So obviously, you’re more recently known for Game of Thrones. Were you a fan of the books before you nabbed the role?
No, I had no idea about them until I got the audition. But even that process was quite long because they made the pilot quite a long time ago and I’d only auditioned for a part in the pilot. After that audition, I mentioned it to one of my friends who reads a lot of fantasy literature and he was like beside himself because they were like his favourite books. I’ve never had more street cred with him!
Then when it became commissioned as a series, I auditioned for another two parts before I was cast as Gendry and he was like my go-to man for the whole process to find out more depth to these characters I was auditioning for. But when I got the part, he’s such a big fan of the series that he didn’t approve of my casting! The physical breakdown of my character is that he is tall and muscular with thick black hair and at the time, I was none of them! I’ve since been at the gym and they dyed my hair…. Still short- but you know, can’t have it all!
So you looking forward to season 3?
Yes back filming in July. They keep the storylines very closely guarded, so I’ve no idea what’s in store. But the encouraging thing for me is that the producer said towards the end of season 2 that although my character isn’t in third book too much, they’re quite open to writing some new storylines for my character, so hopefully I’ll be doing something interesting stuff.
How long do you think the series will continue?
Well there are six books but they’re still writing them. So I’d imagine the series shall continue until the books are finished. The thing is with a lot of series, you feel like they go on a bit too long and they meander a bit in the middle where the writers are losing their way. But I think with Game of Thrones, the source material is already there and has been so successful, so I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t carry on. The stories are strong enough.
With such a huge cast, what’s filming really like?
Well we spend the best part of six months going back and forth from Belfast, Ireland. It’s great. Belfast is like a revolving door for the cast, which is just so vast. There’s always people coming and going and always people to hang out with.
The stories are a lot more isolated now, so you’ve a specific group you’re always working with. So it’s nice to catch up with the others. There is a bit of a crew us now. A few of us went to Berlin for a trip after filming, me Alfie Allen, Finn Jones, Kit Harington… Oona Chaplin too, she came to Coachella with me. That’s been the great thing for me with Game of Thrones; it’s expanded my social circle here in London as well, as I’d only lived in London for a few months when I started that show. So it was great to meet people and hang out with them outside of work.
What’s been a standout moment from being on set?
I really enjoyed episode 3 of season 2 as I got to do a fight sequence, which is something I’d never done before. I’d stressed about it for a good number of months, did loads of practice to make sure I got it right and I think in the end it only lasted 5 seconds on screen! For me, given that kind of opportunity was amazing and you never normally get to do that sort of stuff in any other walk of life.
Next on my list is horse riding… that’s what I love about this job, getting the opportunity to learn new skills. That was really fun for me. Though I am a bit of a worrier and over analyze about getting it right, but when it came to actually shooting it, we’d a week of night shoots and it was on the third night and they left it right to the end so it was like 4am in the morning and everyone was a bit delirious. But it was the most fun I’d had on a shoot in a long time!
Joe Dempsie (Gendry) with Oona Chaplin (Talisa)