Daniel Portman, Podrick from Game of Thrones, will be attending Granite State Comicon on September 13th and 14th and we were lucky enough to talk with him about HBO‘s hit show, his character, and his upcoming convention appearance.
I understand that you auditioned for two other parts in GOT before landing the Podrick role, can you tell us who those characters were?
No, I’m not allowed to tell you, sorry. Just for the sake of stepping on the toes of other actors I can’t say, I’m sorry. I can tell you that both of the characters that I auditioned for were for the second season and they both died in the second season. So I was quite fortunate in terms of that.
When you went up for the part, had you already read any of the books? If not, did you later read them?
After I watched the first season, as a fan, I read up to A Feast for Crows. In that space of time between watching that first season and my audition for Podrick. It was just quite lucky that I had done that because I had a better background and knowledge of what they might have been looking for in terms of Podrick and knowing they were aging up certain characters and things like that. I haven’t read any further since then, because I don’t want to jump the gun and be preempting things and second guessing what the writers and producers are going to do with my character, but as a fan before I was in the show I’d read the first four books.
Most people probably don’t know that your father Ron Donachie played Rodrik Cassel, Winterfell’s master at arms on the show (pictured above), should we expect any other family members to be cast in GOT?
Yes indeed, (Laughs) who knows, It’s a lovely coincidence, that both me and my dad ended up on the show. He was on it from the very beginning and the pilot and everything and then just as he was leaving, I was just coming into it. It was almost like a passing of the torch, changing of the guard kind of thing.
Your character on-screen is constantly undervalued and overlooked by the big Iron Throne players until that one shining moment of clarity that proves Podrick’s worth. Do you think this is why he’s managed to stay under the radar and survive so far?
I think that, he is much, much, more clever than everybody gives him credit for. Which is sort of illustrated in the fourth season when you see the beginning of his journey with Brienne because Podrick knows a lot of things that Brienne doesn’t the reason that they run into Arya and the Hound is because Podrick says we should go to the Aerie otherwise they’re going up to the Wall because that’s where Brienne thinks she should go. You know he is a smart guy, he sat in the same room as Tyrion Lannister for two or three years and listened to maybe the smartest character in the show, he’s been around that guy and has learned a lot from him and I think he thinks that as people assume he’s stupid, then they’re gonna think he’s no threat, so he might as well just let them think he’s stupid instead of forcing the idea of him being smart upon them.
I do think he’s clever, and I think he wants to stay under the radar and the best way to do so is to appear to be no threat at all.
No, not quite, I know it’s a bit of a contentious scene between fans of the show and fans of the books, people enjoyed it for the entertainment purposes. I know there were a few folks that didn’t enjoy it, but I didn’t expect it to cause such a buzz at all. It was quite surprising that the night after the episode how much people had sort of sunk their teeth into that story.
The fan theories include Podrick’s possible unusual size (Tri-Podrick), Podrick’s use of the Lord’s Kiss, and one where he just talks with the ladies all night. Want to clear it all up for fans?
He did lots of things, that’s what he says in the episode. Tyrion said, “What did you do?” Podrick says, “Lots of things.” That’s all I know about it.
I imagine he’s just a very talented young man. He knows how to listen and respond to the needs of any young woman that he may be trying to please at that time. I’m trying to be as straight forward as possible here, but yeah, I think that’s why. He’s just responsive and did what he’s good at.
Have you taken any souvenirs from the set?
No, I haven’t yet. Not yet, but everybody wants to I think at some point. I’ve got my eyes on a couple of things, but I would certainly ask the show runners before leaving the show if they would allow me to take a few things. I have a few ideas here and there, but I’ve not actually worked up the courage to take anything yet.
Which scene from the series so far was the hardest for you to get through as an actor and as the character?
As an actor, the toughest, that is a difficult one. The toughest for me as an actor was probably the scene in Episode Seven of last season. When Brienne and I are at the end of the crossroads. That was a couple of days of, we had a lot of laughing over those few days we shot that scene and also I was eating a lot of pastry. A lot of that was actually mushroom pie. I think I went through 18 of 19 mushroom pies in a day. As a human being, you shouldn’t be doing that. So that was quite difficult, I was in a sort of pastry coma for a couple of days after that.
As the character, it was definitely leaving Tyrion’s side in Episode Three of Season Four and being sent away from Kings Landing. As an actor, that was maybe the scene I enjoyed doing the most, because it was an opportunity for me to stand toe to toe with Peter as opposed to standing in the background as I had for most of our relationship previous to that. An opportunity for the roles to almost be reversed in a sense for Podrick to come in and be the man who’s telling Tyrion how it is, rather than the other way around, for a part of the scene anyways. For the character it was incredibly difficult to leave the man who had been so good to him.
In another interview you talked about laughing and getting the giggles during shooting with Peter Dinklage and Jerome Flynn, did you have the same problem with Gwendoline Christie last season?
Oh, absolutely. Gwen is just a delight. She’s an incredible woman, not only is she a fantastic actress, but she’s an amazing person to be around and makes everything so easy. From the off we’ve managed to find a really good chemistry between us and there’s a lot of laughter when we’re on set. Which is always a nice thing to do while you’re working, to laugh and have a good time.
You’re listed in the first episode of Season 5 on IMDB, but Gewndoline Christie is not. At the end of last season you were still both together, will we be seeing her in the first episode?
I really can’t talk about anything for season five.
Do you think Podrick will ever find Tyrien?
I hope so, I don’t know. I don’t know what ideas the show-runners have in store for Podrick, but I think that if that happens the fans would go crazy for it. I think the fans would love that if Podrick and Tyrion managed to be reconciled at some point.
If Podrick had to die in the series, how would you like to see him go?
In a brothel definitely. (Laughs) No, probably in battle. In some sort of bad-ass battle sequence where he kills 15 or 20 men and then just gets overrun. Something cool,
in the brothel would be cool, or in the midst of killing lots and lots of bad guys, then just being overrun, or saving someones life. Saving somebodies life would be quite cool.
Your favorite GOT Character besides Podrick?
Jamie Lannister is my favorite character. but I also like Ayra a lot, I like Varys, Brienne, there are so many to choose from, but Jamie is the one that stands out for me. I think he’s maybe the most misunderstood character in the series. The way that Magali (Villeneuve) plays him is… I don’t think there’s a man more right to play that part. He is so fantastic in the show. So Jamie’s my favorite character other than Podrick.
Have you been to many fan conventions and what has surprised you the most about GOT fans?
I’ve been lucky enough to travel about all over the world. I was in Australia not that long ago, and I’ve been around Europe, this is my first one in America at Granite State Comic Con and the thing that surprised me most is probably the dedication of fans who travel around all over the world to see you or their respective country to see you, the amount of money people spend on coming to see you and it’s very rewarding to see that people care so much about our work and enjoy our work so much. That’s probably the most surprising thing for me as I didn’t ever think I would be at a point in my career that there would be people traveling across a country just to have a photo with me and tell me that they liked what I was doing on the show. That’s quite surreal for me, but at the same time it’s very rewarding.
Miltos Yerolemou is teaching water dancing classes at Granite State Comic Con. Will you be conducting any Podrick’s Pleasure House Lessons?
(Laughs) Um, I haven’t thought.. maybe that’s a good idea. That’s a great idea actually. Why not, of course I will. Definitely, let’s start selling tickets now.
Do you have an appearance schedule for signings and panels at Granite State that we can post for fans?
*(Exact details not yet available. We’ll get our hands on the schedule as soon as it is available and post it here.)
Besides GOT, are there any other projects you’re involved with that we should keep our eyes out for?
No, Game of Thrones shooting schedule keeps my busy.
I’d like to take a moment to thank Daniel Portman for taking the time to talk with me. It was a real treat for this Game of Thrones fan. He has a terrific Scottish accent that might surprise a few fans unaware that his normal speaking voice is very different from his character Podrick’s. It was a fun interview to do and I look forward to getting the chance to chat face to face one day, and perhaps even get an autograph.
Daniel will be making his first American convention appearance at the 11th Annual Granite State Comicon in Manchester, New Hampshire on September 13 and 14. Four of his fellow Game of Thrones cast members Finn Jones, Gemma Whelan, Josef Altin and recently announced Star Wars 7 cast member Miltos Yerolemou. If that lineup wasn’t enough to make you drop everything and get in the car then let’s throw in Flash Gordon himself Sam J. Jones, who’s in nearby Boston to shoot Ted 2 and will also be attending the convention weekend, along with William Forsythe (Dick Tracy, Boardwalk Empire, Halloween) and Invader Zim voice actors Richard Horvitz and Rikki Simons.
If you’re in the area, or close enough to drive, get your butt over there and check it out. It looks to be a great convention.