Game of Thrones: Gemma Whelan on the Kingsmoot and Euron Greyjoy\'s Return
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The woman behind Yara Greyjoy teases what\'s to come.
Full spoilers for Game of Thrones\' latest episode, "Home," continue below.
The Greyjoys are back on Game of Thrones, and there is some trouble brewing in the Iron Islands. In the same episode where Melisandre managed to bring Jon Snow back to life, her spell to kill the three kings opposing Stannis -- Robb Stark, Joffrey Baratheon and Balon Greyjoy -- finally was completed.
Patrick Malahide and Gemma Whelan on Game of Thrones
In "Home," Balon was killed by his younger, crazier brother Euron Greyjoy (Pilou Asbæk), thus leaving a vacancy on the Seastone Chair. Balon\'s heir Yara (Gemma Whelan) naturally thought the Driftwood Crown would defer to her, but her uncle Aeron Greyjoy -- aka the Damphair -- shut her down when he explained that the next ruler will be decided in a Kingsmoot. With Euron back in town and Theon announcing he\'ll be heading back to Pyke, Yara could have some stiff competition for the throne.
To break down what happened in Sunday\'s episode and tease what\'s ahead, we got Gemma Whelan on the phone to talk about the return to the Iron Islands. She promises that there\'s some good story ahead for the Greyjoys, plus shared the big question she and her ironborn costars are always speculating about.
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IGN: I\'m so excited that the ironborn are finally back in the story. How long ago did you know that this was part of the plan to bring them back and do the Kingsmoot? I know fans were concerned for a little while that it might be skipped.
Gemma Whelan: I guess I knew -- and it all changes season to season because it\'s all sort of embargoed -- but I did know there was more for me to go and there were plans for the Greyjoys to do more than what they\'ve done so far. I was told the storyline would expand in later seasons. Things can change, also; they may go in a different direction than what they decided, but they\'re often pretty faithful to what they said. I always knew that I would be given relatively more to do in later seasons, which is lovely. Of course, you can\'t really rely on that until you\'re on set shooting and on the TV [
IGN: What role do the ironborn play this season? It seems like the vacancy of power with Balon being dead and Euron coming into the picture should be a pretty big deal.
Whelan: I guess the seeds are planted. You\'ve filled in the gaps I suppose you\'re supposed to, but I can\'t really say what\'s going to happen other than they probably wouldn\'t have invested in such a start to the Greyjoy\'s story this season if it wasn\'t going to go somewhere. Pilou Asbæk was fantastic fun to work with. There\'s some stuff coming up.
IGN: What is Yara\'s awareness of Euron before this episode?
Whelan: She knows she\'s got an uncle that\'s been gone, absent, for a very long time. I don\'t think she\'s expecting to see him. That\'s all I can say. [
Liam Cunningham as Davos Seaworth and Kit Harington as Jon Snow in Game of Thrones
Iwan Rheon as Ramsay Bolton and Elizabeth Webster as Walda Frey
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister and Dean-Charles Chapman as Tommen Baratheon
Sebastian Croft as Young Ned Stark, Cordelia Hill as Young Lyanna Stark, Matteo Elezi as Young Benjen Stark, Isaac Hempstead Wright as Bran Stark, and Max von Sydow as the Three-Eyed Raven
Patrick Malahide as Balon Greyjoy and Pilou Asbӕk as Euron Greyjoy
Conleth Hill as Varys and Nathalie Emmanuel as Missandei
Patrick Malahide as Balon Greyjoy and Gemma Whelan as Yara Greyjoy
Gemma Whelan as Yara Greyjoy and Michael Feast as Aeron Greyjoy in Game of Thrones
Michael McElhatton as Roose Bolton and Iwan Rheon as Ramsay Bolton in Game of Thrones
Game of Thrones: Season 6, Episode 2 "Home" Photos
IGN: Yara has weaved in and out of the story for the past few seasons, but we haven\'t gotten too much of her. Do you have a backstory for her of what\'s been going on in all her time off the page?
Whelan: I guess that she\'s probably been getting on with leading her men and doing what the ironborn do best, on ships raving and reaving and pillaging and doing what the ironborn do best, I suppose. Life has continued as normal is all I\'ve seen. It was nice to be back with Patrick Malahide and working together again. He\'s just fantastic fun to work with, and I think they\'ve been having their typical father/daughter tense relationship. [
IGN: How much is that quest for revenge on who killed him going to be an important part of her story this season?
Whelan: Umm, I think she\'s pretty determined to fulfill that statement.
IGN: Do you think Yara would be the right person to inherit the Iron Islands?
Whelan: Yeah, I do, absolutely. She\'s been there. She\'s grasped it. She knows the place inside and out, the men and how the ironborn work. She\'s seen the mistakes her father has made and is determined to push forward in a different way. Certainly I think she\'s a strong candidate.
Patrick Malahide and Pilou Asbӕk on Game of Thrones
IGN: If she was to get it, do you think she would get involved in some of the larger issues going on, or do you think she would keep the ironborn to themselves?
Whelan: Oh gosh, that\'s a good question. In the book, her campaign at the Kingsmoot is really generous in terms of building a community. Her speech is all about community and family and strengthening that side of things. I imagine she would start at home and then maybe she would get bigger ambitions -- build a strong foundation first.
IGN: Do we get to see any of Yara\'s political wheeling and dealing beforehand, or do we jump straight to the Kingsmoot on the show?
Whelan: I can\'t say anything! I can just say keep watching. [
IGN: What\'s crazy about this episode is that even without Jon Snow\'s return, it had two huge moments in Ramsay killing Roose and Balon dying. How much is the rest of the season jam-packed like that?
Whelan: I know, right? It\'s incredible! And also seeing young Hodor really was quite moving to me. I love the brilliant casting. It was really wonderful to see young Hodor and all that world as well. I think there\'s plenty more to come, and of course they wouldn\'t plant the seed if they weren\'t to show a little more of that story -- I hope. I don\'t even know. You\'re absolutely right, so many things happened. The two dads to go like that, both murdered by family. [
] It\'s pretty harsh. There\'s no apology for any of it. The violence continues apace, doesn\'t it? That awful moment when that poor guy\'s skull was just smashed against the wall.
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IGN: There were two of those moments, between the giant and Ser Robert Strong!
] It\'s relentless, but I didn\'t expect Ramsay to kill his dad like that. I really didn\'t, and I have the scripts. I went back through and read it this morning and I was like, "What, I missed that! Oh my God." [
] Shows how much of an actor I am, just looking at my own bits in the script.
IGN: Not including Yara\'s storyline, do you have another favorite character who you think has an amazing year this year? Or did you really just read your parts? [
Whelan: I do tend to just read to just read mine because I don\'t want to spoil things for myself as well, but obviously at the readthrough you head the whole lot of your episode. Everyone\'s storyline is so epic I can\'t really choose. I\'m really hoping that Hodor\'s storyline is a good one this year, because Kristian [Nairn] is a dear friend of mine and it would be nice to see Hodor have a good go. And I\'m always fascinated to see Jaqen H\'ghar. I love him.
IGN: Meanwhile, we now know Theon is on this journey where he is heading back to the Iron Islands --
Whelan: That was so moving, wasn\'t it, when he said, "I\'m going home"? Oh, I loved it.
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IGN: It was! I know you can\'t say whether he does make it, but after the last encounter Yara had with him when he was very much still "Reek," do you think she would welcome him back now with open arms?
Whelan: I know that she stands for family, truly down deep in her heart. Her version of morally correct. One would hope that they would manage to sort things out, but I don\'t know, you\'ll have to wait and see.
IGN: It sounds like you and Alfie Allen are pretty good friends in real life.
Whelan: Oh we are, yeah. We hang out. He\'s just one of my favorite people. He\'s such a good, good man. He\'s so talented and so humble and generous. I can\'t say enough good things about him. His storyline this season is one I really want to watch because poor old Theon deserves a break, doesn\'t he?
IGN: Do you guys speculate at all amongst yourself about what twists and turns are coming as we\'re getting so close to the end of the series?
Whelan: Yeah! We speculate about how we wonder who\'s going to get the Seastone Chair in the end. "Maybe it will be you or maybe it will be me or maybe we\'ll share it." Maybe it\'s neither of us! We theorize, but we\'re never told anything. [
Game of Thrones airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on HBO.
Terri Schwartz is Entertainment Editor at IGN. Talk to her on Twitter at @Terri_Schwartz.
Game of Thrones First Aired Apr. 2011
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