British wunderkind Jack Gleeson was all of 17 years old when he was cast as Game of Thrones’ Joffrey Baratheon, one of the most loathsome characters in modern literature. Joffrey is sadistic, thoughtless and pathetically petty. Gleeson has handled the role well enough to become something of an online punching bag, with an Internet meme blaming him for the world’s ills.
Evidently, it made quite an impression on Gleeson. After a series of philosophy and theology college courses rattled his conscience, Gleeson took a trip to Haiti that convinced him his true passion was in humanitarian aid. He has announced plans to retire once his stint on Game of Thrones wraps, saying, “The lifestyle that comes with being an actor in a successful TV show isn’t something I gravitate toward.”
He has come down particularly harshly on the idol worship in celebrity culture, telling a crowd at the Oxford Union, “What’s ironic is that you see celebrity endorsing things like musical tampons and appearing in advertisements for lavender scented teeth whiteners or something, wielding goods whose sell-by dates will ironically outlast theirs.”