Liam Cunningham Knows Onion Knights Don't Cry

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With Season 6 fast-approaching, Liam Cunningham shares his thoughts on Shireen, Melisandre and where Davos goes from here. 

HBO: Now that Stannis is dead, how will Davos and Melisandre relate?

Liam Cunningham: Well, it’s interesting because our original reason for living—for interacting—has been removed, in a sense. We've had this hate-hate relationship and now we find ourselves in the same boat. It’s a very weird place. We’ve see in the trailer Melisandre say what she saw in the flames was wrong. Her faith is shaken to the core. Whatever she’s believed in has blown up in her face and led to death and destruction. And Davos shows great concern for her because he doesn’t know she’s the one who burnt the one thing that he loved in the world. So we’re going to be watching the whole thing unfold.

HBO: Why do you think Davos had such a strong connection with Shireen?

Liam Cunningham: He’s been with Stannis, I think, about 17 years. So he’s watched her being born, grow up, watched her mother and father have nothing to do with her. And because this man is filled with humanity—he’s a decent, loyal, good person—he’s magnetically drawn to people who are like that. He has benefited from his relationship with this beautiful young lady as much as she has from him. She’d treat him as an equal. It wasn’t a father-daughter relationship; they were pals. He ran stuff by her, he listened to her; he treated her with the respect that we all should treat each other with. [Her death] was a horrible thing to have happen to Davos.

HBO: Are we going to see Davos dwelling on her death?

Liam Cunningham: We’re never going to indulge the character of Davos like that. He’s a pragmatist. I’ve always compared him, in a sense, to Robert Duvall’s character, Tom Hagen, in The Godfather. He’s not part of the family, but at the same time, they’re not going make a decision until they run it by him. He’s not a leader; he’s a “consigliere.” However, he will tell you what you don’t want to hear, which can get him into trouble. But you shouldn’t have asked! Davos is hard truths. As we like to say in Ireland, it’s strong words, softly spoken. He doesn’t waste time on negativity for completely practical reasons. So no, we’re not going to watch him wallowing, he’s got other things on his mind.

HBO: Davos has been very resistant to religion. Why?

Liam Cunningham: He sees it as a kind of catchall, to give people an excuse to do terrible things. He just doesn’t understand why it’s necessary. He figures it’s all bulls**t: the Seven Gods, the God of Light. He’s never going to harm anybody unnecessarily, and at the same time he’s working for someone who’s allowed that sort of thing. And he’s been incredibly angry about it. It’s about honor and decency. He has extraordinary Christian values for a man that has no religion. I love that irony: Davos is from the worst s**thole in King’s Landing, and has more nobility than all of the Lannisters—who have wealth and education—put together. He has this grace about him. I really like that.

HBO: I think that’s why fans like him so much, too.

Liam Cunningham: I think fans like him because he’s the guy we’d all like to be in a particular situation. You’d stand up for yourself; you wouldn’t buckle. And it’s not even a choice, it’s a given. It’s not a choice for him, it’s a “I won’t be doing that because it’s the wrong thing to do.” And he’s right. And if you’re asking him to do it, you’re annoyed, because you know you’re asking him to do something bad. He’s a great guy. I really like playing him.

HBO: Since you can get behind Davos on so many things, what’s the most challenging part about playing him?

Liam Cunningham: Keeping him simple. He has—for want of a better word—a predictability about him, which can be dramatically, incredibly boring. But at the same time, he’s pulling the situations. He’s got to stand back and watch things be made a mess of, and then gently take over.

HBO: As we count down to the Season 6 premiere, can you tell us your favorite episode?

Liam Cunningham: Yes, and I’m not even in the f**king episode! It’s “Hardhome.” It’s magnificent. I couldn’t believe it. I watched the last half hour with my jaw in my hand. And it is going to pale in comparison with what we’ve got coming up. What we’ve got, and the misery we went through to shoot it, is going to be absolutely glorious. There’s going to be some stunning stuff coming. I mean really, really stunning.