'Game of Thrones': Will Sand Snakes' "Desire for Revenge" Doom Dorne?

Areo Hotah actor DeObia Oparei reveals just how complicated things are getting: "politically, there is a lot of ricocheting going on."
Macall B. Polay/HBO

Things are getting very complicated in Dorne.

Prince Doran (Alexander Siddig) must contend with insubordination from his nieces, the Sand Snakes, who are hell-bent on exacting revenge on the Lannisters, whom they hold responsible for the death of their father Oberyn (Pedro Pascal). He must also deal with the political fallout after capturing Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), who came to Dorne to rescue his daughter/niece Myrcella (Nell Tiger Free), whom the Sand Snakes were plotting to harm. 

Both Jaime and the Sand Snakes are in Doran's custody, and their actions have big implications for Dorne's future, as what Doran decides to do could potentially prevent or spark war. Luckily for Doran, he has a trusted advisor and skilled warrior at his side in Areo Hotah (DeObia Oparei).

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In a conversation with The Hollywood Reporter, Oparei talks about how Areo will council his prince, Dorne's future and his upcoming role in Independence Day 2, in which he plays an African warlord.

You had a cool scene last week where you got to arrest Jaime. What was that like?

It was my biggest bit of action on the show to date. I got to wield the long ax, which is no small feet. It weighs the size of a ten-year-old child. It's really heavy. 

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Areo says he would have liked to fight Jaime back when Jaime had two hands. Is Areo really as good a fighter as Jaime once was?

I don't think you get to to be chief of police of Dorne without having tested your metal in some way against the best in that world. So I think in Areo's mind, he is the best.

Will we see him in action again?

I hope so. (Laughs)

Why is he so loyal to Doran?

That comes form his back story. He went into the monastery when he was very young. His family was poor. There were too many mouths to feed. I think the monks there branded him with his motto, "Serve. Protect. Obey." He was reared from a very young age to be the man that he is. A fighter, a warrior of the highest caliber in service to his prince. He carries that the same way Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie) carries vows — of Knighthood, of protecting. I think that he is this stoic, political mind. He's been tasked with keeping together this kingdom, especially with a prince that is physically incapacitated. Therefore it's on him to make sure that the status quo is maintained and that people don't know that his prince can't walk.

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How will he help Doran navigate the increasingly complicated political climate?

As much from within as from without. He's having to curtail the tempers of Oberyn's daughters, and that desire for revenge is as much to contend with as Jaime Lannister having smuggled himself into Dorne and what that is going to represent. Politically, there is a lot of ricocheting going on within the mind of Areo Hotah.

What was your audition like for Game of Thrones?

I went to the wrong place. It's a big audition and I was in completely the wrong. The  place I had to get to was a couple of Metro stops away. There was no way I was going to make it on time. I was just so pissed off. It was hot and it was summer. I sweat a lot. So I called my agent and I said, "can you call them and let them know I never turn up late for auditions?" And I just ran. I literally ended up running into the office where it was. My shirt was all mangled and I was sweating like a mad man. The whole office just stopped. You could just see the look of, "Who the f— is this?" But the casting director looked really pleased and she just said "Come in." it was the perfect look. A fiery, angry sweaty 6'6, 270 pound man.

Where are you with Independence Day 2?

We are in the middle of shooting. It's a big shoot. It's just started and it's intense and it's fantastic. [Director] Roland Emerich is a genius.  

How does the scope of Independence Day compare to Thrones, which while huge, is somewhat limited by what can be done on TV.

I really like working on big epics. Before this, I was at the Royal Shakespeare company. I was used to doing big stage shows. Not that I don't do small — I love doing small too. But there's something really gratifying about working with auteurs and directors who have an epic quality. Is there a difference between the scope of Thrones and Independence Day? Not really. It's about vision. You can have a big epic vision even if you are doing a play for a theater for 150 people. Of course, there is the machinery and the organization that goes into it. With Game of Thrones and Independence Day, they are both big stories, and lots of great characters and lots of nuances but the writers are around. They are on hand and Roland — just like [Game of Thrones showrunners] David [Benioff] and Dan [Weiss] — all three of them have such a capacity to really steer a ship toward this powerful vision where everyone is on board. It's very clear where we are going.

Game of Thrones airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on HBO.

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