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With a leading role in the new series of Game Of Thrones, Alfie Allen speaks about stepping out the shadow of his famous family

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Alfie Allen has grown up since the days when his singer sister Lily was moved to write a song dedicated to his laziness.

“Ooh Alfie get up it’s a brand new day/I just can’t sit back and watch you waste your life away,” sang Lily in the song Alfie on her 2006 album Alright, Still.

Fast forward six years and the young man sitting in front of me looks like he’s ready and raring to go.

The 25-year-old has just finished filming the second series of fantasy drama Game Of Thrones. Based on the epic books by George A Martin, it charts the violent struggles between noble families for power of the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros.

Rumour has it that Allen’s character Theon comes to the fore in this series, bringing the actor a long-awaited major screen role.

“Yeah, it’s all about me,” he jokes, before nervously touching the back of his head.

“Well I’ve definitely got an interesting journey at least. I just hope I make a good job of it.”

He shouldn’t be intimidated. His acting CV, while not bursting with lead roles, still lists respectable film projects such as Atonement and The Other Boleyn Girl, and TV dramas including Freefall, Accused and Moving On. In 2009 he took over from Daniel Radcliffe in the West End production of Equus.

He is also used to the limelight. At one point he was engaged to Ray Winstone’s actress daughter Jaime and, not only does he have a famous sister, but a famous father (actor and broadcaster Keith Allen) and mother (film producer Alison Owen) too.

With such a creative family, it was unlikely he was going to end up in a normal nine-to-five role.

“I definitely couldn’t have had an office job. I would have driven myself mad,” he says.

“But I did have something to fall back on just in case the acting didn’t work out - you have to.”

Allen’s back-up plan was to be a snowboard instructor, which he trained for in Canada. However, having just qualified, he injured his knee quite badly.

“It was annoying but then I got a part on Atonement so it was all right,” he says cheerfully.

Luckily this background meant that he was at home on the big budget set of Game Of Thrones, although he admits he was still astounded by the scale of the project, which uses locations such as Northern Ireland, Malta and Croatia in which to recreate the mythical universe of the books.

He recalls: “That first day when I walked on set, and they had all these extras and soldiers walking around, was amazing. And there are four cameras on set when usually there’s just one and people are like, ‘Please be careful with that!’”

The sheer popularity of the series also took Allen by surprise. He hadn’t read the books and didn’t appreciate their cult status. The first series - which starred Sean Bean in the lead role until he was killed off in the final episode - was nominated for a brace of Emmys and Golden Globes, with cast member Peter Dinklage winning Best Supporting Actor at both ceremonies.

“I had no idea whatsoever. It was only when I realised what a big following the books had that I started to grasp how huge the series is,” he says.

What seems to have sparked most of the interest is not the fantasy elements of the series, but rather the saucy scenes and - primarily - the eye-watering violence.

“It messes around with your moral compass because you watch it and you go, ‘Woah, I don’t know if I can watch this!’ Or if you should go, ‘Yeah! Come on!’ It’s pretty full-on,” he says.

The famous family are all very proud of him, Allen says, but the nature of the show has meant he’s only watched it with his mum once.

“I was watching it on the sofa with my mum and this really graphic lesbian sex scene came on and I was going, ‘Oh God...’,” he explains, looking sheepish.

As for what happens to Theon, who in the first series was a loyal servant and ward of Lord Stark (played by Bean), Allen doesn’t want to give much away.

But when it’s pointed out that the plot is all out there in the books, he holds forth.

“He gets sent back to form an alliance with his real family so he goes through a big identity crisis. So he just makes all these wrong decisions which he thinks are the right ones due to trying to prove himself. I guess everyone can relate to that in some ways, can’t they?”

Allen really likes the universal nature of the show. “People hear it’s fantasy and think it’s going to be about wands and dungeons and dragons, but it’s way deeper than that. It’s more about the politics of the land and personal politics too,” he explains.

With all the exposure he’s about to get in the States, it’s easy to assume Allen will be vying for some Hollywood roles. But his answer is surprising.

“It’s definitely not going to change my mindset. If you heap pressure upon yourself you’ll be thinking about where you want to be rather than where you are.

“I’m happy in a shed so I’m not that fussed about going to LA. I’m happy being in England,” he says.

Now there’s something for Lily to sing about.

 

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