Game of Thrones’ actor falls for Bermuda
Craster was not a popular character with Game of Thrones fans. Robert Pugh played the wildling whose relationship with his daughters is best described as sordid; once they are of a certain age he marries them, fathers more daughters and the cycle continues.
It’s one of many great storylines that have made the HBO series a hit.
Mr Pugh, 66, hasn’t seen any of them. He’s been too busy acting.
“It was just a job,” he said. “Once it’s finished, all the lines are gone. I remember it was a rough and ready set with all these girls hanging over me — that’s when I realised something was not right. But it’s always good to play nasty characters. People remember them.”
The Welsh actor was one of several celebrities recently here for the Hackers Cup, a charity golf tournament held over two days at Mid Ocean Club and Port Royal Club.
“I was asked and couldn’t believe it,” said Mr Pugh, who had never visited the Island before. “I heard Bermuda and I was jumping down her throat before she finished her question.
“It’s beautiful, just fantastic. The people are so welcoming.”
He fell in love with theatre as a young man in Wales, while studying for his O Levels.
“I loved reading, in particular about the 18th century,” he recalled. “The first play we were studying was The School for Scandal. As part of our studies we went to see a production, collegiate theatre in Cardiff.
“People forgot lines, chairs fell over, screens fell, but I was absolutely transfixed. I thought, ‘I have to be a part of that magic up there’. I was always curious, but not particularly bright or sharp, but from then on it became my passion. I had tunnel vision where it’s all you can do; like breathing.”
At 21 he was in university studying English but spent considerable time writing student dramas and shows and performing.
“At end of the first year I thought, ‘I’ve gotta become an actor’,” he said. He dropped out of school, and went to London to pursue the craft thinking he “was God’s gift”.
“I had a rude awakening,” he said. “I went to [audition for entry to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art] but didn’t bother to learn my lines for the audition.”
He was not accepted into the renowned institution; applications to other drama schools similarly failed “because of my lackadaisical attitude”, the actor said.
The penny soon dropped; people were looking for commitment, as well as talent.
“I realised there was more to acting than meets the eye,” he said. “I got a job collecting rubbish for the council — it was hard work — and in the evenings I went to night school at Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts in North London.”
He eventually reapplied to drama schools and was accepted into Rose Bruford College. Today he is listed with Gary Oldman among the respected school’s notable alumni.
“I spent three years there learning the craft,” Mr Pugh said.
The roles followed. In the years since, he has appeared in numerous stage, television and movie roles. He has only seen a snippet of Game of Thrones, despite its huge success.
“I’ve never watched myself in that,” he said. “I’m not a big television watcher. Why, when you can read a good book?
“I was in a golfing junket in Scotland and they showed it on a big screen to show the paying punters what [the celebrities involved] were famous for. So I saw a bit of it there; a half scene, about five seconds.
“My best role was in a play based on the Danish film, Festen. I was offered the father ... another nice character I played.”
The father in Festen is accused by his son of molesting him and his twin sister, who committed suicide. The accusation is made in front of family, at a dinner on his 60th birthday.
The film was released in the United States under the title The Celebration.
“In the cast was a young Tom Hardy,” Mr Pugh said. “It was one of my favourite roles. It was great for an actor and showed at the Almeida Theatre, which is a very intimate theatre and perfect for that type of play.”
His acting has since taken a back seat to writing and directing.
“In the early days I worked for a production company and wrote a couple of films and adapted a book,” he said.
“I was set to study creative writing but couldn’t say no to acting. One takes 110 per cent; the other 200 per cent. Writing is with you all the time and that’s where I want to go — unless a great script comes along.”
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