With season five of Game of Thrones – one of the most popular TV shows on the planet – airing this week, Alexi Duggins meets one of its global stars, Londoner Alfie Allen, who plays Theon Greyjoy, to talk Westeros, fan art and his sister Lily.
You wouldn’t expect Alfie Allen to be a normal bloke. He’s Keith Allen’s son, brother of pop singer Lily and – for a number of years during his childhood – Harry Enfield’s stepson. He spent his youth being kicked out of school after school before starting an acting career. Now, as Theon Greyjoy in HBO’s ‘Game of Thrones’, he stars in a series so popular it’s overtaken The Sopranos as the network’s most watched show ever. He’s an emotionally intense actor and an undoubted star of the future. This guy, surely, is going to have an attitude. Not quite. ‘You’re the journo?’ he asks, as we meet outside a photo studio in London’s Mile End. ‘I guess I should be all professiona… WHOA! CHECK OUT THAT GRAFFITI!’ Suddenly, he’s scrabbling on the floor after a biro-ed flyer. Later, as he leads us to Hoxton Square to show us the flat he used to live in, he runs off to pet a dog. Allen’s funny. He’s cheeky. He’s super-friendly. He’s astonishingly down-to-earth. Who knew?
When you started your career, lots of people had heard of you from Lily’s song ‘Alfie’ – in which she calls you a massive layabout. Was that tricky?
It’s followed me, definitely, but I’ve never wanted to stop my sister’s creative juices. Essentially, it’s a song about love, so I don’t let it bother me.
When you were first cast as Theon Greyjoy in Game of Thrones, did you expect it to be so big?
Not really. It’s insane. A few years ago I was in Australia and I stopped at this middle-of-nowhere coffee shop. These two fans of the show came up to me, saying: ‘You’re from London, right? We’re going there for the 2012 Olympics!’ I went, ‘Sweet, what you gonna see?’ ‘No, no, no,’ they said. ‘We’re the Australian Olympic rowing team.’ That was when the show’s success really hit home for me.
Have you ever had any crazy fan moments?
The conventions are pretty nuts. You get given some unbelievable fan art. If I could show you this picture someone drew me – it’s a based on a Guardian photoshoot I did ages ago. It’s so perfectly done, but for some reason this girl decided to paint me wearing a floral headdress – it’s really funny.
What do you do with something like that?
I put it up in my toilet so that anyone who uses it has to look at it. It helps me laugh at myself.
The musician Sam Smith has claimed on Twitter that he’s your cousin. Is he?
Sam Smith is not my cousin. It’s absolute rubbish. It’s a lie. I mean, I haven’t looked into it closely enough to see if it is true but if it is, I’ve never heard about it and the only people who’ve ever mentioned it to me heard about it online.
But your sister tweeted him saying it was true…
Oh. Maybe we are, then. I haven’t looked into it. I like Sam Smith and his music. He’s great. But why didn’t I know about this sooner? Why did it only come out when Sam Smith was famous? I don’t know. You’d have to ask Lily.
Is it ever awkward having such a mouthy sibling? A while back she said she’d been asked to play your sister in Game of Thrones, which you then publicly denied. After that, she claimed you’d banned her from talking about the show.
I think this is something I don’t really want to go into. But it’s not true that I banned her from talking about it. She’s got her own career.
Every season, loads of ‘Game of Thrones’ characters die. Do you worry that you’ll be next?
I’m constantly asking David and Dan [Benioff and Weiss, the show’s writers]: ‘Do I die this season? Am I dead?’ They just shrug at me. Although at the end of series two, I got a script that said: ‘Bran comes out on Hodor’s back armed with a knife. Theon is stabbed in the heart and dies.’ I just thought: ‘What will be, will be,’ and went on holiday for three weeks.
But you’re still in the show – did they change their minds?
Eventually, they phoned up and went: ‘How would you feel about coming back as a zombie?’ I was like, ‘Yeah, that’s cool.’ Then they went: ‘Erm, okay. How would you feel about being a naked zombie? A naked zombie with no dialogue whatsoever!’ I was just like, ‘Come off it!’ and they burst out laughing. It was all
What’s next for you?
I can’t really talk about a lot of my upcoming projects, but I’m in John Wick, a thriller with Keanu Reeves. Also, me and one of my childhood friends are doing some writing. We’re trying to write about fan conventions. It’s such a weird world that someone needs to portray it.
Any spoilers for the fifth season? Everyone dies! If you want me to tell you stuff, I will. But no-one really wants to know. You’re just ruining it for yourself. When you’re looking for spoilers, what are you achieving? Just leave it be.
Game of Thrones Season 5 airs on OSN from Monday April 13.
Season Five Predictions
Ever since Sean Bean had his head snicked off by that chap from Dr Feelgood, the bloody murder of major players has been the USP of Game of Thrones. So who’s for the chop this season? The show has already bumped off several characters who are still alive and kicking in the books, which means that nobody’s safe. Watch your backs, guys.
It’s taken three long years, but Daenerys Targaryen’s leathery offspring are finally reaching a size that will allow them to wreak maximum havoc. They’ve already wolfed down several goats and one toddler by way of an appetiser. But now it’s time for the main course, served scorched and bloody…
Like a runaway train rapidly running out of track, Game of Thrones is reaching the limit of George RR Martin’s published novels. With the next book not due until 2016 at the earliest, expect this season to chuck in all kinds of invented obstacles to slow our heroes down while they wait for Big G to get it together and dictate their fates.