Tyrion may be the smallest Lannister in stature, but he has a knack for intimidating the young men in his family.
Cousin Lancel Lannister (Eugene Simon) certainly quaked in his knightly boots on Sunday's Game of Thrones (9/8c, HBO). Ordered by Queen Regent Cersei to deliver a demand for Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) to release a certain prisoner, Lancel found himself at a disadvantage when The Imp blackmailed him into becoming an informant based upon the fact that Lancel was having an affair with Cersei.
"Lancel walks into this room with a piece of parchment to give to Tyrion with the main intention to just get in and get out," Simon tells TVGuide.com. "I tried to make Lancel into somebody who is putting a front of kind of aggression and arrogance and pomp. But I hope you actually see that very much underneath is a boy who is just trembling with fear and trepidation because Tyrion is a force of nature when it comes to dealing with other people. And Lancel isn't. Lancel's a young man. There's a sense of fear that I had from start to finish and it only really came into light once he confronts Lancel with his crime."
Playing the cowardly yet scheming Lancel is quite a change of pace for Simon, who also plays English boarding school student Jerome Clark in Nickelodeon's House of Anubis. Besides the wildly different subject matter and audience, Simon also sports his natural sandy hair as Jerome, much darker and shorter than his Thrones hairdo.
Check out what Simon has to say about Lancel's hair, his feelings for Cersei and the upcoming epic battle:
Is that your real hair? Lancel appears to be much blonder than you.
Eugene Simon: No that is my new, wonderful wig.
How long is the process to put that on?
Simon: I'd say it's about an hour and a half putting it on. And then it's about a good 20 minutes, half an hour taking it off. I don't know if you've ever been skiing, but it's sort of like taking off a pair ski boots. It's just like, "Ahh!" once it's off. I can breathe.
What was that like the first time you saw it on and you looked and you looked in a mirror?
Simon: I thought that the wig was just fantastic this year. His wig last season didn't quite reveal the entirety of Lancel's face, which I thought was appropriate because he was always on the periphery of the story line. But this year it's much more opened up, and you see Lancel in his pomp, in his kind of new curled hair, in his shining new clothing, his very Jaime-esque clothing. It actually went in sync with how I wanted Lancel to be more revealed as opposed to introverted.
How would you describe your approach to playing Lancel?
Simon: In the first season, when I first met Lancel, he was the squire to Robert Baratheon and having been raised in a household that was known for its power, its wealth and altogether it's very elite attitude throughout the Seven Kingdoms, I did view him as a kind of loner. He's a guy who doesn't really doesn't have much of a relationship with his family. But what I liked about him, and as Season 2 will show, is that he has this ... deep-seated underlying ambition that has been inherently pumped into him simply because he is part of House Lannister. He's such a dutiful boy, and I think that sums up Lancel in a one-word kind of way, devotion to his House. But that's actually his main weakness: his intent to try to and be someone he's not, which is this powerful figure.
Do you think he feels guilty at all about serving the wine that led to King Robert's death in Season 1?
Simon: In Season 2 you won't see it, but I think that the murdering of Robert Baratheon is something that he does so much under the influence of love. His affection towards Cersei Lannister is revealed towards the end of Season 1... Lancel is fundamentally not made of much, and his guilt that he feels for having committed a crime of this magnitude will reveal itself. At the moment that's not what Lancel believes though. Lancel is devoted to trying to be a knight, to hold up this authority that he's been given but not necessarily earned, and he wants to be a figure of power. He may become a figure that we respect for what he does someday, but at the moment he doesn't have the tools available to him psychologically to actually be anything more than a boy.
Does he think he's in love with Cersei?
Simon: I think it's what I call young love. He just assumes that if he loves her, she will love him back. And because of that innocence, that's why I always refer to him as a boy because he's not certain yet. ... I think that what Season 2 for Lancel will really be about his fruitless attempts to become a man and how he will be used and abused for failing to do so because he's in a place where Tyrion and Cersei politically dominate. That scene in Episode 4 is a perfect example of Lancel just completely miscalculating where he stands in this world.
What do you think his relationship is with Joffrey?
Simon: Given that scene that you saw with Joffrey [abusing] Sansa, there's understandably a degree of intimidation and a fair bit of fear. But I think they respect one another and obviously as part of their household, they're familiar with one another. But it never struck me that there was a lot of camaraderie. I think Lancel is more committed to the idealism of his household which is their motto, "Hear Me Roar!" — we are power. And he wants to emphasize that, as obviously does Joffrey. But they're different people. They're both damaged in their own different ways.
There's a big battle coming up that you play a part in. How were the battle scenes for you? Did you have to do sword work?
Simon: Yes, I did. I had five days on location, a night shoot preparing for the siege of King's Landing and we had about 200 extras, each of whom had kind of a choreographed sword fighting technique. I won't go into too much detail, but what I was required to do was a choreographed fight with professional stuntmen.
Have you done sword work before or was this new for you?
Simon: I haven't done sword work and such before. During Ben Hur, which I did awhile ago, I had to learn how to ride a chariot. They wanted me to be sure enough to handle a sword, so I was given a kind of dummy sword to prepare should I need to kind learn how to maneuver a horse whilst nailing a swipe with a sword. But this is my first time having to actually run into combat and do battles as it were.
Did you sustain any injuries rehearsing or shooting the Thrones battle scenes?
Simon: Well actually there was one thing which comes to mind. There was a particular moment where a loose rock was thrown from the battlement, and they're made of rubber but I just happened to catch one on the head. So I got completely baffled by who was throwing the rock. It was very funny because I just carried on as if nothing had happened. But I was thinking in my head, "Who the heck threw that at me?" But no, it was fine; it was actually comical.
What were the sets like for this battle? Were the massive?
Simon: The sets are designed to shock. They're daunting. The gruesomeness of the battle scene that is coming up is very real because it was absolutely pouring with torrential rain. It was the dead of night and we worked from 4 p.m. to 5 a.m. We'd really get as much dark in as we could given the scale of the scene. Myself and everybody else were wearing armor and running with swords and you really have to be have a huge amount of energy. So, you have to constantly keep yourself hydrated and eat a lot to actually really get the energy. But the scale of the buildings was just immense, unbelievable.
What's been your friends and family's reaction to seeing your character? Do they tease you about it, do they enjoy it, or do they hate the character?
Simon: Obviously it was somewhat tense in the kitchen when I turned on the TV and told them, "Listen I'm just telling you mom, dad, brother and sister, you're going to see me naked as my name day as they say on Game of Thrones on this episode. But apart from that little moment, most people have been very, very supportive of it because it's unlike any other character that I've played. ... And I tend to reach out to people on Twitter. And from what I've heard from everyone, there's always a lot of kind of excitement towards how Lancel is going to turn out even though a lot of people who've read the books already know.
If you had to design your own sigil to represent yourself, what would it be?
Simon: I've always been fond of my heritage, particularly my Irish heritage. But I'm also from all over the world. I very often embrace any culture that I'm kind of met with and I'm also partly Maltese.. I'm actually copying a friend of mine here, but I would choose a sigil of the following: It would be circular with three stone bridges meeting in the center with a hammer above it. I think what I really mean by that is it's made up of lots of different parts.
Finally, if you were sitting on the Iron Throne, what would your first royal edict be?
Simon: Well the first thing I said if I sat on the Iron Throne would probably be "Ouch!" It's actually painful because it's made of swords. But my first Royal Edict would be, "Somebody get rid of this damn chair!"
Game of Thrones airs Sundays at 9/8c on HBO. Check out this inside look at Episode 4, "Garden of Bones":
What do you think of Simon's take on Lancel?