An exclusive interview with Game of Thrones actor | The art of craftsmanship and communication.
Today, we have the honour to invite a friend to an exclusive interview: Clive Mantle, or you may know him as Lord Greatjon Umber (bannerman of House Stark and chief Northern advisor to Robb Stark) in HBO’s Game of Thrones.
Clive is an old friend of Simon, one of our founders. They’ve known each other since they were 14 and when Simon was at university, Clive was at RADA, the leading British acting school, where he won the Shakespeare Prize. He is best known for playing general surgeon Dr Mike Barratt in the BBC series Casualty in the 1990s. Not limited to pursuing a career in TV series and films, Mantle also appeared in many plays such as A Streetcar Named Desire. He was also awarded the Best Newcomer in the Plays and Players Awards for his performance as Lennie in Of Mice and Men. (He is now also an author of children’s books and is about to publish his first – The Adventures of Freddie Malone – which is coming out later this year and is aimed at 8-12year olds.)
What is his understanding of acting? How does it feel like to be a part of Game of Thrones?
1.Why did you choose to become an actor?
I really didn’t fit in with any other career. I thought that I’d like to be a sports journalist but there wasn’t really any career path for that. I’d always been in school plays and was quite talented at it. At the age of 17 a notice went up at school to audition for the National Youth Theatre. 4000 people applied for 70 or 80 places, I was very lucky to get in. NYT’s objectives then were to broaden the mind of young adolescents…I was at the NYT with people from all walks of life. It was a ‘wonderful melting pot… a real release’. Learnt more about the wonderful diversity of Britain than anything since then. A wonderful, wonderful organization. I spent 5 summers with them. My whole year revolved getting back to the NYT in the summer.
2.What type of acting do you enjoy the most? Can you share with us some of your favourite acting experiences?
Actors are notorious for wanting to do something else and embody the phrase ‘the grass is always greener’. If they’re doing stage they want to be doing TV. If they’re doing TV, they want to do film. But I love acting. Love radio acting, love television acting, love film acting, love stage acting, love writing.
Robin of Sherwood on television. Favourite TV appearance, landmark TV production. Great time filming it with wonderful cast and crew in some of the most beautiful parts of the English countryside.
3.What are the pros and cons from an acting perspective of being such a tall guy?!
Before I went to drama school I did odd jobs. A lot of established actors told me that I’d never get anywhere, that I’d always get type cast and only ever play thugs. They weren’t far wrong in the early years. I played the big bruiser, the thug … I was pretty much typecast. Little John (Robin of Sherwood) enabled me to show a softer side. The doctor in Casualty enabled me to get over the height thing… demonstrated that I could be a ‘constructive human being’!
4.From your own personal experiences, what are some differences between American and English acting?
British actors tend to learn the lines before we get on the set – tend to prepare and have an idea of how we want to play stuff. By no means all, but many Americans I’ve worked with tend to learn their lines and develop their ideas on the set. It’s just different schools of approach.
5.How did you enjoy acting in Game of Thrones?
Always enjoy working with clever and brilliant people. First 10 episodes cost about $50 million and you see that on the screen. When in a freezing cold Belfast, it was about -20 degrees!
6.Did you see Games of Thrones becoming this big internationally? Why do you think it did?
Incredibly well conceived. Massive wealth of background. So many and such big books. Wealth of material to cherry pick the best TV series possible. So many different factions fighting for supremacy. All totally different. Very well realized. Amazing phenomenon. Couldn’t possibly tell that it was going to be such a huge, huge hit.
7.Who do you think will end up on the Iron Throne and why?
Peter Dinklage, Tyrion Lannister.