Super fans know that the sixth season of HBO’s Game of Thrones has its premiere on Sunday, April 24. What they want to know is who will be offed and what other twists and turns are coming in what will be the sixth of a planned eight seasons of the blockbuster series.
With George R.R. Martin still finishing the sixth book in his A Song of Ice and Fire fantasy series, The Winds of Winter, HBO has had to venture into unwritten territory for the coming season.
If something awful is planned — as it surely is –it likely will involve Aidan Gillen. Playing the cunning and loathesome Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish, he has orchestrated the deaths of several fan-favorite characters, as well as countless soldiers and innocents. In a telephone interview, the Irish-born 47-year-old actor didn’t give away crucial details, of course. But he did speak about how he survives media and fan scrutiny, getting closer to the end game, and what it’s like to not know when your character’s death is imminent.
Fortune: The Game of Thrones Season 5 finale had a record 8.11 million viewers watch live. How has the popularity of “Game of Thrones” affected you?
The show is huge around the world, and people will come up to you anywhere. I don’t find this oppressive. I quite like it. It’s one of the perks of the job.
Since you play one of the villains, I’m sure you get asked lots of questions. How do you handle it when people try to trick you into telling you about what’s going to happen on the show?
Well, it’s okay because you’ve got license to be cryptic and spin plates, and use smoke and mirrors and all the rest of it.
This is such a massive, huge production for television, especially. What has it been like being part of it?
It started off big, but it’s bigger. That’s something the audience expects us to deliver, as well. If a show is as successful as Game of Thrones is around the world, it’s only fair to apply even more resources into it, especially for a series like this which is a fantasy adventure saga.
It’s almost a reward to the amount of viewers that are around the world that you create things on as epic a scale as you can. The Season 6 trailer is pretty spectacular. You can see that it’s certainly got big scope, big scenes, and that’s pretty exciting, really.
With Game of Thrones now diverging from the books, fans don’t know what’s going to happen next, but what about you?
I always prefer not to know what is going to happen. It’s exciting. Not only as actors do you not know what’s coming, but you know that the audience doesn’t know what’s coming for you.
Are you worried about when your character is going to be ended?
Not particularly. It’s not something that I’m massively concerned with. But it’s something that keeps the audience on edge and that has been well utilized by the show’s creators, but I’m not afraid of it. It’s going to come to us all anyway.
I read in Variety that there may be only 13 episodes left of “Game of Thrones” after Season 6. Has that concept of “the end is near” sunk in yet?
I have heard that, but I can only treat that as speculation. I’ve heard that someone, I’m not sure who it was, said in an interview where that’s maybe what they were planning and I heard HBO’s response to that, which is that they hadn’t finalized that, or that hasn’t actually been discussed or set in stone.
Having said that, it does feel like we are moving towards the end, or some kind of an end to the story. It’s never good to milk something to death, so I have thought about it a little. I’m not really sure how that’s going to happen, how it’s going to end. None of us are as we run out of books. I’m sure George Martin and [showrunner] David Benioff have discussed this, but I haven’t really been thinking about what that means for Baelish, or what’s going to happen next.
I am enjoying it so much that I don’t want it to end.
Well, I get that. The fans don’t want it to end either.