The dashing Scottish actor, who plays noble knight Ser Jorah Mormont on GoT, discusses his new, trailblazing Sundance TV drama and much more. “>
When we last saw Game of Thrones noblest ex-knight, Jorah Mormont, he had just declared his undying love for his khaleesiI will always love you, he said, cueing our tearsand rode off in search of a cure for greyscale, the usually fatal disease that threatens to turn him to stone. No one knows if or when the lovelorn son of Bear Island will ride back into Daeneryss army (and into our hearts) again, but happily for those in Jorah withdrawal, Scottish actor Iain Glen can still be found lighting up the small screen in Sundance TVs supernatural drama Cleverman.
The six-part series, being billed as the first Aboriginal superhero story told onscreen, takes place in a dystopian society where a humanoid race of people (derogatorily called hairies for their physical appearance) are restricted to a slum known as The Zone. The Subhumans, as theyre alternately called, possess superhuman strength and speedand in one of them, called the Cleverman, a connection to an alternate world.
Its a gritty and timely vision of a future not unlike our present, in which the majority still struggles with fear of a rising ethnic minority. Hysterical TV news reports chronicle jarringly familiar acts of violence, discrimination, and police brutality. Politicians bluster uselessly. Smugglers profit from hairies desperate desire to escape. And in the midst of it all, shadowy figures like media magnate Jarrod Slade (played by Glen) play both sides of the debate, in service of his own inscrutable ends.
Whether Slade is earnestly an ally in the hairies struggle for acceptance is left ambiguous. Hes wealthy, he wears sleek suits (goodbye to Jorahs sweat-stained yellow shirt!), and hes chummy with the media power players who exploit the publics fear. And yet, he funds a medical center within the Zone, where his wife works as a doctor. And, as he regularly reminds us, he was friends with the Indigenous communitys original Cleverman before he died and passed the mantle on to a younger, more reluctant successor.
Glen hopped on the phone with The Daily Beast to discuss his new character, the perks of traveling, Europes refugee crisis, and of course, Ser Jorahs fate on Game of Thrones.
Filming in Australia must have been a nice change of pace from Croatia, where most of Game of Thrones Meereen scenes are filmed.
You know, I filmed there many years ago for this series about Vietnam with Kevin Dillon called Frankies House and we had had a ball during that. Id been back there since Ive become good friends with Nicole Kidman, so I had a bit of a knowledge of Sydney and what great fun it is to live and work there. It was a dream offer.
Its one of the lovely bonuses of film and TV work, it takes you to lovely places. I honestly never take that for granted. Its a lovely aspect of the job. Theyre always fearful that youre gonna walk under a taxi or something. Once theyve got you there they look after you, mainly because they just dont want you to take lots of drugs or do a bungee jump or something. They tend to keep an eye on you and look after you. So youre always treated very well. That was true on [Cleverman.] But its lovely, I was right in the heart of Sydney, I was in a gorgeous hotel, and they were lovely people on it. Really, really good bunch of primarily Aboriginal actors, which was great.
Those are questions America is dealing with as well, especially with the xenophobic rhetoric coming out of certain candidates in our presidential election.
(Laughs.) Yes. I think often, if you were doing okay in whatever it is, as a person or a nation or whatever, I think you have to be careful about saying [in a booming voice], Listen, we did it right, were all right, so just back off. You figure it out for yourselves and stay away from us cause weve got what were happy with and we want to keep it. I think we should be more sympathetic humans than that and more welcoming in sharing the good things that weve been lucky enough to gain.
In Game of Thrones, one of the last scenes we saw Ser Jorah in was the moment Daenerys burnt down the khals temple and emerged from the flames unscathed. In that moment, as the khalasar and Daario Naharis bowed down, only Jorah raised his head, with devotion and reaffirmation written all over his faceat least, thats how I saw it.
Yeah, I think thats absolutely right. For me, it really strongly echoed the culmination of the first season when, I dont know if you remember, she walked into the pyre of Khal Drogo and [the camera] went up with the flames into the night sky. And when we came back, we were at Ser Jorahs feet as he walked through these prone, bowing people toward this godlike woman who had shown herself in a completely different light.
Hes always adored her. Hes always hugely admired and known that she would be a benign leader of people. But then theres always been this other side to him that understands shes beyond his knowledge, she possesses things that are so extraordinary they cant really be spoken. So yes, in that moment I think probably he was reminded of why hes decided to dedicate his life to this woman and how right he is to do that.
Your role next to Emilia Clarke as Daenerys continues a great pattern over your career, in which youre often playing opposite iconic womenfrom Angelina Jolie as Lara Croft to Milla Jovovich in Resident Evil to the khaleesi herself.
I suppose I am! Yeah, Ive done quite a lot of things with strong, iconic women. I couldnt imagine better work, really. Im very happy to be a part of that. Theres rightly been a fair amount of complaint about drama, that there are not enough strong womens roles and not enough properly developed female roles for all ages, really. Part of the problem, certainly in the U.K., is that even when you go back to Shakespeares time when even the girls were played by boys, a lot of the best-written roles are for men, written by men. So its good to try and redress that balance a little bit, but its coincidence, its not my doing.
Jorah finds such fulfillment in service to Daenerys, which allows him to set aside his unrequited feelings for her. Hes really become one of the purest, most noble-hearted characters on the show.
Its one of the lovely things about Game of Thrones: You have such contrast in personality within it, dont you? But I certainly like that aspect. There are probably more people within the series with ill intentions or conflicted intentions than good intentions, but he has a pure line. And just, you know, my job is just to make it as deep or as believable as possible without being saccharine in the wrong way, but just to be a profoundly loyal man. But I also wanted him in some ways to be an ordinary man, because I think she is extra-ordinary and thats what fuels his huge passion for her.
I think in the hands of a different actor he absolutely could have come across as obsessed or saccharine or too good to be believed.
Yeah, I think thats right. But you know, that being said, Dan and David are wonderful writers and they grade these things very, very well for you. They do a lot of that work for you. You know, you have to play each scene for what it is, but they never overwrite them, they never give you too much of one thing. They always offer degrees of contrast. In some ways, Season 5 was about me traveling with Tyrion across the landscape again to try and get back to her, but you almost needed that breath away from our story, for us as actors, for the audience, between Daenerys and Ser Jorah, to see the separation, to sort of again understand his need, and perhaps her need, and the conflict of when they came back together again. Theyre such gifted writers. I think they measure everything very well, so if you play it moment by moment, I think youre pretty safe in their hands.
All right, now is that time when I ask you to speculate on Jorahs chances of survival and you come up with a really creative way of dodging my question.
(Laughs.) All I can say is its been a dream job from beginning to end. Its been nothing but a ball doing it. Its extraordinarily exciting to be part of such a successful and appreciated series. If you can count on one hand at the end of a long career things that have come close to resonating in the way that Game of Thrones has, then I think you should be a pretty happy bunny. Its been pretty transformative for most people on the show, certainly the principles of the show. Its sort of changed all our lives for the good. Im hugely grateful, really, for the experience of being on it. The show is bigger than any single person within it. It just fills me with excitement every year at the prospect of reading those next scripts and going back to work and getting into that costume again and hanging out with the same people. Its a ball.
Read more: <a href="http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/06/15/game-of-thrones-star-iain-glen-on-his-new-aboriginal-superhero-series-and-ser-jorah-s-future.html">http://www.thedailybeast.com</a>