Aidan Gillen’s run as Petyr Baelish serves as an excellent reminder to us all that it takes a truly great actor to play a villain that evokes the kind of emotion that fans felt for Littlefinger.
This truth didn’t fully sink in until my elation over Baelish’s execution had settled a bit. I stopped cheering, I shook out my hands, which stung from clapping and then I realized,
Wait … this means no more Aidan Gillen, doesn’t it?
For seven glorious seasons, Aidan Gillen delivered a performance as rich and varied as the psychology of Petyr Baelish himself. Simultaneously a cold and calculating puppet master and a pitiful little boy trapped in a man’s body pining for his childhood love, it’s difficult to imagine a character more layered than Petyr Baelish and Aidan Gillen conveyed each aspect of that dichotomous man brilliantly.
On a personal note, as much as I enjoyed watching Littlefinger wax mysterious about the nature of power and chaos (say it with me, everyone, “CHAOS IS A LADDAH”) my favorite Aidan Gillen acting moments will always be the ones in which Baelish felt the earth move under him, if only a little bit.
Though that final scene in which Baelish scrambled to play every last card in his hand to avoid execution-by-irony will always stand out, my most treasured moment remains Sansa’s confrontation in Molestown. Though the scene undoubtedly belonged to Sophie Turner, Gillen’s performance also stood out, as it was the first time we truly saw Baelish at a loss for words, reeling from a terrible miscalculation. I never tire of watching Gillen let the Littlefinger mask slip to show us the fallible Petyr beneath.
may wind up being the show for which Gillen is best remembered in the long run, it wasn’t Gillen’s HBO debut. Before he was Petyr Baelish, Gillen was Mayor Tom Carcetti on
for both featuring complex social and political machinations might be a tad reductive (they’re both brilliantly written and executed shows in their own right), the contrast between the ambitious yet … eh, emotionally forthcoming Mayor of Baltimore and the evasive Lord Baelish is a stirring testament to Gillen’s range as an actor.
Gillen has appeared in a good number of blockbusters recently such as
. However, his next project will an independent film called
set for release next year. Gillen will play the famed Irish author James Joyce as he struggles to care for his mentally ill daughter, Lucia.
For all of Petyr Baelish’s deviousness, Gillen always spoke of him with insight and empathy, even going so far as to pine mildly for the moral ambiguity of earlier seasons in which Baelish thrived, to
I got my mockingbird pin. I had already let them know I wanted it, and I cleverly worked it so I got two. There’s one from my cloak and one from my tunic. So I got the large and the small size — one for me and one for my son.
Gillen was one of the few actors from season 1 remaining on the show, and the evolution of his performance over the years has been fascinating to watch. So, while I must admit I’m happy Littlefinger’s finally dead, I really am going to miss Aidan Gillen.
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Mr. Gillien did an excellent job with Littlefinger. I always enjoyed his scenes. As the story unfolded, his character came to have less impact but that’s hardly on him. It is just the natural flow of the story that other and greater threats came to the fore. His acting remained top notch throughout, IMO.
Superb job with a role that was a foundation stone of the entire series.
My favorite will always be Littlefinger’s trial scene, because we saw Aidan display so many Petyr Baelish facets. Surprised to confused, initial reaction. Then, defensive, but still self-assured. Cocky flair, when describing Lysa. The negotiator who hasn’t given up, when asking to speak with Sansa alone. Self-righteous indignation just before Bran spills his beans. Commanding mode to Bronze Yohn Royce. Finally, the bleak, pleading desperation of a man who’s lost all of his cards and is out of the game. Bravo.
My favorite Littlefinger moment will always be when he helped take out Joffrey. Thank you for that!
Aidan Gillen is a fascinating actor, very committed to his choices as a performer. Can’t wait to see what he does next.
It seemed like they were setting it up for Varys to be Littlefinger’s biggest obstacle to the throne so, it would have been interesting to see those two together at least one more time. I loved their scenes together.
those few beats after Sansa said “Lord Baelish” when he was expecting “Aryra”, perfect.
Gillen did a wonderful job as LF and I enjoyed his slimy performance. LF was the master of the bait and switch and others learned from him, to his eventual undoing. His influence is everywhere in the tale. Even his magic carpet ride was licensed out quite lucratively over this past season. Too bad LF didn’t have a chance to rule over the ashes. Would have been creepy fun. Thanks for playing, Aiden!
Just the right mix of unctuous and slyly dangerous, Can’t say I’ll miss the character too much but on the other hand it is another layer of intrigue gone from the show. Here’s what Aidan Gillen said a while back about his voice and accent (which took a while to get accustomed to, initially!)
Gillen: This could be categorized loosely as a fantasy series, very loosely. It’s not set in the past. It’s not set in medieval England or whatever, but my own accent is a bit modern … I think what I was going for was a kind of patriarchal thing that something like John Huston had in China Town. I’m not saying that’s what I got or that I was trying to pull it off or I did pull it off. It’s just something different. There is something about that character that you want people to tell you things. You want to be able to make people feel relaxed or comforted or scared or whatever so you want to have some kind of a voice where you can achieve these different ends with.
My favorite GoT actor. I considered myself privileged to have him as Petyr Baelish and his scenes with Varys will always be some of the best GoT moments for me.
I geeked out on anything Aidan for a long time from the roles he got in smaller budget / less known movies (like My Kingdom and Calvary for example) to his appearance in the larger ones (like The Dark Knight Rises). And of course, I loved his Tom Carcetti!
I hope to see him in Peaky Blinders’ season 4 and this new movie “James and Lucia”.
Oh how I loved to hate LF! He had many great scenes and my two favorites are, early on, when he is declaring how he just likes to mess up other peoples lives (he says it so bluntly and it turned out to be so true) and his final scene that ran the gamut of LF emotions and angles. Gillian did an outstanding job playing this layered character and he added so much to the deep quality of this show.
those few beats after Sansa said “Lord Baelish” when he was expecting “Aryra”, perfect.
At least part of me wanted Littlefinger to win this. To win the whole Game of Thrones (and get Sansa along, yes). I think that speaks of how much I liked Aiden Gillen’s performance.
Thank you for your many great scenes, LF. I will never forget them.
It was inevitable LF would finally meet his demise, but what a great journey we all had with Aidan Gillen over the last 7 years. HBO couldn’t have found a better actor to play the part. He was cunning, devious and didn’t care how many lives he ruined to achieve his ambitions, but his plan with Lady Olenna to remove Joffrey forever for me was one of LF’s better achievements 😛
If I see Aidan acting in another role, I will have a chuckle and think ‘Ah, that’s Littlefinger – Lord Petyr Baelish!’ – He will never shake off that image 🙂
Best of luck to Aidan Gillen (forever Lord Petyr Baelish) in his future roles.
A final thought – As well as asking HBO if he could keep the Mockingbird pins from his cloaks as mementos, he should have asked them for Littlefinger’s Jet Pack also 😀
I don’t think it can be overstated just how important Aidan Gillen and his performance as Petyr Baelish were to the success of Game of Thrones. Littlefinger exemplified the titular game, and Aidan Gillen played it like a master, operating effortlessly against some of the best actors in the cast. Sean Bean. Michelle Fairley. Lena Headey. Charles Dance. Natalie Dormer. Michael McElhatton. Diana Rigg. Just to name a few.
But it was Gillen’s dynamic with two actors that really brought out his very best. The first was Conleth Hill as Varys. Their one-on-one interactions in front of the Iron Throne that truly left an indelible mark. It’s hard to believe that there were only three such scenes in the entire series because they loom so large. If “Chaos is a ladder” isn’t the single most iconic line or speech in the entire show, it’s certainly in contention. That was one of Littlefinger’s most triumphant moments, and one of Gillen’s very best scenes. He aced it in every conceivable way.
Then there were Gillen’s interactions with Sophie Turner as Sansa Stark. I find it remarkable and worthy of celebrating that Aidan Gillen and Sophie Turner hold the distinction of being one of only two pairs of actors who shared at least one scene together in all seven seasons of Game of Thrones to date (the others are Emilia Clarke and Iain Glen). Over the years, as Sansa grew steadily in her confidence and her power, their scenes evolved and took on new shades, but they were always captivating. Sophie clearly loved working with Aidan. The way that she effusively praised both him and Littlefinger in interviews may have struck some as strange, but I always interpreted it as her gratitude for having the opportunity to work opposite such skilled and experienced actor. Few up-and-coming actors could have asked for a more valuable screen partner.
Littlefinger could be charming, a smiling devil who would slide a knife up to your throat when you were expecting a wink. He could also be ruthless – his scene with Ros was one of the more low-key terrifying in the series. Lord Baelish wasn’t humble, but that adjective describes Aidan Gillen perfectly. He seems to be a quiet and extraordinarily professional man who would much rather talk about his work than about himself. The interviews that he gave about his character and his process were always extremely thoughtful, and I greatly enjoyed hearing his perspective.
As this wonderful show enters its final season, we sadly don’t have that many original cast members left, so every such departure hurts. Aidan Gillen’s exit will leave a larger void than most. It was Littlefinger’s time to go, but Gillen will be greatly missed. I wish him all the best, and I look forward to seeing him on screen again soon.
Aidan Gillen was one of the most high caliber actors in Game of Thrones period.
I will miss this guy but I will be following his career now forever.
The fluctuating accent aside, Aidan Gillen was simply amazing as Littlefinger. He played slimy & conniving as well as I’ve ever seen. I know many people were praying for his death… but I honestly wasn’t. Every time he was on screen, I was watching him with rapt attention. He definitely deserved to die, but I always enjoyed watching him.
It wasn’t just the sliminess that Aidan nailed. When he was pretending to help Ned, in Season 1, before we knew what he was really like, I actually trusted him (despite him flat-out saying not to) and believed him to be a decent guy. And in this episode, when he realized he was about to die, and started crying… I felt oddly sorry for him… Well done, Aidan.
And of course, there’s the “Chaos is a ladder” speech. I still love listening to that speech even today. Partly because of how amazingly it’s written… and partly because Aidan delivered it so well.
As bad as Littlefinger was, he had been around since the very first Season, and Aidan always played him so perfectly. This show will not be the same without him.
However, while Littlefinger is gone, it’s possible we may see Aidan again – Arya could get some good use out of that face.
Yes to both of these comments. I’ve rewatched his trial/execution scene multiple times, in part because I am fascinated by his performance. His initial response to hearing his name and having all eyes turn in his direction was the work of a master actor.
He perfectly embodied this complex character. I truly hated Littlefinger but he was “wonderful” to watch because he was always had a plan…that is, until he met the young wolves of WF.
A great actor and a kind man (my son met him a few years ago in London). We have lost one of the major players in GOT and the show will be less because of it.
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