Interview: Ian Beattie on loving ‘Game of Thrones’ and saying goodbye to Meryn Trant
Ian Beattie speaks with Hypable about bringing Meryn Trant to life — and gruesome death — in
It was quite an honor, to be quite honest with you, [especially] playing such a despicable character.
What was it like saying goodbye to the show, after being involved for its entire run?
It was one of the worst experiences of my professional career. It was absolutely awful to say goodbye to it. Although in saying goodbye, both David [Benioff] and Dan [Weiss] gave me two scenes that any actor would kill for — along with a death at the end of it that I think everybody who saw it will remember. So I was extraordinarily grateful for that.
But it was awful. It was terrible! It was funny, because in the last seven or so hours on set, once Maisie put both my eyes out — thank you, Maisie! — I had prosthetics on both of my eyes. So for the last seven hours, I was completely blind. Now, that actually helped me in terms of the vulnerability that the character felt in that position. It was absolutely terrifying.
But at the end of it, we did this cut in one take, and then [director] David Nutter shouted out “That’s a series wrap on Ian Beattie!” And I was heartbroken. I don’t mind admitting for a second that I shed a tear — thank God I was wearing the prosthetics, and they couldn’t actually see me blubbering! But it’s like being told you can’t come back to your family again. You can’t come back to this wonderful, incredible, large, extraordinary, talented, slightly dysfunctional family. And it’s awful, it’s awful.
I did suggest to David and Dan just before I died that perhaps Ser Meryn could have a twin brother — maybe someone who just beat up old ladies, rather than someone else who beat up children. But unfortunately I don’t think that’s going to happen.
What’s been your proudest moment in your career as Meryn Trant?
I would have to say season 5, episodes nine and ten — my three scenes in that. You know, when I first read the scenes, it was about three months before we filmed, and I was horrified by them — but I was terrified by them as well. How do we bring this monster to life — how do we make this monster human? Which would make him even more terrifying, that he was. And the scenes could have gone any which way, but I think we pulled them off.
For me, pulling off those scenes, bringing that terrible side of Meryn to life and doing that successfully, followed by that incredible death scene — I would say, if I’m proudest of anything, that was probably some of the best acting I’ve done.
unlike me. I couldn’t find a single — I think I found
redeeming feature in the scumbag, and that was his loyalty to Cersei. I think that was the only positive that I could find, everything else was negative. I thought he was a coward, I thought he was a bully, I thought he was a thug. And then of course, in season 5, I find out he’s a pedophile and a child-beater as well! [laughs]
There weren’t too many positives about him, but it was making him real, and that was the real challenge. I’m quite proud of the fact that, certainly for most of the viewers, even the ones who were cheering and shouting and screaming at my death, I was very pleased with that. And I was very proud that the viewers felt that way. And certainly, even friends of mine who were fans of the show managed to divorce the fact that it wasn’t me there — it was the character I was playing. And convincing them was very [validating] for my performance.
, overshadowed by monsters like Joffrey and Ramsay. Were you surprised at how truly evil he was revealed to be in season 5?
I was horrified. I didn’t actually see it myself. For the first four seasons, honestly I thought he was just a thug and a bully — and a wee bit of a sadist to enjoy taking orders from the horrible Joffrey. I didn’t see that private side to him.
And funnily enough, I actually watched all four seasons before we filmed season 5, after I’d got the storyline, just to make sure — “Yep, nope, this is going to work.” The signs were there, the signs were there — the enjoyment, the sneering enjoyment of beating Sansa, the sneering enjoyment at [Tyrion’s] trial. The signs were there, so we were able to successfully convince the viewer. It was no great leap of the imagination for the viewer to see Meryn as this person, when his private side was finally revealed.
You know, now that I think about it, Meryn really had a lot going on.
Well, I think that’s the genius of David and Dan — that even minor characters are fleshed out and given life, and the way it contributes to the show as a whole. I’m such a huge of
[fan], such a huge fan of David and Dan, and George Martin, the genius who created this world. I really cannot wait for season 6, I really can’t wait for it to come along. I’m really looking forward to it!
Next: Co-stars and coping with ‘Game of Thrones’ withdrawal
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