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[Warning: Spoilers ahead for Sunday’s episode of Game of Thrones, “Sons of the Harpy.”]
The uprising has just begun.
Cersei (Lena Headey) empowered the High Sparrow (Jonathan Pryce) to militarize his group of religious zealots, turning them into Faith Militant. First on their agenda: arresting Ser Loras (Finn Jones) for being gay. For Cersei, it’s all a power play meant to put Loras‘ sister Margaery (Natalie Dormer) off of her game.
In a conversation with The Hollywood Reporter, Simon discusses why the uprising is just the beginning of what the Faith Militant is capable of, and why it’s bad news for everyone in the realm.
What was the deal with Lancel carving his head?
It’s a sign of a lifelong commitment to this particular sect of the Faith of the Seven. The fact that Lancel and so many of his fellow Sparrows are willing to go from being Sparrows to being Faith Militant shows how quickly the nature of this sect has become militarized. It’s not something that bodes well for anyone in the Seven Kingdoms.
What motivates this uprising?
The Sparrow Uprising is very much an uprising of the impoverished. When I was talking to the director Mark [Mylod] about episodes three and four, we agreed it was similar to a communist uprising. These are people who have absolutely no regard for the status quo or authority because they answer to a being that is higher than any sort of moral authority. They believe they are divinely driven, which is a frightening prospect.
So Lancel is a true believer in this cause.
Lancel is very much a believer in the cause. He’s probably an example of one of the purist types of the Faith Militant. Many of the Faith Militants are people who have been impoverished for so long that they feel like it is a way to improve their station. Lancel is far more ideological. This is a guy who has been amongst the richest and wealthiest families in the Seven Kingdoms, and his reasons for joining this cult are very much born out of a great deal of pain and a sincere — but twisted — wish to rid the world of any of the people who caused him that pain, which is pretty much every major character in the books.
What does this mean for his relationship with the Lannisters?
I don’t think Lancel considers himself a Lannister anymore.
What was shooting that big scene like in last week’s episode, with the High Septon being marched through the street?
Paul Bentley is just a fantastic actor. We had to spend the whole day with him nude, with hundreds of people lining the streets, watching as we dragged him through them. It was frightening. We were in Dubrovnik [Croatia] and it was really nerve-racking. We got in a little bit of trouble with the clergy in Dubrovnik, because they weren’t aware that we were dragging someone naked through the streets in the way that we were. Just as we had left, I read a little news article that priests and nuns were complaining.
And the concept of the walk of shame comes back, at least in the books.
I can’t give away that information. Right now, the most frightening thing about the Sparrows is only the beginning of what they’re capable of. The concept of the Walk of Shame is just the cherry on the cake of how far they are willing to go.
Will Lancel have to face consequences for his role in King Robert’s death?
Robert Baratheon’s death certainly weighs on him a lot. But Lancel is far more interested in purging himself and others of sin. He thinks that through a very twisted form of penance you can come back into the light, regardless of your sin.
Most characters crave power or revenge. What does he want?
He doesn’t feel much anymore. That’s the most worrying thing about him. He’s numbed himself to pain through his religion. Or he would argue he’s been freed by the gods. What that really means is he’s numbed himself to any pain, any wrongdoing. That was one of the hardest things to get my head around. Since Lancel has been missing for such a long time, it fell to me to think about what he’d been doing in the meantime. For my own point of view, the amount of suffering and confusion — and also the death. That really messed with your head.
Game of Thrones airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on HBO.
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Robert De Niro