A year after Ned Stark’s beheading rocked TV audiences, war is finally here for HBO’s “Game of Thrones.”
On Sunday, the forces commanded by those fair-haired Lannisters, will take up arms against Stannis Baratheon’s troops, both by sea and land in the epic battle of “Blackwater.”
Eugene Simon’s Lancel Lannister may not have been the brawniest man in King’s Landing this season, but don’t let that fool you. Cersei’s bedfellow is about to grab his sword in an attempt to defend King Joffrey, his family and King’s Landing against the very experienced other forces.
Liam Cunningham, who plays Davos Seaworth, just made the case for the Baratheon side to AccessHollywood.com, explaining their advantages include a planned secret ship attack, pirates on their side and their veteran soldier and King — Stannis — gearing up for a ground assault. (Click HERE to read that interview).
But Eugene shared with Access his take on the Lannisters’ equally impressive pre-battle advantages, ahead of the massive matchup.
AccessHollywood.com: We have seen you in a preview. You have a sword in your hand. It’s dark, and it looks like Lancel is going to have to get into a bit of fighting.
Eugene Simon: Yeah, he does. Lancel’s gotta really, really pull his act together before the siege… But, Lancel does have to kind of get involved in the battle itself. It’s not going to be kind of watching it from the castle wall. There’s gonna be some action that he has to get involved in, which is a thrill to shoot actually — that whole siege. Night shoots are actually unbelievable.
Access: Lancel’s mouth has gotten himself into a lot of trouble. He’s being blackmailed by Tyrion, and he’s made some bad decisions too, like his relationship with Cersei. Is he any better [or smarter] with a sword in his hand?
Eugene: Well, I wouldn’t say that putting a sword in Lancel’s hand, at this moment, is something that I would kind of describe as one of his fortes. He’s not Jaime. As much as he would love to be Jaime, he isn’t. You will see a side of Lancel that has a little bit of skill with a sword, but that’s really for you to decide, once you’ve seen the actual battle itself.
Access: I can’t imagine he’s the best in battle, although he would be certainly more brave than Joffrey when it came down to it.
Eugene: Thank you, I’m glad you’re giving him that much credit (laughs). No, Lancel – I’ve said it before – he’s not a coward. I wouldn’t want people to get the impression that he is someone who would just immediately run away from the fight. He has a lot of very, very strong principles in him and he’s willing to uphold them. I don’t think he’s one of those guys who… when push comes to shove… will run away. He might be reluctant, but he’s willing to do what’s necessary…
Access: I wasn’t suggesting he was going to run away from the battle, just… if he sees a big guy coming toward him, he might switch into the battle with someone a bit more his height and build.
Eugene: I’m not going to give anything away, but you might be seeing a different story when you see the scene.
Access: If you’re looking at these two teams, so to speak — the Baratheons and the Lannisters — who do you think looks better on paper ahead of the battle? Who has the bigger team? Who has the brawn?
Eugene: I’m compelled to say the Lannisters would look like the better team, for me, and the actual reason I would say that is because of Tywin Lannister. You’re aware of the fact that they are a hugely wealthy and powerful family, but I think one of the things that Charles Dance, I think, has brought to that character, the character Tywin, is this incredible sense of utter, utter kind of relentless, robotic commitment to victory, to winning, and he’ll do whatever is required to get there… The Lannisters do have our strategists, both politically and militarily. They would be the house that I would probably put my money on.
Access: There was fight training for this… Were you aching in pain after shooting?
Eugene: Yeah, it got tiring, it did… Once you’re sort of playing with your actual sword in the scene whilst it’s shooting, you kind of numb up and I didn’t really feel as much, whilst I was actually in action. It’s more the waiting around and wearing your armor that can kind of [wear] you down, especially on your shoulders. It’s fairly light armor, but if you’re wearing it for kind of 10 hours at a time, after a while, your shoulders are sort of practically being pulled down to your knees, so you kind of come away from a day’s shooting with really kind of achy arms. But, physically, it was a thrill, it was great to do.
Access: You all put in so much effort, from what I’ve heard, on those night shoots, wearing armor, swinging swords… How excited are you to finally see this?
Eugene: One of the first interviews I did regarding this kind of scene in particular… [was] back in January, and this was the episode that I especially mentioned was the one, that, if there’s any episode that you kind of really, really have to pay attention to, it’s the up and coming Episode 9. I’ve got goosebumps, I’m so excited. The director, [Neil Marshall], David [Benioff] and Dan [Weiss], as well, put a huge amount of thought and time into this and HBO have really put their heart and soul into it, so I just really, really believe that it’s going to be an unbelievable scene in terms of the story, in terms of the action, I mean, blood and guts is obviously inevitable in this kind of show…but it’s going to be unbelievable… We had in the region of I’d say, sort of 150 to 200 extras, all of whom had choreographed fighting scenes. This wasn’t just sending extras at one another in the hopes that they would sort of somehow be able to fight with each other, they actually [choreographed] them.
Access: It airs in the UK on Monday. Will you be watching?
Eugene: Yeah. I’m going to watch it on Monday, I’m going to be sitting in my home, probably just having my dinner and then I’ll sit down and watch it with the family, who I’m sure will be quite keen on seeing it too and I’m going to enjoy. I’m going to enjoy it the same way any of the other viewers would.
American audiences can watch the “Game of Thrones” “Blackwater” episode on Sunday at 9 PM on HBO.