The actor behind Jaqen H’ghar discusses tough love in the House of Black and White and portraying one of the most mysterious characters on television.
HBO: What’s it like to play such an enigmatic character?
Tom Wlaschiha: I don’t really know much more than the audience does. As an actor, you play different sides of the character, and if they’re contradictory, then there you have the secret or the enigma. It’s great to play a character that is multilayered and not straightforward because it gives you an opportunity to discover different shades of the character.
HBO: How would you describe Jaqen’s relationship with Arya?
Tom Wlaschiha: I think he definitely has a soft spot for Arya. Otherwise he wouldn’t be spending that much time with her and really trying to give her the best training she can get. Obviously, Arya doesn’t see it that way. After Season 5, I got a lot of reactions from the audience asking, "Why? What did you do?" But from his point of view, over the seasons, Jaqen has been very consistent with what he wants. He picked Arya for a reason, and he’s not making it easy for her, but hopefully that’s in her best interest.
HBO: Why do you think he choose blindness as Arya’s punishment?
Tom Wlaschiha: It made sense to me because it seems cruel, but on the other hand, her other senses are going to get even sharper. Way back at the beginning, Arya says that she has to move like a cat and she has to be unseen. I think being blind just raises the bar to make it more difficult. At the same time, if she manages that, then that will make her even stronger.
HBO: With all the fight scenes between the Waif and Arya, do you wish Jaqen got to do more stunts?
Tom Wlaschiha: Yeah, but I think it’s not the character. Jaqen doesn’t like to get his hands dirty. If he does something, he is very secretive. He would never show that things take an effort; he makes everything seem effortless.
HBO: Do you think Jaqen is aware of the Waif's hatred of Arya? Is he using it to serve his purposes?
Tom Wlaschiha: We shall see. But I think Jaqen knows everything; nothing goes unnoticed in the House of Black and White.
HBO: Over the course of three seasons, has the acting dynamic changed between you and Maisie Williams?
Tom Wlaschiha: I think we’ve always had a great dynamic. I love how Maisie’s character changes. She grows up with the character, and the character grows up with her. In Season 2 Arya was more naïve and she was a little girl, and in Season 5 she’s already much more – I don’t want to say scheming – but she makes conscious decisions and she thinks of the consequences. It’s great for an actor to be able to play alongside a part that grows with you.
HBO: The Game of Thrones Season 6 poster is the Hall of Faces… Is it strange running into the Hall out in the real world?
Tom Wlaschiha: When we were at the L.A. premiere, the after party pretty much took place in my office.
HBO: What can fans expect for Jaqen and Arya’s storyline this season?
Tom Wlaschiha: To tease anything without giving away anything… Well, I think the storyline is moving towards a climax. Jaqen wants to continue with Arya’s training to make her the best possible weapon that she can be, and we’ll see if Arya complies with that.