Following the Season 7 finale, the actor who brings Davos to life, the very lively Liam Cunningham, called from his home in Dublin (“That’s one of the reasons I love this job — Westeros is an hour and a half from my front door!”) to discuss this season’s big shockers, the incredible speed with which his character travels and how he hopes life will turn out for his much-loved character.
This interview has been edited for clarity.
Ser Davos has gotten a lot of screen time and some of the funniest lines recently, so it seemed like a standout season for him. Did it feel like that from an acting perspective?
Yeah. Spending a lot of time with Stannis Baratheon was not exactly all fun and games, even though I’m bereft at the loss of [actor] Stephen Dillane because I loved working with him. But with a younger man and an easier-going chap like Mr. Jon Snow, it was a little easier to be at ease with this particular character.
I also loved doing that lovely little scene with that fermented-crab Viagra. It kind of let you know his smuggling roots and what he was good at when he was selling stuff and moving stuff. It was lovely to have that throwback to the character that he used to be before he became embroiled in the pit of snakes that is Westeros. So all that sort of thing where you could have a bit of humor. And when you’ve got beautiful words to say like the lads [showrunners D.B. Weiss and David Benioff] give you, all you have to do is just do them justice.
You don’t have the scripts for the final season yet, right?
Nobody has them. Well, I think the people who build sets and make costumes and do all that wonderful clever stuff, they obviously have them because the plans are afoot. I have not seen one word of what’s coming up. When people get that little tingle up their spine when [the show] is about to be broadcast, that tingle is what I get on the day the scripts are sent to me.
When you were reading the script for Season 7, was there one huge surprise that really shocked you?
Last night when it was finally confirmed that Jon Snow was in fact the man who should — on paper anyway — lead the Seven Kingdoms. That was extraordinary. But I mean, every episode! Last night there were so many. I remember in the previous episode when I read that they pulled the dragon out of the lake and turned him into not a White Walker but a White Flier, I remember reading that and going, “Oh my God!” There are oh-my-God moments all over this. It’s part of the joy of it.
Playing Jon Snow’s most trusted adviser, do you have any inkling how Ser Davos might react when he finds out he’s actually the legitimate heir to the throne? Maybe he should rescind his offer to bend the knee to Daenerys?
I don’t know. With this show, it’s incredibly unpredictable. Anything can happen on this. I wonder if I’m going to be in the room, because I’d like to see the look on Daenerys’s face. [Much laughter.] It’s a double-whammy here — not only has he taken her job, she’s also his aunt. I mean, that’s going to be an interesting one.
There was a lot of talk this season about how quickly characters were moving from one place to another, and Ser Davos especially was pinballing all over the place.
The way I view this is, when we saw Ned Stark getting his head lobbed off in Season 1, and people looked at it and their jaws hit the ground because it was a game-changer — the leading man does not get killed — when that happened, people realized the rules no longer apply. That’s kind of like this jumping around with Varys and myself and a few others.
I mean, these are travel things, do you know what I mean? If we want them to stick to continuity, we’d have to wait another 12 episodes before Gendry got back to Eastwatch and gave me the news. The way I view drama is life with the boring bits taken out. I don’t really want to watch Varys eating his lunch or me under a tree waiting for the rain to pass so we can get somewhere. Let’s get rid of that stuff. As [“Beyond the Wall” episode director] Alan Taylor said, we did stretch the believability factor of that, but it was for the purposes of drama, and I think if you looked at whoever you were watching it with on the couch and went, “Well he got there quick,” I think you’d get over it. It’s a grown-up show for grown-ups; let’s cut out the boring bits.
You’ve had so many great scenes over the years. Looking back, is there one that really sticks out to you that you won’t forget?
You know, I loved the stuff with Shireen [played by actress Kerry Ingram] and I do like the young ladies on this show. We’ve watched the progress of Sansa and Arya with the gorgeous Sophie [Turner] and Maisie [Williams] going from children — and Bran [Isaac Hempstead Wright] as well — from being small children. To watch them develop into fantastic adults and to watch their craft develop, that’s been a complete joy.
And then, the confrontation between Melisandre and Jon Snow in the room [after Davos found out Shireen was burned to death as a sacrifice]. You don’t see many occasions when Davos loses it and has his heart broken.
Now I don’t know what the hell is going to happen with Davos in the next season. I do hope he doesn’t go too early. I’d love to be there for the last episode. I mean, my ambition was to be there for the last season and I’ve achieved that. Now I have another one — to get to the last episode. Whether that will happen or not is up to the gods of Westeros.
Speaking of which, how would you like to see Ser Davos end up, in your ideal world?
Listen, Mr. Ramsay did say, if you think this is going to have a happy ending, you haven’t been paying attention. It’s impossible to predict. Ambition-wise, is Jon Snow going to end up on the throne with Ser Davos as his hand? I think that’s a little too predictable. It would be nice, but I don’t think that’s going to happen.
You know what, I try to keep all the options open. I just want to see where it goes. I’m as much of a fan, and I’m a fan that’s blessed to be a participant in this. That’s the way I’m viewing it — we’ll see what happens.