Jack Gleeson on Misogyny, Puppets and Refusing Hollywood

Joffrey

In a new interview with The Daily Beast, Jack Gleeson discusses his life since leaving Game of Thrones, his feelings on the often controversial nature of the show and what the future has in store for him now that he’s no longer on the Iron Throne.

Despite making a name for himself as the vindictive King Joffrey, Irish actor Jack Gleeson’s first post Thrones’ production couldn’t be more different; Bears in Space is an allegorical puppet show aimed at audiences “aged 9 to 90”, all about the power of friendship.  Eschewing the call of Hollywood, he returned to Dublin to pen the family show with friends from Trinity College, which opens in London next month before transferring to the US in 2016.  Working as part of the Collapsing Horse Theatre Company producing plays, workshops and sketches, Gleeson has few regrets about turning down more mainstream film roles to work in children’s theatre.

I’m in the lucky position where I can look towards an occupation that first and foremost I enjoy rather than [if] it’s financially profitable.  I suppose I’m in the position where I’m working out what that thing is, and then hopefully I can become good enough that I earn some money, but that’s a kind of luxury that pretty much no one else has so I’m very grateful for it.

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He speaks out about the misogyny and sexual violence, especially towards women, that the show is often accused of.

“Obviously as a 23-year-old man, I can never put myself into the mindset of a woman who has been sexually assaulted, but I think that sometimes you have to represent awful things happening onscreen even if they’re for entertainment because you have to expose the brutality of them, because the chances are you’re not going to see that anywhere. So there’s a chance it engages some kind of empathy but it is a gray area. It might be very traumatic and stressful to watch those scenes.”

However, Gleeson is also quick to remind us that he still doesn’t watch the show, although he does sometimes catch clips, finding it too hard to watch given he knows it’s not real!

It seems like Gleeson has carved out a unique and entertaining niche for himself since leaving Thrones. The entire interview can be read here.

37 responses

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    1. Gleeson seems like a sweetheart–although his overly earnest talk on celebrity culture a while back seems like the sort of thing he’s going to be really embarrassed about in a few years–which is why I was surprised to read this at the link:

      “Liam Cunningham (Davos Seaworth) lives here as well, I don’t see him a lot because we had a falling out.”

      I wonder what they could have had a falling out over.

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    2. Unlike countless other child actors that spiraled out of control later in life, Jack seems like he’ll be just fine.

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    3. Yes, it is a very gray area.

      For me, there is something missing since we no longer have Joff to hate. And I have to say his death was one of the most satisfying deaths to date on the show (next to Myranda). I won’t miss Myranda as the character, but I do miss Joff. There was something deliciously evil about him that you just couldn’t wait to see what he would do next. Even though you hated what he did next. A testament to the acting ability of Mr. Gleeson. I grimaced about once one is on the outside of GoT’s they are basically a pariah and “know nothing, Jon Snow”. Seems that some of them would stay close after they are offed from the show.

      I am not going to start the whole abuse conversation. It is going to start with or without me. But, yes, it is a VERY 50 shades sort of area.

      Good luck to Mr. Gleeson on your future endeavors. Bears from Outer Space? 😛 Something like that (no don’t correct me, it was intentional) Whatever gets you through the night!!

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    4. M:
      “Liam Cunningham (Davos Seaworth) lives here as well, I don’t see him a lot because we had a falling out.”

      I wonder what they could have had a falling out over.

      Yeah. I wonder that too. I want Jack and Liam to be friends again 🙁

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    5. Maceless Fan:
      Unlike countless other child actors that spiraled out of control later in life, Jack seems like he’ll be just fine.

      It seems like a lot of the ones who get out of the game land on their feet. Chunk from The Goonies is now a highly-respected entertainment lawyer. Gleeson has other talents and interests–he seemed set on a career in academia–so he’ll be okay. He could always come back to it later if he wants to do so. Mayim Bialik went and got a PhD but eventually returned to acting.

      Jack Gleeson’s interesting to me, because he had what so many young actors would kill for, and not only did he have any interest in it, but if anything, he seemed to find fame and all its accoutrements–rabid fans, fandom, celebrity culture, etc.–profoundly distasteful. It’s a rare person whose response to a heady whiff of fame and fortune is to run away screaming.

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    6. What an intelligent young man. Best wishes in all his future endeavors, whatever they may be.

      Though, as expressed above, I too miss him portraying the wickedly evil Joffrey.

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    7. Gleeson brought a lot to his role, but I don’t really miss him, because Joffrey was quite played out as a character by the time he died. He was, by design, a character with a limited role, and there wasn’t anywhere else to take him (a king that sadistic and stupid was inevitably going to be removed by cooler heads).

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    8. M,

      I think his response is actually pretty normal. A lot of people embrace fame with open arms and can genuinely handle it, but there are obviously plenty of of others who can’t handle it. Instead of walking away, they’ll stick around that life and try to cope with drugs, alcohol and promiscuity. It’s basically what happened to Lindsey Lohan.

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    9. Maceless Fan:
      M,
      I think his response is actually pretty normal. A lot of people embrace fame with open arms and can genuinely handle it, but there are obviously plenty of of others who can’t handle it. Instead of walking away, they’ll stick around that life and try to cope with drugs, alcohol and promiscuity. It’s basically what happened to Lindsey Lohan.

      I don’t think it’s a question of whether Jack Gleeson can handle it, it’s whether or not he wants to do so. The celebrity culture talk–more like a rant, actually–was so funny, because he was railing against mindless worship of actors as celebrities and mindless fan culture, only for the clueless audience to ask him questions about what it was like to play Joffrey, etc. etc. He was trying to communicate an earnest message about the emptiness of celebrity worship and how unworthy he or any other actor was of being worshipped, and the audience was “LOL, whatevs, tell us more about yourself and your experience playing Joffrey.” Poor kid.

      I had to laugh at the interviewer in the linked article noting that Gleeson and his friend Eoghan Quinn were finishing each other’s sentences. We have a shipper on our hands, LOL.

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    10. Bronn’s Bro.: Yeah. I wonder that too. I want Jack and Liam to be friends again

      It’s odd because the opinions Gleeson has shared about social/political issues seem right in line with Liam’s very liberal Twitter posts. It must be something deeper and more personal.

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    11. Sean C.,

      Probably. If Joff had stuck around another season, it likely would’ve turned into a repetitive Ramsay situation. And his assassination did move a lot of characters forward, even as it made KL a more vacant place.

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    12. M,
      I know, I just meant that there are a lot of other people that don’t want to be celebrities either but they force themselves to for one reason or another. There have been several hold stars over the years that never wanted any of that but they had greedy parents who basically forced them into it. And yeah, you can tell people not to worship celebrities until you’re blue in the face but that’s never going to stop. Kim Kardashian and her scum-fuck family have made a fortune off of that fact lol.

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    13. It’s interesting to me when I read or hear that actors don’t watch the show. I’m actually a bit disappointed by that, and I’m not sure I can place my finger on why exactly.

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    14. Phyllis Ashley,

      Perhaps because you want them to know how good they are? Johnny Depp, Angelina Jolie, Harrison Ford, Jared Leto, Julianne Moore, Nicole Kidman and Anthony Hopkins never do either. Perhaps they just see it as a job and have no interest in the end product or perhaps it keeps them as a good as they are as they don’t get caught up in their own hype?

      Speaking of Hopkins, it’d be ace if he was in GoT as Marwyn! 🙂

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    15. Haha. I’m always railing against celebrity culture to anyone who’ll listen. It’s just sad and does seem to have replaced organized religion. It’s just the nature of the media. Entertainers were court jesters centuries ago and were no better than any other occupation.
      But because we now have recordable media with inexpensive worldwide distribution means, they now have an infinitely larger audience.
      That in itself isn’t the problem, it’s the worship and adulation that goes with it. Along with excessive media interest in the stars themselves, not just their work. It’s sickened me for thirty years, and it gets worse (probably because it’s kids and youngsters who do most of the worshipping).
      I remember Paul Kaye (Thoros of Myr) doing his hilarious Dennis Pennis celeb interviews, and hoping it was a sign of change. It wasn’t.

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    16. Ashara Dayne,
      And Jesters were simply given room and board, usually not paid, per se. Celebrities now earn WAY more than is appropriate. Combine that with the trend in global culture to value money and possessions above all else (particularly in the US where being rich = good person and being poor = bad person), we get celebrity worship. And with the broadcast abilities being what they are, now just about everyone in the world can see 24/7 just how much celebrities have compared to what they have even when they didn’t earn it. Like Kim K’s claim to fame was what? a sex tape and being from an already very wealthy family? Money and fame begets adoration which begets more adoration and more money and fame. And so it goes. It’s sad, annoying and a symptom of a much greater ill plaguing not only American culture but around the world as well.

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    17. TheTouchOfFrost,

      A lot of it has to do with some actors just not enjoying watching themselves. It can be a strange and uncomfortable sensation.

      Ashara Dayne,

      Unfortunately, with the proliferation of social-media and the social-media culture, things are getting worse, as opposed to better.

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    18. Sean C.,

      I see your point, but I was still enjoying Joffrey and his evilness when he was killed off. Where as with, like, oh say, Ramsey; every time I see him, I am just screaming “Somebody PLEASE kill this motherf**ker, NOW.

      Edited to add that perhaps that is because we knew what was coming for Joff, and I wasn’t quite ready to let go. We have NO IDEA what is in store Ramsey Freakin’ Bolton, but it better hurry up and happen.

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    19. To me, Joffrey was so much more interesting than Ramsay Snow as a villain. While both actors are perfect in their respective roles, Joffrey seemed to stand out more. Don’t know what it is exactly.

      Agree with the above comments about misguided celebrity worship completely, although fully acknowledging the irony considering where I’m posting such a comment. 🙂

      Regarding the Liam Cunningham comment, my sense is that Jack was joking. In the few interviews I’ve seen him give, he appears to have a really dry sense of humor that probably gets lost in translation with a lot of people. For being such a private guy, it seems odd that he would ‘out’ a disagreement with a fellow cast member in a media interview.

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    20. He was trying to communicate an earnest message about the emptiness of celebrity worship and how unworthy he or any other actor was of being worshipped, and the audience was “LOL, whatevs, tell us more about yourself and your experience playing Joffrey.” Poor kid.

      Are you talking about that talk he made at a college last year? I found it fascinating – for one thing I realized how really intelligent and well spoken he is, and that here was a kid who was in the middle of it all, experienced it, and realized how very empty it was for him. Good for him for realizing that No, celebrity worship is not going to stop (and as someone said above, its getting worse with social media) so it was rather a breath of fresh air to hear him talk about it. I think its great fun what he’s doing now, and I hope he discovers his passion for what he wants to do in life. He certainly has the whole world open to him

      I can’t say I miss Joffrey much at all, to me the character was two dimensional and while I think Gleeson did a really good job acting, Im not caring much that he’s not there. There’s enough characters to hate right now .

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    21. JCDavis,

      Indeed. He’s from the magical town of Port Talbot which has given the world a ridiculous amount of talent for it’s small size!

      Ashara Dayne,

      Did you ever see Brass Eye? Hilarious! There needs to be more Chris Morris on my TV! In fact his show ‘Nathan Barley’ addresses a lot of the vapid culture that irks you.

      Nymeria Warrior Queen,

      Maybe, strange that they can be so confident doing but not watching!
      Interesting that out of them, I’m only aware of Hopkins and Kidman spending much time in theatre productions…although that may be because the rest are American and stage experience doesn’t seem to be as prevalent amongst American actors as it is with British, Irish, Aussie and even Canadians. Shame as I think it really helps develop an actors ability. If you look at how dominant British actors are in American TV and film lately (considering the size of our country) I think there must be something to it.

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    22. Darkstar: I see your point, but I was still enjoying Joffrey and his evilness when he was killed off. Where as with, like, oh say, Ramsey; every time I see him, I am just screaming “Somebody PLEASE kill this motherf**ker, NOW.

      You provided me the best laugh of the day – I’m with you, that is exactly how I react to Ramsay the character, no matter how effective Iwan’s acting is.

      That’s how I reacted to Joff, as well. Jack’s acting was top-notch, obviously. That he is still putting his creativity to work is nice to hear.

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    23. Dame Pasty: Celebrities now earn WAY more than is appropriate.

      Doesn’t that depend on the type of celebrity? I can see your point on the “fake” celebrities (most of whom were rich to start), but I do not begrudge celebrity artists what they make at all. After all, if the money does not go to them, then it all goes to the studio heads and their investors. Not so long ago, that is the way that it was. Ditto that for professional athletes: they create a ton of money, too, and if it does not go to them, well, it’s not like that money is going to feed the poor.

      KingsroadHitchhiker: To me, Joffrey was so much more interesting than Ramsay Snow as a villain. While both actors are perfect in their respective roles, Joffrey seemed to stand out more. Don’t know what it is exactly.

      The question is: had they met, would they have: A) gotten on like a proverbial house on fire, or B) tried to murder each other in about 5 minutes?

      At any rate, I do not find either particularly cartoonish. They also are a bit different: Joffery is a sociopath and Ramsay is a psychopath, and the differences between the two types keep either from seeming “stale.”

      Darkstar: We have NO IDEA what is in store Ramsey Freakin’ Bolton, but it better hurry up and happen.

      We should have a bit more than “no” idea. GRRM hung a big gun on the wall (and at the Wall): and having the Wall attacked from the southside while there are forces sort of stuck on the northside would be an effective plot device….

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    24. Dame Pasty:
      Ashara Dayne,
      And Jesters were simply given room and board, usually not paid, per se.Celebrities now earn WAY more than is appropriate.Combine that with the trend in global culture to value money and possessions above all else (particularly in the US where being rich = good person and being poor = bad person), we get celebrity worship.And with the broadcast abilities being what they are, now just about everyone in the world can see 24/7 just how much celebrities have compared to what they have even when they didn’t earn it.Like Kim K’s claim to fame was what?a sex tape and being from an already very wealthy family? Money and fame begets adoration which begets more adoration and more money and fame.And so it goes.It’s sad, annoying and a symptom of a much greater ill plaguing not only American culture but around the world as well.

      Oh please! Don’t get me started!
      Consumerism is responsible for mass unhappiness. Slick, glossy ads with beautiful people living aspirational, glamorous, jet-setting lives do nothing but increase dissatisfaction. I hate it all with a passion! It’s so damn shallow. It’s like Fight Club never happened.
      Strangely my ‘husband’ (ex who won’t divorce me) has fallen for the ‘money is everything’ belief (his childhood BFF had a very successful father who I think he idolised), yet has no interest in movie or pop stars. He’s obsessed with LFC footballers and has successfully befriended several old 80s has-beens. He met Simon Cowell in an airport lounge in SA around 2001 and didn’t know he was a celeb until some air hostesses asked to have their picture taken with him. He even asked him why! He just said that he’d been on TV a bit recently. But he doesn’t watch TV (apart from sport). He’s never been up to date with pop culture, even as a child/teen.
      If I mention a celebrity he’s usually never heard of them. This includes Beyoncé, Bruno Mars, he didn’t even know who Angelina Jolie was when she started dating Brad Pitt. He certainly didn’t know who her father is.
      Dunno why I’m prattling on about this. I suppose it just shows that celeb worship and consumerism don’t necessarily go together, but combined is a very toxic mix.

      Part of me sometimes wonders whether some of the migrants flooding into Europe from war-torn countries have a completely unrealistic impression of life for an average citizen in Europe. I have to assume not, that they are just desperate for safety and don’t even have access to TV or Internet. OT too much there. I don’t want to get into IS. It’s too depressing. It’s why I like GOT. To forget.

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    25. TheTouchOfFrost: Nymeria Warrior Queen,

      Maybe, strange that they can be so confident doing but not watching!
      Interesting that out of them, I’m only aware of Hopkins and Kidman spending much time in theatre productions…although that may be because the rest are American and stage experience doesn’t seem to be as prevalent amongst American actors as it is with British, Irish, Aussie and even Canadians. Shame as I think it really helps develop an actors ability. If you look at how dominant British actors are in American TV and film lately (considering the size of our country) I think there must be something to it.

      When you’re doing, you’re being someone else. When you’re watching, you’re watching yourself.

      Actually, there are a lot of American actors who have extensive theatre experience, it’s just not something that’s necessarily given a lot of attention, and you’re right, it isn’t nearly as prevalent as it is with British actors. A big reason for this has to do with geography. The center of the theatre world and the center for the film world are on opposite sides of the country, literally thousands of miles apart. If you want to do theatre, you move to New York. If you want to do film, you move to LA. There’s some tv work in New York, but the majority of it is in LA, and pilot-season is in LA. Basically, you have to choose. The general idea is if you want to be a serious actor (yes, that’s oversimplifying, but it is the general idea), you move to New York, work on stage, and do some Law and Order-type shows and commercial work when you can. Sometimes, your agent will get you an audition in LA, and if you get the job, you have to relocate there, temporarily. A lot of New York actors will do that, but tend to leave LA as soon as possible, unless they get “a big break,” in which case they still won’t choose to live in LA full-time. If your main thing is to be on tv or the big screen, you pretty much have to move to LA. Film and tv work isn’t that valued in the stage world (unless you’re a huge name and can sell tickets on Broadway), and stage work isn’t valued the way it should be in LA. I could go on about this for a long time (and would, but my computer keeps freezing, and I’m about to screm), and there are exceptions to every rule, but that’s the general idea.

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    26. Ashara Dayne,

      Was one of those ones where you laugh then think should I really be laughing at that…at first. When I watched it the whole theatre came to a consensus that it was ok to laugh at it after about 5-10 mins! Really shines a comedic light on a boogeyman of a subject and although it is funny, it’s also quite tragic in a sense and points out the confusion and contradictions of people who make the decisions they make.

      Nymeria Warrior Queen,

      Interesting. Over here there are certain parrallels in that if you really want to make a go of it then you have to move down to London as that’s where the lion’s share of the work is. With it being a smaller country though it’s easier to commute in for auditions and the like plus I think there is more of a scene in amateur dramatics with local theatre and shows touring the country to act as a learning ground for aspiring actors. Most villages around my neck of the woods have an AmDram club between two or three of them.

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    27. Brooklyn Ann:
      Phyllis Ashley,

      I know, right? I’m also extremely disturbed when they say they didn’t read the books. Shouldn’t they get as much insight into their characters as possible?

      Not reading the books for GOT makes a lot of sense: the show version and the book version of the same character are often very different. They have different personalities and different experiences, and as they experience plot deviations from the books, their personalities change in ways that distance them from their book selves. Book Tyrion isn’t going to have a lot to tell Peter Dinklage about how to play TV Tyrion, since TV Tyrion is a wholly different creature, especially as of Season 5. What could ADWD possibly tell Peter Dinklage about how to play Tyrion in Season 5, when TV Tyrion’s experiences and outlook are so different? Book Shireen couldn’t help Kerry Ingram play TV Shireen, since TV Shireen had a lot of characteristics that Book Shireen just doesn’t. And so on.

      “Their characters” are the TV characters, and those characters, “their characters” only exist in the scripts. If it were a 100% faithful adaptation, then maybe, but no adaptation is 100% faithful, and this one in recent seasons is 50% faithful at best. Rather than viewing the TV GOT characters as the book characters in a different medium, it makes more sense to view them as different characters altogether who happen to share the same name and a few of the same characteristics as their ASOIAF counterparts.

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