When the reigning king of Westeros steps down – or, more likely, is forcibly removed – it will also be the swan song for Jack Gleeson, the actor who plays King Joffery Baratheon on HBO’s Game of Thrones. Gleeson told the Irish Independent that he plans to retire from acting when his turn on the show wraps up, saying he prefers a simple life over the glitz of Hollywood.
“It was always a recreation beforehand, but when I started doing Game of Thrones, perhaps the reality was made too real for me,” Gleeson said of his acting work. “The lifestyle that comes with being an actor in a successful TV show isn’t something I gravitate towards.”
Gleeson even copped to not watching himself on Game of Thrones, saying that the evil King Joffery is perhaps too maniacal and unredeemable for even him to handle. “You tend to abstract yourself from the creepiness of it when you’re playing it, but when you see it on television, it sends shivers down my spine.”
“I would like to try and defend him, but I would have a pretty hard job doing it,” Gleeson added of Joffery. “I suppose he’s the product of his context and his family. In terms of redeemable qualities, there wouldn’t be many.”
Gleeson added that his decision not to pursue an acting career after Thrones was partly the result of his studies at Dublin’s Trinity College, where he’s been focusing on theology and philosophy. “I’m 21, so it’s hard to decide what kind of course life will take,” he said.
Another factor was his recent work with the aid agency Goal, which helps homeless citizens in Haiti recover from the devastating earthquakes in 2010. “I’d been looking to use the celebrity I’ve got from the show to bring awareness for causes Goal supports,” he said. “I had the connection with the organization through my uncle, Tim Gleeson, and he worked with Goal in the 1980s. It was inspiring to see the improvements being made in Haiti, to see the motivation of the people to improve the quality of life. People are eager to get on with their lives and be resilient.”
Game of Thrones is currently moving ahead with its fourth season, set to return to HBO in the spring (and there will certainly be plenty of that slimy King Joffery to go around). The show recently cast actor Struan Rodger in the pivotal Bloodraven role, while Icelandic indie rockers Sigur Ros will also appear as guests on the upcoming season.