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Seven hells hath no fury like a queen mother scorned.
In the season six finale of Game of Thrones, called “The Winds of Winter,” Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) boldly embodied her house words: “Hear me roar.” Her war cry was fiery and ferocious, incinerating everyone inside the Sept of Baelor and surrounding neighborhoods in a single stroke of wildfire fury. With one deft move, Cersei annihilated several core enemies: Margaery Tyrell (Natalie Dormer), Kevan Lannister (Ian Gelder), the High Sparrow (Jonathan Pryce) and his entire Faith Militant force, to name a few.
But Cersei’s actions also sucked another unintended victim into her violent vortex: Tommen (Dean-Charles Chapman), king of the realm, Cersei’s own flesh and blood and last living child. The Lord of the Seven Kingdoms watched in horror from afar as wildfire ate at the heart of the city, butchering his wife and holy partner in an instant. With little hesitation, Tommen subsequently removed his crown, climbed onto a window ledge, and leapt to his death, giving literal meaning to the name “King’s Landing.”
Tommen’s suicide fulfills Maggy the Frog’s prophecy, foretelling of Cersei’s joy turning to ash in her mouth in the form of her children’s death. Now, all three of Cersei and Jaime Lannister’s little lions are gone — and in their wake, Cersei ascends to the Iron Throne, with nothing left to lose and no limits to her murderous tendencies.
With his time on Thrones now at an end, Dean-Charles Chapman spoke with The Hollywood Reporter about Tommen’s fall, Cersei’s rise and more.
How did you find out about Tommen’s death?
I was flown out to Belfast for the table read with all of the cast. I think it was the night before. I was in my hotel, minding my own business, and I got a phone call. I picked up the phone, and instantly, I knew it was coming. It was [David Benioff and Dan Weiss], the two creators of the show, and they stated the facts. But they did it really nice. I couldn’t have asked for a better way to have that news broken to me. Them telling me beforehand really helped me out, otherwise I would have been in a state when I read it in the scripts. I probably would have cried.
What were your thoughts on how Tommen’s story was ending?
Us actors on the show don’t really know the outcome of our story arcs. Tommen as a character, I sort of knew he wouldn’t be the last person sitting on the throne. He’s not really suited for it, is he? So when I found out, I was pretty … it is what it is. I had the best time of my life playing Tommen. I couldn’t have asked for a better cast and crew. In a way, I was sort of thankful. He had a dark ending, but I was thankful about the way he went. Everyone on the show ends up getting their head blown off or squeezed, or stabbed. Tommen was a peaceful guy. And in a way, he goes out in a peaceful way. But a dark way. It’s sad.
When he sees the explosion in King’s Landing, is it just too much violence for him to bear anymore?
Yeah. I mean, since season five, he’s been carrying this massive guilt on his shoulders. He’s the most powerful person in the world. He’s in a position to change the outcome of the show, and he hasn’t done anything about it whatsoever. That’s the moment he’s been dreading, really. He didn’t want anything to happen to Margaery. I think he knows Cersei’s behind this, as soon as the Mountain (Hafthor Bjornsson) shows up to keep him from going anywhere. To think that his mom was behind this, and he’s not in control of any situation and he should be — in a way, he feels worthless to the world. He gives up. Knowing that his wife is in the Sept as it’s blown up… it must be so hard.
Tommen jumps without any hesitation, too. He takes off his crown, walks away from the window, walks right back, and leaps. No reservations.
Absolutely. And what the director [Miguel Sapochnik] said on the day was, that moment where he takes his crown off, and he walks off set, he walks off for maybe six seconds. They wanted to make the audience think he was going to confront his mother, or maybe lie on the bed and scream into the pillow. Instead, he puts his crown away, takes a moment to collect his thoughts, and he just storms back on screen and leaps to his death. It’s crazy.
What went into performing the actual jump?
I was jumping onto a crash mat. Height-wise, I think if I was standing on the floor, it was up to my chest. But the crash mat was pretty thick. I must have done that about 50 times. My face was pretty bruised up. (Laughs.) My face took it a little bit.
It must have been emotionally bruising as well, repeating Tommen’s suicide 50 times in a single day.
It was awful. It was terrible. As actors on the show, we come back every year, if we’re lucky. We get to know our characters more and more and more. I’ve known Tommen for about three years now. It was sad saying goodbye to my old pal.
How much did knowing about Tommen’s death ahead of time inform your performance throughout the year?
It’s interesting. I suppose if I sat down and watched season four to season five and season six, you would kind of see where the character is going. But for me, playing it each season, Tommen just can’t stand his own ground, can he? Even though he’s the king, he’s not ruling himself. He’s not ruling the kingdom. I was playing it in a way as a hopeless little boy, not knowing what’s happening. Sadly, that’s the whole movement of Tommen — bobbling along, listening to people, not knowing what to do. In a way, if he just did what he thought he should do in the first place without hesitating, I think it would have worked out much better.
With Tommen’s death, Maggy the Frog’s prophecy has been fulfilled. How do you think his death will sit with Cersei?
Without her kids, I think she’s going to lose it. It must push her over the mountain a little bit. I have literally no clue what’s happening for the future of the show, but it’ll be interesting to watch and see what happens. I reckon that politically, she won’t do the role [of queen] justice. I think she’s going to shed some more blood. I think she’s going to ruin everything, quite honestly. It’s probably going to get worse before it gets better. It was pretty bad with Tommen on the throne, but with Cersei behind it? I don’t know.
Looking back to your earliest days on the show, you weren’t even playing this same character. You originally appeared as a Lannister cousin in season three. Could you have ever imagined getting to this point, becoming the king of Westeros?
Hell no. (Laughs.) When I auditioned for Martyn Lannister, it was around 2012. I had no clue they were bringing Tommen back. I just knew myself as Martyn Lannister, and I did my stuff. I got a call about six months later that they were giving me the part of this dude called Tommen. I hadn’t watched the show at all, even though I was in it. I didn’t have a clue what it was. I got the box set, watched it and absolutely loved it. But I had no clue what was coming. For me to think back from 2012 to now, not only as a person, but it’s been the best time of my life ever. I learned so much from it. I’m so thankful.
Is there one memory from your time shooting the show that stands out to you?
There’s so many. There’s so many. The one thing that’s going to stick with me forever is probably the first thing I shot, the scene where Ser Pounce comes in and interrupts Margaery and Tommen in Tommen’s chambers. That was a real laugh, that day. It was the first time for me — I don’t know about for Natalie — but it was the first time for me working with an animal. It was an easy, fun day. It was my first day, getting to know Natalie and the crew. That feeling of being welcomed into such a massive production, that will definitely stay with me forever.
Can we at least take comfort in the idea that Ser Pounce is still alive?
Well… (Sighs.) There’s a lot of staff working around King’s Landing, so hopefully someone can find him and take him to a better home. But maybe he got caught in the blast. Who knows?
Don’t put that out there.
No, no. I hope he’s somewhere getting married and having some kittens somewhere. I hope he has a good life. I hope he lasts longer than Tommen.
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