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Game of Thrones: Why Euron Greyjoy is season 7’s secret trump card

Euron Greyjoy getting a bit of a makeover: ‘He’s much more f—ing enjoying himself this season‘ 

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Helen Sloan/HBO

The meanest pirate in Westeros is about to become a bit more fun — and a tad less hairy.

Euron Greyjoy — Theon’s power-mad uncle — is going to cause some real trouble in Game of Thrones season 7, and he’s getting a new look in the process. (The photo above is from last year; Euron hasn’t been revealed yet in the marketing for season 7.) Euron’s messy hair, scraggly beard, and dour clothes will be replaced by a sexier close-cropped style and swaggering black robes. Euron’s personality received an upgrade, too.

“He’s much more just f—ing enjoying himself this season,” says actor Pilou Asbaek, who we caught on the set in Spain lounging in a Crossfit T-shirt (so evil!). “He’s more charming. He takes himself seriously, but not too seriously.”

In the George R.R. Martin’s novels, Euron is a menacing and murderous demon — and that’s pretty much how he came across in his relatively brief season 6 appearances as he schemed to seize control the Iron Islands, murdering his brother Balon and outwitting his niece Yara to claim the crown for himself at a Kingsmoot ceremony. This year, Euron has a more pivotal role to play (consider him the season’s unpredictable mad pirate trump card). And since he’s probably the last major character to join a series that’s stuffed with so many fan favorites, it was essential to distinguish Euron in ways that felt fresh to the saga while still feeling true to his original characterization. “He brings a different energy to the show,” says co-executive producer Bryan Cogman. “He’s the kind of guy who will kill you and steal your girlfriend.”

One might say Euron fills a void in the series left by the death of Ramsay Bolton (who, in turn, replaced Joffrey Baratheon as the show’s love-to-hate human villain). The comparison stops there, however. GoT writer Dave Hill says Asbaek — known for playing heroes in his native Denmark — can project a perfect “resting maniac face.” And Asbaek notes, “Ramsay was a great character and to me was 100 percent evil. I think Euron is not. I’m more like a hooligan. The guy you met at the Kingsmoot is not the guy you will meet on his ship — he’s different with different people to get what he wants.”

And what does Euron want more than anything else? Why, the big spiky chair in King’s Landing, of course. He plotted to lure Daenerys with a clumsy marriage proposal last season. This year he looks to current Iron Throne occupant, Cersei Lannister, who is always in the market for another powerful and murderous enforcer to help protect her family. Whether he’s successful at meeting and making an alliance with the Westeros queen — let alone seizing the Iron Throne — remains to be seen. But Asbaek seems confident his character will prevail.

“For Euron, the question is, ‘Who gives me the best odds?’” he muses. “Is it the dragon mother? No. Is it with Cersei? I think it is. Dany is still trying to be a good, decent, honest person. Cersei sold her soul many years ago.” Asbaek gives an outlaw grin. “Maybe that’s why Euron likes the idea of her.”

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Game of Thrones returns July 16.