SPOILER ALERT: Do not keep reading if you have not seen “Stormborn,” season seven, episode two of “Game of Thrones.”
“Stormborn” — Sunday night’s episode of “Game of Thrones” — was a dark moment of triumph for Euron Greyjoy. His enemies are dead, scattered, or taken as prisoners. Their ships are burned. The crazy-eyed madman who showed up last season and took the Salt Throne appears poised to deliver on his promise to bring a unique gift to Queen Cersei Lannister as a token of his affection. Not bad for a “sociopath,” as the actor who created Euron calls him.
Speaking to Variety, that actor, Pilou Asbæk, discussed filming the climactic battle of Season 7’s second episode, Euron’s future, and whether comparisons of the character to President Donald Trump are apt.
Euron seems to have a little more swagger than he did last season. Are you playing him differently?
No, I’m actually doing what I did in [Season] 6 as well. I’ve always considered him to be a chameleon. He was very different on the bridge than he was in the throne room, than he was at the Kingsmoot. To me he’s one of those sociopaths that can transform. He adapts to the environment that he’s in. He’s a survivor. You can say there’s been an update in the costume department.
Yes, he definitely has better threads.
I had a long discussion with Michele [Clapton, costume designer] and Dan and David [Weiss and Benioff, showrunners] before we started the season. I said, “Guys, we’ve established Euron. Now let’s show a guy who doesn’t give a s—. Let’s just show a guy who walk in and goes, ‘F— all of you. I want the power. And none of you can do anything about it, because I am the best.'” I wanted to be Conor McGregor — before he lost.
When he walks into the throne room, he carries himself like a guy who just got a new suit.
You know, the suit makes people.
What was it like shooting the naval battle for “Stormborn”?
I was living out one of those childhood dreams. You’re on a boat in Belfast in the middle of the night with an incredible stunt department and some great actors in Alfie [Allen, Theon Greyjoy] and Gemma [Whelan, Yara Greyjoy]. If you’ve seen what I’ve done in Danish cinema, it’s always very tough social-realism stories. And I’ve loved doing them. And now I’m like a kid in a candy store. “How many people am I going to kill today? 25? For real? Okay, cool, let’s get it on.” It’s fun, and I might as well have fun while doing it. I’m completely free in Euron. I don’t feel any restrictions. With Euron, it’s like “Let’s do more crazy eyes, more manic, more violent, and fierce.” Until the day that Dan and David kill me.
With all the violence in the show, Euron seems to enjoy it more than almost any character and seems to not care whether he dies.
He knows his time is spare. He knows he’s going to die at one point. And if you ask me, it’s probably going to be spectacular. I hope so. But right now, he’s in for a ride.
What does he have against Theon and Yara? He didn’t even know them before he showed up on Pyke. What did they ever do to him?
That’s a good question, man. I’ve done this two years and I haven’t even thought about the motivation for the character. Why does he want to kill them? I just do what the script tells me to do, bro. But, of course, in the Kingsmoot, she stood against him. His motivation has always been power. He was humiliated by his brother in the books. He was sent off and silenced. He was considered the black sheep of his family and now he wants to redeem himself.
Yara knew that Euron had a fleet of his own. Should she have been on deck looking out for that fleet instead of downstairs making out with Ellaria Sand?
Have you ever kissed a woman?
Once or twice.
Exactly. Why the f— would you want to be on a cold deck where it’s probably raining, when you can sit with a hot chick below deck and kiss her? I think it answers itself. I know there’s been a little bit of discussion about if they should have been more aware. But the flaws that we have as human beings are the flaws that make a story interesting. If we were 100% correct, we wouldn’t have movies. People have complained that it’s not realistic. Seriously, guys, we have dragons. But I love the discussions, because they’re among the fans. When people discuss things, it’s because they care.
Is it hard to do this work then watch people dissect it on a week-by-week basis?
That’s the premise of our jobs, and I would rather have that than to be forgotten. If you have seen “Highlander” — and I bet you have, I bet you’ve seen it a number of times — there’s a line that is the essence of “Game of Thrones”: “It’s better to burn out than to fade away.” Whenever Dan and David have a decision whether we should go small or we should go f—ing big, every single time they say, “Let’s go even bigger.” Even Daft Punk wrote a number about it, “Harder Better Faster.”
Euron has been compared to Donald Trump. Does the comparison work?
One is a fictional world and one is the real world. Again and again the real world surprises more and terrifies more than the fictional world. To compare Euron Greyjoy to the American president, it’s tough. I did it once in a tweet a year ago. It was a tweet I did for fun. But now the world has changed a lot. I’m not a wise man on the American political situation. I just hope the American people are happy. So I’m not going to compare Euron to Donald Trump. I’m just going to wish you guys luck.
So what’s next for Euron?
World domination, man. He’s going to start a collaboration with Russia — no, I’m sorry. That was inappropriate. What is left for Euron? To enjoy life. Let’s see what kind of gift he brings home to Cersei. And let’s see what her answer is.