WARNING: Spoilers below for Season 7 of “Game of Thrones”!
Pilou Asbæk’s Euron Greyjoy has swaggered his way into “Game of Thrones” Season 7 with a new leather jacket and a new fleet of ships ― both of which have raised some eyebrows. (Really, how did he build those ships so quickly when Yara and Theon took all the good ones?)
After making his splashy proposition to Cersei (Lena Headey) in Episode 1, “Dragonstone,” it became clear that Euron was poised to become one of the biggest threats to Daenerys’ (Emilia Clarke) plan to retake the Seven Kingdoms. By the episode’s end, with Yara (Gemma Whelan) and Ellaria (Indira Varma) captured, he had proved himself a dangerously, yet charmingly, manipulative villain with serious ambitions.
“I think he wants world domination,” Asbæk told HuffPost. “He wants to have this power. I think he wants to be the king. He’s all in … but I don’t know where he’s going to end up. If he dies, I hope it’s going to be spectacular.”
And, having read all the sections of George R.R. Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” book series pertaining to Euron, the Danish actor is an expert on his buccaneering character. He said he felt a connection to the series, which inspired the “Game of Thrones” TV show, in large part because it follows the tradition of long Viking sagas. (“It’s a part of my DNA. It’s a part of my ancestors’ DNA.”)
As we wait to see how his promised “gift” to Cersei will be received, HuffPost spoke to Asbæk about Euron’s new look, the magical powers his character demonstrates in the books ― including that Dragonbinder horn that supposedly allows its master to control dragons ― and, yes, how he built all those ships.
It seems like you’re having fun playing Euron this season with his “Pirates of the Caribbean” vibe. How did you approach that character?
It’s always difficult when you’re doing an adaptation of a very beloved character in a book. A lot of people have an idea how this character should be, and in my case, he’s written as an evil, fearless, dark lord pirate with an eye patch and blue lips, and just the essence of a demonoid, the essence of evilness. So, for me, and Dan and David, we were like, “no blue lips.” [Ed. Note: In Martin’s books, Euron drinks a beverage called Shade of the Evening that turns his lips blue and supposedly gives him magic powers.] To me, that is the cover of a book, not the essence of a book. You can have a book that’s covered in gold, but when you read it, it’s just shit. You know? I’ve seen so many pirates. What we need is the essence of Euron; what we need is the inner life.
I made a decision along with Dan and David that he’s a chameleon. Not a comedian, a chameleon. He transforms into the things he wants to be. So when he’s on a bridge with his brother, he acts like the little brother, and he’s got this personality. When he’s at the Kingsmoot, he’s a brute, rowdy, hooligan type. When he’s in the throne room, he’s trying to be seductive, charming. When social media’s going, “He looks like a drunk rock ‘n’ roll guy!” I was like, “That’s exactly what I want!” I want this guy who’s just like, Blehhh! Because I read the scripts, and I knew what’s going to happen. I knew there would be a battle scene in Episode 2. I knew that he would kill Sand Snakes. So I knew that, in every single scene, it’s a new yarn. There’s an essence in every single scene that is pure Euron Greyjoy, but he’s different, because all the sociopaths I’ve met in my short lifetime, they are so incredibly socially gifted. It’s unbelievable. They know exactly what to say, when to say it, how to say it ― and that’s what I wanted.
You know, I’m 35, I’m Danish, I’m doing the biggest show in the world, and I get to play an evil guy ― on the surface, evil. I want to have fun, man. I always want to have fun, so I wanted to make a fun character.
“On the surface, evil”? Is he not a 100 percent evil guy?
I don’t think any character should be 100 percent, one-dimensional evil. I always think ― it’s very interesting ― that you need a 3-D element of a character. So when I said to Cersei, “Ever since I was a little boy, I wanted to grow up and marry the most beautiful woman in the world,” he means it! She’s fucking attractive! She’s powerful! Who doesn’t love a powerful woman? Show me anything more sexy than a woman with power ― and who’s smart.
So, because Euron doesn’t actually say Cersei is the “most beautiful woman in the world,” some fans are wondering whether he meant someone else.
Well, my job is not to give you all the answers. My job is to interpret the script. If fans think he can go left and right, I’m up for that. But the way I acted it, he meant it sincere. I always try to be sincere when I portray a character, or else I don’t want to do it. Or else it’s just surface.
In the books, Euron has these magical powers ― he has the Dragonbinder horn. Do you think of him in the show with that same mysticism?
No, because we couldn’t ― I couldn’t ― create this mystical character, because you have this Melisandre character, the fire servant or whatever she is. I can’t remember what she is. She represents the magic, the mysteries, the things we cannot understand. We introduced Euron in Season 6, and if he were introduced in Season 1, maybe it would have gone that way. I still don’t know, maybe we’re going to use the dragon horn. Maybe we’re not. I can’t tell you!
Sure, you can’t give it away.
I don’t want to give anything away because I don’t want to ruin the show for anyone. I hate those guys online that spill all the beans. It’s just being so selfish. Not that I don’t appreciate the fan culture, because the fan culture is the essence of the show, that’s why it’s been so loved, is because it’s been so debated.
If you ask me? It’s Shakespeare. If you read Shakespeare, it’s about power. What is “Macbeth” about? Macbeth wants to be the king. What is “Richard III” about? A man who wants to be the king. “Henry III”? A man who wants to be the king. “Hamlet”? A man who wants to have revenge over his dead dad. That’s why we love it. It’s iconic.
Do you think “Game of Thrones” will have the same lasting power?
I don’t know. I think when Shakespeare wrote his plays, it was considered as pop culture, so maybe.
One of the things fans have talked about is just how Euron managed to pull together a fleet of ships so quickly after Theon and Yara took off with the best ones. Any idea?
That’s how he’s magic. That’s how he’s magical!
No, I totally understand that people need some logical things in stories, but, you know, this show’s got three dragons and white zombies. Let’s not discuss how he can build 1,000 ships, guys. Seriously, I love that you guys are discussing it, but we’ve got White Walkers. We’ve got dragonglass and dragons. [Laughs] Why can an element of that kill the whole show for you? No, it doesn’t make any sense.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
“Game of Thrones” airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on HBO.