In “Game of Thrones,” they’re burning men at the stake at Dragonstone and no one on that corner of Westeros is listening to Davos Seaworth, the voice of reason.
Stannis (Stephen Dillane) has bought into Melisandre (Carice van Houten) hook, line and sinker in his singular ambition to sit on the Iron Throne, and his right hand man, Liam Cunningham’s Davos, is barely being tolerated.
After refusing Melisandre’s magical help, Davos lost to the Lannisters in Season 2’s Battle of Blackwater, and saw his side’s forces severely depleted. And, in Season 3, Stannis sentenced him to death after he learned Ser Davos, the Onion Knight, had secretly spirited away royal bastard Gendry (to save him from his own untimely exit). In fact, it was only due to Melisandre (with a little help from a note from The Wall) that Davos made it out of Season 3 alive.
The mismatched trio of Stannis, Davos and Melisandre made their brief debut in last Sunday’s episode and there is more of them on the way in Season 4. Access Hollywood spoke with Liam about how Davos is feeling as he continues to tip toe around the castle.
AccessHollywood.com: How’s Davos feeling these days?
Liam Cunningham: Not good. The boss is not happy. Progress has been slow. … Something has to be done and because we don’t have any sort of money, any sort of credibility, it’s all gone downhill. And not only that, my credibility is shot. As Melisandre has said, it’s all gone horribly wrong since Blackwater, so something’s gotta click. I’m looking for a good idea here to try and save the day, to try and get us back in the game.
Access: And firm up your position in the ranks?
Liam: The only way I’m going to do that is be productive and do what Stannis said. I’ve gotta get him on the throne.
Access: Watching Stannis believe in this crazy woman – why do you think Davos is still sticking with him? Davos pushed Gendry away in that boat last season. He could have jumped in!
Liam: No, absolutely not. That would be dishonorable and the one thing that he’s got going for him is honor and loyalty. I mean, Stannis doesn’t even question [it]. You’re not going to attempt to put your main man, your consigliere to death and then take him out of jail and expect the same sort of loyalty, but he does, because he knows him.
Access: [Does Davos think] that he can get – one day – Stannis to see reason? Stannis is being heavily influenced by this woman who clearly has her own motives going on there.
Liam: Well her motives — let me put it this way — are questionable. She’s – I think it’s more of an argument about methods. I think Davos may or may not believe that she’s out for herself, but I mean, some of the things that she does are good and some of the information that she comes up with in the flames and all that sort of stuff. However, it’s not just about Stannis, it’s about the right man for the job and Stannis, by all accounts, is the right man for the job.
Access: In Episode 2, everyone is watching as Stannis’ brother-in-law is burned at the stake. Davos looks at that and goes—
Liam: What the hell is going on. Well, this is the fall back to when — after the Battle of Blackwater — when he came back and when he was taught by Salladhor Saan that Melisandre was burning the prisoners while singing to them. So this is a continuation of that. I think Melisandre is doing this sort of thing to solidify power, telling the world that Stannis is still in command. [It is] a horrible way of doing things. … [To] Davos, this is disgusting behavior. There’s no need for it.
Access: Davos learned to read last season. How much will that help you out this season?
Liam: It’s going to help out significantly. As it does in real life, when you start to learn to read, all sorts of beautiful things open up to you.
Access: He can read ‘The Hunger Games,’ the ‘Twilight’ novels…
Liam: Tony Robbins books…
Access: ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’…
Liam: All that sort of stuff. The entire world’s opened up to him.
Access: Davos, sitting there in a dark, by candlelight, reading E L James.
Liam: Jane Austen — I think that’s as far [as he goes]. … No, it does, and as the season progresses we’re going to see what effect it has because unfortunately, because he’s learned to read now, he’s basically become the social secretary for Stannis, so he’s kind of deciding what parties Stannis should go to. I suppose it’s a bit like PR, he’s turned into. Davos Publicity Department.
Access: Getting people to come over…
Liam: Yeah, come over for tea and scones. But as we see, what happens here is it all starts to kind of unravel and Stannis’ influence is deteriorating.
Access: I’m curious about your experience as a cast member on this show. Have you found more people have been interested in the show since The Red Wedding aired last season?
Liam: I have so many people coming up – I mean, if you look at ‘The Wire,’ ‘The Wire’… it did, what five seasons or something before people cottoned on to it, just with the nature of the way it was broadcast and it was seen as a cult thing almost and now it is regarded as quite possibly the best piece of television that was ever made. So, I mean there’s a bit of this, I mean it’s not network for a start, so it’s reach is not as big as some things, but then again, if it was on network, we wouldn’t be able to do the dark and--
Access: Pedro Pascal (Prince Oberyn) would have a lot less to do.
Access: There’s that.
Liam: Yeah. And there would be more clothes, basically — and less blood. But you can’t do that. But, anyone that’s kind of cottoned on to it now, they really do — there’s not just a water cooler moment, there’s a whole water cooler culture around this. People really, really do want their friends and want other people to check out the show because they get so much from it, because it’s not patronizing, it’s not condescending when your expectations are flipped on their head, frequently and it’s one of the things I like. It’s a grown up show made by grownups for grownups.
Access: As a guy who does a lot of movies, do people ask you about it on set? Some of your costars?
Liam: They do. They do. A lot of people ask what’s gonna happen. … I’m asked all the time, generally, by people who haven’t yet to discover of it, but have heard from everybody. ‘Why have I [got] to watch this thing?’ And I’m going, ‘Go and find out for yourself.’ My recommendation is, ‘Watch it with who you’re very friendly with, or you love, your partner.’ It’s a great thing to watch with somebody else on a sofa. I don’t think it’s a show you watch on your own. I mean, you can, but it’s kind of great to go, ‘Did you see that? Can you believe he said that?’ As I say, the sofa is a water cooler moment if you’re sitting, watching with somebody else. It’s really cool. As I say, I don’t mind traveling with this because it’s an easy sell. It’s a gorgeous thing to say, ‘Do yourself a favor. Watch this if you haven’t seen it and you’re in for some extraordinary stuff.’
“Game of Thrones” continues Sunday night at 9 PM ET/PT on HBO.
-- Jolie Lash