I’ve always felt some sympathy for the actor Jack Gleeson because he plays such a iconically unsympathetic character. King Joffrey is the most despised, most irredeemable villain in all of the Game of Thrones series—and that is obviously saying something. There’s no reader or viewer that doesn’t want to slap the shit out of that kid. Even Joffrey’s own family members can’t stop slapping him, and he could probably have all of them executed.
Because Gleeson is so good at the role, it’s disconcerting to see outside the context of the show. I feel a little disturbed by photos of him smiling at a premiere party. What’s he smiling about? Is there a prostitute bleeding to death, just off frame? Somebody sweep the area for decapitated heads!
Among the ranks of teenage actors who became (in)famous for playing towheaded terrors, it seems clear to me that Gleeson has already surpassed the kid who played Draco Malfoy. I guess only time will tell if he will become this century’s Billy Zabka.
But let’s put aside the taint of eternal, vicarious hatred that is likely to cling to Gleeson/Joffrey for decades to come—I’m still not sure that Gleeson is the actor who’s career has been most injured by GOT’s casting directors. Consider which of these would be the most insulting: