Game of Thrones actor on that flirty premiere return (spoilers alert)

This Q&A contains revelations about the Game of Thrones season 7 premiere, “Dragonstone.” 

Euron Greyjoy (Pilou Asbæk) returned in the season 7 premiere with his bossy black-sailed ship, a far more flattering haircut, and a new black leather ensemble to try and woo Westeros queen Cersei Lannister into an alliance. The appearance marked some rethinking of Theon’s power-mad uncle, first introduced last year, as he becomes a major player in the war to come. 

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“It was such a coup for us to have Pilou join the show because we loved his work in ‘Borgen’ so (expletive) much we could not take our eyes off him anytime he was on screen,” showrunner Dan Weiss told EW. “We knew we had somebody with a special star quality and we haven’t had somebody with a rock star swagger who doesn’t give (an expletive) before. Everybody in this world cares very deeply — whether they’re awful, wonderful or, most of them, somewhere in between — they all care deeply about the politicking and give a lot of thought into everything they do. To have somebody traipse onto the stage with a swagger and the attitude that Euron has, it’s a lot of fun and lets a lot of air into the room. There are not too many people who can do that convincingly and luckily we have one.”

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Asbæk spoke to Entertainment Weekly about his role this season: 

EW: First off, was it odd to join such a huge, tight-knit cast so late in the game?Pilou Asbæk: It’s weird to be a fan of something and then to be a part of it. It’s like seeing a beautiful girl in class and you’ve been seeing her for five years and you just want to go “you’re the most beautiful girl I’ve seen.” Then one day you talk to her and you end up kissing her and then all of a sudden you’re like, “All right, the magic is gone a tiny bit.” And then you get married and then you’re an old relationship and you try to make it work as best you can.

What were your expectations going into your second season?You never know how involved you are. I had no expectations at all. Especially since I haven’t seen season 6.

You’re a fan of the show the show but didn’t watch your own season?I saw every single second of it the first five seasons. But now that I’m a part of it, I don’t want to ruin the universe with my presence, wondering, “Why is the stupid (expletive) Dane in there?” So when people are referring to things like The Battle of the Bastards, I’m all, “That sounds interesting.” I’m gonna do all my work and then I’ll watch it.

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What’s Euron like this year?He’s kind of a joker type. He doesn’t take anyone too seriously. He doesn’t take himself too seriously. You have a character in the books but you also have to make it personal. So where he’s much more like a demon in the books he’s much more fucking enjoying himself here. I want to show a guy who just loves it. Those psychopathic sociopaths I’ve met in my life are smiley and well mannered and they’re the biggest pricks in the world. It’s fun to do a character who’s a fun ride.

You play tend to play heroes in Denmark right?I always play the protagonist in Danish films, I’m always the hero. But when you have an accent in an American production you become the villain. We go for something called “reality rules” in Danish films. Game of Thrones is in so many ways unrealistic but when we’re shooting a fight scene I’m almost breaking ribs (punching) these guys. We’re not faking it. We have a [stunt coordinator], who just won an Emmy again, who comes down and goes, “Why the f— you faking it? I got 300 guys standing behind you giving 300 percent and you’re standing in front of the camera (expletive) faking it!” So you can’t fake it. Now all of the things I learned in Denmark have translated into an American production.

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Do you sort of feel you have to distinguish yourself from Ramsay?Ramsay was the new Joffrey. I think Ramsay was a great character and played by a great actor (Iwan Rheon). But for me, Ramsay is 100 percent evil. I think Euron is not, which makes things a bit more conflicted within him. I’m more like a hooligan.

How has the character changed this season?Every scene he’s a new guy. The guy you met on the bridge is not the guy at the Kingsmoot, and is not the guy you see with Cersei and is not the guy you see on the ship. He’s different; he’s different with different people. This season he’s more charming. He’s much more (expletive) enjoying himself. He’s such (an expletive) idiot douchebag, an impolite selfish child.

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What does Euron really think of Cersei?The thing with Cerise is maybe she’s more man than a woman. She’s smart and intellectual and bloody sexy. But for Euron, the question is, “How can I become king of the Iron Throne?” Who gives me the best odds? Is it the dragon mother? No. Is it with Cersei? I think it is. Dany is still trying to be a good, decent, honest person. Cersei sold her soul many ago. Maybe that’s why Euron likes her. I think he considers her to be a worthy wife. Euron’s not a Lannister, he’s an Ironborn, she’s something better. There’s just one guy in the way…

More Game of Thrones season 7 premiere coverage: Check out EW’s deep-dive recap, their chat with Maisie Williams about her murderous cold open scene and the “Game of Thrones” weekly podcast (with our Dragonstone episode the morning of July 17).

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