A Pleasant Conversation with Miltos Yerolemou
My conversation with Miltos Yerolemou was the most difficult interview I had. Not with him, but with his fans. He was mobbed constantly, getting him alone for five minutes was a matter of perfect timing. After talking with him for just a few minutes, I understood his popularity.
Yerolemou plays the swords master Syrio Forel in the blockbuster TV series Game of Thrones. Yerolemou naturally transitioned from theater to screen. His background in theater, from musicals to comedy to Shakespeare gave him a psychological advantage to playing in the epic fantasy. He learned his sword fighting skills on stage, where he sparred with real swords like broadswords in Macbeth, not little wimpy fencing swords in Romeo and Juliet he pointed out.
The actor was cast in the new Star Wars films, and while he couldn't talk about the films details, he could talk about the special effects being changed from the CGI focus of the prequels and back to the sets, models and puppets of the originals. He said CGI has to exist for science fiction. We are not going back to the days of Ray Harryhousen's stop motion. He did caution when you add too much CGI you lose the aesthetics, it becomes soulless. The original Star Wars was about the interaction between Leia, Luke and Han. Their different personalities and the conflict between the styles of each character was the reason the original films are just so mythic in proportion. Yerolemou said you need to fill a screen with actual people, things you can touch. The audience can tell between real and fake, it's so much easier to act without a blue screen.
He did admit he actually had not read the Game of Thrones books when he was approached. Living in England the series did not have the same popularity it did in the US. When asked he did his research and realized why the books have surged. The books had a fan base, but not the popularity the show has now, it is literally a phenomenon. Game of Thrones has captured the imagination of the audience.
Yerolemou wished more Greeks would follow in his footsteps, along with the late Andreas Katsulas. Yerolemou was raised in Eastpool in the UK. He said he wanted to fit in, but with his curly hair and dark skin he stuck out in a neighborhood with no cultural diversity. When he got into theater he realized his foreign ethnicity worked to his advantage. He had no shortage of people looking for someone that stuck out from the crowd. He said he's be cast to play Turkish, Italians, several French, an Indian and even a Greek character one.
He said he loved working in the theater the most. He loved the diversity of the roles, but since it isn't archived the performances are lost if they just happen to be performed at the wrong venue. He had to cut the interview short for time reasons, but he was happy to continue. I would have but the convention staff really wanted the chair I borrowed back.