Game of Thrones introduced audiences to a vast array of characters, each with their unique motivations, strengths, and weaknesses. Among them was Lord Petyr Baelish, commonly known as Littlefinger, portrayed by Irish actor Aidan Gillen. Littlefinger, with his calculated moves and political machinations, has always been a character mired in shades of grey. But was he truly a villain in Westeros?
Baelish’s Complex Characteristics
Littlefinger, as presented in the series, is a master manipulator. From his early involvement in the show’s central conflicts to his later schemes in the Vale, it became clear that Littlefinger was always several steps ahead of his contemporaries. Yet, as Gillen points out, he doesn’t believe Baelish deserved to die in the series:
“As the actor playing him, I’ve always been able to justify his actions: This is survival, this is revenge. If you’re talking to me as Littlefinger, I’d probably say no. From the audience’s point of view, they want him to get his comeuppance. He’s a classic villain, in a way. That’s what they want. It’s a classic payoff.”
Indeed, Littlefinger’s past, which includes a humble origin and an unrequited love for Catelyn Stark, shaped his ambitions and choices. These complexities suggest that while his actions might have been morally questionable, it seems they weren’t borne out of pure malice.
Is Littlefinger Actually A Villain?
Gillen is known for playing characters that are often not trustworthy or can be considered villains. Considering Littlefinger’s deeds, it’s not surprising that he is a villain in the eyes of many. However, the actor doesn’t believe he portrays a villain:
“I’m often mistaken for a villain — a moody type — which I’m not really.”
In fact, Gillen tried to make audiences feel sympathy for his character Littlefinger. As he puts it, he used certain techniques to make this possible:
“I always tried to make people feel for that guy, regardless of what he was doing. I was actively trying to get the audience to root for me and to think I was a good person. If it’s the conversations with the kids, I wanted people to think I really care about these people.”
Over the course of the series, Littlefinger’s influence became evident in multiple story arcs. Whether it was his mentor-like relationship with Sansa Stark or his pivotal role in the battle for the North, Gillen’s character left a mark on the storyline. Addressing this, Gillen said the following about Machiavellian characters like Littlefinger:
“They have charm and they have seductive powers, that’s why they’re able to get to where they get to and have influence over people.”
Game of Thrones succeeded in creating characters that defied easy categorization, and Littlefinger was no exception. Was he a true villain? As with many characters in the series, it seems the answer isn’t black and white. As for Gillen, he believes his role in the 2011 film, ‘Treacle Jr.,’ is more in line with his real personality.