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Game of Thrones: King Joffrey was like Justin Bieber

of Thrones, season 4, episode 1

Joffrey’s icky demise and Gleeson’s exit also brings with it a third emotion,
however, something akin to goodbye and good luck, because by all accounts
one of the most contemptible, heedless characters ever committed to screen
is played by one of the most pleasant, thoughtful men you could hope to
meet. The word from the set was that every time Joffrey would unleash some
torrent of abuse at a bystander, fling a goblet or flay a whore the minute
the director said ‘cut’ Gleeson would apologise. Late last year he said the
experience of becoming very famous for being very unpleasant has, perhaps
unsurprisingly, put him off acting altogether. He then appeared at the
Oxford Union
– he is currently studying philosophy at Trinity Dublin
– to give as searching an insight in to the vacuous centrifuge of celebrity
culture as you’re likely to hear. Like elite sportsmen, few actors have the
capacity to be both brilliant at their jobs and yet capable of stepping
outside the bubble and looking back in.

Jack Gleeson at The Oxford Union Photo: Rex

“It was an atmosphere from which I instantly wanted to retreat,” he said of
being famous for being Joffrey. “I detested the superficial elevation and
commodification of it all, juxtaposed with the grotesque self-involvement it
would sometimes draw out of me. Being a faceless member of a mob, I soon
realised, is far more comforting than teetering on a brittle pedestal one
inch off the ground.”

NEWS: Game
of Thrones renewed for two more seasons

Gleeson cannot go back to being a faceless member of the mob, precisely
because he’s done his job too well. His face will forever be associated with
Joffrey’s indelible sneer. Still, it was a good sneer while it lasted. I’m
pretty sure it was still present, even as the blood trickled from his nose.


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