GAME of Thrones star Charles Dance has thrown his weight behind an “inspirational” West Country initiative.
The celebrated actor, screenwriter and film director, launched the University of Exeter’s new Creative Dialogues series.
The series aims to bring together high-profile people from the creative and performing arts to Exeter to inspire students, demonstrate the impact of the University’s research, and share these experiences with the wider West Country.
Charles, who was raised in Devon, told the audience he did not start acting until he was in his 20s and as a child suffered from a stammer.
He worked in an early expresso bar in the West Country, went to art school, and worked as stagehand and dresser. He combined working as a labourer with learning Shakespeare as he was completing acting training.
“I was sat there on a building site with the complete works of Shakespeare, and people would say ‘what are you reading Charlie’ and I would say ‘just a book’,” he said.
He landed his first role in a Welsh theatre through “supreme confidence and arrogance” after seeing an advert in The Stage newspaper.
Actors need a “hide like a rhino”, he told the audience. Charles went on to star in Jewel in the Crown, The Imitation Game and Game of Thrones where he played Tywin Lannister, the calculating patriarch and Lord of Casterly Rock.
In order to play one Game of Thrones scene convincingly, he learned from a butcher how to skin a deer.
He praised the quality of the writing on the fantasy show, which he said was the reason for its success.
Professor Janice Kay CBE, Provost at the University of Exeter, who hosted the event, said Creative Dialogues aims to build on Exeter’s proud history of arts and culture, which is recognised internationally.
“Exeter hosts the Bill Douglas Cinema Museum with over 80,000 artefacts from the world of film and has one of the South West’s premier theatres, the Exeter Northcott Theatre on campus.
“Exeter also partners with the London Film School, one of the foremost film schools in the world, to deliver an innovative and cutting-edge programme in international film business.
“Exeter’s drama department is in the global top 100 and is a leader in film studies.”