The actor discusses the challenges and joys of playing Theon in the latest season and why the young Greyjoy can’t just let go of the past.
HBO: What does the Daenerys alliance mean to Theon?
Alfie Allen: The Daenerys alliance means he has a new goal in life. There’s new leadership happening, and he can see that Yara and Daenerys get along pretty well, so there’s definitely some shard of trust back in his life that he can rely on.
HBO: Theon is no longer identifying as Reek, but he seems to still be struggling with his past. What were the biggest acting challenges playing that?
Alfie Allen: Going back to the imagery of what he saw back then, and allowing that to flood back in. Also, as an actor, having to delve back into something that was so long ago in his arc is pretty crazy. But it’s always been there throughout; it’s just gauging what brings him back, how much is created in his own head, and how much is an effective threat. I would say he’s in a better place, but he’s still definitely harkening back to those memories.
HBO: What was it like filming the scene where Theon jumps off the ship?
Alfie Allen: It was a great thing to shoot. We had an amazing set up. It was all this crazy s**t out in a parking lot, and then they use a blue screen for the ocean stuff. I’m always excited to shoot the stuff between me and Gemma [Whelan, who plays Yara] because she’s fantastic to work with and we’ve built up a relationship over the years. We definitely feel like we are siblings. It was a heartbreaking moment.
HBO: Can you explain that moment from his perspective?
Alfie Allen: There’s conflicting emotions for him, because he’s sort of back in battle mode, which he hasn’t been in for a long, long time. The sight of blood is going to remind him of physical pain or mental torment. It brings him back to that place, and he’s torn as to what to do. The reptilian part of his brain just takes over.
HBO: Did you actually have to jump into the water?
Alfie Allen: I didn’t have to jump into the water then, just a load of cardboard boxes. That was the second time I’ve had to do that in Thrones. It was fun. I could do it over and over again. But there was a part where I did have to get in the water tank. It was freezing when they shot it, but the actual water was alright. There’s another scene [in the premiere of Season 6], where [Sophie Turner and I] went into a real river, and that was very, very cold. This was a bit warmer, so it was nice, but the weather was definitely freezing at that point.
HBO: Kit Harington and John Bradley said Theon’s storyline was the one they were most excited to watch unfold this season. What can we expect?
Alfie Allen: He’s dealing with decisions that he made a long, long time ago. Now he’s having to face up to those decisions, and the people who it really did affect.
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