'Game of Thrones' Star Weighs in on King Tommen's Difficult Journey

"He's been trying to solve his problems, and every single time, he falls on his bum," actor Dean-Charles Chapman tells THR.
Macall B. Polay/HBO

[Warning: This story contains spoilers through season six, episode eight of HBO's Game of Thrones.]

Heavy lies the crown, especially when possessed by an overstressed adolescent.

King Tommen Baratheon (Dean-Charles Chapman) reigns supreme over the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros, at least in name and title. In actuality, it's the various parties whispering in his ear pulling the strings and pushing their agendas forward. The voices are many, including the High Sparrow (Jonathan Pryce), commander of the Faith Militant; Queen Margaery Tyrell (Natalie Dormer), Tommen's wife with schemes of her own; and even Tommen's own mother Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey), who once served as Tommen's closest confidant — but not anymore.

In recent episodes, Tommen forged an alliance between the Crown and the Faith in order to rescue his wife and settle peace with the High Sparrow, but these terms come at the expense of his mother's safety. Cersei's best shot at beating the Sparrow was ripped away from her in the latest episode, "No One," as Tommen outlawed the practice of Trial by Combat in Westeros. The distance between Tommen and Cersei is greater than ever, even if she's far from finished trying to keep her son safe. It's just one more stressor on an already stressed-out king's shoulders.

With the situation in King's Landing growing more and more tense with each passing episode, The Hollywood Reporter consulted with the king himself, actor Dean-Charles Chapman, for a rundown on where things stand with Tommen and his place in the great capital city of Westeros.

It's been a complicated year for King Tommen. How would you characterize his journey this season?

It's been difficult. From the start of season six, when you see Tommen, he's in a difficult position. In season five, his wife was arrested, and his mother went through all that stuff with the High Sparrow. At the start of season six, his sister's dead body has just been brought back on a boat to King's Landing. He hadn't seen his sister in probably three or four years — or seasons, at least. He's in a very depressed state, really. I think it's more guilt with him. Technically, he's the most powerful person in Westeros. He's the king. He can do whatever he wants, whenever he wants, but he sees that he can't actually stand up in his own boots. Throughout this season, he's been trying to solve his problems, and every single time, he falls on his bum. (Laughs.) It's unfortunate. He doesn't have the right people backing him up. He always has someone manipulating him or using him for the power they want from him. It just sucks for Tommen. I feel bad for him. He doesn't deserve this.

Where's Ser Pounce in all of this? With so many untrustworthy advisors whispering in his ear, at least the royal cat would provide reliable counsel.

Good question. Ser Pounce must be lying about somewhere. He's a bit of a diva. (Laughs.) He's probably drinking some cocktails somewhere, laying out in the sun. 

What do you think seeing Myrcella did for Tommen? Did the sight of his dead sister, and now knowing that he's the last of these three children, light a fire under him, for better or for worse?

At first, I think it spooked him. I think it made him feel even more alone in the world, now that he's lost his sister. But he was alone to start out with. He's never had the right people supporting him to begin with. But seeing his sister's dead body in the flesh definitely would have lit a fire to get him thinking, "You know what? I have to actually do something now." Unfortunately, it led to him joining the Faith.

Why do you think Tommen made that choice, ultimately? He was torn between following the High Sparrow and following his mother. Why did he choose the Faith?

Well, his number one objective since season five was to get his wife back. He tried. He did try in season five, and he took a small army with him to march up the Sept of Baelor to get his wife free, and they turned him away. He was scared. He saw that the only way to get his wife back was through violence, and he didn't want to do that. Although Tommen is a Lannister, he hates seeing people in pain. He's the complete opposite of a Lannister. He's technically a Baratheon, but he's really nothing like his mother. When he gets manipulated by the High Sparrow, it's all through religion. "Pay for your sins and you'll get a better gift; you'll become a better person." If you can't beat them, you have to join them. That's his thing. He just wants his wife back and make his mother happy without shedding any blood, and that was the only way he could see — joining the Faith.

Was it a pragmatic decision, then, or does he actually believe in the High Sparrow's teachings?

I think he does. He definitely sees it from his family's point of view, but I think he understands the Faith, also. That's often what you're taught as a kid in this world, also. I think he thinks this is the right move he should make at this time.

What does Tommen think of the High Sparrow? He's a charismatic figure, obviously, and someone who has emerged with great power in such a short period of time.

Tommen would believe anyone, honestly, even if he spoke to the world's worst con man. He'd still believe that guy. (Laughs.) I'm not dissing Tommen. I genuinely love Tommen. But he's truly a little boy. He's not very… I don't know. What's the word I'm thinking…

He's gullible.

Yeah, exactly. He's very gullible. The High Sparrow talks a lot of rubbish to him, and he believes it. I think he definitely likes the High Sparrow. At the start of their relationship, and at the start of season six, he definitely disliked the High Sparrow for what he had done to his wife and his mom, but as he got to talking to him, Tommen started to understand the Faith — but he doesn't understand him. If Tommen truly understood the High Sparrow, I don't think he would be involved with it.

Cersei has always been very protective of her children, now even more so since Tommen is the only one left. In the past few episodes, Tommen has put a great distance between himself and Cersei. Has he decided he can't even think about her at this point?

He's definitely cut his mom off more than he ever has. With Myrcella's funeral, even. Tommen wouldn't even let Cersei come to her own daughter's funeral. I think by the end of season five, he realized that his mother was digging in her claws just as much as Margaery was manipulating him, and I think he needed some time by himself to think about what he needs to do, and not what other people tell him. But he's definitely cut off his mom a lot this year. I mean, he still loves her, but I think he thinks it's for the best to keep his distance.

When Tommen makes the choice to outlaw Trial by Combat, does he realize how much this is damaging his mother's chances of survival?

Definitely. He definitely knows the consequences this will have for Cersei. But I don't think it was mainly Tommen's idea. I think it was the High Sparrow's idea. I believe the High Sparrow was behind him, whispering things in his ear. So was Kevan Lannister and old Pycelle. I think they've all been talking nonsense into his ear, manipulating him in their own way. I think Tommen believes in what he's doing right now. He just wants what's best for everyone. He wants no bloodshed, and so he's playing by the High Sparrow's rules.

Tommen is a good kid with a kind heart. He doesn't want bloodshed, as you've said. But he's also gullible, as you've said. What would it take for Tommen to effectively rule the Seven Kingdoms? Is there a good leader in there somewhere?

I think so. Maybe if Tyrion was back, that would take him down the right road. Honestly, even Tywin. I think if Tywin was alive or was magically brought back, it would all be fine. But Cersei just thinks about her own back. She loves that kid, but she's not thinking enough about Tommen. If she was thinking more of Tommen, none of this would have happened. None of it. I think Tywin or Tyrion could have put Tommen in the right place. 

Tommen and Tyrion would be a great team-up.

Oh yeah. Hell yeah. (Laughs.) That would be awesome.

Let's talk about Margaery. Tommen has been desperate to free his wife from captivity. How does he feel now that she's back?

I think Tommen's a little bit disappointed. He wanted to jump back in bed. (Laughs.) But I think he's happy that she's back in the castle. I think he's happy she's safe — or at least safer. As long as he knows she's not trapped in a dungeon, chained up or starving, and she's well-fed, dressed properly and in the same area, I think he's fine. That puts him at rest at least a tiny little bit. It relieves some pressure. 

Speaking of pressure, the entire situation in King's Landing is incredibly tense right now, and feels like it's finally about to boil over…

I don't want to give anything away — no spoilers at all — but this whole season is building up to these last two episodes. It's been teasing the fans every second. Something's going to kick off, and no one is quite sure when or how. But it's been building up tension and getting more and more frustrating. Even the fans are getting frustrated! "Come on, do something!" Lately, I've been getting a lot of Tommen hate, and it sucks!

What are people saying?

Well, people are referring to me as Tommen. I'm not Tommen! My name's Dean, and I happen to play this dude called Tommen. There are some lovers of Tommen, and I love Tommen, but some people want him to grab a sword and kill everyone and have a happy ending. But this is Game of Thrones. I get where the fans are coming from, though, so it's good news for me. Hopefully it means I'm doing my job the way I should.

Watch the video for more on Tommen's mother's plans:

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