Getting intimate: Game of Thrones’ Finn Jones

SER LORES TYRELL
SER LORES TYRELL

Finn Jones plays the ever unattainable (for women at least) Knight of the Flowers, Ser Loras Tyrell. He’s Game of Thrones’ resident “confuser”, breaking hearts on both sides of the gender divide. As the anticipated fourth season of Game of Thrones approaches and the Supanova Pop Culture Expo is right around the corner, I got to chat to the charming British actor, who will be in Australia this week. We spoke about everything from those “which character are you” online quizzes to Joseph Campbell’s theories on mythology, story and archetypes. Oh, and what his family made of “those scenes”. Here’s the transcript of my interview. Top bloke indeed.

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Sally Browne? I love your name. That’s a serious name. Sally Browne. I love it.

There’s a lot of songs about Sally Brown. Old sea shanties and the like.

So you’re the fantasy of every pirate then?

That’s right. I think she was some sort of Creole girl in the 1700s or something. If you’re into music you should check out the compilation Rogue’s Gallery. It was co-produced by Johnny Depp and has all these actors and singers doing traditional sea shanties. The Sally Brown song is on there.

I’ll definitely check it out. I’ll be thinking of you when I listen to it.

Where are you right now?

I am in Hollywood being driven around by my chauffeur as I’m taking these calls.

The life of a knight.

I’m telling you, it’s hard work.

What are you doing in LA?

I’m living here at the moment. I’ve moved here for three months, auditioning for movies and TV shows, saying hello to be people and actually just chilling out here as well. Getting a bit of sun. Getting away from the London smog and drizzle back home.

You’re coming to Australia for Supanova. Is there anyone at the convention you’re keen to catch?

Oh my God, yes, do you watch Adventure Time, that kids cartoon show? I’m absolutely obsessed with it. I’m a hardcore Adventure Time fan, so the idea that both Finn (Jeremy Shada) and Jake (John DiMaggio) are going to be there is totally blowing my mind. I’m definitely going to fan-girl out. I’ll be crying, screaming, fainting, crawling at their feet.

There’s two Finns?

Yeah, Finn the actor and Finn the cartoon character.

Tell us about your fans.

Do you know what, I get nothing but love. It’s really nice. I’ve never had a bad fan experience. I’ve never had anyone say anything nasty to me. It’s always been good positive vibes, which is really nice. I go to a lot of these conventions and wherever it is in the world I always meet a lot of nice people who say nice things. And they’re really intelligent as well. They’re not just mindless, stupid fans. They’re really thoughtful and they always have something intelligent to say about the show.

What about love letters? You must get a few love letters, from both genders.

From both genders, yes. I love the fact that I get male love letters and girl love letters. I got quite an x-rated one the other day, which was quite full on. But it’s all fun and games.

You’re obviously not prudish, to have done some of the scenes you did, what was your mum and dad’s reaction to all of that?

Oh my God, well, it wasn’t so much my mum and dad’s reaction, rather my grandparent’s reaction. I kind of just don’t speak to them about it. They just say, oh, saw you on that television show the other day, good work. Thank Gran, thanks Grandad. A bit awkward, but they’re proud of me so that’s fine.

You grew up in Bromley, what did your parents do?

My dad works in the police and my mother is now a foster carer. They’re very nurturing, lovely people, they’ve all been very pro me doing what I do, lots of support, which is nice.

What’s it like on the set of Game of Thrones, who do you tend to hang out with?

Kind of everyone really. There’s a really good family vibe on set. I’m not saying this just to say it but I genuinely mean it. Everyone that comes on the show are really amazing people. It’s great to hang out with them. I’m really good friends with Gwen (Christie) who plays Brienne, and Alfie (Allen) who plays Theon. I always say it’s one of the best things about the show. Not only is it a hit TV show which is being seen by millions of people and allows me to do really good work, also it’s connected to really nice, wonderful people who will become lifelong friends.

What do you do in your downtime on set?

You stand around, maybe in the Greenroom playing games on our iPads. It’s nice in Croatia you get to go down to the old town, have some nice meals, go to the beach. When you’re stuck in Belfast it’s a little bit wetter but there’s always a nice vibe to catch with everyone. When you’re going on to a new season it always feels like you’re returning home. It’s always nice to see everyone.

Have you done one of those Game of Thrones – who would you be characters? I got Khaleesi, by the way.

Khaleesi! Nice. I think I’d be most like… I don’t know who. I’d like to think I’d be like Bran, Bran Stark. I think I relate to him most out of all the characters. He’s my favourite. That’s who I want to see on the Iron Throne. I want to see Bran and Hodor side by side, ruling the realm. I think they’d do a good job.

Is there someone you’d like to play?

I quite like the badies. I like Jofrey. I like Theon. I think they’d be characters that you could really get your teeth into, but personally Bran’s my favourite.

I see from your Twitter post that you’re a fan of (mythologist and author of The Hero with A Thousand Faces) Joseph Campbell.

I’m a massive, massive fan of him.

Game of Thrones has so many heroes and so many journeys. How do you think it follows the hero’s journey pattern?

Wow. I don’t know actually. It’s really difficult to tell the hero’s journey because the journey hasn’t finished yet in Game of Thrones. And I thought about Loras’s hero’s journey, and Loras doesn’t have a typical hero’s journey. What’s interesting about Game of Thrones is it doesn’t use the typical hero’s journey formula – like Ned Stark being beheaded. And I think in today’s day and age when we don’t have any modern day mythology to relate to and to see ourselves through, that’s why people are allured to it because it’s not conventional. As an actor, I’ve only started reading Joseph Campbell in the past seven months. I’ve read the book and listened to all kinds of audios and interviews and all that kind of stuff. Personally, as an actor I’d love to be given a role that fulfilled the whole hero’s journey, the whole arc, but a lot of the characters don’t fulfill the archetype. But again, I think that’s why it’s so popular. We’re in a day and age when nothing is perfect anymore and we need a new mythology for our times.

I think maybe out of everyone, Tyrion embodies the hero archetype. He’s the outsider, he tries to do the right thing, he gets beaten down, all that kind of stuff, so I think Tyrion is the true hero of the story.

What do you love outside of acting?

I love books. Joseph Campbell’s one of them. I’m hugely into music – hopefully when I’m in Australia there’ll be some good bands to see. I like nature. Outdoorsy things. It sounds like Australia is the perfect place for that. I love to go exploring and getting lost in the world. I like people as well. I’m a real people person.

Go meet him in person at Supanova, Gold Coast, April 4-6, Melbourne, April 11-13.

Posted in Adventure, Geeks, Journalism, Life, Television | 1 Comment

Jill Thompson: Sandman to Scary Godmother

FUN SIZE
MORPHEUS FUN SIZE

She has been headhunted by Neil Gaiman for his Sandman series and was one of the first female artists to draw Wonder Woman for DC. She has also created her own lovable characters Scary Godmother and Magic Trixie. And next week she is coming to Australia for the Supanova Pop Culture Expo.

When Jill Thompson first started getting into comics in her native Chicago there were few women artists. Now tons of GIRLS (look them up in your creature guide) have been inspired to make as well as consume comics, myself included.

Growing up on a diet of Archie and X-Men, Thompson knew it was something she wanted to do from an early age and it wasn’t long before she made it her career. Known for reinterpreting Gaiman’s Sandman characters as the uber-cute Little Endless, she has also won awards for her own Scary Godmother series of books and cartoons – and soon to be doll! Her latest Beasts of Burden comic also just hit the shops.

Ahead of her visit to Supanova I got to chat to the lovely Jill Thompson and discovered she is much more than just “the girl who can draw”. Here she talks about how she got into the art form and how Neil Gaiman decided she was good enough to wait for.

“Way back when I started drawing comics there were very few women who drew comics. My foot in the door was I was easy to remember because I was ‘that girl who wanted to draw comics’. Where everyone else was a bearded bespectacled guy with a plaid shirt and a portfolio, I was the girl that was showing her portfolio. And that I think got me remembered. There were only a few of us girls and some of us still get mistaken for each other even though we don’t look anything alike.

“When I was a teenager I wanted to work for Marvel comics. I wanted to draw the X-Men. I also wanted to draw Snoopy. I told my mum when I grow up I want to draw Snoopy and she set me straight and said the reason you get to see Snoopy is because someone draws him. If you want to draw a comic you have to draw your own. I then started drawing comics that were similar to Snoopy. I then discovered Archie comics and loved those. And then because I really liked comics my father started bringing them home for me. On certain Fridays I would see him come home from the train and he had a little green bag under his arm and that meant he’d been to the newsstand.

“He would pick them out. He brought home what I considered scary comics at the time – and scary comics were superhero comics – because there was always a guy grimacing on the front or beating someone up. Every day my brother and I would come home from school and read them over and over and over, so that just by looking at the covers we’d know all the stories inside.

“It was somewhere between the Archie comics and the X-Men that I fully committed myself to this is what I’m going to do when I grow up. Some recommended I go to art school and I took their advice. I got a job while I was in art school for a company called First Comics. There was no big a-ha moment. It was kind of working for small companies and then working my way up to a large company.

“Happily one of the first things that I worked on at DC comics, the second thing that I worked on there, was Sandman with Neil Gaiman. While I was working on Wonder Woman Neil had seen my work when he was in the office and he really liked it. He wanted to work with me and my editor at the time said no, she has a contract so she can’t do this. And he kept patiently waiting till my contract was up. So I could do the Brief Life story line and that’s when I became someone whose name was recognised for something.

“There are more female creators now. It’s changing because the readership is changing. People at conventions, it’s a pretty good mix, sometimes 50/50. Sandman has always had a huge female readership and I’ve found that people who read Scary Godmother and Magic Trixie are a huge mix. Which is exactly what I wanted. I wanted it to be little kids, their parents, grandparents, both boys and girls. I just wanted to make fun comics that everyone can enjoy. I think I have accomplished that with my creator-owned work.

ARTIST JILL THOMPSON
ARTIST JILL THOMPSON

“There are so many more women doing comics. When I started there were a handful. You could count them on one hand and I would include myself. But now there are many, and there are so many women doing their own webcomics. The internet has created a fantastic venue for comics in general. I’ve also been lucky because some girls that have come up to me who have created their own comics have told me that the reason that they’re doing what they’re doing is because I was there – and it makes me feel that those are my girls and those are my children. I’m glad that I loved comics enough that that made me want to do comics, so my comics were there when they liked comics, so they knew that girls could do it.”

Jill Thompson

Posted in Brisbane, Comics, Geeks, Journalism | Leave a comment

Naked talking with the SuicideGirls

SUICIDEGIRLS FOUNDER MISSY SUICIDE
SUICIDEGIRLS FOUNDER MISSY SUICIDE

Missy Suicide (aka Selena Mooney), a web developer from Portland, started SuicideGirls, an alternative pin-up site, in 2001 at the age of 24. The website and its community has grown to a hub of 3,000 girls, 500,000 members and 12 million followers on every social network you can think of. When they recently released a coffee table book in comic book stores in the US, they attracted queues of 600-long in the street. They’re currently in Australia performing their Blackheart Burlesque tour to themes including Star Wars, Game of Thrones and Dr Who. Straddling the evocative and the provocative, they’ve been praised for celebrating alternative beauty and going against the grain, but they have also been criticised for perpetuating stereotypes of female beauty in different packaging and encouraging female objectification. So who better to talk to about a very hot topic than the founder herself? I got to chat to the very lovely and candid Missy Suicide ahead of the SuicideGirls tour. Here she answers some questions about feminism and the female form.

What was your motivation to start SuicideGirls?

2001 was a very different time. There were really two types of beautiful women. There was the Pamela Anderson silicon-enhanced buxom blonde or there was the waif thin Kate Moss supermodel blonde, and that was it. That was the spectrum of beautiful. I knew all these girls who were gorgeous so I wanted to create a place where they could be themselves and appreciated for the beauty that I saw within them. I decided I was going to create pin-up style photos of my friends but in non-traditional settings. I had a collection of those and I decided I was going to create a website where they could post and keep blogs and express themselves not only through their photos but through their own words. And then we gave the members (subscribers) blogs as wells so they could get to know the girls and interact. The idea really took off. It turns out people like to social network. It was 2001, it was before Friendster or MySpace or Facebook or Twitter or Instagram or any of that. The idea that we were creating a place where people would say, I’m looking at these girls naked, and I’m going to put up (a picture of) my face and I’m going to share about my life on this website. It was a radical idea.

Do you consider yourself feminist-friendly?

It’s always a tricky thing because that word can mean so much to so many different people. I think that we are feminist and the main message behind SuicideGIrls is that every woman is sexy. Confidence is the sexiest attribute a person can have. I think that if every woman felt confident and beautiful about herself the world would be a much happier place. I think it’s one of those core things, if you don’t feel confident and comfortable in your body, you’re stuck with your body, so you’ve got to love it. It holds you back in different ways. To be feminist is to love yourself.

What about ordinary girls who might feel intimidated by how attractive all the Suicide Girls are?

If you look on the site, there are over 3,000 girls that are Suicide Girls – so chances are any girl who looks on the site will find a girl who looks similar to them – whether it’s a “hopeful” (someone who wants to become a Suicide Girl) or an actual Suicide Girl – but even the hopefuls have thousands of people giving them positive feedback and compliments and comments and stuff, helping them out (with their photographs), such as, oh, you’re so beautiful but your photos aren’t exactly right or you look a little scared. There are tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of photos up on the site, of girls that are beautiful and look like normal girls. They are normal girls.

You’ve got alternative looks but what about alternative body types?

There are SuicideGirls who are amputees, there are SuicideGirls who are little people. Anything you can possibly imagine. They may not be 200 that are a certain way, but there’s somebody that looks like most people. The site has been there for 12 years and there are girls that have been on there since it started. There’s a lot of variety.

What would you say to people who might say you’re perpetuating standards of female beauty in different packaging?

First of all, all the sets (of pictures) on the site go through member review and the SuicideGirls that do well are the ones that members respond most positively to. There’s no shortage of variety of sets that get put into the member review process.

Similarly, what would you say to criticism that even though it represents alternative beauty, it’s still about the objectification of women?

SuicideGirls celebrates the beauty of a woman’s body, which is sexy, but there’s nothing graphic about what we do. Everybody has a body and SuicideGirls aren’t embarrassed by their body or the fact that they feel sexy about themselves, because they should. I don’t think there’s anything really negative about that message.

What about Suicide Boys? I would look at that.

There’s a group on the site where members submit photos. There’s a Suicide Boys group and they give each other weekly assignments. It’s coming along.

Why aren’t things more gender balanced?

Dita von Teese’s burlesque show has men in it. But there’s hundreds of years of females perfecting the art of being sexy for the opposite sex. The idea of a man doing a sexy dance for a female has not been explored much. Most of the male performers are for a male audience. It hasn’t been perfected yet. It’s hard because every time I poll my friends and ask, what do you find sexiest about a guy, they all say different things. There’s not that consensus. When you say, what is sexy about a woman’s body – boobs and a butt. Most men are boob men or butt men, but women will say, the back of his hands, his shirt, crazy stuff. We have to decide what we would like first and we could probably do it.

In music videos and popular culture in general female empowerment often comes through sexuality. Even if it’s Lady Gaga or Beyonce saying I’m a strong woman they’re still presenting it through sexuality. Why is a woman’s worth so often linked with beauty or sexuality?

I think it’s a touch point for confidence. If you’re confident in your body and sexuality you tend to be more confident in your life in general. Even heads of state feel pretty confident in the way that they look. That might have something to do with it.

Being in the position you’ve in, you’ve probably been asked these kinds of questions before – is it challenging for you to deal with questions of anti-feminism and objectification as a woman in that role in that industry?

It is hard to answer those questions. I don’t feel like I’ve been elected as a spokesperson for feminism. All different types of women around the world feel they’re coming into power. Feminism means so much to them – it’s 50 per cent of the population and it’s very hard for me to speak for 50 per cent of the population and say intrinsically this is how women feel because first of all it would be impossible to get 50 per cent of the population to agree on anything and I certainly don’t feel I should be a mouthpiece for them. All I can speak to is my own ideas. And I used to be more timid about that because of backlash in the press. People would be like, that is not feminist! And I’d be, OK, I’m sorry. I feel like I should be able to speak my opinion about what feminism means to me.

What can you tell me about SuicideGirls stats?

We have over 12 million people in our social network following: Twitter and Tumbler and all the different social networks and that’s been huge growth. We started out with 12 girls and we thought we’d be popular in Portland and maybe Seattle.

I have to confess that seeing so many beautiful women affects my feelings about my own body. I was with a guy the other day and I said, we’re going to go to SuicideGirls but you’re going to have to tell me for 10 minutes afterwards how beautiful I am. He said, you’re an idiot. I said, you can call me that as well.

Aw, really? I never modelled for the site because I was a self-conscious 24-year-old girl. But since I’ve been exposed to the site for years and years I feel much more confident and comfortable with my body then I did back then. They don’t intimidate me. I think because I’ve seen so many different types of women be celebrated. Girls that are thicker, girls that are thinner. Girls that are bumpier, girls with tiny waists or big bums, girls with every body type, it’s made me realise there are people that appreciate the type of body that you have, thousands upon thousands upon thousands of them. They’re going to be exactly tuned in to what you have, so if you are projecting that, if you are confident and feel sexy about it there’s going to be thousands of people going, hey, yeah, you’re sexy and you’ll find them. There’s no reason for anybody to be ashamed of their body these days.

Posted in Journalism, Life, Portland, Sex | Leave a comment

The parable of the shy slut: or, what do me, Hannah Gadsby and my cat have in common?

pussies
Firstly, apologies to Hannah Gadsby for using the word “slut” in reference to her name. I’m sure this is not a combination that is commonly typed into search engines. But, hey, I thought if I use the word in the title, my blog might get a few more hits.
So, yes, what do comedienne extraordinaire Hannah Gadsby, girl-cat ordinaire Domino and me, journalist and wannabe everything have in common?
The answer is, we are all introverted extroverts.
I have occasionally described myself as an inhibited exhibitionist. There are tons of wild and crazy things I’d love to do, if only I had the chutzpah, the bravery, or the super-hot bod. Sometimes I do them. Having a shower naked outside in the rain, for example. Standing on stage telling jokes. Eating dinner in a restaurant with my shirt off. (If you define Pizza Hut as restaurant.) What I wouldn’t do if I didn’t have the bounds of propriety or insecurity to hold me back. That person you saw streaking through the park the other day, that may or may not have been me. But oftentimes people describe me as “quiet” and I think, noooo, you just don’t understand.
I’m not the only one. Recently I met a lovely guy who described himself as an introverted extrovert, or a shy slut (and hooray for the non-gender-specific use of that word). I understood immediately. Not only am I something similar, so is my cat. She is skittish, jumps at everything and her meows and purrs are so tiny you can barely hear them. But touch her fur and she’ll be rolling on her back with a coquettish “give me more”, looking up at you with big vortex eyes. She likes attention so much she even lifts her tail for the vet when he is taking her temperature (up the ass) and she struts the streets most evenings advertising her wares with her tiny bell-like meow. When I was overseas one time, my flatmate and her boyfriend had taken to calling Domino (Dom Dom for short, or sometimes Sub Sub) a little kitty slut. They said to each other, “We better stop calling her that. Sally’s coming home soon, she might get upset.” But as soon as I walked in the door, I bent down to greet my kitten with a “Domino, how are you doing my pretty little kitty slut!” They were surprised and relieved. (Don’t worry, she doesn’t get offended. She can’t understand human.) But the fact that she had these two opposing sides to her personality just made her interesting and unique.
The other day I met a really cool guy at a workshop. Let’s call him Ken, because his name is actually Ken. There were maybe 50 people at this workshop and Ken was the quietest guy in the room. The facilitator said to him, “Do you know that by being the quietest guy in the room you actually stand out? By being invisible you’re actually very visible.” Ken had no idea. But when he grabbed the mic, all our impressions of him exploded. He was articulate, voluble and funny. We didn’t want him to stop talking. He made us laugh so hard.
I said to him later, “So are you the guy who is quiet in a room full of regular folk but get yourself in a small group of your friends and you can be the loudest, funniest one there?”. “Exactly!” he said. The two personalities were so “contradictory” it was hard to believe they existed in the same person. But a few beers at the pub and an exuberant, animated, rolling conversation with Ken later proved that they can.
So many of my friends are like this. Quiet geeks who may not fit in to the rest of society, but get them in front of a group of their own “tribe” and they can’t shut up. They’re the life of the party, the centre of attention and some of the wittiest, most entertaining people you’ll meet.
Which brings me in a roundabout way to Hannah Gadsby. I interviewed the deliciously dry comedienne for U on Sunday magazine, ahead of her shows at the Brisbane Comedy Festival this week (March 11-18).
Her new show is called Exhibitionist. In it, she talks about our fascination with the selfie and looks at selfies through time (self-portraits, that is). The award-winning comedienne seems like she was born to this. But before she stumbled into this comedy caper, stood on stage and discovered she had an uncanny ability to make people laugh, she was shy, introverted and sometimes didn’t want to leave the house. Being on stage today, however, she feels perfectly comfortable, chilled even. So relaxed she says her heart might stop beating. And comedy has come a long way to improving her confidence. She may not be the centre of attention at a party, but she’s no wallflower either. She’s brave and badass in a quiet, self-effacing way.
So don’t judge a book by its cover, or a song by its volume. As Walt Whitman said, “Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself. I am large. I contain multitudes.” And I’m assuming he wasn’t talking about all the microscopic bugs living in his body. (Which reminds me of the Valentine’s Day Scabies Incident, but that’s another story I’ll spare you here.) So yes, Myers-Briggs types be dashed, it’s perfectly possible to be a little bit of everything.
You can be an introverted extrovert or an inhibited exhibitionist or a shy slut (or a sly shut if you’ve had a few). Hell yeah is the answer! And long live them all too.
This blog is brought to you by Ugees cafe, West End, where I wrote it.
PS I wrote this blog feeling bold. Then I edited feeling unbold and wondering why I’m drawing attention to myself? But screw it.
PPS I’d love to know how you contradict yourself too!

Posted in Adventure, Geeks, Life, Sex | 1 Comment

Margot Robbie, zombie queen

This week I interviewed the charming Margot Robbie, the Gold Coast girl and star of the much talked about film The Wolf of Wall Street.

She was absolutely lovely and told me in the course of our chat she is actually a big zombie fan. So, of course, I told her about LUV Comics.

Here’s what she said about zombies below. For the full interview, pick up today’s U on Sunday magazine in The Sunday Mail.

“The book I’m reading at the moment, my sister gavMARGOT ROBBIEe it to me for Christmas, it’s a zombie survival guide. I have this bizarre fascination, more so a conviction that there’s a pending zombie apocalypse around the corner. I stay up at night, planning how I’m going to (deal with it), a short term plan, a long term plan, feasible options. When she gave me that book, I was like brilliant, there’s a plethora of information I can use. I’ve been reading that quite closely at the moment.

“I’m the girl to talk to. When I worked with Will (Smith) on Focus, I sat him down and interrogated him on I Am Legend. I’m like, ‘Give me all the information you’ve got!’ And he’s like, ‘Margot, this is a made-up thing’ and I’m like, ‘Will, tell me everything you know.’ And it was fine because he said Jayden, his son, also has the same irrational fear about the impending zombie apocalypse.”

Go Margot! Hmn, wonder what advice we can give her on the impending apocalypse…?

Posted in Brisbane, Comics, Journalism | 2 Comments