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UPI Spotlight: Aidan Gillen on his 'Game of Thrones' future: 'I don't feel particularly protected'

"People do tend to be lopped off at unexpected moments," the Irish actor reminded UPI in a recent phone interview.

By Karen Butler
UPI Spotlight: Aidan Gillen on his 'Game of Thrones' future: 'I don't feel particularly protected'
Aidan Gillen arrives at the "Game of Thrones" Season 4 premiere in New York City on March 18, 2014. File photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

NEW YORK, April 24 (UPI) -- Variety is essential when choosing roles, says Aidan Gillen, who can now be seen in both HBO's "Game of Thrones" and the music-themed comedy film "Sing Street."

Gillen, who is best known for playing master manipulator Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish on the medieval fantasy series Game of Thrones, spent a recent break from the show playing Robert, the distracted, soon-to-be-divorced father of three young adults in 1980s Ireland in Sing Street.

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"Sing Street is a very good film. I have a supporting role in it," Gillen told UPI in a recent phone interview. "I'm happy it's gone down so well. I think it deserves it. I think it's [writer-director] John Carney's best film. I think it's got brilliant performances from those kids and great music, so I am happy for it, but I don't feel like it is my film or anything like that."

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Gillen went on to say his quest for variety often drives his choice of projects.

"I try to mix it up," the 47-year-old Irish actor emphasized. "When I'm not doing Game of Thrones, I'm either doing tiny, independent films or big, studio blockbusters. I've been working with Guy Ritchie on his Knights of the Roundtable: King Arthur film and also The Maze Runner trilogy... as well as numerous other, small projects. ... I want to work as many places as I can, doing as many different types of things I can. That's always been my policy."

That said, Gillen admitted it is also lovely to have the opportunity to develop a character like Baelish over six seasons on the wildly popular Game of Thrones.

"I'm really into that long scheme. I've had a bit experience, as well, of that before, working on The Wire and a couple of other series -- like a series in Ireland called Love/Hate, which I was doing, I think, at the same time, as the first couple of years of Game of Thrones -- so I am familiar with that setup," he noted. "It's nice because, apart from it being based on books, the writers will start to tailor it in some way towards your personality or towards your performance or towards the convergence of them both. So, it's nice to have a bit of say like that or to have a say or have an input, even if it's just through your work and it's also nice to watch how it reflects back at you from the audience, especially an audience this big, which is now huge and worldwide. People have expectations and have lots of questions to ask you on the street, even if you can't answer them or even if you don't know what they're talking about sometimes."

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Asked if fans who approach him really want to know spoilers or are simply eager to share their opinions, Gillen replied: "I think some people do [want to know secrets from the show.] It's an easy way to make conversation. I can't imagine that many people who have invested in the collective experience of watching a popular TV show want to know what happens before it happens."

Now that the show is ahead of the book series on which it is based, none of the actors knows the fate of his or her character, which makes for an exciting and creative work environment.

"I think it is a thrill for everyone involved -- the actors and the audience," he said. "You can't reference it. Up to this point, you could look it up. You could read the books. If you hadn't read the books, you could read the books. You could look it up online. You could look at your Game of Thrones companion book to see what happens next. But to have arrived at a point where nobody really knows what happens next... I certainly don't know where my character is going next. That has great appeal to be... especially when it's a part of something, which is such a phenomenon at the moment. So, it is a great pop-culture moment for all of us."

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So, is there any safety in the fact Baelish is one of the few characters to survive this long on the show?

"I don't know. I don't think that just because you are in the sixth season means you are in the next season," he reasoned. "People do tend to be lopped off at unexpected moments. I think the show has kind of defied those kind of conventions, starting off with [the shocking death of Sean Bean's character] Ned Stark, obviously, in Season 1.

"I don't feel particularly protected or anything," he laughed. "There's so much left to do. I hope I get to do it."

Gillen declined to reveal who he will be sharing the screen with this season for fear of giving too much away.

"I would say that, for my part, I continue to lay my long-shot plans to play people off one another and continue not to feel too guilty about it," he offered.

Although constantly working, Gillen said he does like to check out other shows and movies when he has the time.

"I'm not really a binge-watcher," he said. "I've only recently acquired Netflix, so I have been watching movies on Netflix. I've been watching some Bloodline with Ben Mendelsohn. On TV, I've been watching some Better Call Saul, actually, and there a few things I want to go back over like The Sopranos, but it's mostly movies."

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Season 6 of Game of Thrones is to premiere Sunday night.

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