In the course of a year, English actor Alfie Allen, 25, has gone from being best known as pop singerLily Allen's little brother to one of the main actors on the HBO hit show,"Game of Thrones."
Playing the hero-turned-villain Theon Greyjoy, Allen has won acclaim for his complex portrayal of a conflicted young man. In this interview, he talks about fitness, his career, awkward beheadings and why he thinks Daenerys Targaryen will eventually capture the Iron Throne.
LB: Hey, Alfie, I'm driving so this is going to be on speakerphone. Let me know if you can't hear me.
AA: OK I'll let you know, mate. Hi Luke!
LB: Hi Alfie. What can 'Game of Thrones' fans expect from Sunday's season finale?
AA: It's going to be an amazing episode as usual. Theon's going to get his, but in kind of a good way. He sort of comes back to the realization he's passed the point of no return and he's got continue on being the person he's decided to be, but deep down inside isn't. It all comes back around in a circle to where he was in the beginning.
LB: Do you think the episode will top last week's 'Blackwater,' which people just loved?
AA: It depends on what sort of things you like. If you like getting to know the characters, then yes. But I don't think it will be as action-packed as episode 9. It would be a pretty tough feat to top episode nine. It was pretty incredible.
LB: When I read the books, I came to pretty much hate Theon Greyjoy during the second book. When you play him, I think you make him a little more likeable. How do you do that with a character who was once pretty much a good guy and has gone over to the dark side?
AA: It's really interesting to play, mate. In the books, I think he set out to betray Robb [Stark] from the start. In the series, I think we made it that when he goes over to Pyke he's searching for a bit of status. He wants to be Prince Theon. He wants to be able to make his own decisions. When he gets humiliation and rejection from his family, it sets him on a different path. He just becomes completely power crazed. In episode 10, you'll see him come back to the realization that no one's coming to save him, but he needs to continue this lie that he's set up because otherwise he's not going to be respected by anyone, even himself.
LB: There's this moment when the viewer sees the two tarred bodies of what one thinks are the Stark children and you look at them and then you look away. As a viewer, I look into that moment and think Theon's not even proud of this.
AA: He's trying to rule through fear. He'll do anything to get the sort of respect which he feels he deserves. Just the fact the wants to have the appreciation of his family shows there's a human side to him. He's a very human character. He's very realistic. I would say he's definitely got remorse for what he's done. In his heart, he knows it's not Bran and Rickon [Stark] but it's never nice killing any children.
LB: Yeah, they're still two innocent kids.
AA: Exactly. There is some remorse for what he's done, definitely. I think that's what that look was about.
LB: What has being a part of 'Game of Thrones' and, specifically, becoming Theon Greyjoy meant for you in your career?
AA: It's just good being recognized for being an actor and not for being a celebrity more. I think people are coming up to me and going, 'You're an actor, aren't you?" instead of, "Oh yeah, you're that person." It's cool. It's like one big family. It's brilliant. It's great. In terms of my career, it's getting people to see me more seriously as an actor, which is what you want for sure.
LB: Frankly, and maybe it's because I'm American, but I knew you as the actor who played Theon first. Then I looked you up and saw you are Lily Allen's little brother.
AA: That's cool. It's kind of happening in reverse over here. People see me first as an actor and then gather that thing about my family. In Britain, I'm sort of known for the family side of things.
LB: Do you feel like you're starting to get your own recognition now? For your own achievements?
AA: I'm just happy working. It's always want I wanted to do was be an actor. I just want to keep on working on really good projects and with good people.
LB: Several people in my office have mentioned your shirtless scenes. What kind of workouts are you doing for them?
AA: Well, I do 100 ... No I'm joking. My whole workout routine is pretty severe, but it kind of leads up to 'Game of Thrones.' I can't live all year like that. It's just impossible. I wanted to feel like a warrior. I wanted to feel like I was battle-hardened and tough and strong. On the vanity side of things, I wanted to look good on screen. HBO wanted me to get in shape, so I really did it to the best of my abilities. What a great opportunity: To be working on a fantastic project and get in shape at the same time.
LB: What's your favorite scene or line you've gotten to deliver as Theon?
AA: I really liked when I got to tell that girl to keep the smile with her lips closed. [After a sex act.] That made me laugh. And, the scene where I'm with Rodrick when I'm chopping off his head. That was pretty cool. I'm really sort of proud of that. I really like the moment when Osha strips down and says you can have this but you have to give me my freedom. And I bit into an apple and look her up and down.
LB: The beheading was a little bit awkward.
AA: You mean the style of it? The hacking away? It wasn't an ideal beheading. But I think that's kind of realistic.
LB: I understand that you, Kit Harrington and Richard Madden have become pretty good friends. What's some of the most fun or craziest things you guys have done together?
AA: I don't know if I could talk about that [laughter]. We've had some good times. We did a press thing for HBO in Miami and we had some really good times there. One night when we were in Belfast, me, Richard, Peter Dinklage and Jason Momoa had a night out and we had a really good time. We ended up playing the guitar in the lobby of the hotel until about 4 in the morning. That was fun. It's been great getting to know everyone on the show.
LB: Who do you think will be king at the end of the series? Which family do you think will come out on top?
AA: Well, I would like Theon to be king at the end. I think Daenerys is going to continue until the end. I think she will get her hands on that Iron Throne. I'd like to see that happen. I don't know definitely if it will. I'd like to see Arya become some sort of queen. That would be interesting. I think she'd rule well. And I'd like to see Bran become some sort of warlord. That would be fantastic.
LB: There are so many of you actors from the UK on the show. Has the show taken off in the UK in the same way it has in the states?
AA: It has now, because I think people have gone out and bought the DVDs and now they're getting into the second season. Over here, it's like everybody watches it. In England, it's becoming less of a cult thing. I think it's going to grow more and more and more.
LB: Anything else you'd like to say?
AA: Just that I hope you drive safely and you get to work well and you're wearing a seatbelt.
LB: Thanks for looking out for my safety. I'm keeping my eyes on the road.
AA: Good. Fantastic.