It’s that time of the week, Gatewatch faithful: Time to doff our caps or dip our heads in solemn reverie – one part eulogy, one part celebration for the wonderful talent we get to see onscreen. Curtain Call time, and today we celebrate the incomparable Peter Vaughan.
Peter Vaughan (born Peter Ewart Olm) began acting back in 1954 – back before most of us were born. My first impression of Peter Vaughan wasn’t even really my impression. I was speaking to John Bradley in London – we were doing an interview for the Site That Shall Not Be Named – and of course I began mentioning various people he had the opportunity to act with. And as soon as I mentioned Peter Vaughan, his eyes completely lit up.
John: He’s stunning. In the 70’s and 80’s, he was where people went for certain kinds of characters. He was in a sitcom called Porridge, set in a prison… one of the best beloved sitcoms in British history. And he was incredible in it. And he played a kind-of gangster who, unofficially, took charge of the whole prison. It was kind of a sinister part for a comedy. His character had this extremely sharp wit… really, he was someone I’ve been dying to work with. He was in a scene with me where he spoke to me but I couldn’t speak back. I was dying to speak back. It was amazing, one of those pinch yourself moments.
It goes without saying that Mr. Vaughan has made an impression. A number of Unsullied viewers I know were actually outraged that Maester Aemon was gone. (Most of us knew he was doomed, yet a part of me hoped he’d hang on at least ’til season 6.) And, he has that odd distinction of being the only Game of Thrones actor to have his character die of natural causes. (Jon Arryn and Hoster Tully were both introduced to us already dead.)
For me, Vaughan’s defining moment came in season one, where Maester Aemon spoke to Jon Snow about his regrets.
“The gods were cruel when they saw fit to test my vows. They waited till I was old. What could I do when the ravens brought news from the South? The ruin of my House, the death of my family? I was helpless, blind, frail. But when I heard they had killed my brother’s son, and his poor son, and the children. Even the little children!”
There was so much anger in him still. It nearly took the breath from him. Peter Vaughan nailed it.
Thanks for everything, Peter!
Show ‘im your love, peeps!