Alfie Allen
Photo by Dylan Don

Alfie Allen: “It’s a form of torture every night”

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Short Profile

Name: Alfie Evan James Allen
DOB: 12 September 1986
Place of birth: Hammersmith, London, United Kingdom
Occupation: Actor

Mr. Allen, what is it like getting naked for an audience?

(Laughs) Getting naked in theater, I think, is different than doing so on film. I know a lot of people say the other way around — but I’m actually more comfortable undressing in the theater, on the stage.

How come? 

I don’t know. I guess because — although in a theater like the Trafalgar Studios it would be a bit different because the audience is right there, but on most stages I performed on when I was in Equus, you just couldn’t see anyone in the audience. I think it was totally relevant to the play; it was needed in order to show how vulnerable my character was at that point in the play… So overall, it was actually kind of liberating.

Plus it probably won’t turn up on the Internet. 

Oh no, it did! No, no, it definitely did. You know, I don’t really care if it does turn up on the Internet either… I have a tough exterior. The stuff I did for Equus definitely turned up on the Internet, the stuff on Game of Thrones obviously turns up on the Internet but I always knew that was going to happen because it had a massive audience even just from the books. So with those kinds of things, I don’t really care, it’s more about me feeling comfortable in the moment I’m doing it. If people want to troll the Internet and look at pictures of my nob so be it — that’s what people like to do, I guess.

“I like when you get hit with this nervous energy… It sort of pours into your veins and you can really use it.”

Is that what you did after Equus?

No! (Laughs) I fucking didn’t! I definitely have Googled myself, I’m not going to lie about that but I haven’t gone and searched for that type of stuff. No way. But yeah, I love being on stage because I like things to be spontaneous, without a doubt. Last year I played a character in a play who was just oblivious to some of the more silly things that he did, and it got me thinking that that’s kind of bliss, in a way, isn’t it? You can just be that way the whole time and not care what anybody else thinks. I like it when I’m acting and people just throw things at me that are completely unexpected. I like when you get hit with this nervous energy… It sort of pours into your veins and you can really use it.

I read that the moment you realized you wanted to be an actor actually occurred in theater, right? 

Yeah, it was when I saw Doubt in New York. When I saw that it was definitely the first piece of theater that had me like, “Wow.” I was amazed by it! It was at a really small theater, so it felt quite intimate and I think that’s probably why the performance had that impact on me, because it was just so…

Up close and personal?

Yeah, I felt like it was right there, you know? And I’ll be honest with you I kind of got dragged along to it and I didn’t really want to go, so I guess that’s what had an impact on me as well. I kind of went begrudgingly to this thing and actually was amazed by the performances. I just thought they were incredible. The only other things I’d seen before that was stuff that my dad [Keith Allen] was in; I’d seen something at The Almeida, I saw him do Celebration and The Room I think, then he did The Homecoming, which was amazing. But when I saw Doubt, that was definitely a big push for me. It didn’t make my mind up — it’s something that I wanted to do. It was either a footballer or an actor, you know what I mean?

Footballer? Really?

I’m kidding, I would never have been a footballer! No, I mean, my family was an inspiration to me as well, and even before I went to see Doubt, I always wanted to be an actor. I love being on stage; I did Jesse Eisenberg’s play called The Spoils and that was great. I’ll sound like a soundbite but it’s inspiring to see somebody like Jesse who just never ever goes half-arsed with anything. He would get off the plane from Cannes and come straight to rehearsals. He never seemed jet-lagged, he was just going head first into everything and I really admire that. Being on stage every night can be quite tiresome, it’s kind of like a form of torture every night — but it was great.

You like to torture yourself? 

I just mean that taking the easy way out is something I try not to do! For example, playing characters like Theon Greyjoy in Game of Thrones… I don’t know, I’d like to say they’re more fun, but they’re not fun exactly, it’s more like you can immerse yourself in something like that, so it feels harder. It’s been a joy to play Theon.

“Taking the easy way out is something I try not to do.”

Even though he has seen some pretty dark times on the show?

There’s obviously been dark moments, yeah, and as an actor, if they were going to make it any darker I’d like to see how. But as a person, I think I’d like to see some light at the end of the tunnel for Theon Greyjoy. I’m sure we’ll find out soon enough. I don’t know though, I actually don’t have a clue! The thing with Theon is he’s not really a dark character, he is just kind of tragic. He’s done dark things but inevitably he’s just trying to prove himself to the world and to his family. And then once he loses that piece of his anatomy he’s of no use to his family anymore. The arc that he goes through is pretty special… During the second season, I trended on Twitter, that’s when I realized that things were going to be quite big for Theon.

Why did you trend on Twitter?

Because I cut off some guy’s head! (Laughs) They liked that, Twitter! And then after the third season, I think that’s when it really got mental. Game of Thrones is an American take on English history, even though it’s loosely based on the War of the Roses and that’s what inspired the story, so I always had an inkling it would be big in America. But it wasn’t until the Red Wedding that it kind of it hit home just how huge it would get. That scene is what David [Benioff] and Dan [Weiss] were gearing up to, you know? I think they have an endgame. They’ve always had a blueprint from the beginning of what they’re going to do. But now I think George RR Martin is probably frantically trying to finish the books!