Here’s a look at the most shocking moments from the finale of the seventh season of ‘Game of Thrones.’ USA TODAY
Spoiler alert: This story contains details from Sunday’s Season 7 finale of HBO’s Game of Thrones.
Rest in Peace, Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish — if you can. That’s quite the interesting life you lived.
Littlefinger, the self-made lord and schemer extraordinaire, came to his end in Sunday’s Game of Thrones Season 7 finale, his death sentence for treason and murder pronounced by former ward Sansa Stark and carried out by her sister, Arya, who slit his throat in an emotional scene.
Irish actor Aidan Gillen (The Wire, The Dark Knight Rises), 49, who imbued the treacherous Gillen with charm, wit and a hint of danger, spoke Monday with USA TODAY about the death scene, his character’s downfall, his favorite moments and how it feels to be departing an international phenomenon a year before it ends its run.
How do you feel about Littlefinger, a character you’ve embodied for seven years, being dead?
I’m in the U.K., where it airs tonight, so I’m not dead here yet. … It was inevitable. I knew that was coming sooner or later. … I felt they gave me some good space to continue to develop the character. … It’s been a long ride and an exciting one, so you feel a little empty afterward. In a way, it’s good to get out when you’re ahead.
Do you think Littlefinger deserved to die?
As the actor playing him, I’ve always been able to justify his actions: This is survival, this is revenge. If you’re talking to me as Littlefinger, I’d probably say no. From (the audience’s) point of view, they want him to get his comeuppance. He’s a classic villain, in a way. That’s what they want. It’s a classic payoff. I’m fine with that.
Did Littlefinger really love Sansa or was it political, a means to an alliance that would lead to greater power?
Tricky question. … You can tell somebody you love them, and it can mean 50 different things. I’ve always tried to be a bit nonspecific about that. He definitely has feelings for her and strong protective feelings, as well. I think (feelings and politics were) inter-meshed. And there was a degree of obsession to it.
Arya (Maisie Williams) had a satisfied smile on her face when Sansa accused Littlefinger of murder and treason.
Well, she would, wouldn’t she? … Here’s an interesting piece of information: In the last three years, I’ve had two Funko (Thrones) dolls on the shelf in my house, (Littlefinger) and Arya standing just behind to the right with, not a dagger, but a sword. … There was a Q&A over a year ago where I suggested Arya (would kill Littlefinger). I hadn’t read anything. (But) if I had known it was going to be her, I wouldn’t have said it. (He laughs.)
Do you have any favorite Littlefinger scenes?
There’s one in Season 2 in the brothel with Ros (Esmé Bianco), where he was talking to her about how he wasn’t happy if she wasn’t happy, but the language is very veiled. It was a threat. I felt it was one of the first times I had a proper shot at explaining who this guy was and what he was capable of. … I like the scenes with Sean Bean, (who played Ned Stark). There’s a guy I miss. When Ned first arrived in King’s Landing and Littlefinger was giving him a pep talk, there was a classic line (from Littlefinger): ‘Distrusting me was the wisest thing you’ve done since you stepped off your horse.’ …The scenes with Varys (Conleth Hill) were highlights. We always felt we were going to see each other again, but it was not to be. … So much of the stuff with Sansa (Sophie Turner). That became what my story was, because so much was interlocked with hers. That scene at The Eyrie where he plants a kiss on her in Season 4: It revealed a lot and was a good character scene. (I had) some nice scenes with Kate Dickie (who played Lysa Arryn). She’s a great actress. Our time was cut short, because I pushed her through the Moon Door.
Did you get to keep the mockingbird pin that Littlefinger wore and represented his made-up family sigil?
Yes. The pin is what I wanted. It seemed like the most appropriate (souvenir for) a self-made man, an adventurer. His sigil was invented. … I got a few raven scrolls. The scrolls are good. I really like that cloak. I have to put a call in (to see if he can get it from the show).
You already have upcoming roles in the film Pickups and the U.K. series Peaky Blinders. How has Thrones affected your career?
So many people have seen it. It’s the biggest production I’ve been involved with and it’s run for a long time and the character is quite eye-catching. I hate talking about the mechanics of career, but I’m sure it all helps..