(Spoiler Alert! If you haven’t seen Sunday night’s “Game of Thrones,” Season 4, Episode 2 – “The Lion and The Rose, bookmark this link and come back after watching the show.)
It was the “Game of Thrones” death fans had been waiting for.
After years of watching his obscene abuses of power and people, on Sunday night, King Joffrey Baratheon (technically: Joffrey Lannister), met his end, in yet another grisly wedding death on the show.
The spawn of twincest, Joffrey committed a host of horrific acts over the seasons. He played a big role in the deaths of Lady (Sansa’s direwolf) and Micah, the butcher’s boy, while just a prince. As King, his first major (public) act was to order the beheading of Ned Stark. He tormented Sansa, played sadistic games with whores (including killing Ros), and humiliated Tyrion, even setting up shocking wedding entertainment with dwarfs to further taunt his uncle.
Fans across the realm may have felt a sense of justice at the death, and shock at how gruesome it was (to see his blue eyes filled with blood, his mouth foam and lungs unable to take their last breath). But, for the cast, they were watching a dear friend – Jack Gleeson – film what would be his exit. (Editor’s note: The show was shot out of sequence, so it was not Jack’s final scene of work for the show.)
Access Hollywood spoke with members of the “GoT” cast – some who were there, some just longtime co-stars of Jack — about the scene and saying goodbye to their friend.
Sophie Turner (Sansa Stark)
On Saying Goodbye To Longtime Co-Star Jack Gleeson: “It was really sad. … He was my first on-screen boyfriend and it’s just like — it’s been a long journey and it’s really sad to see him go and he came in with all the like prosthetic scratches and stuff and it was just horrible. He had a great time though, doing it.”
On How Realistic & Gruesome The Death Scene Was: “It was horrible to watch because he acts it so well. You feel like you’re suffocating when you’re watching it and then, I mean, obviously, it’s different for the actors than to the viewers because Jack’s the nicest guy on set and it’s just really difficult to watch him do his last scene. So, so upsetting I can’t tell you. [It is] so gruesome and everything that anyone has ever wanted to happen to Joffrey, and then, the bit when Lena [Headey] — as much as we hate Cersei, the bit where she’s like screaming… for like the loss of her son, oh my God, it’s so sad.”
Maisie Williams (Arya Stark)
On Saying Goodbye To Jack: “Saying goodbye to Jack is horrible because he’s had it really — I feel like his time on the show has been cheated because he’s done such an amazing job and he’s never been given the credit for it. He’s never mentioned in any of the articles – ‘Jack killed it today.’ ‘This episode was fantastic for Jack,’ because actually, every episode that he’s in is phenomenal. He does such an amazing job, but because they don’t like the character, they refuse to accept that and it’s the most selfish thing I’ve ever seen. It’s awful and I do feel bad for him because ‘Game of Thrones’ has been a hugely pleasant experience for me and I’m sure it’s been a pleasant experience for him, but I know there were times that people on the street were horrible to him and stuff. … That’s just like, ‘Please, can you differentiate the two.’”
On What Made Jack’s Portrayal Of Joffrey So Impressive: “He’s doing an amazing job. The whole world hates him. You can’t get much better than that. And it’s like [there’s] Bane and then there’s Loki and there’s like all these bad guys and there are some villains that you just can’t hate and there’s like The Joker as well, and then there’s this a***hole. It’s true. You guys are supposed to be villains, but we all kind of love you, whereas Joffrey is just the villain that everyone hates.”
Gwendoline Christie (Brienne of Tarth)
On What It Was Like To Watch Joffrey’s Death Being Filmed: “I’d never worked with Jack before, so I knew him from being around and spent some delightful time with him and he is delightful and very funny on set and then he plays the character and it’s almost humorous because he totally embraces this repulsive being. It’s deliciously appalling, but then, when he was [filming his death, it was] incredibly realistic. And it’s a choking. It’s not a knife, it’s not anything verging on melodrama, it’s incredibly real and what he did was incredibly real. It was strangely horrifying and what I love so much about this work is that you never have a clear idea about our feelings towards any character. Why I think it’s brilliant is because it mirrors life so deliciously and that everything is so complex and you’re forced to examine not only the situation and reexamine it, but your own feelings and your own viewpoint. So it’s gloriously illuminating on your own condition.”
On Whether They Did Anything For Jack After Shooting The Scene: “We did. … I think it’s part of the job on ‘Game of Thrones’ that all the actors come very quickly to the realization that you’re all going to die. What’s so wonderful is that the bonds that are formed on this job are very alive and strong, so I’m still very much in touch with Michelle Fairley and I’m in touch with Richard Madden and it lives on and this whole thing is such an animal that we’re all going to be connected to it forever, so I don’t think we’ll ever be really losing touch with anyone.”
Pedro Pascal (Prince Oberyn Martell/The Red Viper)
On Saying Goodbye To Jack: “Because I’m new to the series, it was sort of emotional to just see everyone else’s experience of saying goodbye to Jack, to be honest with you. I had met him and spent some time with him before shooting that scene and I was already given such a clear impression of what a wonderful person he is to be around and so really, I think it was a very emotional thing for the other cast members. … And it was great because we do lose him so early in the season… but it was sort of sporadically shot throughout the season, so Jack was around for a lot of it which was really cool.”
On How Realistic & Gruesome The Death Scene Was: “I haven’t seen it on the screen yet… but I was there when they were shooting it and part of what was so brilliant is that at the end of it all, it suddenly becomes a scene about a child dying in front of his mother and in his mother’s arms and her being completely helpless. As villainous as Cersei has been — is capable of being — that the human beings are inevitably revealed to us through what is instantly a tragedy. Whether you’ve been like waiting for it to happen – it still hurts.”
“Game of Thrones” airs Sundays at 9 PM ET/PT on HBO.
-- Jolie Lash
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