Published June 10, 2013
Game of Thrones' Season 3 finale revealed yet another side to Tywin Lannister: politician, father and... wedding planner?
That's right. Tywin (Charles Dance) is the mastermind behind the Red Wedding, aka the gruesome ambush and massacre of the Starks. From the comfort of his tower, Tywin had made deals via raven with Walder Frey (David Bradley) and Roose Bolton (Michael McElhatton) to betray Robb Stark (Richard Madden).
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For Tywin, the Starks were a danger to the Lannisters' power. "There are people who try to threaten his position, but Tywin will stop at nothing to maintain the status quo," Dance tells TVGuide.com. "And really, there are no limits. He doesn't make idle threats, and people know that." In fact, Tywin's reputation for ruthlessness inspired the song "The Rains of Castamere," which details his annihilation of two Houses that rebelled against the Lannisters.
Check out the rest of Dance's interview to get more insights into Tywin Lannister:
In the finale, Tywin basically overrules King Joffrey (Jack Gleeson) and sends him to his room. What is Tywin's take on his spoiled grandson?
Charles Dance: Joffrey is kind of like an annoying mosquito to Tywin Lannister. But at the moment, he has to stop short of chopping Joffrey's head off, which he would normally do and has done to a great many people or strung them up before now. I think Tywin views Joffrey as one of his puppets. It's pretty apparent that Joffrey is frightened of Tywin Lannister. He knows what he's capable of.
This season, Tywin was also the genius behind his children's marriage pacts. Does he view Tyrion, Cersei and Jaime as he does Joffrey, as pawns?
Dance: He probably privately would reluctantly admit that Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) is a force to be reckoned with because he is sharper, brighter, more astute than his sister or brother. But the fact that he is physically not perfect prevents him from publicly saying what he thinks about Tyrion. That's the way that people in a feudal society behaved. Although we're in a kind of mythical, mystical land, it is essentially medieval.
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So it's all about physical strength and "Might makes right"?
Dance: Physical strength and physical appearance. And as far as his daughter Cersei (Lena Headey) is concerned, well, she's a woman, so that makes her a second-rate person really because it's also a very chauvinistic society, and Tywin Lannister is archetypically male chauvinist. But nevertheless, she is a Lannister and the Lannisters do kind of stick together basically. If anything threatened his daughter, Tywin would probably leap to her defense. His other son Jaime (Nicolaj Coster-Waldau), of course, he worships, but wishes in the past that he had behaved a little better than he does and took his position and the name of Lannister more seriously. He's his blue-eyed boy.
Tywin is an intimidating guy, but what's his biggest weakness?
Dance: His inability to listen to anybody else's opinions. Tywin knows best. He will take advice about certain things, but only where that advice backs up the opinion that he's already formed.
Besides Tywin's actions and demeanor, that long black coat/tunic thing he wears is fantastically intimidating. How does it reflect the man he is inside?
Dance: A great deal of thought goes into it by Michele [Clapton], the costume designer. She dresses each character according to how those characters are drawn by [executive producers David Benioff and Dan Weiss]. Tywin most of the time is austere. He doesn't laugh a lot. There's nothing frivolous about his clothes; they're very much in keeping with his character.
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Earlier in the season, Tywin dismissed Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) as a threat when Joffrey brought her up. In the finale, we see that she's gained thousands of more followers. If he knew, would he see her as a threat?
Dance: I think it's something that he's thinking about actually. But he certainly wouldn't show that to a little boy like Joffrey. But I think that's something that probably keeps him a little awake at night, if anything keeps him awake.
In Season 2, Tywin seemed nicer in the scenes with Arya (Maisie Williams). Does he have that in him to be softer? Or was it something just about Arya that brought it out in him?
Dance: Yes, he does, but one very, very rarely sees it. But as far as he's concerned, she's just a servant. Rather like the British aristocracy, they would have the most intimate conversation with servants and really not care because servants are just servants, and it doesn't matter what they think at all. And I think he feels on relatively secure ground to kind of let his defenses down a little and just allow that sensitive side that I believe is there, but it's well hidden and well-shielded.
You've had such a long career, but since 'Game of Thrones' is such a global phenomenon, have you noticed that you've been recognized more for playing Tywin now?
Dance: You know, in this business, we have ups and downs, but ... in  I did a miniseries called "The Jewel in the Crown," which became a kind of international phenomenon. I know people to this day who have their "Jewel in the Crown" weekends when bunches of people get together in somebody's house and they meet and have supper ... and they watch the first couple of hours of the "Jewel in the Crown." And so it goes for the weekend for 14 hours. Now this a much bigger deal. It wasn't until the thing started airing that I realized how wide a readership that the books have. And since then, people come up to me on the street and say, "Oh, Game of Thrones. Wonderful! You're a perfect Tywin."
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What do you do to unwind from the show and leave the grim Westeros behind?
Dance: Well, I'm not one of these people who takes the part home with me, you know. At the end of the day, the work for that day is done, the costume comes off and ... I go home. In my home, I listen to music, I play music, I play guitar and I play ukelele. And I swim and I ride a bike and I do all the things that everybody else does.
Which 'Game of Thrones' character would you like to see get his/her own reality show?
Dance: Tywin Lannister without a doubt because he never lets anybody see that. You never see Tywin on his own, in his room at night. Does he sleep very well? Does he have to take something to make him sleep? Inside that severe exterior, what is there? You only got a little glimpse of it.
Does he possibly play the ukelele?
Dance: [Laughs] Well, you never know, darling. I think he probably plays the organ. I think he's Wagnerian.