Game of Thrones is no walk in the park, but Alfie Allen – or Theon Greyjoy as fans know him – has had perhaps the roughest couple of years of anyone in Westeros.
Taken in by the Stark family before betraying them to gain favour with his father, Theon then ends up in the hands of the evil, relentless Ramsay Bolton.
He is then tortured, beaten and castrated by Ramsay until all that is left is a quivering shell of a man known only as Reek due to his overpowering stench.
It’s quite the dramatic journey for 29-year-old Allen, who hails from London.
While off screen he counts Iwan Rheon, the Welsh actor who plays Ramsay, as a “lifelong friend”, on screen the pair produce some of the most disturbing moments on the show.
One such moment is the controversial season five scene in which Theon watches as his childhood friend Sansa Stark is raped by Ramsay.
Critics of the show said the scene went too far in its portrayal of sexual violence, prompting calls for show runners David Benioff and DB Weiss to tone it down.
“I think it was handled very beautifully as a scene, with taste,” Allen says of the contentious episode. “Sophie [Turner] is a hero to me.”
After five seasons of shockers like the Red Wedding or Jon Snow’s death, fans are getting used to seeing beloved characters killed off.
Still, Allen says season six might top them all.
“In terms of epicness yes, there’s definitely something towards the end of the season which is going to blow people’s minds. You’re going to love it,” Allen told The New Daily.
“In series five there was a running theme of characters you wouldn’t expect to cross paths crossing paths so there’s more of that.”
While Allen can’t offer any insight as to whether Theon survives season six (he blames “HBO snipers”), he says the new season will have “more of a Greyjoy presence”.
“We’ve got an actor called Pilou Asbæk from a show called Borgen and he plays my uncle … there’s a scene I’m very much looking forward to.”
Speaking of family, Allen possesses enviable showbiz pedigree – his father is seasoned actor Keith Allen and his sister is singer Lily Allen.
In 2006, Lily penned a song about her brother titled Alfie that painted her younger brother in a less-than-flattering light.
Asked about the track – which includes lyrics like, “I can’t sit back and watch you waste your life away / You need to get a job because the bills need to get paid” – Allen is surprisingly upbeat.
“I was in Canada teaching kids how to snowboard so I think she just missed me,” he explains.
Lily Allen’s song ‘Alfie’. Warning: video contains offensive content.
Luckily, Allen has managed to exceed his sister’s low expectations with an impressively nuanced performance on the HBO mega-series.
“I’ve had people say, ‘I’ve been in an abusive relationship and the way you suffered [Ramsay’s] abuse, how you weren’t so pathetic, it gave me strength’,” he recalls.
And if Theon falls victim to the show’s endless propellor of death, Allen has a back-up plan.
“I’ve got something lined up,” he hints. “It’s completely different to Game of Thrones.”
Good, because we’re getting a bit sick of watching him being tortured by a megalomaniac.
Watch the trailer for Game of Thrones season six. Warning: disturbing content.