Iain Glen’s Ser Jorah Mormont is one of Game of Thrones’ most loyal characters. Too loyal, perhaps: In season 5, he waded with Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) into the smoking seas of Valyria to make it back to Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) — a journey no sane character would have attempted, considering the area’s inhabitants: greyscale-stricken “stone men” living out the rest of their days, going insane until death.
One touch from these creatures results in contracting greyscale — and because this is Thrones, Jorah and Tyrion got attacked almost as soon as they wandered into their territory. To make matters worse, they were ambushed while on a small boat, resulting in a sequence that was particularly grueling to film. “We just had to rehearse and rehearse and rehearse this fight sequence in a very, very constricted area, and then we actually had to do it on a floating boat, in situ,” Glen, 57, recalls to EW ahead of the HBO epic’s final season (premiering April 14). “Thrones sometimes sort of extricates you and puts you into a blue/green-screen area, but this one was really in situ, and they were complicating their surroundings. So I just remember the difficulty of shooting that particular sequence without somebody getting seriously, seriously hurt.”
Luckily, Glen and Dinklage had plenty of help. “We always had the best stunt teams, and we always practiced incredibly thoroughly, every aspect of it,” Glen says. “All the departments were unbelievably brilliant, and in something like that, they really show their colors. The stunt guys really look after you.
“But poor Peter,” he adds. “He had to cower in the corner. Things were thrown at him more.… I enjoy all the fighting stuff, so I don’t mind that.”
Glen doesn’t do as much fighting (physically, at least) on PBS Masterpiece’s Mrs. Wilson, which airs an encore of its finale Thursday night. On the limited series starring The Affair’s Ruth Wilson as her own grandmother, Alison, and based on Alison’s personal memoirs, Glen plays Alec, Alison’s husband who secretly married — and began families — with several other women.
The role may seem like a departure from the ever-loyal (and ever-friendzoned) Ser Jorah, but Glen says Alec wasn’t just some philandering 20th-century Don Juan. Instead, from everything he learned from Ruth’s own relatives, he’d wanted to be a family man. “He tried to be a very, very good father to all his various families and he really twisted himself out of shape,” he explains. “When he disappeared, he was always disappearing to see other family, other children.”
And besides, Glen has never actively looked for roles that would separate him from Thrones. “Although I’ve been playing Ser Jorah over the last decade or so, there’s been a whole bunch of other stuff in between,” he says. “I wasn’t consciously trying to find anything [unlike him]. In a funny way, Jorah has spent his entire decade trying to win a woman, and Alec is somebody who has seemed to won them all and then some.”
Then again, who knows what the last six episodes of Thrones will bring for Jorah the Andal? In a way, Glen has already embraced the end: He remembers swapping out his seasons-long costume — the dirty golden shirt — in season 7 and feeling like the story was nearing a close. “It was definitely a relief,” he admits, laughing, of what it was like to finally leave the tattered outfit behind. “I was rather fond of it. That was when it hit me [that it was close to the end], when I got out of my golden shirt for the last time. That was it, it’s not coming back.”
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