Jack Gleeson is not a king — he just plays one on TV. In reality, the 21-year-old Irish actor best known for his role as King Joffrey Baratheon on HBO's Game of Thrones despises worship, particularly of the celebrity variety.
During a recent visit to the Oxford Union, Gleeson took the opportunity to dismantle the "religious hysteria" of celebrity worship with an appropriately epic rant, breaking down the economic, psychological, and sociological catalysts for public reverence of celebrities and their negative impact on society as a whole.
He then turns the looking glass on himself and his peers, examining what provokes in one the desire to become a celebrity, despite the inherently fleeting and impetuous nature of Hollywood.
"What's ironic is that you see celebrity endorsing things like musical tampons, and appearing in advertisements for lavender scented teeth whiteners or something," Gleeson says earlier in his speech. "Wielding goods whose sell-by dates will ironically, outlast theirs."
Gleeson, at least, is taking his own advice, and getting out of the game while he's still winning.
In November of last year, just a few days before his Oxford Union appearance, Gleeson announced his impending retirement from acting.
"It was always a recreation beforehand, but when I started doing Game of Thrones, perhaps the reality was made too real for me," he told the Irish Independent. "The lifestyle that comes with being an actor in a successful TV show isn't something I gravitate towards."