I feel like I would trust her with my life and with society at large. I'm gonna say Brienne.
Which actor from the show?
I would say Emilia Clarke. Not only is she one of the most professional human beings I've ever met, she is just really kind and reasonable, and I think she would make a wonderful queen... Oh, one more thing! You asked me about comic books, can I shout out Paper Girls, because I think it's amazing. So yeah, Paper Girls by Brian K. Vaughan. They're my current heroes.
Game of Thrones Season 7 is available on Blu-ray on December 12 and is available on digital platforms now.