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Joe Dempsie, who played Gendry during the first three seasons of Game of Thrones, made his return to the show in the fifth episode (Eastwatch) of season 7. Dempsie talked to EW and discussed about his time away from Game of Thrones and what’s next for his character, now that he’s back on the show & already on a dangerous mission. Here’s an excerpt from the interview:

So what were you told back when you left?
After season 3, [showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss] told me Gendry is going to go off a little bit. It was always in their minds that he’d come back.

How often did you get the question from fans?
“What’s happening with Gendry?” became part of my daily life, answering the question. And I could say with clear conscious that I had no idea. It’s been a meme-a-week, but I’m partly responsible for that by tweeting “still rowing” at the end of season 4. They even worked a reference into the show of that… There are some real crowd-pleasing moments this season.

So now that he’s back: What has Gendry been doing all this time?
He’d gone back to his old life, but there’s a restlessness in him. He bored of safety and wants adventure and he’s itching to get involved and then an opportunity presents itself. He’s got his father’s blood in him and he’s a natural born fighter.

What was it like to sit back and watch the show continue without you?
My years out of the show came at a good time. There’s an element to [GoT] professionally where you can start taking it for granted, assuming it’s going to be there every year, and it made me a little dismissive of some of the great work that you can get in the U.K. So I took those three years to get my head down and do other stuff. But I felt ready to go back. I think a lot of us, our main want, is to have some part to play in the end game. So it feels like a good time to come back in.

What was your reaction when you found out that not only are you back but have this great action-based storyline with Jon Snow and all these other popular characters?
That’s the main thing, the selfish actor part of you reads that and goes, “That’s going to be great! I’m going to look cool doing that!” Part of this feels like Avengers Assemble coming together, this ill-advised mission North of the Wall. When you imagine wanting to be an actor, these are the sort of pinch-yourself moments.

There’s also been a lot of speculation about Gendry’s parentage. Given that he’s Robert Baratheon’s bastard, could that play some kind of factor in the end game?
Yeah, I feel like there’s stuff to explore. Gendry’s position in this war has to have some kind of constitutional value. What part he plays in the politics has still to be seen, if anything. For the moment, I’m pleased to be back involved and be one of these Avengers.

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