I have to admit that before Game of Thrones came along, I had no idea who Tom Wlaschiha (pronounced wah-chee-ha) was. But since his pivotal appearance in Season 2 as Jaqen H’ghar (The Faceless Man), he is one of the few characters that I constantly follow on the series. In fact, I would even give up watching the show if they ever killed him off, as there is just so much intrigue surrounding the character of the Faceless man.
So I am literally over the moon when I get the chance to interview Wlaschiha during HBO Asia’s 25th Anniversary press day at Fullerton Hotel on Thursday (November 30). But we at Geek Crusade are old hands at interviewing GOT cast members, from Liam Cunningham (Ser Davos) to Isaac Hempstead-Wright (Bran Stark) to Jessica Henwick (Nymeria Sand).
At a media roundtable, Wlaschiha is dressed in a white linen shirt and faded jeans and has an air of casual ease. The 44-year-old German actor answers our questions with that trademark twinkle in his eye which hints that he knows more than he is letting on.
Who is Jaqen H’ghar?
Seven seasons in, we still don’t know where Jaqen comes from. No other character in the GoT-verse had so little exposure, yet garnered such a huge fan following.
But Wlaschiha notes that the concept of the Faceless man means Jaqen H’ghar will never ‘die’ in the sense that even if the person were to perish, another Faceless Man could take over his face and he will be back.
“It would be very hard to kill Jaqen off. Even if they killed the body, someone will come along and take my face and I will be me again”
As an actor, this is pretty much the best form of job security.
A Song of Ice and Faces
Wlaschiha sheepishly admits that he had not heard of George R. R. Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” before he was cast.
“I had no idea what Game of Thrones was. They said it was some American fantasy show with some dragons”.
When asked if his role on Game of Thrones has changed his life, he quipped that his personal life has not been affected much, although “A Man has to watch it so that he doesn’t start to talk in the third person in his private life”.
A Stark Difference
Maisie Williams, who plays Arya Stark, shared most of Wlaschiha’s scenes in season six. He was impressed by how Williams was able to handle emotionally challenging scenes from the age of 12.
“I thought it was very interesting that she was able to grow older with her character. At the start, her character was very young, naive and gullible as a little girl is. As the story progresses, she becomes more conscious of herself, of who she is and she starts to plot and to scheme. You don’t often get to grow with a character.
Asked if he feels that Arya has exceeded the training of the Faceless Man, he jokingly declares, “She still has a lot to learn. She hasn’t been a bad student but she is definitely not at the top!”
A Game of Faceless Men
As HBO will be ending the series with the release of Season 8, multiple GOT spinoffs are in the works. So we thought we would throw in our idea of a series on the Order of the Faceless Men.
After all, the Order of the Faceless Man holds infinite stories, since they have borne witness to events in Westeros for countless years. While a dedicated series may not be on the horizon, having the order pop up in the various Game of Thrones spinoffs is highly plausible. Wlaschiha welcomes the idea:
“I like the whole idea of the Faceless man order because it seems like they are always outside of things. They don’t take sides. All men are equal to them. The Order of the Faceless Man has existed long before Jaqen H’ghar and will exist long after him”
Tales from the House of Black and White
Remember the scene at the end of Season 5 where Jaqen ‘dies’ in front of Arya? Wlaschiha tells us that he was required to lie completely still, while not breathing and with his eyes wide open.
The scene was made even more complicated by the fact that they had an actor for each face laying on metal frames so that they could swap them out after each shot without moving the camera.
One interesting tidbit: all the ‘faces’ we see in the House of Black and White were actually cast from the production crew. They had to populate the walls with multiple faces and whoever was free on that day would walk into wardrobe and get their face cast.
A visit from the Order of the Faceless Man
The weirdest fan moment for Tom actually came before his Game of Thrones role. A fan discovered his private home address and showed up at his doorstep. She was (I kid you not) looking to do a face cast of him and brought along all the materials and equipment along with her.
“When I opened the door, she asked if she could do a plaster-cast of my face. She wanted to do an actual cast of my face. I told her that I was unfortunately very busy and had to be somewhere”.
We did pop in one last question to Wlaschiah on the way out: who would he pick to sit on the Iron Throne? To which he replied with that trademark twinkle: “No One.”
See you in Season 8, Tom (I hope!!). Valar issi gīda! (All men are equal)
All seven seasons of the award-winning series are available for streaming on HBO on StarHub Go and HBO On Demand (StarHub TV Ch 602).