‘Game of Thrones': Sibel Kekilli talks Shae and meeting her maker

June 16, 2014 | 8:00 a.m.
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Arya (Maisie Williams) and the Hound (Rory McCann) meet some unexpected travelers. (Helen Sloan/HBO)

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Meera (Ellie Kendrick), Bran (Isaac Hempstead Wright) and Hodor (Kristian Nairn) on their way to the sacred tree. (Helen Sloan/HBO)

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A scene from "The Watchers on the Wall," the ninth episode of Season 4 of HBO's "Game of Thrones." (Helen Sloan/HBO)

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A scene from "The Watchers on the Wall," the ninth episode of Season 4 of HBO's "Game of Thrones." (Helen Sloan/HBO)

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A scene from "The Watchers on the Wall," the ninth episode of Season 4 of HBO's "Game of Thrones." (Helen Sloan/HBO)

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Rose Leslie as Ygritte and Kit Harington as Jon Snow in HBO's "Game of Thrones." (Helen Sloan/HBO)

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Oberyn (Pedro Pascal) and the Mountain (Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson) in battle. (Macall B. Polay / HBO)

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Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) speaks harshly to her once-trusted adviser Jorah (Iain Glen) while Grey Worm (Jacob Anderson) looks on. (Helen Sloan / HBO)

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Roose Bolton (Michael McElhatton) rewards his bastard son Ramsay (Iwan Rheon). (Helen Sloan / HBO)

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Tywin Lannister (Charles Dance) sits on the Iron Throne as judge at Tyrion's trial. (Helen Sloan / HBO)

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Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) advises his brother (Peter Dinklage). (Helen Sloan / HBO)

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Tommen (Dean-Charles Chapman) is crowned king by the High Septon (Paul Bentley). (Helen Sloan / HBO)

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Arya (Maisie Williams) shows the Hound (Rory McCann) her sword-fighting moves. (Helen Sloan / HBO)

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The lead mutineer (Burn Gorman) threatens Bran's friends (Ellie Kendrick and Thomas Brodie-Sangster). (Helen Sloan / HBO)

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The Lannisters pay their respects to the fallen King Joffrey. With Lena Headey, Dean-Charles Chapman, Jack Gleeson and Charles Dance. (Helen Sloan / HBO)

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Littlefinger (Aidan Gillen) to the supposed rescue of Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner). (Helen Sloan / HBO)

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Littlefinger (Aidan Gillen) gives Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) a lesson on his power. (Helen Sloan / HBO)

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Natalie Dormer in Sunday's episode of "Game of Thrones," "The Lion and the Rose," written by George R.R. Martin.

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Natalie Dormer and Gwendoline Christie in a scene from "Game of Thrones." (Macall B. Polay / HBO)

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Jacob Anderson and Nathalie Emmanuel in a scene from "Game of Thrones." (Macall B. Polay / HBO)

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Michiel Huisman, Nathalie Emmanuel and Emilia Clarke in a scene from "Game of Thrones." (Macall B. Polay / HBO)

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Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Peter Dinklage in a scene from "Game of Thrones." (Neil Davidson / HBO)

Sibel Kekilli has known for a long time that her days on “Game of Thrones” were numbered.

Though the German actress consciously avoided the George R.R. Martin novels on which the hit HBO series is based, over the last four years she couldn’t avoid friends and fans who hinted at the eventual fate of Shae, her character on the series.

“I ran into so many people, even my friends, who said to me, ‘I know what happens to your character,'” she said during a recent phone call from her home in Germany. “I always thought, ‘Oh God, I don’t want to hear it.’ But I knew from the beginning there wouldn’t be a happy end.”

In Sunday night’s Season 4 finale, “The Children,” that fate finally came to pass. Tyrion (Peter Dinklage), aided in a last-minute escape from execution by his brother Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and Varys (Conleth Hill), went to his father’s bed chamber to exact vengeance for his death sentence. But once there he discovered Shae, who appeared to have hooked up with dad. Unable to forgive the betrayal (and the false testimony she gave at his trial), Tyrion strangled Shae with the same necklace he once gave her as a present.

Sibel Kekilli plays Shae in "Game of Thrones." (Helen Sloan / HBO)

Sibel Kekilli plays Shae in “Game of Thrones.” (Helen Sloan / HBO)

“I always try to keep myself out of any scene I act in, but still, shooting that scene was really emotional for me,” she said. “She spent four seasons really caring for Tyrion from the bottom of her heart…. At the end, she was back to where she was before she met Tyrion. A prostitute.”

Kekilli said her final scene was not the last one shot that day, so there wasn’t much time to mourn for her character or linger over her departure from the show. But she did take one keepsake: the necklace that would end up killing Shae. She keeps it in a drawer.

Kekilli’s version of Shae was distinctly different from how the character was portrayed in Martin’s novels. The literary Shae seemed more ambiguous in her intentions, with readers never quite sure if she truly cared for Tyrion or if she was only looking out for herself. Kekilli’s Shae was more obviously committed to Tyrion. The version viewers saw on TV had more depth, but it also makes her death more tragic.

“I first met George R.R. Martin in Los Angeles for the second or third season premiere,” she remembered. “The first thing he said to me was, ‘Your Shae is better than my Shae.’ I was honored.”

QUIZ: Test your ‘Thrones’ knowledge

Kekilli says those characters were little known in Germany when she first got cast in 2010. Although  the novels were available there, they weren’t known outside of hard-core fantasy fan circles. Four years into the TV show, all that has changed.

“One friend said, ‘Sibel, you want a Chanel handbag, right? Let’s make a deal. You give me a ["Game of Thrones"] script and I buy you the handbag,'” she said. “I said, ‘No. Never!'”

Dying on “Game of Thrones” was not without its rewards, however. In March, Kekilli traveled to New York City and met fans at an event at the Barclays Center. After, she literally got to meet her maker. Martin was there and insisted on taking her out to dinner at Carnegie Deli, where she ordered the Woody Allen sandwich.

“There was so much meat, I couldn’t eat it all,” she said. “My face was like, ‘What the hell is this?'”

– Patrick Kevin Day | @LATHeroComplex

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