Littlefinger aka Lord Petyr Baelish was killed by Arya Stark in Game of Thrones season 7 finale (The Dragon and the Wolf) and Aidan Gillen, who plays the role, talked to EW about his exit and incredible journey on the show for the past seven years. Here is an excerpt from the interview:
When did you get the infamous call?
The infamous call. It’s so obvious what it is. [Showrunners Dan Weiss and David Benioff] never ring you up — maybe once in six years. I learned about that call from [Roose Bolton actor Michael McElhatton] when he told me about his call and he talked about how it made him feel. And I thought if I get that call — or rather when as this has got to happen sooner or later to a character like Littlefinger — I wondered how it would make me feel. Because the show is such a part of your life for so many years, you start to think, ‘What will your life will be like outside of it?’ It’s a potent loss.
Littlefinger’s strategy in playing Arya against Sansa seemed really risky from the outset.
With carefully laid plans there’s always a bit of risk involved. He’s put himself in a situation that could backfire on him. I think he likes it. [His plans] are never fail safe. But he puts himself on the line like a good gambler.
What was your reaction to the finale script?
Obviously, I was expecting it.
But you didn’t know exactly how Littlefinger would go out, I assume.
Well, I did an interview with a publication [in 2015] and they asked me how I thought I would go. I said I thought Arya would deliver the blow. So it was as promised. And even within the scene, as soon as he walks in that room and Arya produces the dagger he knows the game is up. He at least suspected the game was up back in episode four when Bran told him, “Chaos is a ladder.” For Bran to come up with that is beyond coincidental. That’s when the ground started to shift beneath my feet. At that point, I knew the things I’ve done in private are not necessarily private.
I haven’t seen your final scene but I’ve heard you’re fantastic in it, and that Littlefinger reveals some emotions that we haven’t really seen from him before.
I don’t want to say too much about that. I don’t want to lay my cards on the table. I want to preserve that. There were more feelings for Sansa than I’ve let on the in the past. It becomes obvious. It’s an emotional farewell. And it’s a humiliating position to be in. He’s back in the sort of humiliating position that has been a driver for him: The rejection of Catelyn Stark, the humiliation by [Ned Stark’s older brother] Brandon Stark — back when he cut him from navel to collarbone and didn’t kill him [after their duel over Catelyn in their youth]. He’s put back in that position again.
What was your last day like?
My last day on the set wasn’t that scene. [The execution] was the second scene I shot. I quite enjoyed doing things that way — shooting [Littlefinger’s death] and then shooting what comes before. When you know what’s coming you relax a little in the way you interact with the others. There’s something else that seeps into your performance — a kind of serenity. But yeah, I did find it quite emotional [shooting the finale scene]. And I don’t necessarily mean that I was sad, but it’s an emotional moment for the character so I felt what he was feeling. For the real last day at work Dan and David weren’t there but [co-executive producer] Bryan Cogman called people in and said a few words and my son was there with me. That was quite something. And I got my mockingbird pin. I had already let them know I wanted it, and I cleverly worked it so I got two. There’s one from my cloak and one from my tunic. So I got the large and the small size — one for me and one for my son.