Gethin Anthony is sitting inside a television studio in Los Angeles, but the British actor is keeping “Game of Thrones” close to his heart – literally. Perched on a plush gray stool in Access Hollywood’s third floor shooting suite, the fresh-faced actor, who plays the late King Robert’s little brother, Renly Baratheon, in the HBO series, is tugging at the thin leather lace around his neck. It’s a prop from his Season 1 costume, which Gethin admits he always wears when talking about the show.
With his offseason longer locks swept back off his face in a sort of ‘50s-inspired ‘do, the 20-something rising star is looking more youthful than his “GOT” character, as he brims with excitement over the impending season premiere.
Expect something much more ornate than simply a leather tassel around Gethin’s neck when Renly returns. After the death of King Robert (Mark Addy), Renly is declaring himself a king, and with plenty of those around this season, preparing for what’s sure to be an epic battle for the Iron Throne.
So, with just days left until Sunday’s Season 2 premiere, AccessHollywood.com brings our countdown Q&A series to a most royal conclusion, pairing up our correspondent, fellow Brit Tim Vincent, with Gethin Anthony. Offering insight on the upcoming political and sword-wielding drama, as well as hinting at Renly’s romantic future, Gethin also shares with Tim some details of behind the scenes moments with Gwendoline Christie, who joins Season 2 as Brienne of Tarth.
Tim Vincent: Well, Gethin, you’ve got the same kind of voice as me. Not British — but with a cold or illness or something?
Gethin Anthony: Yeah, I’ve been a bit unwell. I ate a shrimp stick that wasn’t great.
Tim: You’re healed.
Gethin: Yeah, I feel a lot better now.
Tim: Now, already people [are buzzing about] the second series, and it hasn’t come out yet.
Gethin: It’s coming out April 1 and it’s coming back with a bang.
Tim: There are a lot of things [which are] going to happen to your character. We’re going to give you this very expensive prop. (Tim hands Gethin a piece of Baratheon stationary, sealed with a wax “stag” sigil stamp). If you’d open it up, there’s a few key words that we want to discuss in there. It’s like, ‘This is your Life,’ but no budget.
Gethin: Wow! This is exciting. I’ve never been given a black spot before.
Tim: It could be an illegal writ, and you’ve opened it on camera
Gethin: (Laughs) Brilliant. OK, (reading) ‘Brother — Stannis. Love life. Power struggle. Lady knight – Brienne.’
Tim: We’ll start with your brother.
Gethin: Brother. OK
Tim: Is there a scene where the two of you meet in a field? (Click HERE to see Gethin as Renly.)
Gethin: Yeah, Stannis is a character that was discussed quite a bit. He’s my older brother, but the younger brother of Robert, the now vanquished King. He’s been — not in exile — but he’s been governing an island for many years, which isn’t a very hospitable place. He wanted my seat of power — The Stormlands — but wasn’t given it when I was much younger, so we kind of have family history. It’s kind of just a family drama, really (laughs).
Tim: So there’s going to be a real power struggle anyway for the ultimate role to be the ruler. Is it going to be between the two of you?
Gethin: You’ll see… some kind of struggle. How that pans out, you’ll see in the series. But yeah, he’s got his claim to what he thinks –- how the kingdom should be governed, and I’ve got mine. And you’ll see how that pans out.
Tim: And there’s also a female knight [who is] very tall.
Gethin: Lady Brienne. She is this wonderful… warrior who enters into the fray and you’ll sort of see how she becomes very important to my character and to other characters. She becomes very central. And it’s just this fantastic sort of heroine of Westeros. [She’s] played by Gwendoline Christie, who is this fantastic actress. I mean, I saw Gwendoline in the gym and she was really trying to honor that role because she’s this beautiful model, basically – Gwen. (Click HERE to see Gwen as Brienne.)
Tim: How tall is she?
Gethin: She’s like, maybe 6’ 2”, 6’3”? She’s taller than me.
Tim: She’s like a Boadicea type character, part and parcel?
Gethin: Oh, absolutely and Gwen is this amazing, sort of like, glamorous, wonderful woman, and she — as an actress — had to really step up to play it and I think she did it fantastic.
Tim: The show works… because there’s light and shade. There’s like big, dramatic battle scenes, but then, because the book’s so rich, they pull out really small moments between two people that are equally important and [that] kind of keeps it going, and kind of gets an understanding of the character. Your character must have some love interests that are going to come up?
Gethin: Yeah. The great thing about Renly is that through the first series, he carries a really big secret, which isn’t necessarily a secret to the audience, but it is to characters in the show. And, [as] he moves forward, I think what becomes important to him, is that — as a man pursuing power — he can’t maintain his relationships in the way that he’d like to, and I think that’s where the drama’s going to get really complicated and there’s some really interesting stuff.
Tim: What was the hardest thing for you [in doing this role]? Sometimes people say the hardest thing must have been learning all the long, big speeches and somebody else goes, ‘Actually, it was just trying to use a sword’ or ‘Get on a horse.’ For you, there’s so many different things.
Gethin: Yeah, horse riding. So, OK, so let’s talk about that. Horse riding is — they taught me very well and it’s fantastic. It’s a really fun thing. I don’t know if you’ve ever done it, but if you’re playing a confident, happy character on a horse, you have to look confident and happy on a horse. And I was confident and happy on a horse, until we get to the edge of a cliff and there are cameras everywhere and you don’t want to run over a cameraman. There was this particular moment, where I really wanted – Renly is confident and happy and he’s cool — and I wanted to exit left, looking really cool and just the horse was not – he was the loveliest, beautiful horse, but he was just on the edge of a cliff and he didn’t want to do it as confidently as I hoped.
Tim: What scenes are you looking forward to seeing?
Gethin: I have to be honest, I didn’t read all the scripts this season because I actually started to think, ‘Well, if I don’t need to know that, I’m not going to, and I’m going to save it,’ because as an audience member, I love the show. I can’t wait to see what happens with Daenerys and the House of the Undying and there’s some really exciting stuff in her story line. And basically, anything that Varys is in — Conleth Hill’s stuff. And also just Joffrey scenes, I’m really looking forward to watching, ‘cause he’s a nasty piece of work. Jack Gleeson plays him wonderfully.
Tim: There were fans already adopted to this project before it was even filmed because of the books. How have you found the fans, because some must be very vocal about what they think about your performance.
Gethin: Do you know, we’ve had some amazing reactions – specifically me and Finn Jones – who plays Loras Tyrell. We’ve had some lovely things. A lovely young woman sent us T-shirts with our sort of faces printed in rainbow colors for each [of us]. She sent one to Finn of my face and one to me of Finn’s face that look like the Obama — you know that famous, like iconic thing? It was like that kind of profile, but in rainbow colors, rather than those sort of like muted reds and blues. So, [we] get little gifts like that and then I think Finn got a message from someone saying that he proposed to his boyfriend and they were gonna get married based on seeing the sort of gay story line in the show. Things like that you kind of go, ‘That’s kind of cool.’ We’ve had some amazing reactions like that and really fun, positive stuff. And most people, when I sort of say, ‘I’m in the show,’ at dinner or something, a friend of a friend’s like, ‘Oh, you’re in that show?’ because I don’t really carry the beard and hair the same way.’ But you hear some nice stories.
Tim: But that’s quite a good balance isn’t it, that, if you want to be recognized for it, you can be. Otherwise, just shave.
Gethin: Shave, yeah, go and be somebody else. And, you know, I don’t wear armor everywhere.
Tim: No, to be fair. It’s easier in the airports, isn’t it?
Gethin: You can’t get through – with 8,000 pieces of metal on.
“Game of Thrones” Season 2 premieres Sunday at 9 PM on HBO.
Click on the actor’s name to read any of the Access Countdown to “Game of Thrones” Q&As you’ve missed: Liam Cunningham (Davos Seaworth), Daniel Portman (Podrick Payne), Alfie Allen (Theon Greyjoy), Rory McCann (The Hound), Tom Wlaschiha (Jaqen H’ghar), Kit Harrington (Jon Snow), Maisie Williams (Arya Stark) and Carice van Houten (Melisandre).