Aidan Gillen on Auditions, ‘Game of Thrones’, and Having a “Pinball” Career

“I’ve never been good at auditions and I’ve never really gotten many jobs from auditions.” – Aidan Gillen

Versatile Irish actor Aidan Gillen has a lot of stellar credits to his name — and HBO in particular has been something of a home to him, with both The Wire and Game of Thrones featuring him in memorable roles. Speaking with Interview magazine, Gillen reflects on his abilities as an actor and his career in a somewhat self-deprecating way.

Like many actors, Gillen is not a fan of auditions — and he actually admits that he’s not very good at them. He explains, “I’ve never been good at auditions and I’ve never really gotten many jobs from auditions. I’ve done it loads, like every other actor, but some actors are good at auditions and some aren’t. I’ve never been that good at it. I can trace a direct line from whatever my latest job is to the first one I’ve ever had. The ones I’ve got from auditioning, I could count on one hand.” When asked if that “direct line” is linear, he adds, “Not really linear—kind of a pinball. That’s good—for me anyway.”

Part of the reason why his career has “pinballed” is because Gillen tried to avoid typecasting — though he realizes that it might have hurt his career to have done so. He explains, “From early on, I tried to steer clear of obvious typecasting. That did come up early on; you play a certain type of character with success and other things come along that are the same and you can choose to do it or not do it. I’ve tended to stay away. I know that I have played a lot of similar characters as well as that, so I’m probably not doing it as much as I think I am.”

In a candid moment, Gillen even admits that he doesn’t feel like he always properly gets into character. He explains, “I haven’t done it because I thought people would see it, but that has happened a couple of times. You don’t always get it right; I am conscious of that and conscientious about it. I don’t want to be the wrong guy playing a role and I have been as couple of times, but if it’s only one in 10 or one in 15, that’s probably a good average.”

Naturally, Gillen is now best known for portraying Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish on Game of Thrones. Gillen explains that he has tried to make the character charming despite his horrific actions on the series. He reveals, “From the outset, I’ve tried to make it believable and make him likeable and make people want to be on his side. It’s that way in the books too; it makes sense that a character like that wouldn’t get to where he is, or do things he does, without gaining people’s trust and being charming and non-threatening.”