After a long and celebrated career, British actor Julian Glover probably feels like he’s due for a win.
Currently, as Grand Maester Pycelle on Game of Thrones, he’s ahead of the game.
Well, he’s alive.
Which is more than you can say for his other famous roles on the big screen, which seem to have a running theme of Man Who Tried Too Hard Before Coming To A Sticky End.
It doesn’t bode well for Pycelle. Here’s the big failures Glover’s been encumbered with.
Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
As General Maximillian Veers, Glover got on Darth Vader’s good side by inventing the AT-AT walker and leading the Empire attack on the Hoth Rebel base. He even single-handedly destroyed the shield generator before his AT-AT got hit in the face with a lame Rebel snowspeeder.
There’s several versions of what happened to Veers after. He either died in the accident, or lost his legs and went into a downward career spiral due to his former strong ties to Vader.
But his most humiliating moment by far was becoming one of the original YouTube virals back in 2006, when he was punk’d mercilessly by Vader.
It’s one of the ones where you have to watch to the end:
Result: Career brown-noser humiliated by own employer, even after unlucky death in rebel uprising.
For Your Eyes Only
According to Kiss Kiss Bang! Bang!: the Unofficial James Bond Film Companion, Glover was considered for the role of James Bond in Live and Let Die.
Roger Moore got the part, but Glover was given his shot at revenge eight years later when he was signed up as Aristotle Kristatos in Bond’s 12th big screen outing.
Kristatos – a Greek businessman with smuggling ties – appears at first to be Bond’s ally, putting the spy on the trail of the missing British Automatic Targeting Attack Communicator (ATAC).
In reality, Kristatos is a KGB contractor using Bond to redeem the ATAC for his own ends. He nearly succeeds, but Bond single-handedly takes out his men in a cliff-top monastery raid.
Result: A classic villain end for Glover – beaten, surrendering, then killed by a supporting actor after pulling a hidden knife on Bond.
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
Glover was reunited with Harrison Ford and George Lucas when handed the role of American businessman Walter Donovan. Again, it was be another Icarus role, aka the man who flew too high, when Glover reached for the ultimate prize, the Holy Grail.
Again, he was to play the part of ally-turned-adversary.
Donovan – secretly a Nazi Party member – convinces an unwitting Henry Jones (played by Sean Connery, in a neat link to Glover’s Bond past) and his son to find the Grail for him. He ends up shooting Henry, forces Indy to clear all the traps and promptly chooses the wrong cup to drink from.
Result: Grasping businessman crumbles into a screaming pile of bones.
Game of Thrones
So, has Glover finally learned anything about climbing the greasy pole from all of this?
So far, as Grand Maester Pycelle, he’s been on shaky ground. He sucked up to the Lannisters while serving the Targaryens, which resulted in disaster for his king Aerys.
He sucked up to Cersai by betraying Tyrion’s confidence regarding the marriage of her daughter and got thrown in prison as a result.
But currently, he’s back by the King’s side – no doubt Tywin Lannister remembered how he’d advised Aerys to let him through the gates. And he’s learnt how to keep his head low, showing in moments when he’s alone that he’s far more fit and mentally agile than he lets on.
Result: So far, the head-down, mustn’t grumble approach has worked out well for Glover as Pycelle. Let’s see how long it lasts this time.
And for the rest of us there’s a clear message from all of this.
In Glover’s own words to Ralph van den Broek at The Indy Experience:
“Always choose the pewter cup. It applies to everything. An allegory for life.”