Actor Stephen Dillane, who played Stannis Baratheon for four seasons on Game of Thrones, did not have the greatest time working on the HBO series.
In an interview with The London Times (via IGN), Dillane explained that because he did not understand much of the story — he attributes much of this to being kept in the dark about many pivotal plot points — he felt that his performance as Stannis suffered. “I’ve flicked it on [since leaving] to see if I could figure out what was going on, but I couldn’t,” Dillane said.
Dillane credits his co-star Liam Cunningham, who plays Stannis’ right-hand man Ser Davos Seaworth, with helping keep him in the loop, noting that Cunningham knows a great deal more about the history of author George R.R. Martin’s Westeros.
“Liam Cunningham is so passionate about the show. He invests in it in a way I think is quite moving, but it wasn’t my experience. I was entirely dependent on Liam to tell me what the scenes were about — I didn’t know what I was doing until we’d finished filming and it was too late. The damage had been done. I thought no one would believe in me and I was rather disheartened by the end. I felt I’d built the castle on non-existent foundations.”
Dillane, who currently stars on Sky Atlantic’s The Tunnel, notes that there is one major benefit to his time being lost and confused in Game of Thrones: The financial security of landing such a major role has allowed him to be more selective with his roles afterward. “Game of Thrones pays for all this looking around and waiting,” he said. While Stannis Baratheon certainly became a much less sympathetic and interesting character towards the end of Dillane’s run on the series, the actor’s detached performance arguably made Stannis one of the more interesting characters in the early seasons. Perhaps knowing nothing was the secret all along …
Production on Game of Thrones’ final season is currently underway and if recent comments made by actress Sophie Turner (Sansa Stark) are to be believed, the show won’t return until sometime in 2019.