Previously known as Gwen, the housemaid on Downton Abbey, Rose Leslie now plays the strong-willed red head, Ygritte on HBO’s widely popular, Game of Thrones. TVGuide’s Hanh Nguyen interviewed Leslie about her role in the show as well as her experience in Iceland.
Here are a few excerpts from her interview:
So many cast members dye their hair or wear wigs on this series. But were they looking specifically for true redheads for the role of Ygritte?
Rose Leslie: I think they did want a true redhead, yes. Ygritte, the character, is “kissed by fire” and within the wilding community, that is a lucky sign. I’m very glad they decided to go for the authentic look. There were a few of us, a whole range of redheads in the room. I’ve never really experienced that before. Usually there’s only one or two at a time.
What originally drew you to playing Ygritte?
Leslie: I love that she was so extremely strong-willed and tough. That really struck a chord with me. I’d pictured her in my mind as ruthless, but she also has a lovely playfulness to her as well when she’s teasing Jon Snow and mocking him to his face. When I was reading the sides, I totally fell in love. I thought, “This girl is brilliant! She’s incredibly intelligent, she can play this guy.” She’s cocky. She doesn’t necessarily rule the roost, but she doesn’t take orders from anybody unless it’s Mance Rayder [the wilding “King Beyond the Wall”]. She gets on very well with her wilding crew.
What were the best and worst things about shooting in Iceland?
Leslie: I think the best thing has to be the scenery. It’s epic and simply breathtaking. So many times when we were shooting or when there would be a little break, you’d lift your head and look around and think, “I can’t believe that I am here!” It was sensational. I’ve fallen in love with the country. I think the downside, understandably, is that it was very, very, very cold. We were stuck in minus-30 conditions. There wasn’t a lot you could do. You could stand still or huddle like penguins. We got through it. We were all given several layers of thermals in the costume. The wardrobe department was incredible and had these amazing hand warmers that kept you alive out there.
Did you try any new foods in Iceland?
Leslie: For the first time in my life I tried whale. It was very chewy and quite fatty. My friend had had whale before, so I knew it would be quite blubbery. It was delicious. I loved it. It was smoked, so it had a lovely kind of tangy taste to it. We had it a couple of nights. I was won over. It was very yummy.
Read the full interview with Rose Leslie here.