The newest addition to Team Targaryen breaks down his character's decision to cross the Narrow Sea, his relationship with Tyrion and reveals his choice for the Iron Throne.
HBO: Given his role in Tyrion's escape, does Varys feel any accountability for the deaths of Shae and Tywin?
Conleth Hill: No. Jaime released Tyrion from the cell, Varys was just to get Tyrion out the country. As to what Tyrion did on the way to Varys, that was Tyrion's doing and Tyrion's alone.
HBO: Do you think the murders change the way Varys sees Tyrion?
Conleth Hill: I don't think so. Tyrion was under immense pressure – he was about to be executed.
HBO: Did Varys always plan to get on the ship to Essos?
Conleth Hill: I think that was a last minute decision. Varys and Tyrion got on the boat, and Varys turned around and heard the bells ringing. As we've known, Varys hates bells. They're always filled with omens of bad news: the marriage or death of a king or the Hand. Once he hears those bells, he knows the game's up, that it's been realized that Tyrion's escaped. Varys just goes.
HBO: How would you describe the relationship between Varys and Tyrion?
Conleth Hill: There's a fondness and a mutual respect – a recognition that they're both survivors who both have been persecuted all their lives because of how they are, as opposed to who they are. We know from past episodes that he thinks that Tyrion would be a very, very useful member of a council or a Hand of a King. He admires his political prowess and, equally, his compassion.
HBO: Has their dynamic shifted in light of their new circumstances?
Conleth Hill: I don't know that it's changed. I think it might be a bit more intense since the stakes are higher and Tyrion is in such bad shape.
HBO: How concerned is Varys about Tyrion's well being?
Conleth Hill: I think the only person who can help Tyrion is Tyrion. Varys is kind of enabling, making sure that Tyrion stays safe and hoping that he recovers and turns a corner. But I think there would be something wrong if someone who just murdered their father and ex-girlfriend suddenly got over it.
HBO: Varys has admitted he wants to see Dany on the throne; what's his ideal role in her administration?
Conleth Hill: I have no idea. He says he wants to help her to power, but as has been pointed out, he's capable of switching or changing his mind.
HBO: Were you surprised to learn that Varys would be laying his cards on the table?
Conleth Hill: No, because there's always the possibility that that's not the case, if that makes sense. It's never a surprise. I'm just happy to be still alive.
HBO: Varys says, "Westeros needs to be saved from itself." Do you agree?
Conleth Hill: That's kind of true. There are still terrible wars between the Night's Watch and the wildlings, and between Stannis and the supporters of the Lannisters. It is just a mess. When he was alive, Tywin was an authority. I've heard it said that whenever he came into a room with his three adult children, they became children again. That's a huge force that's now not at the head of that family.
HBO: Who is the biggest threat to the well-being of Westeros?
Conleth Hill: I guess the Boltons and Littlefinger, obviously. God only knows what he's up to.
HBO: With Varys out of King's Landing was filming different for you this season?
Conleth Hill: Not really. We filmed interiors in Banbridge, in Northern Ireland, and the exteriors in Croatia. All the King's Landing exteriors for the past for years, apart from the first season, were also filmed in Croatia. I do miss Lena [Headey, who plays Cersei] terribly and I miss the other guys in the Small Council, but it changes and I'm happy to change with it.
HBO: What's your ideal pet: Dragon, direwolf or Ser Pounce?
Conleth Hill: If this was Varys I'd say a dragon, but for me, a direwolf. I love dogs.
HBO: Who would you want to see on the Iron Throne?
Conleth Hill: Either Daenerys, Jon Snow or Sansa.
Conleth Hill: I think she's going to be amazing politician and diplomat by the end of her journey. She's learning from a master at the moment but she knows a lot anyway.
HBO: How do you feel about Qyburn replacing Varys as Master of Whisperers?
Conleth Hill: Well, good luck to him. I'm done there.