Game of Thrones star talks about upcoming Aylesbury play

Ian McElhinney. Photo by Patrick Redmond

Stephen Jones and Conor Delaney. Photo by Patrick Redmond

Marie Jones

First published in News Bucks Free Press: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

GAME of Thrones Star Ian McElhinney has never had so many selfies taken with him since being in the incredibly popular show. This autumn in between filming for the HBO series and starring again in Ripper Street, he is directing Stones In His Pockets, which is touring the country and coming to Aylesbury next month.

Ian has returned to the play after a 10 year gap. It is written by his wife, Marie Jones, and started its life in 1996.

He said: "I did it a lot about 15 years ago. By the time I stopped I was a bit jaded and I had to get away from it for a bit.

"It is nice coming back to it. It feels fresh again."

Seen by more than two million people Stones In His Pockets tells a funny and moving tale of a quiet Irish community, turned upside down by the arrival of a massive Hollywood movie shoot. Actors Conor Delaney (Game of Thrones, Jack Taylor, The Tudors) and Stephen Jones (Ripper Street) play 15 characters between them - from the cheeky lads intent on stardom to a Hollywood Goddess.

Ian said: "Conor and Stephen play 15 characters between them and they have to be able to perceptively create different kinds of characters. "In the blink of an eye you have to see another body shape, hear another voice, and become aware of a different person. They have to be able to give you that flexibility, and some actors are very gifted that way.

"What we try to do is create that magic without props and without going off the stage but simply by transitioning around each other.

"And then the other side, of course, is that although Stones is labelled as a comedy which is played with lightness, there is a pretty serious story in there. So whenever you get into the core of that, you’ve got to honour it and you’ve got to ask the actor, 'Right, this is someone you can invest in, and I’ve got to see the extent to which this goes through you, the person.'"

There are very few props in the play, and the audience quite often have to use their imagination, which Ian said brings a sense of magic to the show. There has been a lot of talk about turning it into a film, with former Boyzone singer Ronan Keating considered for one of the parts.

Ian said: "We would like to try and do that. Hopefully some time in the foreseeable future we would like to do that.

"Some people have said yeah great- would love to see it on film. But will it work on screen?

"There is a great story there. We believe it will hold up and we have a screen play and are very happy with it."

Ian often moves between directing and acting. He is soon to be filming again for BBC1's Ripper Street, in which his character returns.

But he is of course most well known at the moment for playing Barristan Selmy in the hugely popular Game of Thrones, which airs on HBO.

He said: "It is great. They do these extraordinary big scenes. You spend two to three days working on a scene involving several characters.

"Very often there are an awful lot of extras when it is a five/ six minute scene.

"They tend to do these big scenes more than a lot of dramas. It is very pain staking, very careful work. It looks fantastic. It is a great cast and it is hugely popular.

"We all thought it would be popular but it has exceeded everyone's expectations."

Game of Thrones is an American fantasy drama television series based on George R. R. Martin's series of fantasy novels.

It premiered on HBO in the United States on April 17, 2011. Two days after the fourth season premiered in April 2014, HBO renewed Game of Thrones for a fifth and sixth season.

Ian said: "Yeah. I mean, I had to pinch myself on that one because I’ve been in this business for nearly 40 years now and had only had the odd fan letter here and there.

"Since I have been playing Barristan Selmy in Game of Thrones, I find that I’m recognised much more no matter where I seem to go, and it takes a bit of getting used to. People want pictures, selfies and autographs on a scale that I had just not been used to prior to this."

Stones In His Pockets is at the Aylesbury Waterside Theatre on September 16 at 7.30pm. Tickets are £11.90 to £28.90, with a £2.85 booking fee from 0844 8717607 or go to www.atgtickets.com/aylesbury.

 

For more leisure stories including what's on, food reviews and more interviews click here. 

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