- Warning: Spoilers ahead for HBO’s “Game of Thrones.”
- Actor Daniel Portman plays Podrick Payne on “Game of Thrones.”
- In a new interview with INSIDER, Portman reveals more about Podrick’s emotional musical moment on the latest episode and the joy of working with Gwendoline Christie.
- Portman also says the showrunners gifted him with a special piece of storyboard artwork on his “intense and sad” final day on set.
- Visit INSIDER.com for more stories.
Actor Daniel Portman had one of the most emotional “Game of Thrones” breakout moments on Sunday’s “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms,” when his character Podrick Payne sang a meaningful tune.
“That whole scene of us sitting around the fire was one of my favourite scenes that I’ve ever shot on the show,” Portman told INSIDER over the phone on Friday afternoon.
As was the case for many fans, Portman also said “there were a lot of tears shed” watching Brienne of Tarth, Podrick’s mentor and friend, be knighted by Jaime Lannister.
Keep reading to learn more about how Pod’s musical moment came about, why fans may feel rightfully concerned heading into the coming Battle of Winterfell, and how Portman’s last day on set was “intense and sad.”
Kim Renfro: Sunday’s episode, “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms,” was just so incredible.
Daniel Portman: Yeah, it was a great episode. I think it was very satisfying for a lot of viewers, because you got to see a lot of new characters spending some real time with one another for the first time before next week and the Battle of Winterfell.
Renfro: How did you first learn about Podrick’s big musical moment?
Portman: I just read the script! Nobody warned me. We all got sent the scripts and I got to episode two and it just read “Pod sings.” I couldn’t quite believe what I was reading.
I think the way they put everything together and where the background of that scene comes from Brienne being knighted and Tormund telling his backstory about how he got his name, and then finishing with the song … that whole scene of us sitting around the fire was one of my favourite scenes that I’ve ever shot on the show. To cap it off with singing a song and having a really powerful and important moment in the episode, it was just a really, really, really touching to me that they thought of me to do it.
Renfro: Yeah I cannot get through that scene without crying yet.
Portman: Oh! That’s good. I mean not that my aim is to [make anyone cry]. But there were a lot of tears shed watching that scene, especially for me when Brienne gets knighted. That’s the most amazing moment.
Renfro: Did the showrunners David Benioff or D.B. Weiss have any conversations with you about the lyrics of the “Jenny of Oldstones” song and the meaning behind it?
Portman: No, no. We didn’t talk about that at all, really. I think if it was something that they thought I should know then they would have told me. I didn’t think of it too much at the time, I was too busy worrying about trying to get the song sounding good.
[Showrunner] Dan Weiss sent the recording of him singing it a capella and that’s where I learned the tune. But no, they didn’t go into any details about what the lyrics may allude to or anything like that.
Renfro: One of my favourite little moments in the episode is the small nod that Podrick gives to Brienne right before she’s knighted, it’s such a good unspoken exchange.
Portman: Brienne and Podrick’s relationship is subtly drawn throughout the seasons. You can gather that Pod is probably one of the people who knows her best in the entire world.
To me [that nod] was about encouragement. [Gwendoline Christie] brought such a beautiful quality to that whole sequence. You’re so used to Brienne being this fierce warrior and this total bad— and then all of a sudden she’s a little girl again and she’s nervous.
It seemed to me like she couldn’t quite believe it was happening and was so scared of taking a leap in case something doesn’t go to plan, but it was obviously the thing she wanted. She wanted recognition, she wanted to be treated the same and she wanted to be a knight. She displayed more knightly qualities than any knight that’s been on the show.
One of the beautiful things about their relationship is that there is always an official feeling to it, you know? Pod is very much her squire and does all that stuff, but they are friends and they have saved each other’s lives and been on the road together for a long time at this point. So it was just a lovely moment between two friends, where the one who usually [gives people] a push in the right direction is getting the push for once.
Renfro: What has it been like to work alongside Gwendoline Christie for so many years?
Portman: Oh, she is astonishing. And a really wonderful person. I feel really lucky to have worked so closely with her for so long, because now she’s a very dear friend of mine after all this time. She’s always been massively supportive and helpful.
I do really feel lucky get to work with somebody who’s quite good at their job and also as good of a person as she is. She’s a rarity, Gwen, a rarity of warmth and love and happiness. I think the best is yet to come from Gwendoline Christie. She’s going to go from strength to strength after this show is all wrapped up.
And we have so much fun together. The first season we got together was season four, and the first scene we shot was the last scene from the season with the Hound and Brienne fighting. So we came in and we had to figure out [Pod and Brienne’s] dynamic quite quickly, and then work backwards through that season. But it was just loads of fun. In those early stages we had quite a lot of the comic relief in the show, so it was really joyful experience for us both.
Renfro: “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms” felt like it was preparing us for a lot of sadness on this coming Sunday, As if that was the last happy moment that a lot of these characters are going to have. Do you think fans should be ready to be emotionally gutted on Sunday?
Portman: People should know by now that they can never be too comfortable. And that’s all I’m gonna say about it [laughing].
Renfro: Looking back on your time on the show, is there one particular Podrick scene you’re proudest of?
Portman: I think that scene [on season eight] with the song is one Pod’s bests moments in the whole show so far but apart from that, I mean there have been some great things.
There’s the scene where we find out Pod’s backstory in season five and Brienne and him discuss each others lives before the show started. I always thought that was a really sweet scene. Just to learn more about these two characters.
Portman [continued]: And then, in season four, in the prison cell when Tyrion sends Pod away, that is one of my favourite scenes. Peter [Dinklage] and I worked together for two and a half seasons by stage and it was just a really, really lovely way to sort of cap off that relationship at that time in the show.
Renfro: I was rewatching the whole series earlier this year, and I do think that goodbye moment goes under the radar for some fans, but it’s really emotiona. Podrick’s just such a loyal guy and you can tell that it hurts for him not be able to help in that moment.
Portman: That’s the thing, he never thinks about himself. He always tries to help other people before he would help himself and at that stage, I mean, he’s had little to no combat experience and he hasn’t been trained by Brienne. He’s just a kid and he’s still willing to sacrifice himself to try and protect his friend.
I remember when I read that script, I just thought, “What a great scene.” And especially at that stage because I was maybe 21 or 22 [years old] and I had this great opportunity to stand across the room from a great actor like Peter Dinklage and be toe-to-toe with him and just do a scene. It was a lovely moment that I remember really fondly.
Renfro: Can you tell me about your last day on set?
Portman: Yes. I can. It was a sad day. [pause] And that’s all you’re getting.
Renfro: The one specific I was wondering is which gift you got from set that day, since most of the actors have talked about being given a storyboard.
Portman: Yeah I think we all got an original piece of storyboard art from one of our character’s big moments. So I got the storyboard page of Pod in the brothel [on season three]. The contortionist is doing the “Meereenese Knot” where she bends herself in half and there’s that moment of seeing Pod staring directly in-between her thighs. That’s the moment that I’ve got.
[Showrunners] David and Dan wrote a lovely message on the back of it. So we all got presented with these when we wrapped. But yeah, my last day was intense and sad and joyful to feel so much warmth and so much love for so many people, and that is 100% all I’m gonna tell you about it.
Renfro: Is there anything else you would want fans to know about Podrick or about your experience on the show?
Portman: Actors go through their entire careers without landing an opportunity to be in something like this, and I’ve been in this show for a long time. I started at a young age, and I just feel so privileged to be involved. We wouldn’t have made it to season eight if people hadn’t watched the show, so thanks for watching. Really. It was the best job in the world, so thanks for making it possible for so long.
“Game of Thrones” season eight airs Sundays on HBO at 9 p.m. ET.
- Read more:
- 19 things fans can expect from the coming epic ‘Game of Thrones’ battle at Winterfell
- Daniel Portman says the main cast didn’t see the sun at all for ‘almost 3 months’ while filming the final season’s major battle
- 15 details you might have missed on the latest episode of ‘Game of Thrones’
- BEFORE AND AFTER: 9 ‘Game of Thrones’ characters that were recast
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