If there is one Game of Thrones character who has garnered pretty universal disdain over the past few seasons (aside from the characters of Dorne, may we never speak of them again), it's Euron Greyjoy. From his undeserved sense of achievement to his incessant use of innuendo and even his terrible taste in fashion among people who clearly believe that grey is the new black (it's not), there's just a lot about Euron that makes him hard to stand. And that's not even counting how much he enjoys inflicting pain — both physical and mental — on other people.
Luckily, actor Pilou Asbæk knows his character is the worst — and he embraces that! "You're probably only going to do a character like Euron Greyjoy once in your life because he's such a f*cking idiot," Asbæk said in an interview with BuzzFeed News. "And you don't want to keep doing those roles because you want to develop as well, but he was so much fun and I love the character. It's fun being the guy the world hates the most just for a couple of days, as long as it's only temporary."
He's pretty confident that the hate for Euron is temporary, but the internet is forever and never forgets. What's truly frightening about Euron is that he's not even as bad as he could be. In Game of Thrones, the former King of the Iron Islands makes his first appearance on the second episode of season six where he murders his brother Balon to seize the Salt Throne. He goes on to align himself with Cersei, be named commander of the Lannister fleet, and delivers Ellaria and Tyene Sand to King's Landing for Cersei's poisonous revenge. He regularly tortures his niece and nephew, Yara and Theon, and even keeps the former captive on his ship for a bit. But the Euron from the novels by George R. R. Martin is so much worse.
"I wouldn't have minded if he was a little more like a Dark Lord," Asbæk said, admitting that he thought the character would be closer to his literary counterpart. "Being a bit of a self-centreed actor, you always want more screen time and you always want more dimensional work. But there wasn't room for it because I got into this very late, so the scenes I had I just wanted to make memorable."
Well, he definitely made them memorable! Very few people will ever forget watching Euron's fleet attacking Yara's on their way to Dorne, or his many attempts at hitting on Cersei — and the gross way he talked about "their" baby after she deigned to sleep with him. But the Danish actor honestly enjoyed playing the "over the top" character.
"When you're away doing a movie or a TV show 200 days a year, you want to enjoy your character," he said. "And I can tell you one thing: I have not had one dull moment playing Euron Greyjoy, not one. I've always been the hero and . . . it's been marvelous because the characters have been able to help so many people, but . . . for once in my life, I actually got a chance to play theatre on a television."
It's actually kind of sweet when he puts it like that. Sadly (or not, depends on your point of view), Euron meets his end in the penultimate episode of Game of Thrones' final season, dying after battling the golden knight himself, Jaime Lannister. Asbæk, who has actually been friends with actor Nikolaj Coster-Waldau for over 15 years, revealed that though he enjoyed working with Coster-Waldau, he expected another ending for his Iron pirate.
"I always thought he would go out with a fight with Alfie [Allen, who plays Theon] and Gemma [Whelan, who plays Yara] because that would be the logical consequence of the Greyjoy family," Asbæk said. "For her to be Queen of the Iron Islands, Euron needs to die and he needs to die by her hand."
As with plenty of things this season, we're pretty sure Game of Thrones' showrunners will just handwave that little tidbit away. Or maybe they'll say that the entirety of the Iron Islands just "king of forgot" their centuries-long tradition!