When it comes to TV characters we love to hate, sniveling, slimy "Game of Thrones" traitor Theon Greyjoy (played by Alfie Allen) is at the top of the list.
Joffrey Baratheon is there, too, of course. But, unlike the boy king's season-by-season increase in overall intolerableness, Theon's surprising arc in the show's third season threw a few fans for a loop and into a conflicted state of empathy. On one hand, Theon's earlier traitorous treachery deserved severe punishment; but on the other hand, did we want to see him sliced and diced? Like we said, we are conflicted no matter how much we've come to expect the unexpected with this show.
So who can we turn to in order to sort out these conflicted feelings, aside from author George R.R. Martin and show creators D.B. Weiss and David Benioff? Allen, that's who.
In celebration of the third season's DVD/Blu-ray release this week, Yahoo TV sat down with the man in question (who is a lovely and lively person, quite the opposite of his character) to reminisce about Theon's tumultuous third season; how it left Allen feeling particularly "s--t" at times, his thoughts on Thramsay vs. Throbb, and some Season 4 spoiler talk.
Do you watch the show back after filming? How do you digest your work on the show?
I like to watch it alone. It has happened quite a few times that the show will come on and friends will be at my house and we switch it on, but I don't really feel comfortable watching stuff that I'm in around other people.
Because of the dark subject matter of "Game of Thrones"?
It has a little to do with that; it's quite dark. I guess when you're in a room full of friends and you're being tortured, they're not actually going, "Aww"; they're going "HAHA!" So I guess by wanting to watch it on my own, in a way, I'm sort of overanalyzing my performance. But as actors I don't think we can really help doing that. I have to admit I didn't really get to watch a lot of Series 3.
I imagine that wouldn't be that fun to watch.
It's become harder and harder, really. It's interesting; that's a word that gets used a lot with my story line, "interesting."
With regard to those torture scenes, were you ever able to watch them back or revisit them? Was acting out those scenes and then watching it back similar to torture?
I did find it quite hard watching it back for sure. The shooting schedule was quite fragmented. There were some things happening in my life at that time that I would definitely use. My grandfather passed away while I was shooting that stuff as well. There was stuff, which I found hard, because I would relate that back to an emotion I was trying to use to sort of get Theon's emotion through. So that was the reason why it was quite hard to watch, because I would know exactly where I was emotionally at that particular point in time, which was quite difficult. Other than that, no, I don't watch things over and over again, and if I was going to I would just be beating myself up, which I can't help doing sometimes.
What was your decompression method after wrapping those scenes every day?
Sometimes I wouldn't. It would be weird because I would go home, and I swear to you it would take me a while to figure it out. It was definitely more in Series 3 than Series 4, but I would come away from it feeling awful, really depressed, and I wouldn't connect it. Like, "Why am I feeling like this?" It took me a while after we wrapped to realize, "Oh right, probably because I was tied to a cross having hot and cold water thrown on me, that's why I was feeling s--t." I was bringing all these dark emotions from my own life and trying to make it Theon's, and it was tough. It took me a while to figure out why I was feeling s--t.
In terms of winding down after, I didn't really. I was just thinking about the next thing I had coming. I wouldn't really have something to wind me out of Theon mode, and maybe that's why I came away feeling so s--t all the time, because I wouldn't do that [laughs].
So you and Iwan Rheon [Ramsay, Theon's torturer] are friendly in real life?
Very friendly. He's a dude, a complete dude.
He plays that role so well I feel like he'd creep me out in real life.
You might get creeped out, to be honest. He's a creepy dude [laughs]. No, he's f--king cool, man. Me and him, we really get along to the point of we get not frustrated, but it's a testament to how good the show is. ... We'll be out in Belfast sometimes, and people will come up to us [spoken in a very good Irish accent], "How the f--k are you two hangin' out? He chopped your f--king dick off! You two can't be friends!" It's cool that people can't get their heads wrapped around the fact that we might actually be friends, which is great. We definitely, definitely get along. At first it was quite weird, because we'd be doing these nasty things to each other and the relationship was really horrible — well not to each other, he'd just be doing them to me, but it was difficult at first trying to form a relationship as friends, but we just sort of got over it.
Have you seen the fan-created Thramsay tag in support of a Theon-Ramsay pairing?
No. Well, I know there was a Throbb one [laughs], but I don't know about Thramsay. I might have a look at it, I might not.
Would you prefer Thramsay or Throbb?
I don't know. How can we get Throbbsay? We could do that. But I don't know, maybe Throbb just because I miss him so much. It's so sad, him being away. We all do really miss Richard [Madden, who played Robb Stark] on set.
What's Theon up to in Season 4?
I'm not saying nothin', man! One thing ... ugh. I can't say! Well ... one thing— [REDACTED awesome thing you want to know about Season 4 being held until a later date].
Check back soon for more of our fun chat with Alfie Allen. Until then, fill the "Game of Thrones" void with Season 3 now available on DVD/Blu-ray. Season 4 premieres April 6 at 9 p.m. on HBO.