Game of Thrones interviews have become a game unto themselves.
To interview the stars of the screen colossus that spawned out of George RR Martin’s fantasy book series is to engage in a dance where one party tries to steal a nugget of information about the forthcoming series, while the other attempts to engage without giving anything away – all this despite several episodes leaking online ahead of the premiere on Monday.
“I’m an expert at it now, I’d say,” admits Daniel Portman, who plays Podrick Payne, of his ability to talk for hours about the show without actually saying a thing. Both Portman and Finn Jones, who plays Loras Tyrell, are experienced dancers.
The ‘Game’ gossip
But Jones and Portman are willing to reveal this: book readers beware.
“Season five deviates from the books more than any season has done before,” says Portman. “People who’ve read the books don’t know any more than anyone else … Everyone’s going to be shocked by something.”
Specifically, Portman confirms that Podrick spends more time this season wandering the lands with Brienne in search of the Stark daughters.
“At the start of season five you pick up on Pod and Brienne almost immediately where we left off at the end of season four. It’s nice, the setting I’m in at the moment with Brienne. It doesn’t really have that much bearing on the main plotline of Game of Thrones but people seem to still gravitate towards our storyline because we’re two nice people doing a good thing and people still seem to want to see more of us which is really flattering.”
Portman is also smart enough to know that his character stands a stronger chance of survival while wandering the wilderness.
“The less weddings I’m around in Game of Thrones the better. If I’m stuck in a field it’s fine by me.”
For Jones, the big reveal is written all over his face, literally. He has a beard.
“At the beginning of the season I start cleanly shaven. By the end I sport a new beard. I can’t really reveal too much. Something happens. I get into trouble with a religious cult called the Sparrows. As a result of which, I don’t get to wash or shave for a few days.”
“Loras is starting to lose his groove a little bit,” he adds with enthusiasm.
Groove is important for Jones. Born Terry, he changed his name to Finn to comply with Actors Equity rules – he was reading Huckleberry Finn at the time. Now as well as acting, he is making a name as a DJ.
“Whenever I can I like to play a few gigs, but I like to keep it low key,” he says humbly. “My favourite gigs are when I’m not known as Loras Tyrell or Finn Jones I’m just playing at the back of the club and people are admiring me for the music not for being a character in a TV show or an actor.”
It was co-star Kristian Nairn (Hodor) who gave him his start.
“Kristian’s been DJing for 10 years. Last year he hooked me up with this promoter. I thought I’d have two shows from it but I ended up touring around the UK. It was fantastic.”
That one time, in the brothel
There’s a regular riff at the table where Portman sits as well, though it’s not musical. Instead, there is one question he hears time and again.
“What did I do in the brothel?” he laughs. “That’s what everybody wants to know.”
Early in the series, Podrick was gifted a night in a brothel by Tyrion Lannister. The next morning the ladies who left the boudoir did so wearing big smiles. In a rarity for the series, the audience were denied any graphic details, now fans demand answers.
“The official response is: lots and lots and lots of things,” laughs Portman. “Lots of things that he’s very, very good at.”
Jones and Portman are close friends, as are much of the cast, but it’s as much due to the cult of the show as the process of making it. Many of the actors have never appeared on screen or even on the same set as each other.
“Most of my closest mates on the show are people I’ve not done any scenes with,” says Portman. “There’s loads of guys I’ve never done any scenes with but I’ve done loads and loads of comic cons with, travelled around the world with and we’ve become really good mates doing that instead.”
The conventions allow the cast to meet, and also for fans to meet the real personalities.
“I’m really not like Podrick at all. If I was as nice a person as Podrick Pane then I would be very lucky indeed. I’ve actually learned a great deal from playing a character as genuine and lovely as he is. I’m much more confident and loud than he is. I’m a much better horse rider than he is as well. There are some cross overs. All the stuff in the bedroom, that’s fine. I tick all those boxes as well.”
Daniel Portman and Finn Jones are appearing at Oz Comic-Con in Adelaide next week (April 18-19).