Liam Cunningham says ‘Game of Thrones’ characters like Ser Davos ‘speak for the audience’

July 10, 2017 - 2:19 PM
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Liam Cunningham as Davos Seaworth in 'Game of Thrones.'

“I was alive at the end of season six. That’s all I’m going to tell you.”

That’s the response of Liam Cunningham when asked what can be expected for his “Game of Thrones” character Ser Davos Seaworth when Season 7 of the show premieres this July 17 on HBO Asia.

In an interview with InterAksyon and other Asian media during a recent promotional activity for “Game of Thrones” in Bangkok, the 56-year-old Irish actor explained why he refuses to give even a slightest hint of things to come for the acclaimed epic fantasy series.

“One of the wonderful things about ‘Game of Thrones’ is the surprises. It is beautifully written, constantly surprising, scary, dangerous, and sometimes very difficult to watch. There are very few shows that challenge you as a viewer and it’s amazing the way this show draws your emotion,” he pointed out.

For his role as Ser Davos, the former smuggler turned loyal lieutenant of the ill-fated Stannis Baratheon (played by Stephen Dillane) and, then later, Jon Snow (Kit Harrington), Cunningham has been nominated five times since 2014 for Best Supporting Actor-Drama in the Irish Film and Television Awards.

Along with Samwell Tarly (John Bradley-West), Ser Davos, whose four finger tips in his left hand was cut off by Stannis as punishment for his smuggling crimes, is considered by viewers as “the conscience” of “Game of Thrones.”

“Like Samwell, Davos is one of those characters who will put their hand up and say, ‘You can’t do this, this is wrong, this is morally and ethically wrong.’ There are a lot of morally ambiguous people on the show, so you need some characters to speak up for the audience,” he further noted.

Although he has been part of the show for five out of the six concluded seasons, Cunningham spent his first four seasons on one set which in the story meant Dragonstone along with Stannis, Melisandre (Carice Van Houten) and other characters based there. But that changed when he joined Jon Snow’s Night’s Watch forces in Castle Black in Season 5.

“[Before that] the only time I saw Castle Black was when I watch the show on television with my family. To find myself doing scenes there felt like going into another show. It messes with your head a little bit. But I was very lucky to be given a chance to work with them and I do love working with Kit. But I really miss working with Stephen Dillane, a wonderful guy and a magnificent actor. I’m a big fan so I was very unhappy when they killed his character,” he admitted.

Liam Cunningham a.k.a. Ser Davos with all fingers intact speaking to media during a Game of Thrones promotional activity in Bangkok, Thailand. (Photo courtesy of HBO)

Asked if he had any inkling that “Game of Thrones” is going to be the huge, global hit that it is now, Cunningham, who joined the cast in Season 2, said he that while he was just as surprised as everybody else on the show, he knew writers David Benioff and D. B. Weiss were on to something when he first read the script.

“When I came on board, I had 10 episodes of the first season to look at and as we all know now, they were just beautiful, wonderful. I’ve been acting long enough to know that when I first read the script, I thought it was beautifully written. I knew it was going to be good,” he recalled.

“HBO put a lot of effort in assuring that the quality of the show is very high and when you watch it, you know it’s a very, very expensive show. The people involved try to make it the best that they possibly could. But nobody knew that it would be this big.”

Cunningham is of the opinion that more than the fantasy elements of the show (“we got dragons, magic, people coming back from the dead, it’s ridiculous”), what really sustains people’s interest on the show is the brilliant writing, mostly by Benioff and Weiss and occasionally by author George R.R. Martin whose “A Song of Fire and Ice” books were the basis for the whole series.

He has never read the source material and consider the scripts of the show as his “Bible” for his portrayal of Ser Davos. He knows that even those who’ve read the novels are constantly surprised by the television adaptation as it has not always remained faithful to Martin’s stories.

Even to the very few who have yet to see “Game of Thrones,” Cunningham does not go into detail whenever he is asked by friends why they should watch the show.

“I usually show them a YouTube video of people’s reactions towards the Red Wedding episode. The video is quite famous, it’s six minutes long and then they will see people horrified and screaming and that’s when I say, ‘That’s why you should watch this show’,” he shared.

Unpredictability aside, Cunningham further noted that the “dangers of chasing power” has resonated loudly with the show’s solid fan base.

“Take the death of Princess Shireen. The burning of a child is a horrible thing to show. But this was a necessary thing to show how dangerous power can be, how it can turn the mind of a mother and father and do this to their own child,” Cunningham cited.

“Daenerys has done some questionable things using those three big weapons. She’s still a young lady even though she is a queen. To win something you have to beat something and that’s a difficult decision for a young lady to make. And Cersei has done terrible, terrible things but you understand why she does it. She has this love for her children and this love makes her crazy.”

“Power can be an isolating thing,” he concluded.

In the Philippines, “Game of Thrones” Season 7 premieres on July 17, 9AM same time as in the U.S. The series will also be streaming on HBO Go.

Watch the full trailer here: