Warning: If you haven’t seen the Aug. 13 episode of “Game of Thrones,” spoilers ahead.
The last time we saw Joe Dempsie’s “Game of Thrones” character, Gendry, he was departing Dragonstone in a rowboat, noting that he could not swim.
Four years later, in the fifth episode of the seventh season, he came back ashore, and things got very interesting in the quest for the Iron Throne.
Gendry was one of the fantasy drama’s most tantalizing loose threads: the illegitimate son of and only known blood heir to King Robert Baratheon.
It turns out, the last known Baratheon was hiding in plain sight: He rowed all the way to King’s Landing and went right back to work as a blacksmith.
Dempsie always knew his character would return, but, he says, he tried not to think about it.
With each passing year, as the memes of Gendry aimlessly rowing multiplied online, Dempsie admitted that he began to wonder if the story was veering in a direction that could easily exclude a return. He said with a laugh, “Gendry’s fate could be explained with just one line: The boy died at sea.” Luckily, Gendry is not only alive and well but also in the thick of the action in the war against the Army of the Dead with Jon Snow (Kit Harington) and a misfit band of wildlings, knights, the Brotherhood Without Banners and the Hound.
We recently chatted with the affable 30-year-old about his return to Westeros.
You’re not only back but you’re part of this team, sort of “Ocean’s 11: Beyond the Wall.”
Yeah, with slightly fewer brain cells than those guys. I’m an Avenger, an Expendable, whatever you want to call it, I’m part of the gang. It’s great. Episode 6, which is coming up, is a real set-piece. Episode 4 was insane enough, but this might even take it up a notch.
So, Gendry is an expert at forging swords but doesn’t know how to use one? Is that mighty hammer an homage to his father?
I don’t really know. Would you buy a sword from someone who didn’t know what a good sword was? (Laughs.) But, yeah, since he’s learned a bit about his true lineage, he’s actually gotten quite pleased with himself — enough to blurt out immediately who you are when you’re told not to because … you forge a weapon with the Baratheon sigil and one that your father used fairly formidably.
Do you see Gendry and Jon Snow as kindred spirits?
Certainly, he’s heard about Jon Snow and the mythology that surrounds him, and how he’s risen from being a bastard to lead the people in the North, and I think Gendry has both a huge respect and also feels like they probably have a lot of shared experiences. He’s someone who’s been looking for his place in the world for the majority of his life, and he’s finally had a bit of information that he’s the son of a king, and that maybe gives him some semblance of where he comes from. He knows he’s still a bast
Although he told Jon Snow who he was, Gendry doesn’t seem like he has designs on power. Yet. But technically, he could have a claim to the throne, couldn’t he?
If I’m legitimized, then, yeah, I have the strongest claim to the throne … At some point later on, that’s when the political implications of Gendry’s return are hopefully going to start a little more strongly. For now, it’s just reintroduce him and establish him back in the world of Westeros as someone who could potentially be a player.
What has Gendry been up to?
He’s been keeping his head down, getting on with it. I guess biding his time, really. Hoping this moment would arrive but never being quite sure that it would.
Because five years ago, making swords was fun, but not with everything he knows now.
Now, especially, (since) he’s making a Lannister sword for a Lannister army that he knows killed his father.
Yes, that does sound depressing.
It’s not the best, slightly demoralizing; and I think more than anything, Gendry’s had a taste of excitement. I think that in getting away from Dragonstone, Gendry just wanted his safety first and foremost. After a while, it became a little boring.
There’s a war coming, and I feel like Gendry has a part to play. Not even necessarily because of his lineage and his blood. I think because he’s a … warrior.
Gendry’s spent most of these past few years on the periphery. Practically, that makes sense, but he’s getting itchy feet now; and so Davos has shown up at just the right time to offer him an assignment, which maybe doesn’t have the best odds of survival, but it sure is going to be an exciting adventure.
I imagine putting the band back together must’ve been really fun.
Yeah! On a personal level, being back around in Belfast and seeing all the old faces; there are certain members of the cast who I’ve been friends with for the whole time anyway, but it just means getting a bit more time with them than you would do normally.
You mentioned that David and Dan told you they hoped you’d be gone long enough for people to forget Gendry a bit. But fans of this show don’t forget, and the clamor grew only stronger over the years.
It’s become a part of my almost daily existence now answering, or avoiding answering, questions about what’s happening with Gendry.