Harry Lloyd: The Iron Man

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Oscar-bred projects drenched in star power pose a challenge for lesser-known actors, as they desperately try to avoid being swallowed by the enormity of the film before them. Game of Thrones star Harry Lloyd fights his way to the frontline, delivering a charismatic and commendable performance as a young Denis Thatcher in The Iron Lady. Providing Margaret Roberts with her famous surname, Denis Thatcher stood beside his wife during her 11-year reign as British Prime Minister.

“He was a rock to her and her confidant; they were a great team,” Lloyd says, sipping hot tea. Denis’ job was no tall order, nor is Harry’s, sharing a bill with the incomparable Meryl Streep, who plays Margaret Thatcher during later stages in her life, including those conquering office. Streep’s Golden Globe-winning performance has already generated a bit of backlash amongst British conservatives, citing her performance of Thatcher as an unflattering one. “I imagine, as I always have, that there will be a vast array of different opinions,” Lloyd, a London native, explains. “[Thatcher was] someone who did defy, who did stand up and make difficult decisions. It’s about dealing with her reactions to herself. It invited you to have your own opinion.”

Iron Lady director Phyllida Lloyd (no relation) cast Harry shortly after he’d filmed the infamous Season One of the HBO medieval fantasy, Game of Thrones, where he played Viserys Targaryen, a spineless former heir who sells his sister in a desperate attempt to regain the Iron Throne. Although they are both iron-chasers, Denis Thatcher and Viserys are polar opposites.

“Denis didn’t have a wig,” Lloyd teases, deeming Viserys’ trademark blonde locks as the characters’ obvious difference. “Both worlds are full of historical detail—one is created by George Martin and one is fact that you can research. The whole world of Game of Thrones was realized with such detail, with directors and writers who really geeked out and really loved all the little bits of it. Similarly with Denis, there’s so much information and things to play with, and Phyllida was really interested in the nuances. In some perspectives it’s really great working in these worlds and they both definitely had that.”

Delving into fictional realms and re-imagining their existence are talents that may very well have been passed down through generations to the British actor, for Harry Lloyd is the great-great-great grandson of Victorian novelist Charles Dickens. “It’s more than being related to him,” he says. “It’s being a fan of his, which isn’t necessarily the case just because you’re related. That’s definitely inspired me.”

While nepotism didn’t really factor in, Lloyd has also portrayed Dickens characters in the BBC adaptation of David Copperfield and the forthcoming BBC mini-series, Great Expectations. “[Dickens] wrote great characters,” Lloyd says. “He was an actor and used to write his books standing in front of a mirror at times. You can hear it in his dialogue, it’s brilliant—he’s got a brilliant ear. He performed in plays during his life, and there aren’t really any other actors in my family, so who knows where you get what from. It’s a lovely piece of trivia.”

At 27, Lloyd’s career is just getting started. Closer to the Moon, the recently announced project from Romanian director Nae Caranfil, starring Vera Farmiga and Mark Strong, is set to hit the festival circuit this spring. “There’s a burgeoning film scene in Romania,” Lloyd says. “They’re very sort of small, low budget, documentary style, vérité kind of films on depressing subjects like abortion and health care. Caranfil sees the world, and has a beautiful sort of antiquated sense of cinema. It’s a wonderful story about a robbery that really took place, and I have no idea how it will translate. But the more and more I learned about this part of the world and the history, I just became completely fascinated by it. I think it’s a really special little film.”

Like many Game of Thrones characters, Viserys didn’t survive the first season, but Lloyd is still very much a part of the Game of Thrones family. With such a vast fan following, he continues to be commended as a vital character in the fictitious world. “I watch it like a fan because, quite frankly, I got as geeky about it as anyone. I’m fascinated to see what they’ll do with it next,” Lloyd says of Season Two, which is set to premiere in April. “It’s such a big cast now. It was lovely being there right at the beginning, when it was just a bunch of us and we all stuck together in our early read-throughs. Even all the guys that I never have any scenes with, we were all together. And now, I think that it has gotten so big that it’s more separated. I still see the guys and we’re still in touch.”

Despite starring in an enormously successful HBO series, a brunette Lloyd is rarely recognized about town, which he chalks up to Viserys’ platinum ’do. “Especially with a character like that, I don’t think you’d get a positive response,” he jokes, “so I love that wig.”

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