Game of Thrones: Joe Dempsie Discusses Gendry’s Return and Becoming a Meme
Season 1 of Game of Thrones introduced us to Gendry, one of Robert Baratheon’s illegitimate sons. It’s actually because of his existence that Westeros started falling apart. If Jon Arryn and Ned Stark hadn’t talked to him, the show would be completely different. During Con of Thrones this past weekend in Dallas, actor Joe Dempsie addressed a packed room to talk about the role of Gendry, as well as reflect on his final days of filming the hit TV Series.
Gendry was a central part of the story in Seasons 1-3, but after an encounter with Stannis and Melisandre, disappeared from the show. He was then absent until Season 7 when he made his glorious return as a member of the rag-tag band of heroes that accompanied Jon beyond the wall. During his time away, Dempsie was surprised by how interested people were in him and Gendry. Every week, his Twitter would blow up with people asking where Gendry was. “Sometimes in more expletive terms,” Demspie laughed. When the final episode of Season 4 aired, Dempsie decided to send out a tweet to those who were wondering where he had been.
— Joe Dempsie (@joedempsie) June 18, 2014
Dempsie didn’t realize just how far people were going to run with his tweet.
“Little did I know that it would take on a life of its own. Spawn a whole sub-culture of memes. And eventually be referenced in Game of Thrones. And I actually think that moment where Davos says, “Well, he might still be rowing”…I couldn’t quite believe that they wrote that in. I’ve never seen two men like David and Dan who are just confident. It’s pretty brave to reference a tweet in a medieval setting.”
Demspie says that he knew the plan was to bring him back. The showrunners assured him that they wanted Gendry to return, but they just didn’t know when that was going to be. Demspie theorized that they were going to let the character fall to the back of people’s minds, to where they almost forget he was ever there. That way, when he did come back, it would an incredibly awesome moment. He joked that him becoming a meme might have ruined that plan a little bit. Fans clamored for his return, including his own mother, who would ask him every now and then to email the showrunners to see when he could come back.
Dempsie then talked about his first couple of days back on set. He was told early on that he was going to be given a very particular weapon for his fight scenes, and was instructed to buy a sledgehammer and train with it.
“I spent a few weeks doing that, building up my strength. And then I arrived on set to shoot the first scene where we were actually going to do some stunt work and they hand me this one that’s made entirely out of foam. ‘I thought it was supposed to be heavier than this.’ And they said, ‘No, ’cause you can’t do stunts with it. You’ll kill a stuntman…By the way, you’ve gotta make that look really heavy.’ I’m stronger than I’ve ever been having to make a foam hammer look heavy.”
Gendry winds up leaving the hammer behind during the assault by the White Walkers, but Dempsie comments that he hopes the audience recognized the indecision in his eyes. He has to run and save humanity, but really doesn’t want to leave the hammer behind. Dempsie then teased, “I’ll just have to make something new.”
Filming for the final season of Game of Thrones has started to wrap for a number of actors, Dempsie being among them. He commented on what it was like finishing his run as Gendry, as well as watching other actors wrap.
“[It was] very strange. I thought I was gonna be all right. I don’t mean in the show. But yeah, it’s strange. In the weeks leading up to it, there have been other actors that have been finishing for good. Even just being present to see them wrap was quite emotional…It was quite a poignant moment. And I thought I would be all right, and then, when they actually called wrap, there were quite a few people finishing on the same day as me, which was quite good, but…I was fine for a little bit. My thing is, I’m okay until I see someone else trying not to cry.”
Demspie said he was honored to have worked alongside actors such as Liam Cunningham and Maisie Williams, citing Williams as one of the best actors he’s ever worked with. He feels privileged to have been a part of Game of Thrones.
The final season of Game of Thrones airs in 2019 on HBO.