SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you have not watched “The Dragon and the Wolf,” the Aug. 27 episode of “Game of Thrones.”
With the sad exit of Diana Rigg’s Olenna Tyrell from “Game of Thrones,” Liam Cunningham’s Davos Seaworth has emerged in Season 7 as the unlikely and rightful heir to the show’s Iron Throne of one-liners. (“I’ve noticed you staring at her good heart.”) And he survived Sunday night’s finale to carry that mantle into Season 8. Cunningham spoke with Variety about Davos’ longevity, Targaryen-on-Targaryen lovemaking, and how Donald Trump’s election informed a critical scene in the Season 7 finale.
Congratulations on outliving Littlefinger.
Thank you very much! I’m delighted. I came in obviously at the beginning of Season 2. Seeing the quality of the show from Season 1, as an actor I just really, really wanted to get to the final season. Of course, typical selfish actor, now I’ve got to the final season and I want to get to the final episode. But that remains to be seen.
Are you surprised that Davos has made it this far?
I’m surprised that anybody made it this far — especially when you think that the rules were changed essentially at the end of Season 1 when Ned Stark died and people looked at the TV and said, “There’s something wrong here. These people are not playing by the rules.” As we’ve gone on, nobody’s safe. You’re watching Daenerys, you’re watching Jon Snow, you’re watching Cersei. Anybody could go at any stage. That’s one of the glorious things about the show. It can put us on the edge of our seats because nobody is safe.
What is Davos thinking as Jon tells Cersei that he can’t serve two queens?
He’s slightly torn. If you listen very carefully, you can hear Davos in the background saying, “I wish he hadn’t said that.” He didn’t say it as in, “You shouldn’t have said that.” In a different scenario, he would have been happy for him to say it. He had to say it. That’s Jon Snow’s character. And Davos would have said exactly the same thing. I think that’s one of the things that has brought these two people together is the fact that they’re both straight shooters. That speech that Jon Snow gave about the nature of lies and what’s been said, and what happens if we don’t stick to our word — we filmed that on exactly the day that a certain POTUS was elected and it had incredible resonance while we were filming it.
So the Trump election had just happened?
The results had just been announced the morning we filmed that particular scene — that particular day of that scene with Mr. Kit Harington. We may have been rehearsing that scene. But that was the first time that Kit Harington had said those words on that platform in that scene. So it had a certain resonance, I’m sure you’ll understand.
Was the election something you all were discussing on set?
Was there a person on the planet not discussing that election?
Is Davos better equipped to advise Jon than he was to advise Stannis?
One of the reasons that Davos seems to have become sort of a fan favorite is because he’s a straight shooter. He’s got a decency about him. He has loyalty. But also, he doesn’t have a desire for power. He doesn’t have that addictive personality that requires validation by being the boss, by being in control. At the same time, Jon, as a much younger man, has had this so-called greatness thrust upon him. So it’s very interesting what both of them are going to do with that — now with the added problem, if you like, of his lineage coming out into the open. And what is more interesting is what is Daenerys going to do with that particular bit of information?
Speaking of Daenerys, what are your feelings on aunt-nephew incest?
I try to avoid it, personally. But it’s not the first time we dealt with it. I tried to think of a funny answer for what Davos would do if he were in the room when the word about Jon comes out. I think the character of Davos would probably turn around and go, “Well, at least she’s not your sister.”
Do you have a favorite Davos one-liner from this season?
I loved the little bit of banter that was going on with Jon and Missandei on the beach when we meet. I love the stuff when Jon starts noticing the very attractive Daenerys Targaryen. And it’s nice that the writers have allowed Davos to show this side, that he has a sense of humor about him. We didn’t see that when he was with Stannis. And that gorgeous scene that I had with the fermented-crab Viagra. That was really fun, because we got to see Davos the smuggler.
He definitely seems like a more jovial Onion Knight this season.
Yeah, I’m not sure how long it will last — especially with what happened with the wall.