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Cult Interview

Joe Dempsie 'Game of Thrones', 'Skins' Q&A

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Joe Dempsie as Gendry in 'Game of Thrones'

© HBO

Since leaving Skins behind, 24-year-old actor Joe Dempsie has become something of a rising star on both sides of the Atlantic - he's continued to appear in top UK drama, while also wowing fantasy fans in Game of Thrones as former blacksmith Gendry.

Digital Spy caught up with Dempsie to discuss his role in the HBO drama, a possible comeback to Skins and how his work-out routine differs to that of his former co-star Nicholas Hoult...

How did you come to be involved with Game of Thrones?
"It was a bit of a long and winding road for me. When they were originally casting for the pilot - which they shot a good year-and-a-half before the series - I actually auditioned for the role of Jon Snow.

"I didn't get very far and then when the series was commissioned, I auditioned for another two roles, before eventually being cast as Gendry. It was a really nice process, actually, even though you're auditioning for these different parts.

"You're not thinking, 'God, what am I doing wrong? How come I'm not getting these roles? I really want to be involved in this', it just seemed like the creators David Benioff and Dan Weiss had identified people that they wanted to work with, and then it was just a case of which piece of the jigsaw you fitted.

"It all worked out really well in the end, because a couple of the parts I'd auditioned for before aren't anywhere near as interesting as Gendry becomes, in the end. So I was really lucky to get spotted.

"Also, at the time of casting, I didn't possess the physical attributes they were looking for. I was supposed to be tall, muscular with thick black hair - and I was none of those things! So it was very nice that they saw past that and took a chance anyway."



So were you required to bulk up for the part?
"Yeah, they said, 'We'd like you to hit the gym and put on a bit of muscle,' and, interestingly enough, it was at the same time that Nick Hoult had got a part in X-Men: First Class.

"We were having this conversation about these parts and I told him I had to go to the gym. He was like, 'Oh really? Me too! A car comes and picks me up in the morning, takes me to the gym at Pinewood Studios, there's a personal trainer who gives me my workout, he puts me on a high protein diet... How about you?'

"I was like, 'Yeah... they just told me to be bigger by the time I arrived on set,' - so we had very different bulking up experiences!"

Gendry had quite a small role in season one, but has been far more prominent this year - has it been fun developing the character?
"Definitely. In season one, you kind of got the feeling that it was going to be a really exciting and popular show. But I literally had about three filming days and they were over in Malta, so I didn't really get to know anyone very well when I was out there.

"You don't really feel like you can get as caught up in the build-up and the hype as you would if you felt you had a more significant role to play in it. So it was great to feel more involved this time round and to actually meet everyone.

"I was in Belfast for the second season, which is where the bulk of filming takes place. It's more the friendships that I've managed to form through doing the show that have been the best bits about season two."

The show is based on George RR Martin's novels, so were you ever tempted to read ahead and find out what happens to Gendry?
"I read book two before we started shooting season two, but I've got a friend who's read all the books anyway - he was a bit of a Game of Thrones nut before the series even came out, so I asked him about what happens to me.

"I don't think my character's ever particularly prominent in any of the novels, but from what I gather, [the writers] are quite open to going 'off-book' if you like and writing new storylines for certain characters that maybe aren't explored as deeply in the books as they might be.

"So it might be a bit redundant for me to read the books now anyway, because I think there might actually be new stuff planned, as far as Gendry's concerned."


The final series of Skins is also coming up and there's talk of old characters coming back. If they could find a way to incorporate Chris, would you be interesting in returning?
"I think, for me, Skins is something that you should never say never to. I think for all of us it was such an important shared experience and it came in a really crucial time in all of our lives - our formative years were spent making it.

"I don't think any of us could turn it down completely, but I would be skeptical as to how they would ever do that [return appearance] with me. I suppose now might be a good time to go back - if you'd have asked me the same question a year ago, I would probably have said that I wouldn't be interested, because I was still trying to get some more dramatic roles and move away from that character a little bit.

"But I think the idea to revisit the old characters is a really nice way to round the series off. They've got some really interesting stuff planned, from what I hear."

Do you find that people still associate you with Chris?
"Oh completely. I still don't get stopped about anything else anywhere near as much as Skins. The remarkable thing that I've noticed is how far that show has travelled, it's aired all over the world.

"It's more foreign people now who stop and say hello to you, because it might have been on recently over there so it's fresher in their minds. So that's definitely still my definitive role to date - I do quite look forward to the day when 'Chris from Skins' isn't in brackets after my name!"

Game of Thrones airs on on Mondays at 9pm on Sky Atlantic in the UK, and continues on Sunday nights on HBO in the US. The final series of Skins will screen on E4 in 2013.

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