The media has a tendency to downplay the experiences of male actors and performers who brush up against the harsh side of grabby fandom, perhaps out of a desire to preserve the “masculinity” of those performers. But it’s important to recognize that performers of all genders and orientations occasionally suffer through some very unwanted advances by fans who can’t separate fiction from reality.
Such has been the experience of actor Daniel Portman, best known as the faithful (and sexually talented) squire Podrick Payne on Game of Thrones. In an interview with Esquire, Portman touched on the many times throughout his GoT career that he’s felt unsafe or otherwise assaulted by fans who overstepped their bounds.
“I’ve been grabbed by so many… like the amount of like older, older women who are very…” Portman said, making reference to the way that fans tend to reach out and grab him without permission. “What can you do? You know? Obviously tell them not to do it. It hasn’t happened for a while. In this day and age you’d think that people would be able to separate reality from fiction.”
Presumably, some of those fans are deluded enough to think that the season 3 reference to Payne’s Casanova-like sexual skills somehow extends to actor Portman. To those fans, it’s apparently an invitation to grope the actor with immunity.
“I don’t want to say [being groped] comes with the territory, but, you know, people are crazy about it,” Portman said in the interview. “It’s certainly not cool.”
At the same time, Portman also admits that he’s benefited in innumerable ways from the exposure of being on one of the most popular TV series of all time. Podrick’s growth and popularity as a character has opened a whole lot of doors for Portman.
“I was 20 when that happened, so it was kind of like a kid in a candy shop,” he said. “When you tell a 20-year-old actor, who’s sort of stumbled onto this big TV show, that all of a sudden you’re meant to be Casanova, people all over the world wonder whether or not it’s true. I would be lying if I said that that hadn’t been fun.”
Regardless, last Sunday’s “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms” is unlikely to quell any of the Pod fervor, especially after the actor’s surprisingly lovely singing rendition of “Jenny of Oldstones.” Just one more hidden Podrick talent, rising to the surface. Let’s hope the most faithful squire in the Seven Kingdoms somehow makes it through next week’s battle with the dead unscathed.