Actors: they’re just like us. They have favorite movies, they ride the subway — and they really want the long-hyped Cleganebowl to happen.
“Definitely the Hound and the Mountain,” Joe Dempsie said in an exclusive interview with Watchers on the Wall during last weekend’s Con of Thrones, when asked which duos he’d like to see meet up in Game of Thrones Season 8. “They’re either saving it for something epic, or it will be one of those things they won’t be able to fit in, but I’d really love to see it.”
It was a satisfactory answer, even if it wasn’t the one everyone is hoping for (will Arya and Gendry meet again?). Dempsie avoided nudges from Watchers to reveal much of anything about the eighth and final season of Game of Thrones, but we did learn that he was able to attend the second annual con because he recently wrapped filming his scenes for the last time. It’s a bittersweet career moment for Dempsie, especially as an actor who returned to a series he loved after several seasons away and now has to see the end of his character’s arc after only two seasons back.
However, with the final season looming, Gendry’s impact on the story — which was only hinted at in previous seasons — now has the possibility of being bigger and more important than anyone could have imagined.
“He’s sort of been a slow burner, hasn’t he?” Dempsie said. “For the first few seasons, I was getting itchy feet for more of a purpose for him, because he was mostly just serving as a foil for Arya. But even with those scenes, there are little nuggets that are dropped that are quite subtle.
“As the years go on, his potential significance [has become] more and more apparent, and potential is an important word,” he continued. “There’s a lot of elements of his character and his parentage that make him potentially powerful or dangerous, and he’s constantly learning more about himself. It’s almost impossible to know where he’s going to go now, based on both his ‘political’ clout, if he ever learns who he is, and his personality.”
That’s interesting phrasing, considering that Gendry is, by and large, an amiable character. It would be hard to imagine him seizing the Iron Throne by force or turning against allies. We’ve heard numerous cast members say that Season 8 will be shocking; perhaps Dempsie was hinting at a role for Gendry that we never thought he was capable of.
Surprisingly, one of those unexpected roles Dempsie could imagine for Robert Baratheon’s bastard is that of husband — to none other than Daenerys Targaryen.
“I don’t know — marry him?” Dempsie said when asked what Dany might do with the surviving son of the man who deposed her family from power. Targaryen/Baratheon marriages go back centuries, and what better way to help the realm heal after a long and bloody war? Dempsie thought it not a far-fetched possibility, although the opposite seemed just as likely to him.
“The thing about Dany that we’re seeing is her unpredictability now — you just never know what she’s going to do,” he said. “What’s this quest for further power doing to her? Sometimes I don’t even know what she would do. She would just as likely marry Gendry as burn him alive.”
Dempsie also talked about the similarities and differences between Gendry and Jon Snow — two characters who met at long last in Season 7 — noting that the two have always been “trying to figure out who they are and where they sit in their own world,” but that they also differ greatly in their experiences.
“They’re obviously from two very different worlds — Jon had privilege, even growing up as a slight outsider in a noble House, while Gendry has grown up in the streets without any kind of anchor, really,” Dempsie said. “Jon has a slightly wider worldview and experience, having been part of the Night’s Watch, and it’s just slightly less far-fetched for someone like him to be involved in something like a life-or-death struggle for the realm. Until Gendry left Flea Bottom, he had a yearning for something more but didn’t have the confidence to leave or to see it for himself. But when they meet each other they still have a common bond in being bastards, not knowing their mothers, that kind of thing.”
And as for that famous “I thought you’d still be rowing” line from Davos in Season 7 when he sees Gendry for the first time in years? Dempsie loved that Dave Benioff and Dan Weiss were willing to “wink down the camera” at fans and Dempsie himself, who tweeted “Still rowin’…#GoT” back in 2014.
“They’re not averse to putting in some crowd- or fan-pleasing moments like that,” he said. “That’s a tricky thing for [Dan and Dave], the idea that they’re keen to do their own thing, but knowing that the sooner you realize you’re not going to please everyone, the better. It’s treading the fine line between crowd-pleasing and jumping the shark, and I think they’re doing it beautifully.”