‘Game Of Thrones’ Star Jack Gleeson Talks King Joffery’s Villainy To ‘GQ’ Magazine

"I think my portrayal of Joffrey is very clichéd"

In anticipation of the season 2 finale of Game of Thrones tomorrow, GQ has shared an interview with Jack Gleeson — the young actor who does an AMAZING job portraying the absolutely loathsome King Joffrey Baratheon. In his interview with GQ, Gleeson explains how he got his role on GoT and reveals who some of his favorite villains are. He also reveals his inspiration for playing the vile King Joffrey. GQ also shares an odd and somewhat disturbing video of Gleeson being … well, evil. Click below to read and see more.

GQ: What scared you as a child?
Jack Gleeson: There’s a big rock called the Skellig Rock, off the West Coast of Ireland, where monks used to go to escape from the Vikings—they’d build their huts on it. I went with my family when I was really young and we had to climb the rock, which is almost vertical at points. That was when I knew that heights really, really freaked me out.

GQ: What scares you now?
Jack Gleeson: I chopped the top of my finger off in a door when I was running away from my cousin about five years ago. Ever since then, I’ve been very touchy around doors. They scare me a lot.

GQ: Do you have a favorite fictional villain?
Jack Gleeson: The HAL computer from 2001: A Space Odyssey. It’s terrifying because it has no empathy, and you can’t rationalize with it as you would a human being. As for actors, Rutger Hauer was pretty perfect in Blade Runner. Just his eyes…

GQ: What performances influenced King Joffrey’s petulant brand of evil?
Jack Gleeson: A big influence was Joaquin Phoenix in Gladiator. Sometimes when I’m sitting on my throne, I think of Phoenix sitting on his, with that smirk on his face.

GQ: Have you ever rooted for a villain?
Jack Gleeson: There’s a scene in Psycho, when Norman Bates has just killed Marion and put her in the trunk of a car and he’s pushing the car into, like, a lagoon. The scene is so tense and you see his face and he’s like, “Oh, please. Can this car just go under…” And you’re like, “Yeah, I hope so too, man, and I hope the cops don’t come…” But, wait a second, he just killed this girl for no reason! I was rooting for a murderer.

GQ: When did you figure out you could, well, personify evil?
Jack Gleeson: When I was auditioning for Joffrey. I only had one audition, and the producers and writers were laughing at my performance because I was being so snotty and arrogant. They found it comical. I thought that was good.

GQ: Do you worry about repeating villainous clichés?
Jack Gleeson: Definitely. And I think my portrayal of Joffrey is very clichéd. It’s something that’s so easy to slip into because I’ve seen so many villainous characters on TV and onstage and in films. Joffrey is definitely informed by those performances.

GQ: Is the preparation different when you play a villain?
Jack Gleeson: I think so. You have to tap into and embrace the negative feelings you try to repress in everyday life.

GQ: Like what?
Jack Gleeson: Feeling superior to everyone, for one thing. Arrogance is a weird emotion to take on, but you have to do it.

GQ: Is that arrogance hard to shake when a scene is over?
Jack Gleeson: Usually not, because after a long day of work, you’re just happy to take off all your annoying armor and the costumes and just be yourself again. I’m quite relieved when I can stop being Joffrey.

GQ: Do you think that Joffrey sees himself as a bad guy?
Jack Gleeson: I think he sees himself as the hero of his own tale, the knight in shining armor. You look at the horrendous things he does, but he always justifies them in his head.

GQ: Do you have a favorite Joffrey line?
Jack Gleeson: I do, but it involves an explicit word beginning with “C.”

GQ: It’s okay. GQ readers can take it.
Jack Gleeson: It’s when Arya has just humiliated Joffrey by almost beating him up in season one. He’s really embarrassed and says, “I’ve got you, you cunt.” I didn’t like saying it to poor Maisie [Williams] but I loved shape of the words. The line was almost onomatopoeic—a way to verbalize anger and embarrassment. Yeah…I really like that line.

GQ: What do you think villains have in common with heroes?
Jack Gleeson: A certain kind of confidence. Both believe that what they are doing is justified. Both villains and heroes need to have a steadfast belief in themselves.

GQ: Do you think villains are born bad or made bad?
Jack Gleeson: With Joffrey, the evil and malicious things he does are byproducts of the setting that he’s been brought up, how his family behaves, and what he’s been made to believe of himself. To me, he’s been made bad.


Click HERE to read GQ‘s full chat with Jack Gleeson. I understand the young man is really nice and charming in real life but he does such a great job playing Joffrey that I have a hard time not seeing him as a little shit. I guess he can take that as a compliment ;) I am SO excited and bummed for/about tomorrow’s GoT season 2 finale. I mean, I can’t wait to see it … but once it’s over … we’ll have to wait a whole year to see GoT again. I’m almost done reading A Clash of Kings. I’m hoping to have it finished before I watch tomorrow’s finale ep. Altho the HBO series will temporary end tomorrow, I still have 4 Game of Thrones books to look forward to so … at least there’s a bright side.

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  1. Jake

    That was a really good interview. He comes across very well.

  2. Tonya

    I love to hate Joffrey Baratheon, he does a fantastic job. I’m very impressed with this interview, he seems like a very intelligent kid. I’m even more impressed with his taste in movies.

  3. Jade

    I’m so relieved that he’s cool! I was really starting to wonder about that. My husband and I love to hate Joffrey, as well.

  4. Sarah

    Wtf did I just watch?

  5. Bounds

    The kid is referencing really great films way before his time and probably his parents too. Wow. I am really impressed at his film knowledge and apparent education. His Performance is so wholly rancid, I love him not taking any credit for it and calling it what it is. A mix of cliches we have all seen before. He knows it and is confident to admit it unlike many stars who act like they were the first to call someone a “C*nt” and be a petulant twat. Kudos to this young actor.

    • Tracy

      Agreed! I was really impressed with his reference of the old movies and his definition on how he explain his feelings, on the use of the work C**t. I had to look up “onomatopoeic” not a word you hear too often. LOL!

      This kid is still one of the funniest looking people I’ve ever seen. Very odd features almost bug like. Sorry :-(

  6. suemey

    Well besides the 4 more books you have the dunk and egg stories! The setting is 100 years prior to the first book of a song of ice and fire.

  7. Ashstar

    Such a brilliant actor, and obviously very intelligent. A rarity for such a young age.

  8. Megan

    He’s very intelligent too…he’s a scholar at Trinity College here in Dublin and that’s ridiculously hard to achieve!

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