When Daniel Portman was cast as Podrick Payne in Game of Thrones five years ago, he was a 19-year-old actor from Glasgow known in his home country for playing a heroin addict on a few episodes of the soap River City.
Cut to 2016 and Portman's naïve but maturing squire is not only a fan favourite but, having learned some street smarts from first boss Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) and fighting skills from current knight Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie), he has become a symbol of Portman's growth as well.
Of his first moments on Game of Thrones, "nobody really knew who he was, and I was new as an actor," Portman tells WHO. "Now, he's quite popular and quite well known and that's kind of how I am now. The fact that he started out as a young man and is now becoming a man, I suppose that's part of my journey as well, although Podrick's always a little bit younger than me. There are a few parallels."
But do not mistake fiction with real life.
"Podrick, in terms of me as a guy, that's not close to what I'm like as a person," Portman says. "For me as an actor, when I was that age, it wasn't really what I was comfortable doing or what I had done previously. I had never really played a nervous guy who didn't speak much. But I have to say, having done that for six years or however long it's going to be after it's all said and done, I think I'll be finished playing that [type]."
For the moment, Podrick has made it alive through season six. He was last seen in a boat with Brienne, who waved goodbye to her patron, enemy and kindred spirit Jamie Lannister (Nikolaj Koster-Waldau).
"There's something lovely about watching that and the relationship between Brienne and Jamie continuing and seeing how it evolves, because who knows how it's going to go," Portman says. "I don't."
Really? "I don't," he says. "I don't know whether or not they see each other again, or how deeply they feel for each other if they do see each other again. It's interesting to think about."
Will he return for season seven? Now Portman laughs. "I am not allowed to tell you," he says. "Sorry!"
For now, Portman is more curious how others take on his role as cosplayers at Oz Comic-Con, happening in Sydney Sept. 10-11 and Brisbane Sept. 17-18.
"I think it's cool," he says. "If the character has inspired people to make a costume and go out and do that, then I think that's huge."
While he loves meeting Australian fans ("They are amazing," he says), Portman admits, "I'm not a huge sci-fi guy, I'm not a huge comic book guy and I'm not a huge fantasy guy, I'm not a gamer or anything like that, but if I could geek out about anything with anybody? Then it would be Shakespeare. I really want to geek out about Shakespeare."
Portman has been able to make a film inspired by the bard and is looking towards doing more varied roles.
"Game of Thrones has just opened so many doors," Portman says, "not only as an actor but in terms of other things that I wanted to pursue. People got interested in me as a guy, so that's cool."
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