Jack Gleeson might play someone in Game of Thrones who absolutely insists, on pain of death, upon being loved by the plebes he rules over, but in real life the actor’s about as far from that as it’s possible to get. He was invited to speak at the Oxford Union, Oxford’s debating society, which Gleeson points out “has heard speak some of my greatest heroes, people like the the Dalai Lama, Malcolm X, Albert Einstein… all I’ve done is act in a TV show and pretend to be mean, for money.” I don’t know what it was proposed Gleeson talk about, but what he ended up doing is treating the crowd to an essay the wrote the night before about the evils of celebrity culture.
I’m trying really hard to come up with a way to compliment that that doesn’t sound like I’m engaging in the sort of behavior Gleeson’s talking about. Here goes: It’s a pretty authentic move. Admirable, even. Way to go.
Gleeson starts off by acknowledging the irony of someone who benefits from celebrity culture, however unwillingly, talking about how pointless and even harmful it is, “but I hope the irony is taken with a pinch of salt.” The actor was exposed to a small amount of fame for his role in Batman Begins, but it was joining Game of Thrones at age 17 that thrust him into the celebrity landscape:
“I really did not expect all the subsidiary things that come with being an actor on a successful television program…I was literally just exited to act in a cool show. Perhaps that was naïveté, or perhaps, like everyone else involved in the show, I just simply didn’t anticipate the success of it. In any case, whatever the reason was, what it led to was a sharp shock when I realized that I had, unbeknownst to me, signed an invisible contract which required me to enter into a strange new echelon of society. People suddenly wanted to take pictures of me on the street, and journalists were interested in what kind of socks I preferred. It was an atmosphere from which instantly wanted to retreat. I detested the superficial elevation and commodification of it all, juxtaposed with the grotesque self-involvement it would sometimes draw out in me.”
He goes on to talk about the history of celebrity culture and its possible root in evolutionary biology, and continues: “I myself shy away from interviews and the public eye sometimes for this very reason. Having one’s image and, effectively, life democratized dehumanizes and sometimes objectifies it into an entertainment product.”
You can see the entire video below, and I recommend it: Separate from Gleeson’s status as an actor (he also studied theology and philosophy at Dublin College), it’s an intelligent analysis of a pervasive part of our culture. And before you cry hypocrisy, Gleeson has said he’s quitting acting post-Game of Thrones.
(via: The Daily Dot)