Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen) may be one of the most tragic characters on Game of Thrones. He began the series by being a self-absorbed, highly insecure ward of the Starks. He was given to Winterfell as a hostage after his father, Balon Greyjoy, attempted to rebel against the Iron Throne.
Ned Stark never treated Theon like a hostage — he was kind and treated Theon like a son. In the season 7 finale, "The Dragon and the Wolf," Jon Snow (well, Aegon Targaryen), firmly reminds Theon that despite his Greyjoy name, Ned Stark (Sean Bean) was a father to him, and will always be a part of his heart.
It's that kindness that makes Theon's revolt against Winterfell so disturbing. Theon used his ironborn pirates to take over his former home in order to impress his Greyjoy father — and pretended to burn the bodies of Bran (Isaac Hempstead-Wright) and Rickon Stark (Art Parkinson). Theon was eventually captured when the Boltons took over Winterfell.
Ramsey Bolton (Iwan Rehon) tortured Theon into a shattered shell of his former self. The once-haughty character became Reek, a hollow husk of a person who, alternating between emotional catatonia and PTSD symptoms so severe, could barely remember his own name. Allen's acting was superb — we felt his character's physical pain and trauma in a visceral way. And as it turns out, Allen had a very fascinating way to prep for such a mentally difficult role.
"I just watch stuff, like Reservoir Dogs, I watched that quite a bit," the actor told Elle. "My prep for the torture scenes is all in the mind. Mental. Mental stuff going on in my head. So my preparation has more to do with what's going on in there. So I just thought of the most painful things I could think of, and tried to exaggerate it, but it was hard. Really hard." We definitely see the fruits of Allen's preparation — Allen's torture scenes were like nothing we've ever seen on television. We still tremble whenever we remember that genital flaying scene.
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