An Actor’s Fantasy Role on ‘Game of Thrones’

Nonso Anozie talks diversity on the HBO show and opportunities for black actors in the U.S.

Nonzo Anozie as Xaro Xhoan Daxos (HBO)

Xaro meets Daenerys Targaryen while she’s wandering in the desert. She’s got dragons, I’m really rich, let’s see what we can do — and we start a friendship. It’s really interesting what we get into for the rest of the season, but I can’t say anymore because of how it all turns out.

TR: Is the storyline close to the book?

NA: My character is a departure — I’m black and I’m straight. In the book, Xaro is camp, someone you don’t believe is straight but claims to be, and he cries all the time, but we decided to do something else. Game of Thrones is going to unfold in a great way.

TR: Tell me about Ender’s Game, the movie you’re filming in New Orleans with Viola Davis.

NA: It’s starring Hugo‘s Asa Butterfield — we worked together on Nanny McPhee Returns — Harrison Ford, Viola Davis and Ben Kingsley. Ender’s Game is set 60 years from now; Earth has been attacked by aliens, and we are preparing a pre-emptive attack on the [next set of] intruders. It’s really dark, actually. I’m a hard-ass in this one. In The Grey I was a bit soft and friendly; in Game of Thrones, Xaro is smooth; and in Ender’s Game, I’m just angry all the time. I like the variances of characters I get to play.

TR: How did you get into acting?

NA: I was born in London, grew up in Camden. I got a taste for acting at 10 years old — my headmaster had me play the daddy in the Bible story of the prodigal son. I put on a big coat and glasses. People laughed at the end, and I got something from it that I never wanted to release. I got really into it at 18 and tried acting without going to university, and that was hard …

I didn’t come from a theater family, and when I told my careers adviser about acting, he suggested I look at something like plumbing, saying, “Even young, handsome white boys find it difficult acting — you’re a 6-foot-6-inch black man.”

Hillary Crosley is a contributor to The Root.

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