Michelle Fairley talks to Courtney Shea about her role as Catelyn Stark on Game of Thrones, back for its third season of betrayal, bloodshed and inappropriate sex (not that you’ll catch her in the nude) on Sunday.
Game of Thrones takes place on so many different sets — when you get a script do you get the full script or only the parts that involve your character?
We get the full scripts. Usually what happens is we will get maybe the first five and then the actors who are available do a big table read. We all get to see what’s happening, but each script is watermarked with the actors name, so that if anything gets out they will know who is responsible. Some of my friends will ask me about what’s going to happen, but it’s kind of like sticking your hand in the fire and then yanking it out, because if I was going to tell them that would ruin so much of what people love about the show — the surprises. So much of what happens is totally unpredictable.
I suppose the truly-obsessed can just just read ahead in the books.
Yes, but even that isn’t going to reveal everything. The writers use George R. R. Martin’s books as a basis and a guideline, but there are scenes and plot lines that happen in the show and not in the books. The relationship between Arya and Tywin Lannister when she was his cup bearer, for example. That was created by the writers and it was just such a great interaction.
Catelyn Stark is not as glamorous as some of the other female characters. Do you ever wish you got to sit on a throne or be the mother of dragons?
Actually I don’t. I love the my character experiences so much internally and that so much of who she is is about the influence she has on others and guiding her children. She is a sounding board and as an actor I really get to experience a lot of quiet, complex emotion. Also, it is not warm where we shoot so I love that I am always covered up in layers of thick wool.
I gather you have a no-nudity clause in your contract.
That was actually something that was in my contract. I didn’t put it there. I have done nudity before on the stage and onscreen, but I guess it was just that getting undressed is not something that my character would do.
And it would take a long time!
That’s true — taking off one layer of clothing and then another. It would take forever. I’m pretty sure the moment would pass.