I pretty much came straight to the premiere from my home in Manchester, leaving at about 1 o’clock and getting to my hotel at 4. I had a couple of hours to chill before my grooming started at 5.30 and then we left for the venue at 6.15. They tend to underestimate just how much grooming I need! Although I do get a bit nervous, so the less time I’m sitting around thinking about it, the better, really.
The dress code was officially smart casual, but I think that men get let off the hook so much by dress codes. If men wear a suit, that can be anything from smart casual to formal but when it comes to ladies smart casual is a real minefield; I know a lot of them were panicking about what constitutes smart casual. It’s always better to overshoot than undershoot. Always better to overestimate the smartness rather than turning up in leggings and a big frumpy jumper. That said, I was slightly worried about my black two-piece suit because it had a bit of a sheen on it and I didn’t want to look too formal.
The premiere was at The Tower of London, with a red carpet set up outside and it was an amazing setting. You’d be forgiven for thinking that we’re getting over these events a little bit. We’ve being doing the show for 5 years, promoting it for 4 years, but it hasn’t really become a blur because HBO’s publicity department are really good at making each one of these events unique and special, and somehow more impressive than the year before. If you’ve got such a novel setting it gives any interviewer an ideal start because they can give you a question off the bat that completely sets the scene for the evening.
The red carpet is as much of an acting job as anything else. It becomes a performance – you have to act the part of someone who’s never been asked a question before when they were actually asked it three minutes ago. So giving the interviewers what they want and giving them the best interview that you possibly can be an incredible test of concentration.
It’s always nice to meet the fans, and there were plenty of them on the red carpet last night. Our fans are very respectful and enthusiastic and just so incredibly nice. We don’t get negative feedback because people who don’t like the show don’t watch it and people who do watch the show love it. It’s nice to connect with the fans and with the people you’ve made the show for.
After we’d watched episode 1, there was a party. They served canapés quite late – I’ve never turned down so much sea bass in my life - and I didn’t have time for dinner, but that was good because I think I get the best out of myself when I’m uncomfortable. David Cameron always prefers to do public speeches when he needs the toilet because it keeps him alert and on edge and he never gets comfortable or zones out. It keeps him right on the very edge of his concentration. I like to do things when I’m very hungry, or thirsty, or indeed need the toilet, because the last thing you want when you need a bit of adrenaline is comfort. I’m at my best when I need something.
We couldn’t really hear the music at the party but I was expecting it to be appropriate for the show. I think I heard Blurred Lines, which actually isn’t all that inappropriate when you look at some of the content of the show! Sam Smith was playing at one point and Alfie (Allen, who plays Theon Greyjoy in the show) said “apparently this is my cousin playing”. There’s a rumour going around that Sam Smith is Alfie’s cousin, but he knows nothing of the sort. It’s strange how rumours start. I don’t think that I’m intriguing enough to deserve salacious rumours.
When we got back to the hotel bar for a nightcap we bumped into will.i.am. It turns out he’s a massive fan of the show. He was actually star struck by us; it was really touching. It’s strange to think that we have this kind of reach where people like will.i.am – an all round legend – and Barack Obama watch the show. It doesn’t really compute. The global reach of the show doesn’t seem to bear any relation to the day-to-day job of filming it in Belfast. He stayed for a couple of hours; he’s a very interesting, really nice guy.
Season 5 of Game of Thrones airs on Sky Atlantic on Monday April 13th