That energy is evident in his latest work. In How to Build A Girl, he's a heartthrob rockstar who sings sad songs and wins the affections of the heroine, a budding music journalist in the 1990s played by Beanie Feldstein. (Yes, Allen does actually croon.) His role in Jojo -- the winner of the TIFF audience award, the fest's highest honor -- is smaller, but makes an entirely different impact: As Finkel, he's the shrieking lackey to Sam Rockwell's disaffected Nazi Captain Klenzendorf in Waititi's story of a young boy who idolizes his imaginary friend, Hitler. As these two parts, Allen oscillates between warm and funny -- two traits that Game of Thrones didn't always afford him the opportunity to project.
But Allen is wary of thinking of his career as any sort of trajectory. Before Thrones, Allen had small roles in films like Atonement, but he was probably most identifiable as the sibling of Lily Allen. (Her song "Alfie" begins: "Oh, deary me. My little brother's in his bedroom smoking weed.") I mention that he comes from a musical family when asking about his turn as John Kite in How to Build a Girl -- which features a Lily cameo -- in which he sings a soulful tune written by Gus Garvey of Elbow. He deadpans, "My mum's a great singer," and then bursts out laughing. (His mum, Alison Owen, is a producer who worked on films like Elizabeth, The Other Boleyn Girl, and Suffragette. She has a credit on How to Build a Girl as well, making it entirely a family affair.)
Sarcastic asides pepper Allen's conversation, but he gets serious upon discussing how meaningful it was that Garvey was responsible for that John Kite moment. He turned to Elbow's "Loneliness of a Tower Crane Driver" frequently when he played Theon. "I just thought that kind of encapsulated Theon's position, being alone in this world and also being at the behest of this huge machine but not really knowing what to do with it. Also just looking at things from a bird's eye point of view, just down on low and everyone being out of reach but seemingly within reach. You know what I mean?" he says, before adding another bit of a verbal wink: "Deep man. Deep and profound, innit?" He course corrects again: "It really did help me, that song, so then to be able to do another project and work with Guy Garvey who really did play a part in getting me to that place for that role it was great."