It’s not just ardent Game of Thrones fans who have mixed feelings about the show’s eighth and final season: At least one of its stars is on the same page.
In an interview with EW.com, Conleth Hill — who portrays Lord Varys aka the Spider — admitted that he’s felt some “dismay” over how Seasons 7 and 8 unfolded, particularly when it came to his character’s arc.
During Episode 5 (spoiler alert!), Varys was executed by Daenerys for passing on the truth about Jon Snow’s parentage, which resulted in death by dragonfire. (Read our Episode 5 recap and obituary for Varys.)
Hill revealed that he initially took Varys’ death “very personally” when he first learned about it, particularly because there was no heads-up from the Thrones producers that he’d be getting killed off. (That was the case for all ill-fated characters in Season 8, none of whom knew about their demises until reading the scripts.)
“You can’t help feeling that you failed in some way, that you haven’t lived up to some expectation that you didn’t know about,” Hill said, later adding, “At the time, nothing could console me.”
Now that Thrones has finished filming and Hill has gotten time away from the show, he thinks Varys’ death “makes perfect sense,” insisting that the character’s decision to betray Daenerys was “all brilliant” and “all noble.”
But the actor wasn’t entirely satisfied with Varys’ arc in Seasons 7 and 8, which is when the show departed from George R. R. Martin’s novels — and Varys appeared less frequently as a result.
“That’s been my feeling the last couple seasons, that my character became more peripheral, that they concentrated on others more,” he said. “That’s fine. It’s the nature of a multi-character show. It was kind of frustrating. As a whole, it’s been overwhelmingly positive and brilliant, but I suppose the last couple seasons weren’t my favorite.”
Hill attributed his concerns to some of Thrones‘ storytelling choices, including the lack of a final scene between Varys and Littlefinger (“I was bummed not to have any reaction to him dying, if he was my nemesis.”), or Varys’ sudden failure to provide intel about the goings-on in Westeros (“If he was such an intelligent man and he had such resources, how come he didn’t know about things?”).
The actor reiterated that “it’s now being rectified with getting a great and noble ending. But that was frustrating for a couple seasons.”
He continued: “I’m not dissatisfied on the whole… It sounds like I am. But it’s been brilliant.”
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