Love to hate him? Hate yourself for liking him?
Petyr Baelish (a.k.a Littlefinger) moves like a Machiavellian hummingbird across Game of Thrones’ storylines, duping both villains and heroes. But is it all because of a broken heart?
We chatted with Irish actor Aidan Gillen about his character’s wily ways.
Petyr Baelish’s hair is always perfect. Why?
Baelish reminded me of a British politician I was quite intrigued by, Peter Mandelson, also known as the Prince of Darkness. So I brought in a photograph of him and presented it to the head of makeup and hair, and the producers had to come in and sign off, allowing me to do it.
What’s the end goal behind all of Baelish’s conniving?
I’ve always played the character as someone who has the long game. Of course, you don’t actually know where it’s going to go for sure. When we started off in the show, the last two or three books hadn’t been written.
How does he cozy up to those in power so well?
To make himself appear to be the guy they need to sort out their problems is how he works; it’s like a second nature. It’s pathological, you know?
Are there ever moments where you’re like, “Man this guy’s a jerk?”
Sometimes, for sure, but I have to back those thoughts away. I do think he is quite appealing though, and charming, which is part of how he gets his way. He seems to do OK.
He says, “The climb is all there is.” How did he become that guy?
I looked for basic pointers, and the obvious ones were unrequited love [for Catelyn Stark] and the humiliation he receives at the hands of Brandon Stark—he wouldn’t even kill Littlefinger in a duel. The humiliation drives the character: “I will never let people do that to me again. I will do whatever I can, however I can, to not let that happen.”
Do you think he still has the capability to fall in love?
He has a wall up. It doesn’t mean he can’t. If there was anything that would bring him down it would be an emotional, human weakness like that, as opposed to a mistake in his chicanery.
What other characters are you rooting for?
I’m quite charmed by Cersei. Arya is a favorite of mine—I root for her. And Sansa, obviously.
You’ve said before that Littlefinger has a “cat nature.” What about you?
I’m more of a dog man—usually strays, you know? If they followed you home. Cats, I don’t really understand them completely, but those are cats for you.