With the surreal nature of today’s political climate, it almost feels like we’re living in an epic medieval fantasy novel. A tumultuous and complex story arc with vying claimants for succession to the world’s highest postures of sovereignty. You could even dare to say that some of these pivotal characters have the boisterous temperament of a wildling. Consequently, it’s not beyond reason to parallel the world’s political narrative to that ofGeorge R.R. Martin’s, Game of Thrones.
Among the most compelling players in the HBO adaptation is Theon Greyjoy, the last surviving son of the Iron Islands and a dynamic player in the fight for the Iron Throne. But behind the remarkable persona is Alfie Allen, an English actor whose repertoire goes well beyond the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros. He is a master craftsman whose command of his art is fascinating to watch. Allen sits down with The Laterals to give us more insight into his latest undertaking with the new BBC mini series, Close To The Enemy.
Thanks so much for sitting down with us. Of course, we all know you best as Theon Greyjoy from Game of Thrones. Congratulations on making Emmy history! Do you have a favorite Game of Thrones moment you can share with us?
I would say my favorite moment in terms of the content, would be Ned Stark’s beheading in the first series. It really set a precedent for the series as a whole, as the writers do love killing off main characters of the show without warning. And in terms of off the set, nights playing pool with Iwan Rheon (Ramsay Bolton) and beating him convincingly.
We find your character to be one of the most dynamic on the show. You start as a ward to Winterfell turned traitor, then somehow survive to seek redemption. And of course, there’s Reek. If you could give Theon one piece of advice, what would it be?
To be aware of his surroundings and to be kind to himself.
If you could have your way, would Theon survive until the very end or die a glorious death? If he did die, how would you like to go?
I would definitely like Theon to survive ‘til the very end, he deserves it! If he was to die, I'd like it to be a peaceful death. Drowning seems appropriate, as he and his family are pirates, of a sort.
If you could do anything in the world aside from acting, what would it be?
Well, we’ll be looking for you on the slopes. Tell us about your latest project, Close to the Enemy on BBC.
Close to the Enemy is a mini series directed by Steven Poliakoff, set in Britain soon after WW2 has ended. Even though the war has ended, people are still in war mode, so rationing is still prevalent and people feel like the present day could very well be their last. It is set in a hotel, which my character Ringwood is the faux manager of, placed there by the would-be Mi5 of the day. Whilst staying in the hotel, Jim Sturgess and my character are assigned to look after a Nazi scientist named Kohler. It's kind of an arms race between the Soviets, USA and Britain to see who can successfully employ these scientists to unlock their secrets and advance their own cause while using 'unorthodox' methods.
You were able to reunite with Stephen Poliakoff on this project. What was it like working with him again?
I love working with Steven. He's a bit of a genius, everything he does is a passion project for him so you know you are in good hands.
As you mentioned, Ringwood and his team use some pretty ‘unorthodox methods’ to help safeguard the future of British national security. Close to the Enemy is a drama, but we can only imagine how fun it was working with such a star-studded cast. Do you have any stories you can share with us?
Absolutely, not! I can say Alfred Molina is a very funny man, though!
Close to the Enemy brilliantly showcases the contrast between two worlds that coexist after World War II; one is the dark chaos of a bomb-damaged London, the other is of luxury and extravagance. Can you speak to this unique juxtaposition?
The regality of the hotel placed beside the rubble of a bomb-ravaged London is one that... Well, watch it and you'll see!
Oh, we definitely will. Often times we look to moments in the past to understand what we are experiencing in the world today. How do you think Close to the Enemy resonates in this way?
Well, the exodus of immigrants escaping Germany at that time is definitely relevant now. Also, people trying to return to their homeland, is equally relevant.
You have had an incredible career on some very binge-worthy shows. What are you currently binging on?
Bloodline, I love it.
As do we. Thank you, Alfie… now, let’s go shred the gnar.