Icons / April 2018

Rake-in-Progress: Joe Dempsie

Joe Dempsie talks to The Rake about his triumphant return to Game of Thrones and why social media for film stars is not the El Dorado some producers think it is.

Black wool double-breasted jacket and trousers, Berluti; white cotton Journey shirt, Turnbull & Asser; cream and black silk vintage print tie, Giorgio Armani, property of The Rake.

Joe Dempsie is used to intense fanfare surrounding projects in which he’s appearing. He first encountered it when playing Chris in the acclaimed British teen comedy-drama Skins. The fans, he says, “were a demographic [that would] run over to you and say something or just scream in your face and run away”. The show gained a cult following among Britain’s youth, but, more interestingly, it provided a springboard for several actors: Nicholas Hoult, Dev Patel, Daniel Kaluuya and Hannah Murray all starred alongside Dempsie. That was more than a decade ago, though, and in that time Joe managed to find his way to Westeros and bag a spot on television’s biggest global stage, Game of Thrones, whose fan base is perhaps the most passionate there is.

Joe played Gendry, a much-loved character of the books, and now the T.V. series, who happens to be one of King Robert Baratheon’s bastard sons. When Robert dies, Gendry is the only one who isn’t murdered, and as a result he undertakes a wild journey of survival, loss and discovery through the fictional landscape. Like Joe, Gendry is humble and has a level of realness that other, bigger personalities in the show lack. He’s an Everyman character, a relatable human being among fighters and beasts, even dragons.

Until then, Dempsie has plenty going on. His next big project is Deep State, an eight-part espionage thriller starring Mark Strong. Joe plays a young MI6 operative who finds himself entwined in a conspiracy, so fully that he is targeted by his own organisation. It promises to be a politically charged, of-the-moment piece. Then comes Eighteen Weeks, a short film about a prisoner in solitary confinement, before a bit of light relief in the form of a musical called Been So Long that’ll mark Joe’s on-screen singing debut. Dempsie is a man with a tireless work ethic who places job integrity above all else, and, despite the attention he’s received, doesn’t care much for fame after all...

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Charlie Thomas

Charlie Thomas is a former staffer at The Rake.