They say it’s the quiet ones you have to look out for and during the “Game of Thrones” Battle of Blackwater, Daniel Portman’s Podrick Payne proved the rule.
As one of the King’s Guard turned on Tyrion during battle, the young man found a Hulk-like strength, and seemingly out of nowhere, leapt up and jammed a spear into the Hand of the King’s turncoat attacker.
After spending a season pouring wine, snickering at Tyrion’s jokes and being branded an “odd little boy” by Cersei, in the penultimate episode of Season 2, television watchers got to see what fans of George R.R. Martin’s books already know – Pod rocks.
Glasgow-bred Daniel was just 19 when he joined the HBO show’s cast, and he revealed to AccessHollywood.com he had just one day of filming under his belt when shooting “Blackwater” began.
AccessHollywood.com: You were 19 when you filmed this, and this was your first major Hollywood production with an American-style budget. What was it like?
Daniel: It was pretty insane. I’d only [done] one day, I think, before we started on ‘Blackwater’… So, it was insane because we got driven out to this old abandoned quarry and there was a base there and then they had to drive another five minutes down the road to where they’d built this castle for the sake of the production. It was on sort of a small lake of this old abandoned quarry, and the scale of it, to start with, was just incredible, and then as the production went on, the amount of people that were there — it was breathtaking. It was great fun getting thrown in the deep end, but it was mad. Absolutely mad.
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Access: That must have also been hard, not only be new to a production of that scale, but also, you have to keep all of those show secrets for months. What an incredible responsibility.
Daniel: It was. It was difficult because not only do you get a lot of people asking about continuity between the books and whether things are going to stay the same as in the books, but it was so exciting to be involved in, you just want to talk about it all the time and tell people how impressed they’re going to be when they see this great work. And just having to keep a lid on it for so long was difficult… Now that it’s happened, it’s just been fantastic, it’s absolutely brilliant.
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Access: What was it like being next to Peter Dinklage during those moments? You are next to him as he delivers a memorable speech. It’s got to be emotional.
Daniel: It was. We’d not had a chance to spend much time together because we’d not filmed anything yet… The actual battle, that took about two weeks of night shoots to film, if I remember correctly, and it was weird to get involved at the start because everybody else knew each other… but as it went on, when it got to filming stuff like his big speech, I was standing there, listening to him, and not having to act at all really because the speech — the choices he made… were so fantastic, I was ready to go into battle straight away. I was ready to go. I would’ve followed him anywhere after he’d given that speech… There was this great atmosphere because we were in the courtyard of this castle and you can really feel the tension building up in the walls of this place, just because of this speech and everybody getting pumped for what’s coming next. It was fantastic!
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Access: Pod saved Tyrion in the battle. Where do you think Pod learned how to use a spear?
Daniel: (Laughs) People have a sort of animalistic knowledge of how to fight and how to survive and it goes right into the core of who they are. I think Pod’s just the kind of guy that doesn’t run, you know? He’d throw himself on the grenade. If there was somebody there who was good to him, then he’d put his life on the line for them and I think that might be the great thing about him, because it’s always in a fit of rage that it sort of happens. He doesn’t realize what he’s done. He killed Ser Mandon [of the King’s Guard] because… Tyrion was in danger and then as soon as Ser Mandon’s dead, you’re just like, ‘Is that me? Oh, right. OK, then.’ It’s almost like there’s a split personality when there’s real danger about, there’s a split second where Pod’s a different person and he’s a great warrior, and then, as soon as the danger is over, it’s not there anymore, which is a lovely thing to play about with, because he’s just so timid and so shy the rest of the time.
Access: What was it like filming your scene with a spear and was that a sword too?
Daniel: It was a spear through the back of his head and then [I] twisted the spear, so it broke off in his head and I think his neck broke as well, so it was pretty gruesome, but really great fun to do it. It’s not often you can stick a spear through somebody’s head at work and get away with it.
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Access: What’s ahead for Pod? Saving Tyrion’s head and life and nose, probably was to his benefit… In the preview, we’ve seen King Joffrey proclaiming his grandfather Tywin as the man who brought them victory – not Tyrion.
Daniel: Without denying it, if there’s a better tactician anywhere in the whole of Westeros than Stannis, it’s got to be Tywin. Tywin is just an unbeatable warrior when it comes to battles. He’s just one of these guys that doesn’t know how to lose. But, yeah, I think Episode 10 is… for us, it’s more about sort of getting our bearings as to where we stand after the battle’s taken place because with the King’s Guard turning on Tyrion, that’s a little strange and I would think a lot of people are quite suspicious about why King’s Guard were turning on Tyrion.
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Access: There were enthusiastic Tweets about your character when fans got to see Pod’s shining moment. What was that like for you, seeing that excitement and those comments?
Daniel: As if being on a great show, with great scripts, and working with great people, and great actors and great writers, isn’t enough, having a reaction like that, where people are coming online and telling you how much they appreciate your work, it’s so lovely to hear that and it really…
Access: It’s overwhelming?
Daniel: It’s incredibly overwhelming and it’s icing on what has been just a fantastic experience… I was using Twitter (@Daniel_Portman) on my phone yesterday and it actually made my phone die three or four times throughout the day because there was so much activity on the Twitter feed… I was sitting with a few friends and I really couldn’t talk to them, ‘cause [I was] trying to reply to all these Tweets from people. I’ve tried to reply to all of them. I think I’ve done most of them, but I want to speak to as many folk as I can and say ‘Thanks!’ because people taking time out of their day to congratulate me, I think that’s just as nice as it can get, so it’s been incredibly overwhelming. It’ s really, really lovely.
The Season 2 finale of “Game of Thrones” airs Sunday night at 9 PM on HBO.
-- Jolie Lash
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