ESQ&A: Charles Dance 'I learned how to skin a deer. I skinned a deer quite well actually.'

The man who was Tywin Lannister talks legacies, British tailoring and whether he still watches Game of Thrones

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Charles Dance has carved a storied career out of mastering tyrannical, ruthless and intimidating characters, from the calculated patriarch Tywin Lannister in Game of Thrones to the steely Commander Alastair Denniston in Oscar-winning The Imitation Game.

Ahead of his new role as ambassador for T20 cricket at Lords, Esquire met Charles to talk legacies, butchery and whether he's still keeping an eye on Westeros. 

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Oh - and in case you're wondering, that unmistakable baritone is even more wonderful in person.

After such a long and varied career. How would you like to be remembered?

I'd like to be described as a safe pair of hands. When people see me come on screen, they think "This scene is going to be ok." But I never want to retire. Someone's got to play the wrinkly old man.

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You seem drawn to villainous characters. Do you ever worry about being typecast?

 I think I started off playing romantic characters before being cast as more authorative scary characters. I hope they don't reflect my actual personality, because I'd like to think I'm not like that in real life. But they're a lot of fun to play, so I don't mind.

What's the best piece of advice you've ever been given?

 It's important to know when you're being bad. So many actors will say, 'Darling that was wonderful!' no matter what you've done. If you can find someone who is objective and brave enough to be critical, and if you trust them, then that is a great thing.

What was the highlight of being on Game of Thrones?

I learned how to skin a deer. I skinned a deer quite well actually. They came to me one day and said "Charles, are you a vegetarian?" I said "No, of course not." So they got this butcher chap to show me how to skin a whole deer and then I did it, and I did it well ...I think. I was hoping for a nice haunch of venison from it, but they didn't even let me keep a hoof!

You're a stylish man. Do you have any rules you stick to?

[Laughing] To be honest with you, I'm quite boring! I'm most comfortable in jeans and a t-shirt, but I am lucky that at 6"3, my frame suits clothes quite well. Suits suit me, if you will. But I only wear them when I have to.

Is there a fashion or trend you see today that you just can't understand?

I think it's a mistake to doggedly follow fashions. I see these suits everywhere that seem too short. The trousers finish inches above the ankle and the jackets pinch in. Call me old fashioned, but I don't think you can beat an English tailored suit. It's timeless.

And which tailor would that be?

They don't need the plug, but I always go to Anderson and Shepherd for an impeccable suit. It's never going to go out of trend.

As an adopted Londoner, tell us what your current view on the city is? Has it changed dramatically since you've lived here?

I have a love/hate relationship with London.  I've lived here most of my life. I love the energy, yet it's sometimes unbearably cramped and overcrowded. But you still can't beat a cardiac arrest breakfast in Hampstead Heath, then heading up the hill and enjoying the peace and quiet, and the view.  It's medicinal. I love the duality of it, how there's this frantic pace offset with pockets of tranquility. There's no other city like it.

Do you still watch Game of Thrones?

I still love Game of Thrones, I watch every episode. I don't have any special dispensation to what's going to happen, but I promise you: even if the actors know what's going to happen to them, they will never, ever tell. They will take those storylines to their graves. 

Charles Dance was speaking ahead of a busy summer of T20 action at Lord's Cricket Ground. The Home of Cricket will host four NatWest T20 Blast matches on Thursday evenings in June and July. Book tickets from £20 at lords.org/t20#LoveLords