Updated with video on 31/03/2014:
In this new video by HBO, Sibel Kekilli tells more about a potentially more complicated season for her Game of Thrones character Shae, at the London press junket back in February 2014 … Watch the video here.
First published on 27/03/2014:
SINGAPORE EXCLUSIVE: Sibel Kekilli who plays Shae in Game of Thrones ‘felt naked’ without her on-screen love interest Peter Dinklage (Tyrion) in her scenes — the candid actress tells us more about her character in the fourth season of the television series.
Sibel Kekilli as Shae in Game of Thrones Season 3. Image: HBO
Sibel Kekilli, who plays Shae in Game of Thrones, may be all wily and independent in the HBO fantasy drama. Her character is a prostitute who became the secret lover to Tyrion Lannister, the heir and rightful Lord of Casterly Rock.
But off-camera, this German actress gets “teased all the time” by her co-stars.
“On set it’s really relaxed,” says Kekilli, at a recent London press junket for Game of Thrones. “They’re [her co-stars] making jokes of my English. People tell jokes and I’ll go, ‘What? Say it again, I didn’t get it yet’.”
She’s also gained an affectionate reliance on her co-star Peter Dinklage, who plays her romantic interest Tyrion, to the point that she “felt naked” without him sharing her scenes in the latest season, which premieres in Singapore on April 23, 2014 on HBO (StarHub TV Ch 601).
Peter Dinklage (as Tyrion) and Sibel Kekilli (as Shae) in Game of Thrones Season 4. Image: HBO
“At the beginning she [Shae] was a prostitute and it was just work for her,” says Kekilli. “By this season she thinks, ‘Even if you’re [Tyrion] nothing in King’s Landing, I will stay here. I am yours’.”
In a television series that’s known for shocking plot twists, including the now infamous bloodbath referred to as the “Red Wedding”, it’s hard to anticipate which character — however major they may be — will be killed off next.
Kekilli too, was stunned by the scene. “I was hoping it would be like the Dallas [the television series] episode where Bobby woke up and came out of the shower [and thought that] ‘It was a dream! It was a dream!’ But it wasn’t,” says the actress. “All I will say is that we have (shocking) moments like that in the fourth season, more than once I think.”
Here, Kekilli tells more about why Peter Dinklage continues to be one of her favourite co-stars, plus why she’ll love to play an antagonist like ambitious queen Cersei Lannister (as played by Lena Headey) one day; even if it’s hard to deal with the invectives that fans hurl at the Game of Thrones arch-villains.
Jack Gleeson (as King Joffrey) in Game of Thrones Season 4. Image: HBO
“Let’s just say I’m really happy to not be Cersei or Joffrey [Jack Gleeson] — [fans] love to hate them!” says the star.
Set the scene for Shae at the beginning of this season.
Sibel Kekilli (SK): “Last season ended with Lord Varys [the eunuch advisor, as played by Conleth Hill] telling Shae to take a pouch of diamonds and go away. Leave King’s Landing and leave Tyrion, because you are a danger for him, [that] was his point. I think it will be really hard for Shae because she knows that this idea was not from Lord Varys, it came from Tyrion. Now she has to think about it: does this man love me or is he so afraid of his father that he will want to send her away?”
She began as a prostitute. But she obviously sees herself as much more than that …
SK: “Absolutely! She never thought about herself like that. And she never took pity on herself — ‘Oh I’m a poor girl. I’m a prostitute.’ She was always a fighter and that’s the reason [why] she is not afraid of anyone. She’ll go to Tyrion, ‘I don’t care if people are afraid of you. I’m not.’ That was also the reason why she was really tough when they met for the first time.”
Increasingly you’ve had scenes with characters other than Tyrion, of course …
SK: “Yes, we’ve been doing that since they moved to King’s Landing in the second season. Actually it was really hard for me to do scenes without Peter at first. When I didn’t have my scenes with him the first time I was like, ‘Where’s Peter?’ I felt naked! But it was great experience to have scenes with Cersei, with Lord Varys and of course with Sansa.”
Sophie Turner (as Sansa) and Peter Dinklage (as Tyrion) in Game of Thrones Season 4. Image: HBO
How would you describe Shae and Sansa’s relationship?
SK: “Sansa is like a little sister to her, to Shae. Shae really loves Sansa and she has this feeling that she should be responsible for her. Because Shae has had such a hard life, she doesn’t want to have the same for Sansa. She saw her father dying. Sansa lost her family. It was hard and Shae thinks, ‘Now I’m here I will do anything for you,’ to protect her — she would kill for her. Anything to make sure she doesn’t have any more bad experiences.”
As you say she’s also a realist. Does she actually think she can be with Tyrion?
SK: “You know, if you love someone your hope never ends. It’s really like that and of course she’s hoping because, you know she sees that he really does love her and she loves him. So there’s still a small hope. Even if he gets married to Sansa, she still hopes that they can be together.”
Peter Dinklage seems quite stern on camera. What is he like in person?
SK: “He is really … I learnt a new word — he is witty. He has a sharp wit and I love that. There are two sorts of actors. One is really all ego and just [concerned with] taking care of themselves. The other type of actor is an actor like Peter — they act with their eyes. They react to how you act. They listen to you. And this is a really, really big gift for you as their colleague because then you enjoy it. You think, ‘He is taking me seriously. He respects me, he respects my work.’”
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (as Jaime Lannister) and Lena Headey (as Cersei Lannister) in Game of Thrones Season 4. Image: HBO
Are there any other characters on the show you’d like to play?
SK: “I would love to play, of course, Cersei’s character. Because she has so many layers, like all of the female characters. Cersei is really manipulative and she can be evil at the same time as good —she has such different levels to act and I love that.”
Game of Thrones Season 4 airs in Singapore on April 13, 2014 at 10pm on HBO/HBO HD (StarHub TV Ch 601); episodes are also available for viewing on demand via HBO On Demand from April 21.
Get to watch Game of Thrones Season 4 early: join the HBO Asia Facebook contest to win tickets to the season preview of the first episode, happening on April 4. For more information, head over to the HBO Asia Facebook page.