Is it hard, after shooting Game of Thrones so close to home and in other amazing locations, to have a production based in one spot for such a long stretch? To be in Vancouver?
Gillen: Well, we have to be. Because of the nature of shooting this series and the budget, we have really high production values, and they probably wouldn’t be so high if we had to spend all this time going to Ohio or Mississippi or California every week. It would be interesting to go shoots some episodes in Venezuela or Ireland, though.
Do you miss traveling to shoot on location?
Gillen: I suppose I did get spoiled a bit on Thrones, because most of it was shot in Northern Ireland, and then I got the odd jaunts to Croatia and Iceland. I got to do all those things, and that was a real joy, a real perk. I was happy to be in Northern Ireland, because it’s where I’m from. Well, I’m from Dublin, but it’s an hour up the road.
I’m one of those people who always sits on the window seat of a plane. I don’t understand why anyone would ever sit on an aisle, unless they’ve got a severe fear of flying. And then when I arrive, I spend like 20% of my time filming travelogues -- craters, or the waves at the seashore -- on my phone using iMovie with the vintage8 app. If I’m off on a job somewhere, it’s a way to preserve the memory for yourself, or to show people where you are, and you can shoot pretty decent quality film on a phone and add a music soundtrack. I used to use a super8 camera. I traveled all around Mexico for about seven weeks with it, with as many rolls of film as I could afford to bring, but they were each about three minutes each, so you get like 20 minutes of film out of it, and half of it is out of focus. It’s a lot easier now.
One of my favorite travelogues, I was living down in rural southwest Ireland on the side of a mountain, and I used to climb it regularly. Some days, you’d just be surrounded by mist and clouds, and it would be really beautiful in one way, but you couldn’t see too much. But other days, it would be the most amazing landscape and vistas that you’d ever seen. They actually shot some of the Star Wars: The Last Jedi there recently. Where Luke Skywalker was living in exile, that’s down near where I used to live. That’s a really stunning area. I just like putting these landscapes together with music. I enjoy the process.
Do you want to become more of a filmmaker? Because you recently co-wrote a script with director Jamie Thraves, for this film Pickups...
Gillen: It’s funny you should mention that, because we did shoot some of that down in Kerry where I was living. Jamie is a good friend of mine, and he’s very familiar with my kind of love of just walking around the countryside, looking at waves. I first met him like 17 years ago, we did this film together called The Low Down, and I thought I was playing him, because he had written and directed it, and he thought I was playing me. I guess that’s when we realized that we were the same person, in a sense? We had a lot in common.
It’s just an odd life, the life of an actor, the exposure of it, and a lot of people think they know you, and they kind of do, but the you that they know is made up. And if you’re not careful, you kind of start believing that one yourself. People present different sides of themselves to the world all the time anyway. We all use smokescreens to make our way through the world, and deflect how we’re really feeling about things. So we just thought it was funny. We thought we were making a comedy, and then it got really sad.