Curtain Call: Eugene Simon

Lancel

To salute Eugene Simon’s performance as Brother Lancel, formerly Lannister, we have a guest post by WotW friend and surveymaster James Rivers.

On most television shows, an actor must portray how his character changes over time. Sometimes that change is transformative and quick, but usually it happens more slowly.

Eugene Simon did not have that luxury in his portrayal of Lancel Lannister on Game of Thrones. The first two seasons, he played an intimidated pushover devoted to his older cousin (and queen), Cersei. After two seasons off, he returned to the role and had to immediately sell his character’s unseen metamorphosis into a pious religious fanatic.

He pulled off both “versions” of Lancel with seeming ease.

We first see him in episode 3 of the first season being mocked by King Robert as he serves wine: “Gods, what a stupid name. Lancel Lannister. Who named you? Some halfwit with a stutter?”

Lancel s1With Lancel’s reply, “It’s empty, your grace,” referring to his wine pitcher, Simon was off and running. In Season 1, he helped Robert into his ill-fitting armor, as well as his grave, and hooked up with the king’s widow. In Season 2 he tried, and failed, to go toe-to-toe with Tyrion and eventually was forced to be his reluctant informant — at one point having a now-forboding conversation about Cersei hoarding wildfire.

In an interview with TV Guide during Season 2, Simon described Lancel as “fundamentally not made of much,” someone “dutiful” to his house who has ambitions, but “doesn’t have the tools available to him psychologically to actually be anything more than a boy.”

After Lancel’s injury at the Battle of the Blackwater, Simon vanished from the Thrones screen, but those who’d read A Feast for Crows figured he might show up again. Turns out Simon thought so too, and had been preparing for a possible return.

lancel Blackwater

“I was quite raring to go,” he told TV Guide in another interview, for Season 5, “for people to see just how this boy figure in the first two seasons could become someone of such influence and intimidation through really being at first an underdog.”

And so at the start of Season 5, Lancel re-appeared as a “sparrow” devoted to the faith of the Seven, clad in a simple robe and with shorn hair.

If Simon returned to play a character transformed in looks and spirit, so too, did he return to a show transformed — to use his own words — from an underdog to something of influence. That had to make playing Lancel 2.0 that much more intimidating. But he pulled it off, giving a performance in his first big scene back (in which he seeks forgiveness from Cersei for what he did with and for her) that effectively demonstrated Lancel’s new nature, called back to previous events, and made fans of Cersei worry.

EugeneSimon continued to recur through Seasons 5 and 6 as the Cersei vs. the Sparrow plot advanced through its varied power shifts. And the Lancel we ultimately were left with, staring at death in the form of green fire, is a far cry from the one who once poured Robert wine.

David Benioff and D.B. Weiss almost certainly didn’t randomly assign Lancel to be the one featured in an excruciatingly tense scene as, knife wound and all, he dragged himself in vain to nearly melted candles set in a pool of wildfire. With him, we witnessed the horror of the initial explosion. They needed someone familiar to the audience to witness the horror of the initial explosion, and likely wanted wanted to give Simon’s long-time character closure.

“They told me I had a scene coming up in the season finale which Lancel is at the very centre of,” he told the Independent after Episode 10, adding that he has several offers involving “psychologically impaired characters.” Wonder why…

And while he’d probably rather remain on what is now the biggest show in the world, he told the paper he is “very happy with the way Lancel went out.”

He went out, of course, with a proverbial bang.

wildfire

49 responses

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    1. Go fetch me the breastplate stretcher! I love Eugene and how good natured he is IRL. I follow him on Instagram which is always filled with positive vibes. His scenes in season 1 and 2 were some of the funniest in the series. I will miss him on the show and wish him the best! 🙂

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    2. Always a huge deal when someone dies that has been with the show since Season 1. Good luck with all your future endeavors Eugene! You’ll be missed.

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    3. Eugene delivered on all aspects of Lancel’s character. Another great performance in a minor but pivotal role. His death scene was brilliant: Eugene clearly displayed Lancel’s determination and resulting horror at what was about to happen in near silence.

      Wishing him the best in future roles!

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    4. Awww…Eugene! So interesting to watch Lancel’s change and development over the seasons. Well done! So glad that they gave you a good, meaty ending on your own. Thank you for sharing your talents and looking forward to seeing you again soon! Seven Blessings!

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    5. Lancel came such an incredibly long way. That was a really great end for his character, and I applaud Eugene for his development as an actor over the years.

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    6. Lancel was certainly more memorable to me in season 6, but thats just because I have mush for brains. I rewatched those first episodes recently and I realized who this character was and watched how frustrated he was to have so little power. Wow, that changed! Eugene managed both sides of the character perfectly, and oh that last scene – I knew he wasn’t going to be able to put out the candles but really hoped he could!

      I read this interview with him that showed how much he knew his character and the change that was demanded of him. Very good actor, hope to see him again in the future in other roles!

      (BTW mods, that Independent interview is impossible to read due to an ad blocking it. is there another way to access it?)

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    7. A great actor. Convincing in both the roles of the naive squire and the religious zealot. Hopefully Lancel found the breastplate stretcher in heaven.
      I wish Eugene all the best in his future roles.

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    8. Eugene Simon is such a charming young man, certainly he will have a long and fruitful career. Good luck and sure enjoyed your depiction of Lancel – one of my favorite scenes of the show is his moment with Tyrion discussing wildfire…funny stuff!

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    9. His character was destined to be killed off pretty quickly. I want Margary to come back and get her revenge on Cersi but it won’t happen. It’s too bad they were all blown up so they can’t even come back as white walkers.

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    10. I couldn’t understand how he couldn’t walk after the kid stabbed himbin 5he leg? And, when he finally reached the candles, I kept going BLOW! BLOW!

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    11. Great job by Eugene! Loved his portrayal of the hapless Lancel in the early seasons. He and Tyrion were great together. Glad he got to be the center of the final scene! Best of luck, Eugene!

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    12. ash:
      (BTW mods, that Independent interview is impossible to read due to an ad blocking it.is there another way to access it?)

      I can see it just fine, ash, but I’m using Chrome and AdBlockPlus.

      Eugene was so different for his roles as dainty squire and buff zealot that I was convinced he was a different actor. I IMDbed to confirm and was shocked to find that Simon said he was the same Simon.

      Someone on here met Eugene just a few weeks ago at the Texas Comic Con in Houston – a poster who has been on here for ages. She said Eugene was completely adorable and wonderful. May television and film find him many more roles to come.

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    13. A relatively minor but still important character and yet another who undergoes quite a transformation through the run of the series. Eugene certainly played both in a very believable way where they could have been performed clumsily in lesser hands.

      Seems like a splendidly likeable chap too!

      Remember that scene from Blackwater? 😀

      “Game of Thrones: Blackwater (#2.9)” (2012)
      Joffrey Baratheon: Hound, tell the Hand that his King has asked him a question.
      Sandor Clegane: The King has asked you a question.
      Tyrion Lannister: Sir Lancel, tell the Hound to tell the King that the Hand is extremely busy.
      Lancel Lannister: The Hand of the King would like me to tell you to tell the King that…
      Joffrey Baratheon: If I tell the Hound to cut you in half, he’ll do it without a second thought.
      Tyrion Lannister: That would make me the quarter-man. Just doesn’t have the same ring to it.

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    14. How I loved his transformation. From Little Lord Fauntleroy to stone cold sparrow, I don’t think I’ve ever changed my mind about a character so quickly. Fantastic. Eugene, you are a treasure.

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    15. He did an amazing job with a rather thankless character
      and good for him.

      Btw, I don’t think I’ll be able to handle a curtain call for Natalie Dormer *cries

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    16. Thanks, Eugene!

      Good thing for WotW that so many characters die in the finale. They’ll need to find some content between now and Comic Con

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    17. Always enjoyed his performance. He was hilarious in the first two seasons. Favorite from that time period was when Tyrion first turned the tables on him, I think in S2E4.

      I thought we wouldn’t see him again when he was gone for two seasons but I loved how different he was when he returned, and how pivotal a character he had become. He’s barely in this season but he had a greats sendoff. Can’t say I’ll miss Lancel but Simon always made him enjoyable to watch, appreciated the performance.

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    18. House Stackhouse:
      I couldn’t understand how he couldn’t walk after the kid stabbed himbin 5he leg? And, when he finally reached the candles, I kept going BLOW! BLOW!

      I think he realized the candle was too far gone to blow. He would have blown the fire into the wildfire at that point. He was powerless.

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    19. His death is another example of the powerful taking advantage of the less powerful. He comes from a privileged family, but that just puts him in a place to be used even more directly. Cersei took his life away, long before the explosion, as much as Bran took Hodor’s, long before he held the door. But he doesn’t get any pity for it.

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    20. Longtime reader of WotW (and that site of the Others before that :p ), but now I have 😉 to post the following about Eugene Simon.

      A few months ago I went to Dutch Comic Con and while I’m normally not a person who worships celebrities, asks for their autographs and takes pictures with them, I’m such a big GoT fan that I decided to bring a copy of one on my ASOIAF books for the GoT actors that were on hand to sign (all the while thinking to myself: “Shame! Shame! Shame!” ofc). At one point during the day I noticed there was not much of a queue anymore at the GoT booth, so I walked up there and shook hands with the actors that were present. While they were all very nice people, Eugene Simon made such a big impression on me… wow. He was just so incredibly friendly, patient and nice. We must have chatted for close to 10 minutes and what struck me is that we ended up not just talking about him and the show, but he seemed genuinely interested in who he was talking to as well. The guy came across as 100% sincere and very relaxed in this environment with all these people staring at him. And for a guy still in his early 20s and still pretty new to all this “stardom”… not bad, me thinks.

      So there you go, from someone who claims not to worship celebrities: that Eugene Simon fella was pretty awesome 😉 Try to do an interview with him or some such during the off-season: given the right questions he will very likely have lots of interesting things to say. He’s one of those actors on the show who really seemed to love what he was doing.

      (And yes, I ended up taking a picture with him too even though I swore to myself I’d never do something so ridiculous in my life :p )

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    21. I first saw Eugene Simon as young Gerald Durrell in a TV movie of “My Family and Other Animals”* circa 2005 and he was good in that. I didn’t realise it was the same actor when he first appeared as Lancel but he’d done some growing up. I was hoping Lancel would wake up from his crazy fascination with the Sparrows but it was not to be – still at least the character was trying to do something good with his last moments albeit he failed. Well done to ES for his portrayal of both Lancels.

      * Same story but a different production with different actors on a different TV channel to “The Durrells” which was on ITV quite recently.

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    22. Until recently (mid-Season 6), I used to think ‘breastplate stretcher’ was a person, like an armorer, only non-existent (hence the joke).

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    23. He was wonderfully goofy in his early seasons, and he kind of grew on me, especially at Blackwater, when he seemed to be becoming a man, then faded out. He was so changed when he returned, so serious and competent in his new-found fanaticism. Wonderful performance.

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    24. House Stackhouse,

      Pretty sure he stabbed him in the spine, not the leg. Qyburn the anatomy expert no doubt instructed the kid where to strike. My main quibble with that scene was why Lancel followed the kid in the first place.

      But, on topic, well done to Eugene Simon! He was always greatly watchable whether he was playing Lancel as Robert’s whipping boy, Cersei’s boy toy, or the High Sparrow’s lead enforcer. Glad they gave him a big death moment.

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    25. Eugene had to play two different characters, essentially.
      The meek, cowardly (and sometimes arrogant) squire of seasons 1 & 2.
      And the cold, devout Sparrow of seasons 5 & 6.

      And yet… somehow, despite the differences between the two, when playing devout Lancel, Eugene still managed to make me believe that this was the same character as the one who served Robert wine, and got injured at Blackwater. Lancel had finally found somewhere where he believed he belonged, and despite his relative lack of emotion, I always detected a hint of the old Lancel in Eugene’s performance – Like some part of him, deep down, wished he had never joined these fanatics. I felt bad for Lancel when he died, because I always had a slight hope that he could be reached… but of course, he was a loose end for Cersei, so he had to go, regardless…

      Best of luck in the future Eugene. You did wonderful work as Lancel – both of them.

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    26. A minor but unforgettable character who changed the most during the series. During season 1 and 2, he was mostly used for comic relief but in season 5, he became more serious or even sinister to some point. I’m glad that the show avoided the part when he is “near death”. Bringing him back in full sparrow mode was way more powerful. Great performance by Eugene Simon.

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    27. Want to know what’s real magic? The stuff that made Eugene go from a narrow-hipped youth in the early seasons to a rather beefy young man in this year’s finale. Real magic is a HORMONE.

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    28. So it goes.

      I hope we get him back to play a Lannister ancestor as a cameo in some prequel project eventually.

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    29. I remember an interview with Eugene Simon after season 4? Sometime before season 5 where he was wondering if he would even come back to the series after being out for two seasons.

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    30. I must admit I preferred him as Lancel Lannister in the earlier seasons and with all the abuse and insults poured on him by King Robert during the time he was the King’s cup bearer. There were some funny scenes there.

      He gets more confident during the time he was shagging Cersei until Tyrion found out about it and then blackmailed him into being his spy else he would report his nightly bedroom activities with his sister to King Joffrey…. That took the wind out of Lancel’s sails 🙂

      As brother Lancel, his buffoonish character changed completely. Too serious and pius under the High Sparrow. His final demise at ‘ground zero’ with the wildfire was pretty spectacular so one could say he exited GoT with a ‘bang’ which is good why to go 😮

      So I wish Eugene Simon all the best in his acting career…

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    31. Great supporting role, loved the character development, and a memorable Thronesian demise. Wow, best for the future Eugene!

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    32. I have to admire his ability to portray a character as fundamentally different in later seasons to his early persona. It was convincing and despite becoming a fanatical sparrow, I always held out a bit of hope Kevan would get his son back in the end. Eugene managed to stand out even as a minor character.

      Best of luck to him in the future.

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    33. Excellent CC! Simons’s last look of horror before he’s blown away is nothing short of masterful. Wishing him all the best moving forward!

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    34. It’s truly remarkable just how thoroughly Eugene Simon managed to embody the two radically different iterations of Lancel Lannister, and knit them together as part of one seamless character. His scenes in Seasons 1 and 2 were mostly comedic as he endured wrath and insults from Robert, flippant mockery from Tyrion, and callous disregard from Cersei. Eugene Simon perfectly captured the nervous energy of a young man who was eager to prove his worth, but didn’t quite know how to do it, and was terrified of drawing the ire of those in power. Once he attained his knighthood and a measure of status, he adopted an attitude of arrogance commiserate with his rank, but all it took was the slightest threat or taste of battle for him to crumble.

      But when Lancel returned in Seasons 5 and 6, having undergone a dangerous conversion, Simon truly got the opportunity to shine. The degree to which he was able to convey the depth and intensity of Lancel’s fanaticism was honestly frightening. I find the entire sequence where Lancel is inducted into the ranks of the Faith Militiant by receiving his facial markings to be chilling, but the most intense moment is definitely when he sits up, blood streaming down his face, and looks into the camera with a dead-eye stare that heralds the birth of a much darker creature. From that moment on, Simon reveled in playing a character who was confident, intimidating, and utterly without mercy.

      The ease with which Simon conveyed Lancel’s transformation is even more notable because neither aspect of the character bears any resemblance to his true personality, which seems delightful. He really is an excellent actor, and someone who seems to be extremely grateful to the show and its fans for his good fortune, which is lovely to see. He’s going to get a lot more work now that his time on Game of Thrones has unfortunately drawn to a close, so I wish him all the best as he embarks on the next chapter of his career! Seven blessings!

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