"Siddig" is pronounced as two distinct syllables: "Sid-dig", with the emphasis on the second syllable.
On Game of Thrones
Starting in Season 5 of Game of Thrones, Siddig portrays Prince Doran Martell, the head of House Martell and ruler of Dorne. This follows the introduction and death of Doran's younger brother Oberyn Martell (played by Pedro Pascal) in Season 4.
Alexander Siddig was a popular fan-casting choice to be Doran Martell since Season 1. One of the TV producers told Siddig about this when he was later cast for Season 5, and he said he was astonished:
- "I was told by one of the producers that there was an online forum where fans suggested who they would like to play characters and I was thrilled to find out that I was one of the names on the list for Doran. It was exciting, but then terrifying, because I had to play the guy right because so many people expect me to! I was really honored they even thought of me."
Siddig described his casting and his approach to Doran:
- "I got asked to come and audition. While I was auditioning, I got to see Pedro perform as [Doran's] brother and that gave me all the information I needed. I knew this guy was coming from a passionate family. They have a lot of Spanish in them, and obviously Pedro is Chilean. So, I unashamedly copied everything I could about him with a few of the things that are unique to my character overlaid. Doran couldn't be quite as dramatic or quite as romantic because my character is the ruler and [Oberyn] wasn't a ruler. Oberyn could afford to misbehave in a way that my character cannot. There's a difference there."
Siddig described the challenges of playing the role, in which his character is confined to a wheelchair with painful gout in his feet:
- "Pedro's way of playing it is very much how I had to play it, so he set the tone. Keeping that sense of charm and fluidity and the Latin oomph while you are in a wheelchair is tough, because you use the whole body to express yourself. It was a good challenge."
Siddig went on to talk about how he needed to give Doran a sense of authority despite being confined to a wheelchair, particularly because the Martells are so overt and physical, but he found the challenge rewarding:
- "I was really excited by that, not just from an actor's point of view - because it's always exciting to play under some strict limitation - but it was really, could I possibly figure out a way to give this guy gravity, authority and a sense of romance? This race of people seems to imbue that in their nature which is quite different from the other families who can be quite stern or mysterious. I was hoping I could do that in a wheelchair, and it was a great challenge...
- "...I don't think [Doran] gets out very much, because he's a little bit ashamed of the fact that he's meant to be a masculine guy in a really macho culture. The fact he can't get out of his chair is a real disability to him. I think it forces him to be more philosophical, or at least attempting to be wiser. Where he ends up, I have absolutely no idea. But I'm playing him right now as being a pretty equivocal, pragmatic, wise ruler who doesn't want to rush to judgment and, more importantly, doesn't want to subject his whole kingdom to a state of war. But that is obviously in the cards, and goodness knows there's enough reason for it with what happened to [his sister] and his brother being slaughtered abroad. It's going to be very difficult to decide what to do and he's making a lot of enemies by taking his time and not just rushing out there. I hope he comes off as wise, but I'm smart enough to know the producers could do a reverse turn on him at anytime and turn him into a monster. And that's OK. I'm ready for that as it would be good fun."
Siddig based his character's accent on what Pedro Pascal used for his younger brother Oberyn. When Siddig came in to audition he saw Pascal doing scenes for Season 4. In Season 5 the producers advised him to base his accent on what Indira Varma was doing for Ellaria Sand, but they were unaware that he was already using Pascal's Oberyn as his template.
- "I was in L.A. doing publicity for something else, and I got a call at the Chateau Marmont and there were familiar voices on the other end of the phone. It was one of those guys, and because they didn’t introduce themselves it was like, 'Hi, it's me.' I was like, 'Is that David or Daniel?' Anyway, they said, 'You know what this phone call is about.' I was like, 'Yeah, well, I guess I do.' 'So we were going to kill you off at the end of last season, but we decided that we're going to have to kill you off at the beginning of next season.' I was like, 'Okay, life goes on.' But there was something wrong about that because I had been contracted for four episodes in the following season, so if they were going to kill me off at the end of the last season why would they contract me for those four episodes? Because it costs them money whether I do them or not, so it's not great business sense to do it just in case.
- So something happened; I have no idea what. There was an enormous amount of fan excitement when I got named to be on the show, and everyone was like, 'Oh my god, yes, Doran Martell. He's going to be great as Doran Martell.' That might have been the kiss of death. Maybe they didn't want quite that much attention on that character. Maybe they thought, 'Well, let’s prove that we’re going to stray from the books. We’re going to do something else, and he will be our first example of that.' So maybe that could have been the case. Or maybe I just screwed up. Maybe I said the wrong thing to the wrong person."
|Season Five credits|
|The Wars To Come||The House of Black and White||High Sparrow||Sons of the Harpy||Kill the Boy|
|Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken||The Gift||Hardhome||The Dance of Dragons||Mother’s Mercy|
|Season Six credits|
|The Red Woman||Home||Oathbreaker||Book of the Stranger||The Door|
|Blood of My Blood||The Broken Man||No One||Battle of the Bastards||The Winds of Winter|