We Talked to Raleigh Ritchie About Playing Grey Worm on 'Game of Thrones'

We Talked to Raleigh Ritchie About Playing Grey Worm on 'Game of Thrones'

When Grey Worm isn't killing Lannisters, he makes heartfelt alternative pop music.
translated by Mari Meyer

This article originally appeared on Noisey Netherlands.

If you clicked on the link to this article, your life probably revolves around one thing at the moment: The bloodcurdling final episodes of Game of Thrones' seventh season. After every episode you go down the online rabbit hole to read up on the world of Westeros and discover the hidden symbolism in each episode. That's how I currently spend my days, at least.


But here's a fun fact that might be news to you: Grey Worm, whose real name is Jacob Anderson, makes alternative pop music when he's not busy killing Lannisters. He calls himself Raleigh Ritchie, and his music is fucking good. In the show he might be a stoic fighter who has difficulty expressing himself, but when he's not in character Anderson has the voice of an angel and shares a lot about his personal life through his music.

With his second album on the way, we decided to call up Raleigh Ritchie and ask about his two very different careers, his insecurities, and Khaleesi's rap skills.

Noisey: So who came first: The actor or the musician?
Raleigh Ritchie: The musician. This will probably sound pretty lame, but when I was a kid all I wanted to do was make things. It really didn't matter what. I've loved movies for as long as I can remember, though, in a nerdy way.

Do you have any examples of your nerdy love for film?
I loved going to the movies, for instance. I wrote entire essays about films to convince my mom to take me to certain movies. Why they were good, what the reviews said, etcetera. When I was 14 years old, we rented Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, assuming it was a funny Jim Carrey movie. It was the complete opposite, but that film changed my view on everything. Until that moment, I didn't know you could make something that great. When the credits were rolling I cried a little, before playing the movie again right away.


The same thing happened with my love for music after I heard Stevie Wonder's Innervisions. Ultimately, I started making music first because it's easier to do when you're a teenager. You can write a song in your bedroom, but it's harder to direct a movie that way. [Laughs]

Now you do both. Is combining your two careers complicated?
Not really. I'm busy making music most of the year. Shooting a season of Game of Thrones takes six months, but I'm only on set for two weeks. When it comes down to it, it doesn't really affect my schedule that much.

In other interviews, you've said that appearing in Game of Thrones has helped your music career, but that it's also damaged it.
In the beginning, things didn't go very smoothly. The same week I got signed with Sony as a musician, I found out I got the role [of Grey Worm] on Game of Thrones. Not smoothly? That sounds like the best week ever.
You'd think so, but I thought: Shit. The British press loves making people popular, only to publicly tear them down later. I was afraid that appearing on the show would hurt my credibility as a musician. I actually wanted to release my music without my face attached to it. I was afraid people would think the music was just a thing on the side I did to boost my own ego, even though I'd been working on it for so long.

These days, I don't care as much anymore. I think my age back then played a big part. Every person in their twenties has a fear of not being accepted.


Credit: Louis Browne

Have you ever noticed people taking you less seriously because of your role on Game of Thrones?
I don't want to seem bitter, and I really don't regret anything. I have a great life, but yes, there are radio stations that refuse to play [my music] because I'm just that guy from Game of Thrones to them. Oh well, what can you do. I just want to make beautiful music and if you want to listen to it, you should. If you don't, don't. Eh… Jesus, I feel like I sound a lot like Morrissey right now. He's always so serious in his interviews. That's not what I want. I don't take myself that seriously. Really. This all came from a feeling of insecurity that was very common at that age.

It took a while to set a date for this interview because you'd locked yourself in the studio. What are you working on right now?
I'm busy with my second album. We don't have a release date or anything, but the first blueprint is ready and I think it's almost done. Which is really chill, because I didn't think I'd get this far. Why did you think you wouldn't be able to make a second album?
They say the second album is the hardest [one] to make. That's something I definitely noticed. I tried to tell my story on my first record You're a Man Now, Boy. I shared a lot of personal things, and afterwards walked around with the feeling that I had nothing left to say. Which is nonsense, of course, because I have plenty to say, but I just had to figure out how to get to that story. This new album will—not literally—be about what it was like to turn 27, but also about my take on what's happening in the world today. I don't want to be all preacher-like and sing about politics; I'm not into that at all. But the chaos definitely affects me as a person.


So, what's it like to be 27?
[Laughs] I've always been afraid of this age. For some reason I saw it as an unlucky year. That I'd have to be careful to not die, or something like that.

Oh, you're talking about the musician's curse of dying at 27. Are you superstitious?
I really want to say 'no', but after what I just said I wouldn't really be very convincing. I'm just superstitious about very specific, funny things.

Something else: Which one of your cast members on Game of Thrones has the weirdest taste in music?
[Laughs] That's a good question. I don't know, actually. Well, Emilia Clarke, [who plays Daenerys Targaryen] is constantly rapping in between shots. She spews straight fire. It's not weird, but maybe not something people expect of her. She really knows her shit when it comes to grime, rap, and hip hop. Do you know if your character will survive?
[Laughs] I can't tell you that, man.

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