The actor behind Ser Jorah Mormont talks about his devotion to Daenerys, the benefit of time alone with her, and who he’d want as an ally. (Warning: Spoilers ahead.)
HBO: Before Ser Barristan confronts him with the pardon, did Ser Jorah ever think his secret would catch up to him?
Iain Glen: I think he thought it had gone silent when Ser Barristan turned up out of the blue in Astapor and saved Dany’s life. There’s that moment of recognition for Ser Jorah, “I know who he is.” He gently fishes for what Ser Barristan knows, what he doesn’t, whether he was part of the Small Council — and believes he’ll be all right.
HBO: What was it about Daenerys when they first met that changed Jorah’s mind about working for Robert?
Iain Glen: It was really within the first few contacts that he grew to admire her and how she was coping with this very alien environment of the Dothraki. Her brother basically married her off to gain power for their dynasty. So very early on, Jorah grew to admire her — and fall in love with her. One of the decisions the writers made was to not to make Ser Jorah step over the mark too quickly to sustain that thread, which I think was a good idea. You as the audience, I hope, thought, “Is this going to go anywhere?”
HBO: Jorah asked for a private meeting with the queen. Did he think that would have made a difference?
Iain Glen: I think so. A lot of the time they’ve been alone together, they’ve had their best talks, been closest to each other. I think he felt if he had been able to have a private council, he could plead his case. But she’s made up her mind before Ser Jorah gets to present it.
HBO: So he thought his actions would outweigh the betrayal?
Iain Glen: I think he believed the loyalty he’s shown to Dany for so long would put him in good stead if anything did emerge. Particularly over last season, his advice has been very valuable to her. It was Jorah who thought she should get involved with the Unsullied; Ser Barristan didn’t think it was a good idea. Jorah guided her and encouraged her not return to Westeros too early, to bide her time and learn how to rule, something she accepted.
HBO: But it wasn’t enough.
Iain Glen: I think she is so shocked by what happened, and in some way feels that Jorah was part of the sequence that lost her Khal Drogo and her baby. So emotionally, I think she finds it difficult to understand what he did.
HBO: Can you discuss the filming of that scene in the throne room and your delivery of Jorah’s defense, “I have protected you, fought for you killed, for you, loved you.”
Iain Glen: It was a difficult scene to play. Dan [Weiss] and David [Benioff] are succinct writers so it was absolutely jam packed with subtext which I had to try and access from what was basically a two-and-a-half page scene. The directors put the onus on us to discover our way through scenes, but [director] Alex Graves brought some wonderful ideas, and that was one of them, to speak through each other during that part of the scene.
HBO: It’s especially cutting when Dany forbids Jorah to call her “khaleesi.”
Iain Glen: There is a great deal of heartbreak. It’s about us separating, which is what’s going to happen. Emilia [Clarke] and I went through a great deal together. We’ve been together for four seasons. We’re the only two that have really been together from the start, and there were never that many characters in our storyline — her brother, Khal Drogo, Ser Barristan and a few others — but a lot of it is between the two of us. You use that in that scene.
HBO: At this point, Jorah has been exiled twice. Does he have a next move in mind yet?
Iain Glen: I think he’s bereft. That’s his mood, riding off alone on his horse. But Ser Jorah’s a survivor. He’s lived away from home for many, many years. He’s very good at adapting — he adapted well to the Dothraki, and adopted the way they live and even an element of their dress. He knows how to incorporate himself into different worlds, which is part of the reason why he was so helpful to Dany.
HBO: If you were on trial, who would you want on your side?
Iain Glen: Tyrion. He understands the way the world works. He’s quick-witted and probably the smartest legal mind.
HBO: You’re invited to a GOT wedding. Would you accept or decline?
Iain Glen: I would accept. Something really, really wild is going down for sure and I’d like to witness it. But I’d make sure to bring my sword with me and hover in the shadows.
HBO: What would you name your sword?
Iain Glen: Daenerys.