Eugene Simon: Blood, Sweat and Burning Eyebrows
“So essentially what that was, was an email of death. They wanted to have a conversation with me, and I knew from previous characters that had been killed off, that’s what tended to happen”.
For Game of Thrones characters, an average lifespan is usually quite short, and as the season seven finale forces us closer to the end of the series, we bid farewell to some of Westeros’ key players. Without going too far in depth with the latest season, lets push back further to the season six finale, The Winds of Winter.
Before her trial, Cersei destroys the Sept of Baelor by wildfire, killing hundreds of King’s Landing nobles, including that of Lancel Lannister. Over the seasons we watched Lancel’s progression from a noble squire of King Robert Baratheon, into a militant thug with a seven-pointed star carved into his forehead. To add salt to the wound, the spoiled Lannister heir helped to torment Sansa, had an affair with Cersei, and became a spy for Tyrion to keep him from telling Jaime about the incestuous affair. As the underdog villain of the series, his story arc drew to a close with the fiery wrath of Cersei.
If you recall watching our Winterfest episode, we caught up with the GoT actor at Supanova Sydney, who simply said, “You’re probably going to be emotionally traumatized the next time I see you…”.
His appearance at the convention was prior to the finale, so its safe to say I had some questions for him when I met him in London earlier in the year. Unlike his television counterpart, Simon is not an obnoxious backstabber, and since his unexpected demise, has pursued other acting roles in the meantime. At MCM London in July, we talked fan theories, death scenes, and character development.
CD: Alright. Can you just introduce yourself?
ES: My name is Eugene Simon. I play Lancel Lannister on Game of Thrones, amongst a splattering of other things.
CD: That’s possibly the worst actor resume that I have ever heard.
ES: [Laughs] Well… since we are about to talk about them anyway.
CD: So, on the show, you had one of the weirdest character progressions…
ES: That’s quite an accolade
CD: What was your opinion on the character you played and where they went?
ES: I was excited about it, because I had read Lancel’s storyline in George RR Martins books. I had read about how he changed after his wounds at Blackwater, and how he was supposed to be depicted as having long grey hair and having one foot in the coffin, being severely weakened. I was interested to see how they would do that because as a young man, they had him age about 60 years in the time that he needed to heal. That’s quite a strange way to depict someone especially in his youth, but then I came across the script David [Benioff] and Dan [Weiss] had written and I loved it just as much as that of George’s version. The depiction of an elderly man in a young body is quite striking, because what does that look like to you? David and Dan’s idea of a revolutionized human being who has totally changed, he is full of undertones of aggression and has really lost himself, but it doesn’t weaken him. He shaves off all his hair, and obviously grows up, but there is still that sense of mystery about what happened to Lancel, the squire, to get to the sparrow.
CD: Since the GoT finale, your character has since deceased. What were you first reactions?
ES: As we say in the UK, I was chuffed to bits. I was so happy; I really mean that.
CD: And what a way to die too.
ES: This is how it happened. I got an email from my agent at the time saying that Dan and David want to talk to you. So essentially what that was, was an email of death. They wanted to have a conversation with me, and I knew from previous characters that had been killed off, that that’s what tended to happen. So I knew I was going to die, all I needed to do was ask them for a good death. As I rang them up I sat on the phone speechless for about five minutes as my jaw dropped and I just said thanked them. When I read the script it was even better. Its Game of Thrones, everyone is going to die. You know, Tyrion, Cersei, Daenerys…. they’re all going to die. If you’re going to die, you may as well make it good.
CD: You went out with a bang, quite literally actually… What was the process behind filming that?
ES: The process behind the scene was just as tiring as it looked, and the catacomb that it was shot in was just as long as it looked. Obviously the wildfire was CGI, but the rest was real. The only other thing they did, was whilst I dragged my body closer to it, they just poured kerosene on top of it. So I had spent the last day on Thrones dragging my paralyzed body, covered in my own sweat, and fake sweat that makes you sweat even more because you’re practically an oven on the floor, covered with fake blood from the wound on my back. The floor was covered in bat shit because that’s where all the bats lived from that neck of the woods. I was so close to the flame that I’m sure I smelt my eyebrows burning. It was great.
CD: Talking about the ending of Game of Thrones and all of the fan theories that have emerged about Jon Snow and his team… basically what you’re suggesting is that if you think it is going to have a happy ending, you haven’t been paying attention?
ES: I know nothing about it, all I know is that this is a show that isn’t a traditional story, such as Return of the King, perhaps it will have that happy ending, but I would be disappointed. I’m not sure how it should end, but it shouldn’t be that. Are you suggesting that they are all related?
CD: This is a show known for incest.
ES: The Targaryens are known for that. I’ve heard some of the theories, but George often surprises us, and I can guarantee Dan and David will too.
CD: Have you heard the latest fan theory about when Game of Thrones is actually set?
ES: What do you mean?
CD: Well because of the land formations, they never actually mention that it is Earth in the books. Perhaps if you asked a Maester what this place is, they would reply with ‘Earth’ but not in our language. Thing is though, apparently its set in a post apocalyptic version of Earth, and the White Walkers are a representation of global warming. It’s a threat that everyone says ‘they don’t exist’ but obviously do.
ES: I would never have thought that, but im very open to the possibility. I wonder who the republicans of Game of Thrones would be…
CD: Apparently there have been parts of that theory that George R.R. Martin has confirmed, but I think someone took that out of context.
ES: Well… spinoff show I think…
CD: They’re making them, so who knows. Get your foot in the door.
ES: I’ll try, that’s not a bad idea.
CD: So beyond Game of Thrones, you worked on what else…
ES: So alongside Game of Thrones I was filming House of Anubis, which was a TV show that lasted for three seasons where I played this young rapscallion in AN Egyptologist obsessed boarding school. That was for three years alongside Game of Thrones, I found out about both of those roles on the same day, which was actually my 18th birthday. I am now in the first scripted National Geographic show called Genius with Geoffrey Rush, who plays Albert Einstein. I play the role of his second son, from his first marriage. My story is about a young man in the 1920’s who was diagnosed heavily with schizophrenia, who reflects on the abandonment issues and the hereditary schizophrenia that had an impact on his life. It’s a great series and I highly recommend it.
CD: Is there a specific role that you’re looking for? And actually, was there a role that got away?
ES: I don’t think there is a role that got away; you have to remain casual with the roles that you don’t get. In my mind I don’t think there is a role that got away, but with roles that I would like, right now id love to play the role of psychologically individualistic people, someone who has a very specific trait within their personality.
CD: Try push forward into the Marvel Universe…
ES: I’ll see what I can find
CD: Do it, then I can watch it and think ‘Yeah I was sitting in London with that guy’. Anyway mate, it’s been an honour talking to you.
You can catch Eugene Simon in the 2017 television series Genius, and The Lodgers, which are set for limited release in Australia.