INTERVIEW: Aimee Richardson, aka Myrcella Baratheon, Brings Westeros To Dallas For Con Of Thrones

Game of Thrones has exploded in popularity since HBO first introduced the television series in 2011. In fact, it has become something of a cultural phenomenon among its large fan base. It is impossible to miss the flood of updates and memes on social media as the seasons progress. Eager fans were crushed last year when they received news that the final season of the show would be delayed. However, local fans will receive a short reprieve to ease their withdrawals.

This weekend, May 25-27, DFW will be hosting Con Of Thrones at the Dallas Hyatt Regency. The convention will include panels with various actors from the show, bands, cosplay, and other opportunities to hear from some of the people that helped shape the franchise.

Aimee Richardson, better known as Myrcella Baratheon to GOT fans, is one of the actresses scheduled to appear at this year’s Con of Thrones. She was a member of the original cast and played Myrcella for the first two seasons of the show. We were able to speak with Aimee before she arrives at Con Of Thrones to get a little insight about her experience filming the show.

You joined the GOT cast at eleven years old. Was it difficult being in a show that is obviously geared toward older audiences?

In some ways yes, not being able to read the books or the full scripts, or even watch the show in full when it came out was a bit tricky! But at the same time it was so exciting just to be a part of, and doing it with other kids who were in the same boat made it a lot easier. I think the hardest part was warning my friends before the first episodes aired as at that point I hadn’t grasped myself just how graphic some of the… “intimate” scenes would be. My mum and dad had to make sure I texted my friends beforehand, and even after that some slipped through. There were certainly a few awkward conversations in school the next day.

I've read that you weren’t allowed to watch a lot of GOT or read the books when you had the roll of Myrcella. I know that you were able to gather information about the series and your character online, but did you feel a little disconnected or out of the loop because of your restrictions?

Not too much. As I said, I was working with a lot of other kids who were around my age and also kept partially in the dark about some of the darker and more adult themes. The adults we were working with - both the crew and the cast - were incredibly good with us and the directors and producers especially made sure that we fully understood and were comfortable with everything going on in the scene and the details of our characters. I also probably did a bit more research than I should have, I remember my agent asking my mum if I was “aware of the character’s parentage” and my mum very quickly shaking her head. So then we got in the car and we’re driving home when I turned around and said, “Did Carla mean that Myrcella’s the product of incest? Because I know that.” My mum nearly crashed the car.

What was your favorite memory on set during your time filming?

I think this is such a difficult question to answer! I can’t pinpoint just one moment as I loved all of my time on set. I felt immensely privileged to be working with such talented and lovely actors like Lena Heady and Peter Dinklage, who made the experience even more fun, joking around in between takes and including me in their conversations. I can be a bit shy sometimes, especially back then, so they really put me at ease and made me feel comfortable. I remember filming the breakfast scene in season one with Lena, Nikolaj and Peter, and the three of them cracking up between takes about how soft Peter’s hands were. It sounds so simple, but I think the silliness of that, and the fact they made sure Callum (who played Tommen then) and I were involved in the joke, allowed me to relax a lot, so that’s probably up there with my favourite moments.

You were originally cast as a stand-in, yet your acting propelled you to the part of Myrcella Baratheon. Unfortunately, Myrcella was recast after the 2nd season. There are all types of rumors as to why. What was the reason for the recast? Was it a surprise to you?

I wasn’t actually a stand-in, I played the role of Myrcella in the pilot when it was an extra role, but I did still have to go through the audition process with David, Dan and the director Thomas McCarthy to get that initial part. Then when the series was commissioned, I was asked back to audition for the full role, where I went through three rounds before finding out I was successful.

As for the recast, the honest answer is I still don’t actually know what the reason was. I had known shortly beforehand that there was a small possibility of it happening, but I thought it would be ok. So when the news was leaked online and I found out, it was a huge shock. I was heartbroken to begin with, but with hindsight I actually think it was a good thing as it forced me to think about whether or not acting was really what I wanted to do. I saw first-hand and at such a young age just how tough and unpredictable the industry can be, and I knew that wouldn’t be the last heartbreak I’d face as an actor. So it’s prepared me for the volatility of the profession in a way nothing else could have. Since then I’ve acted in lots of other productions and dealt with the disappointment of pilots not being picked up, series’ being cancelled, getting really close to roles with recall auditions and then not getting them - all of which is just a fact of life in this industry. But I’m definitely able to cope with all of that much better because of what happened. A lot of people expected me to turn my back on acting afterwards, but in reality it strengthened my resolve to become a working actor.

For being a teenager at the time you got the devastating news you took it like a pro. The “Princess For Hire” picture response was brilliant. How were you able to keep such a positive outlook?

Thank you! I’ve always hated being looked at with pity, and I’ve always used humour to cope with sad or uncomfortable situations. When the recast first happened, I remember members of my family doing the dreaded ‘sympathetic head-tilt’ at me and I just thought to myself, “Right, this needs to stop. I need to make them laugh at me instead.” I just made it for my friends and family to see and have a laugh at, and a few of the lovely people I’d met on Twitter who were upset for me. Then all of a sudden it just kind of exploded, which I wasn’t expecting at all. I was just mucking around really - but the reaction was astonishing, and the love and support I received from fans around the world really helped me to deal with what had happened.

What house do you believe you, Aimee Richardson, would be in and why?

I think I’m more likely to be a Wilding!

Myrcella met her fate when she was poisoned, one of the least violent deaths on the show. What did you wish her fate or future would have been?

Book readers will know she’s going down a very different path in the books to that in the show, which I’m going to spoil a little bit here, so if you haven’t read that far, or don’t want to know, stop here! I haven’t yet read the books myself, but I do know what happens to her, and I love George RR Martin’s book version of Myrcella. She’s so strong. I see her as Cersei without all the evil! She has all the strength and intelligence, but she’s still kind and (so far) good. She’s fighting to take the Iron Throne over Tommen, as in Dornish law an older daughter inherits before a younger son, and is hurt in battle and left scarred. This takes from her a woman’s key weapon in Westeros, her looks, her sexuality. I think Myrcella would be a wonderful queen, and I would have loved to have seen her fight for the throne explored on screen.

The final battle for the throne will take place in the upcoming season of GOT. What do you hope the outcome is going to be?

Probably a bit unlikely, but bring democracy to Westeros! Failing that, I’m team Tyrion.

Who would have been the best king or queen for Westeros? (My vote goes to Ned Stark)

I agree that he would have probably been the best ruler objectively, but when it came to ruling the entire kingdom, his heart just wouldn’t have been in it. The North was where he really belonged. I think that’s one of the great things about Thrones, all of the characters are flawed to varying extents and the perfect King or Queen doesn’t exist – just as in real life.

Still wanting to know more or have questions of your own? You can find Aimee at Con Of Thrones this weekend to ask some of your own questions. For more information about the convention, tickets, guests, and schedule visit www.conofthrones.net or follow them on twitter at @ConOfThrones.

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