SF & Fantasy

Talking Game of Thrones: Interview with Amrita Acharia


What was it like to be involved in a show with such a large production scale?

It was amazing, obviously! It’s so epic. I wasn’t aware of how big it was going to be, and then I started to read the books and I thought it was really interesting. Then I got on set and I realized how big it truly was. It was a really great experience to have so early in my career, I think, and I think I learned a lot from it.

Last season you filmed in Northern Ireland and Malta, and this year in Croatia… it must feel a lot like working on film rathe than a television series, with foreign locations.

I don’t have a lot of experience with TV shows. My first job was a film, and then I did a few bits for the BBC and then it was Game of Thrones. I’ve really only had cinematic experience, and it does seem more cinematic, but I don’t have a lot of TV to compare to!

One of the interesting things you got to do as Irri was you got to speak Dothraki. In fact, you and Elyes Gabel gave it what seemed a really natural sound. Was that difficult?

I didn’t think so. It’s obviously a bit of a challenge to the learn the lines as the language is made up, but the way it has been created it fits into your voice and body naturally. You know like with different languages — I’m sure you get this with Swedish — your voice changes, right? With the Dothraki, it becomes earthier and you find a place for it in your body. Everyone who spoke it found their own way of doing it, but I think everyone sounded really good doing it. It sounded as I expected to when I read the books — gravelly, earthy, but also musical.

Do you think the fact that you’re multilingual helped you with it?

Definitely! Just things like words that sounded similar to things in Ukrainian or Norwegian, so I could remember them that way, and also just because once you’ve learned a language from scratch, I think you’re faster at picking up new words.

I didn’t start learning Norwegian until I was thirteen, so yeah, it helped me learn how to memorize words and sounds more easily than it might have been for someone who hadn’t ever had to do that before.

Your first big scene this scene was the reaction to Rakharo’s death. That was heart-rending. Is it difficult to convey the emotion when you’re trying to do it with this foreign language that you don’t really understand?

I thought it helped, actually. It’s an emotional, guttural language that makes it easy to go to certain places. But in terms of emotion, that’s part of my job, right? So, no, I didn’t find it too hard. When you’re out in the desert and it’s quiet, and this horse comes in without a rider and a head in a sack… you can get yourself there pretty quick. I think for Irri, as well, in my head she never got to tell him that she really liked him. They had a kind of… teenage relationship, didn’t they? “I’m going to be horrible to you because I like you.” So I felt sorry for her, she had a rough time.

Losing Rakharo seemed like a symbol of the dissolution of the khalasar — the “horde” that isn’t really a horde any more — I think.

Yeah, it’s quite symbolic I think. Dany’s losing all of her protectors and what we see is that she starts to pull it together again — she’s there for Irri, she doesn’t let it break her — and it’s a strong contrast to where she was in the first scenes in the first season.

All your filming was in Croatia this year, right?

Yes. Which I was happy about, because it was sunny!

I’ve seen you tweeting quite a bit with Laura Pradelska, who plays Quaithe. What’s that all about?

(Laughs) Laura was the one who forced me to go onto Twitter. I said, ‘What is this Twitter? I don’t do this twitting’ — and I still call it twitting, because I think we’re all a bit twitty when we’re tweeting — so I started and I was quite bad at it at first, but now I’ve gotten into it. Laura is great. She’s why I’m in LA right now, she’s been living there and told me I need to get myself out here.

Did you know her from before filming, or from other things in London?

Oh, no, we just met in Croatia and became good friends. She lives not far from me in London, too. It was great to meet someone you’re on the same wave-length with.

Now we’re at Qarth, and on the surface it seems luxurious and elegant, but it’s hiding something much darker… something that has a direct influence on Irri’s life.

Oh, yeah, she gets killed. She gets strangled. If I’m going to go, I’d better go good! So, that happens… poor Irri.

Were you a bit sad in a way?

Oh, it’s totally sad. It did so well the first season and everyone’s really settled in and getting along. But I’ve had a really good run of it, so I’m not going to complain!

How far have you read into the series? Every actor has a different answer — some haven’t read a single book in the series, some have read all of them.

I prefer to read kind of as I go along, so I’ve read the first book and then I’m still reading the second.

Are you a Dany loyalist?

Oh, it’s Dany all the way, definitely!

What’s it like to work with Emilia, actually?

She’s great. I really respect her as an actor and a person. It’s great that someone’s as great off screen as they are on screen.

I know that filming can be quite arduous, with long hours…

I’m not a morning person.

Someone told me — I think it was Mark Stanley — that actors aren’t paid to act, they’re paid to sit around and whatever acting happens in between is a bonus.

(Laughs) Yeah, that’s how it is sometimes! That’s just part of the job, of course, and you just have to suck it up.

So, anything on your plate next? You’re in LA so I’m sure you’re having meetings and the like…

Yeah, I’m definitely having meetings and getting on with life, auditioning for stuff. It’s interesting being in LA actually, because I’ve never been here before and I’ve never experienced the industry here before. It’s a learning experience.

Do you notice much of a difference between the industry … I guess, culture in LA — from your brief experience — and the industry in London?

Oh, totally. I think so. Everything is quite different here. Everything seems much faster here. Which is fine for me, I’m quite direct. And it was different in Norway, too, when I lived there. It’s a great experience as an actor to learn how to adapt to each area of the industry, and learn to become more accessible.

One last question, about the Dothraki. It was funny when I thought about it — the fact that Dothraki means “horse people”, more or less, but Irri never got to ride a horse. Was that disappointing?

I was even given riding lessons, and then I didn’t even get on a horse! Though that’s probably just as well, because I’m really clumsy. I always wanted to ride horses as a kid, but I ended up doing a million other things.

There did seem to be a sense that the horses were often difficult to work with…

Yeah, you know, in the end I didn’t envy anyone who had to work with them. It’s hard enough to do a scene not to also have to worry about the horse you’re sitting on.

Thank you very much for your time, Amrita, and good luck in your future endeavors!

Tusen takk!


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