ACTOR Jack Gleeson, who shot to fame in Game of Thrones, is turning his back on celebrity and walking away from a promising Hollywood career.
The 21-year-old from Cork has said he will be happy to return to anonymity when his run as evil King Joffrey Baratheon on the HBO show ends.
Gleeson, who has just returned from a trip to Haiti with aid agency Goal, said he has decided to stop acting professionally when he bows out of his role in the mystical drama.
He said: "It was always a recreation beforehand, but when I started doing Game of Thrones perhaps the reality was made too real for me.
"The lifestyle that comes with being an actor in a successful TV show isn't something I gravitate towards."
The down-to-earth star said he never watches himself playing the creepy young ruler.
"I don't tend to. It's bizarre when you see clips," he said. "You tend to abstract yourself from the creepiness of it when you're playing it, but when you see it on television it sends shivers down my spine.
"I would like to try and defend him, but I would have a pretty hard job doing it. I suppose he's the product of his context and his family. In terms of redeemable qualities, there wouldn't be many."
Gleeson, who was 17 when he auditioned for the role, said he has been able to live a normal life as a student in Trinity, where he is reading philosophy and theology.
"Since going to Trinity and garnering an interest in philosophy and with Goal and my theatre company I've kind of just re-evaluated what I want to do," he said.
"I'm 21, so it's hard to decide what kind of course life will take."
Gleeson's time in Haiti was spent looking at projects for impoverished people.
An earthquake hit Haiti in 2010, killing more than 230,000 people and leaving 1.5 million homeless.
"I'd been looking to use the celebrity I've got from the show to bring awareness for causes Goal supports," he said. "I had the connection with the organisation through my uncle, Tim Gleeson, and he worked with Goal in the 1980s.
"It was inspiring to see the improvements being made in Haiti, to see the motivation of the people to improve the quality of life. People are eager to get on with their lives and be resilient.