The Son of Riverrun
→ December 5th - Edmure Tully (5/24)
GoT CCC (Christmas-Character-Challenge)
It’s official, I am bored, like so bored. So here, have Catelyn in the Red Wedding.
George R.R. Martin and Game of Thrones actress Lena Headey (Cersei Lanniester) and Michelle Fairley (Catelyn Stark) took the stage for one night only at the Sydney Opera House, for an ‘In Conversation’ event with Dominic Knight
A few *cough* cute and/or interesting tidbits:
Knight: What did you first think when you saw the script?
Fairley: I loved it, and I knew that the women characters were amazing so that’s why I wanted to get my claws into it.
Knight: Superlative but with nudity and …
Fairley: Absolutely. But none of mine!
Fairley: I think she [Catelyn] changes substantially in terms of … it’s a role that she’s still learning. She’d never thought she’d have to go that path so off she goes and she keeps going. And then she sees her son becoming king of the north, but her whole modus operandus basically is to get her family back together and I think — (Lena laughs) she’s (Michelle gestures at Lena) a bitch — what’s left of it and I think she changes substantially. (Michelle laughs) I’m not doing very well, am I? You all look amazing by the way. So many of you. Sorry, what was the question?
Fairley: I read per series, but I do know what happens particularly to my own selfish reasons, but I don’t necessarily know Lena’s story or anybody else’s with the knowledge that I know mine.
Fairley: The scripts are your worksheets, your bible. They’re wonderful.
Headey: That jolly wedding.
Fairley: That was a lovely wedding, I particularly liked the bride, I thought her dress was lovely.
Headey: It was. That cake was nice.
Knight: When did you first find out about the Red Wedding?
Fairley: A lot of the cast members who had read the books that far in advance used to talk about it a lot and I kept hearing this “Red Wedding, Red Wedding,” and I was like, What is the Red Wedding? So I sneakily went into a bookshop and stood and read the passage. And that’s exactly what I did.
Fairley: David Nutter, who’s a brilliant director and he directed that episode [“The Rains of Castamere”], David Nutter was in LA, Richard Madden, who played Robb Stark, was in London, and I was in Toronto, so the three of us were linked up and we watched it in our separate cities and talked sequentially, and that was the first time I saw it. And I was like, I couldn’t watch.
Headey: I remember reading it, and I was like, A) I’m going to lose me pal …
Fairley: Aww. I’m going to cry.
Knight: It’s sort of your fault.
Fairley: It is her fault! (laughs)
Headey: I read it, and I couldn’t wait to see what Michelle Fairley, the genius, would do with it. We sat with twenty mates and watched it on a big screen, and I rung richard straight after because i was like, I can’t! I was in pieces. It was so beautiful. I’m a bit of a nerd about the show. Amazing, amazing job (little bow to Michelle).
Knight: How do you feel about Catelyn? Because I know there are some fans who have issues with Catelyn at some points, a little surprisingly.
Fairley: Oh do they? What are your issues? (laughs) Well I think you should be able to go, “Ooh I don’t know,” you have to question, do you know what I mean? The people are multi-layered and they do things for, sometimes it’s out of character, sometimes there’s detriment as well. I remember a scene in season one that Lena and I had, one of the few, unfortunately, and listening to this brilliant speech that Lena had to give about the loss of her first child, and suddenly the knowledge that Catelyn Stark has of Cersei Lannister changes, because she’s learnt this woman is not just this cold, vicious bitch, but actually she’s, as a mother, it’s seeping in, this sort of loss and it’s a protection, it’s another layer of armor against hurt again. I mean, Catelyn’s not an easy character, she’s not a particularly nice woman, sometimes she’s got a rod up her ass and you want her to b e a little more chilled, have a little bit more fun, have some sex —
Fairley: (laughs) Yes it is. So bring your sex, come on. But um, yeah so, you know, it’s challenging, it’s wonderful to play, actually, especially when they go against the grain, you know what I mean?
Knight: Should she have let the Kingslayer out?
Fairley: Well of course i’m going to say yes … no, she shouldn’t. She shouldn’t and she should never have let Tyrion win that battle either, up in the Eyrie. No she shouldn’t, and I think she knows that inadvertently herself, and she’s constantly questioning herself. And she’s a very religious woman as well. She believes in the old religion, so, she just needs to let loose a bit more, I think. Stop sticking to the right path and just, you know, loosen that corset. But we don’t wear corsets.
Martin: I think the common humanity these characters share is more important than whether they’re men or women, tall men or short men, or princesses or peasants. Those things make a difference certainly but all human beings, I think, in all cultures throughout history have loved their children and have wanted success and love and a certain propserity and wanted to eat and not be killed and, you know, there are certain very basic things that motivate all people and I try to keep that in mind when writing any character.
Martin: There’s a lot of battles being depicted in fantasy, and of course [in] the simplistic fantasy it’s always the fully justified war. It’s the forces of light fighting that dark lord and his really evil ugly minions, and of course you have to fight the ugly evil minions in black otherwise they would spread evil over the earth. But real history is more complex. I think I steal from the best, like Shakespeare, there’s that great scene in Henry the V where Hal in disguise is walking among his men on the night before the Battle of Agincourt and some of the men are saying, “I’m not in a position to judge whether the king’s cause is just or not but if it’s not just, he’s going to have to answer for it for all the people who are going to die tomorrow who are fighting for his claim to the French throne”. And there’s a long discussion between the characters and between Hal himself in disguise about that. That’s a valid question here. (…) You really have to examine these wars and I try to present that. (…) You shouldn’t show a clean battle, where it’s all just the banners streaming in the winds and the genius of generals. Yes that’s part of it, show that by all means, but show the other side of it, show the people grieving over the the people that they’ve lost and the after effects fo it. Show the maimed men who lived after it. If you’re going to write about war, write about war with a degree of honesty.
Martin: That clip with Richard and Michelle brings home to me one of the points we were talking about, which is not only presenting death but presenting grief, which is actually something harder to do within the context of television. (…) [On Beauty And The Beast] After we did the episode in which Linda’s character died, we did an episode in which her body was found and she was buried and it was essentially an entire 60 minute episode of people weeping and grieving and sharing their memories of Catherine, much as if you’ve lost a loved one. We’ve all experienced that, when we’ve lost our parents or our siblings or our close friends, we’ve all experienced that kind of grief, it’s a powerful human emotion. But the network didn’t want us to show it, the network said (…) just move right on with adventures and excitement and then people will find the new beauty and forget about the other beauty. And of course the writers were horrified by this idea (…) And we kinda won the battle but lost a war. We presented the episode, it was a very powerful episode. I think our hardcore viewership watched that episode and wept copious tears, and then they didn’t tuned in ever again, and our ratings just fell off a cliff, because grief doesn’t necessarily have high entertainment value. But I think if you’re doing art it is important. And I think (turning to Michelle) the scene like the one that you played there, where not only is someone killed and not only is there talk of revenge, but there’s grief, and you see the effect that murders and wars have on actual human beings and the way we have to deal with it afterwards, that makes for more powerful storytelling. But you always have to accept that if you do that that there will be a portion of the audience who will not like that, who will say, “That’s not why I watch television.”
Knight: Lena and Michelle, you get plenty of opportunities for grief during the course of the series.
Martin: Sometimes they write new scenes, some of those have been terrific scenes. That speech that Michelle gave [in “Dark Wings Dark Words”] was very moving, and I know there’s a first season scene between Cersei and Robert where they discuss their marriage. Great scene, not a word of it from the books.
Michelle: The one I love watching, apart from Lena obviously, is Tyrion, actually.
Audience member: Lena, you say you were auditioning for the part of Catelyn. If you were to get the part, how would you have played it differently than Michelle’s portrayal? And Michelle, how do you think she would have done?
Fairley: What a question.
Headey: That’s a fucked up question.
Knight: You can just say “I’ll take that as a comment” and move on, we do it all the time on this show.
Headey: She’s amazing, I, you know … obviously I would have been better. No, she’s incredible.
Fairley: She would have done wonderfully, actually.
Audience member: We talked about women earlier, but did you set out to choose voices of people who hadn’t been heard in fiction?
Martin: Many of my viewpoint characters have something that makes them ill-suited to the society or the family or the station in life that htey have been dealt. And sometimes it’s somth very obvious (…) in other cases it’s, IDK, more subtle. (…) Certainly a woman born to House Tully or House Lannister had a lot of privileges, had great wealth, and power in a certain way. But it was a different sort of power, it was power that they had to exercise through the men around them. (…) The women in a medieval society can exercise power but they’re exercising it through their husbands, they’re exercising it through their sons, and that can be a very frustrating thing to do.