'This is a grown-up show, written by grown-ups for grown-ups' - Liam Cunningham on Game of Thrones and 'bittersweet' ending
One of the leading actors from Game of Thrones has described the ending of the show as "bittersweet".
Dublin actor Liam Cunningham plays smuggler turned Ser Davos Seaworth in the fantasy epic, which will conclude after 10 years with its final season, starting on Monday.
The HBO show, mostly filmed at locations across Northern Ireland, has become infamous for gritty scenes including extreme violence, but has hooked audiences across the world.
Cunningham was in Belfast yesterday to launch the Game Of Thrones Touring Exhibition, and defended the often shocking content of the show - as well as hinting that the ending will be as challenging as the previous seven seasons.
He described his character as the "moral compass of the piece".
Davos was present during a scene when three men were burned alive by the priestess Melisandre as a sacrifice to the "Lord of Light".
Cunningham pointed out that the show wasn't intended for the faint-hearted.
"There were a lot of things that happened as the seasons went on that a lot of people found very challenging, shall we say," he said.
"This is a grown-up show, written by grown-ups for grown-ups, and one of the reasons for its success was it wasn't condescending for its audience, it's genuinely challenging, and you do find yourself sometimes questioning your attachment to characters for what they get up to.
"But there is no one bad in it for the sake of being bad - well, maybe the Boltons [known for flaying their enemies] and King Joffrey, but you understand their reasons for doing what they do.
"All that stuff... in our show it is justified, but not in real life."
However, he was tight-lipped about the fate of Davos.
"Mr George RR Martin, the man who wrote the story, described the end as bittersweet," he said. "Having seen everything, I'd have to agree with that.
"The other thing I think it is fair to say is if we wrapped up this story with a nice pink ribbon, people would be very, very annoyed with us because that would be patronising.
"It's a bit like life - there is unanswered bits and answered bits and pain and misery and suffering but all the big stories, there is a certain resolution to them. But I am not going to say any more than that."
Cunningham added that he had never dreamed of getting such an opportunity so close to home. "Westeros is an hour-and-a-half drive from my front door," he said.
"And in fact, when we filmed at the Linen Mills in Banbridge, that's only 40 minutes away - I could commute to Westeros."
He added that the show had introduced him to hidden gems in the North.
"Ballintoy, the harbour there... it's absolutely beautiful. I'd never seen the Dark Hedges. There were loads of places. It was great for me to see this corner of the island," he said.