This post contains spoilers about season 7 of Game of Thrones.
During this week’s episode of Game of Thrones, we saw Petyr Baelish, aka Littlefinger, plant a scroll that he knew would would cause issues between the Stark sisters, Sansa and Arya. This clever but malicious act confirmed two things about Littlefinger most fans already knew: he is both the most despicable and the smartest character in Game of Thrones. In fact, his constant skilled manipulations may make him the only character in this show that truly knows how to play the game. Yet, Aiden Gillen, the actor who plays Littlefinger, does not believe that his character is pure evil.
In a recent interview with the New York Times, Gillen explained that he thinks Littlefinger is driven to succeed, through any means necessary, by the shame of his past, specifically the shame of being turned down by Catelyn Tully. Gillen said, "It’s a reaction to being humiliated and spurned as a young man in matters of love." Though I’m usually not interested in storylines involving a man working through his feelings of emasculation, this particular case is less tiresome because we don’t seem to be expected to sympathise with Littlefinger. Plus, his feelings of shame seem to make sense here because they fuel his obsession with the Stark sisters.
When asked if Littlefinger’s plan to divide Arya and Sansa was just another one of his usual manipulative plots, Gillen said, "There’s always something more to it when it involves the Starks." Of course, even Gillen admits that his character hasn’t had this all planned out since the beginning. How could he have? He told NYT, "I wouldn’t say the undermining of the Stark family has been a goal. It’s opportunistic. He couldn’t have foretold that Arya was going to show up again, and that Bran was going to show up again. He has played his part in the rise of the Starks, showing up last season with the Knights of the Vale, but he will also undermine it and exploit it. That’s what he’s doing — he’s trying to drive wedges between all of them." Thanks to Aiden Gillen, we now know what drives Littlefinger's nefarious deeds, and somehow, that makes him even more interesting to watch.