'Game Of Thrones': Joe Dempsie Talks Gendry, Fitness Competitions On Set & Life After 'Skins'
Joe Dempsie as Gendry in 'Game of Thrones,' and at Access Hollywood (inset) -- Access Hollywood/Helen Sloan/HBO
It's midday in Burbank, and "Game of Thrones" actor Joe Dempsie has arrived at Access Hollywood looking rather different to Gendry, the increasingly popular character he plays in HBO's hit fantasy drama.
"I've had a wash," the British actor laughs, referring to the missing layers of fake road dirt generally found smudged on the face of the young armorer's apprentice, who started Season 2 on the long journey to The Wall with Arya Stark.
Gone too are the jet black locks that helped him look like the illegitimate son of the late King Robert Baratheon. Instead, Joe is sporting his natural color, a blond hue more befitting the Lannisters, the very family whose armies just made Gendry and Arya prisoners at Harrenhal.
"When I was cast, the character description was, 'tall, muscular, with thick black hair.' I was none of those three at that time," he tells AccessHollywood.com's Laura Saltman as he sits down for a chat. "I kind of thought, 'I can die my hair and hit the gym, but I can't do much about the shortness.' So two out of three ain't bad.
"In terms of playing the character, though, I had to sort of do a lot of my own thinking and there wasn't much information to go on about his past or anything that really shaped him into the person that he kind of is," Joe continues. "So I just kind of wanted to make him a nice guy, who was a man of principle... more than anything."
He may not have physically resembled the part, but it's easy to see why Joe was given the role of Gendry. In just a few scenes at the start of the Season 2, his performances - humorous, delightful and full of chemistry with co-star Maisie Williams (who plays Arya) - quickly made him a fan favorite. In recent weeks, #Gendry even became a top trending topic on Twitter, but the popularity of his character still came as a bit of a surprise.
"Oh yeah, definitely," he says. "I think it's strange, 'cause he was quite a minor character in [Season] 1, but you definitely got the impression that there was more to come, that there was kind of something... like a deeper story to be told."
"Game of Thrones" might be the first time Joe's managed to trend on Twitter, but it's not his first brush with success.
In 2007, he was part of the freshman cast of "Skins," the raw British drama, starring and aimed at teens, a show that quickly became a phenomenon in his native UK.
Starring a pre-"Slumdog Millionaire" Dev Patel, Nicholas Hoult ("About A Boy") and "GOT" Season 2 newcomer Hannah Murray (she plays Gilly), Joe's show won awards, prompted a host of headlines and the British press even likened its quick rise to a sort of new Beatlemania.
"We were surprised at how popular that show became. So there was a period of about two years where, it was quite full on because teenagers... they're more likely to come say something to you in the street," Joe recalls of the fan reaction.