Lino Facioli was about 9 years old when he was cast in Game of Thrones as Robin Arryn, the cruel, petulant heir to one of the most powerful houses in the North. He’s remembered for two things: his love of watching helpless adults flail to their deaths through the Eyrie’s Moon Door, and his insatiable appetite for breastmilk, suckled directly from the teat of his sociopathic mom, Lysa Arryn.
After a surprise appearance in one of the most pivotal scenes in the series finale, however, Robin Arryn staked one last claim to fame: this hell of a glow-up.
Robin sits among a council of lords and ladies who vote to crown Bran Stark king of Westeros, a scene notable for depicting the invention of democracy and time-traveling plastic water bottles, and as fans noted on social media, the revelation that Lysa’s “good strong boy” Robin now looks like Prince Charming. Memes were born. Feelings were conflicted. “Milk Boy Got Hot” became a real headline. Not since Neville Longbottom in his post-Harry Potter days has a child star in a fantasy franchise seemed to benefit so unfairly from puberty.
Facioli, who turns 19 this year, is taking the attention in stride. “I love it,” he laughs in a phone conversation from London. For him, the two days since Sunday’s finale have been “quite an interesting blur”—a distinctly English understatement for someone who didn’t know for certain whether he’d be in the finale at all, did not watch the episode live, and woke up Monday morning to a phone buzzing with flattering memes about him. “I still can’t wrap my head around it,” he says. “I was a part of something I could never have imagined was ever going to get so big.”
Apart from what it was like to help decide the future of Westeros, Facioli—who is also a well-traveled, talented sketch artist and painter with a love of vintage cars—spoke with The Daily Beast about his early days on Game of Thrones, the secretive filming of the finale, and why everyone needs to chill out about the breast milk.
What did you think of the way Twitter reacted to seeing Robin Arryn again in the finale?
I love it. I loved it, I’m not gonna lie. I could never have imagined this was going to happen. I thought maybe tops there were going to be a few people emailing me, messaging me or whatever, but this was really beyond my expectations. It started off on Monday morning, I was just flooded with notifications. People calling me, people asking for interviews. It just kind of feels like I’ve stepped out of reality for a bit, really. It’s a real adventure; it’s been really fun so far.
How do you feel about the nickname “Milk Boy” for Robin?
You know, I’m gonna go with it. I wasn’t totally sure about it, but it’s catchy, isn’t it? I think I might have to update my Instagram bio.
We last saw Robin in Season 6 when he agreed to send the Knights of the Vale to help defend Sansa from House Bolton (and not to throw Yohn Royce out the Moon Door). What do you imagine he’s been up to all this time?
That is a good question. It’s a very hard one to answer. I have a few theories. And maybe the most realistic one is he’s just been there, bored out of his mind, training to be a good soldier or a good leader or whatever, and he started maturing a bit through that. But I’d like to think he’s been training all this time and he’s actually now an incredible warrior who managed to defeat the whole of the White Walker armies and didn’t really make a big fuss about it, you know, just stayed out of the limelight for the whole thing. That’s my opinion. That’s what I’d like to think happens.
He didn’t seem to care very much in the moment about who ends up king.
Yeah, I don’t think so. I think he’s gone from like the immature kid to the bored teenager phase, in my opinion, and he couldn’t give less of a shit about what’s going on. You know when your parents take you to an event that you don’t want to go to when you’re a kid? That’s sort of my opinion of where his feelings are in the moment.
What do you remember about shooting the breastfeeding scenes? Was that uncomfortable as a kid?
Uh, yeah, I wouldn’t lie to you, it was a new experience. Well, I mean obviously, I guess I’d done it as a baby. But I mean it was a new experience doing it as a conscious child-preteen in front of a bunch of other people. It was curious. But I think at the end of the day, people sort of make it seem like a bigger deal than it really was. You know, it’s something that happens, obviously not until that age very frequently, but it is something that happens in nature and I’ve never really had much a to-do around it. And even though it wasn’t an easy scene to do, it was what my character did and it was a part of the role. And it also did help very much that the actress who played my mother [Lysa Arryn], Kate Dickie, was an absolute star who just really made sure, “If you’re not feeling comfortable, don’t do it.” So there was someone to guide me through it, to not make me feel immense pressure around this, so it really didn’t affect me as much as people think it did, I think.
When did you find out you were going to be in the finale?
So, this is a complex one. I filmed for it around this time last year in Seville. But it’s all smoke and mirrors, there’s so much secrecy and mystery around the whole thing that, in all honesty, I wasn’t sure that I was in it until Monday morning when I was getting all these notifications telling me like, “You made it, man!” That was it. That was my realization of what was going on. And even still, I never expected this big reaction. It’s been a pretty interesting few days.
You weren’t sure whether the scene you filmed would make it into the finale, or you weren’t sure whether it was a fake-out, alternate ending altogether?
Both! Because I’d filmed for [the show] before and some scenes tend to get cut and on top of that, there was a rumor going around that this was like a red herring. I mean, I thought that it probably was the main ending because they made quite a big thing about it and they flew all the actors to Spain. I had a hunch that it probably was the correct ending, but even still I wasn’t sure about that. And on top of that, scenes get cut a lot, so I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it onto it. So I’m just enjoying the fact that I did and being grateful for it, really.
Were you rooting for Robin to have a shot at the throne? There was a slim but very real chance at the start of Season 8 that he could have ended up on it by default.
Oh, yeah. Definitely. I was 100 percent rooting for Robin. I think that’s what you do as an actor, even when your character’s a prick like Robin. You love your character, you have to have empathy for your character. And of course I wanted to see what it would have been like to see Robin on the throne. I knew that the chances of that were pretty slim, but I was still rooting for him nonetheless. (Laughs)
Do you remember your reaction to finding out that Bran ends up king?
Yeah. The whole situation, them basically forming an electoral college in Westeros, came as a pretty big shock, as well as the whole—I don’t want to drop any spoilers for people who haven’t seen the entire episode—but the Jon Snow and Daenerys thing, that was all a shock. I found that all out just by reading the script and by being there on set and doing the scene. So yeah, it was a pretty big reveal. But I’ve had a couple of months to get used to the idea.
Do you think he’ll be a good king of Westeros?
Probably better than Robin Arryn. (Laughs) But I think nonetheless having someone who can see beyond, a leader who isn’t shortsighted and can see beyond the confines of his own condition and have empathy with all those people—I’m getting really deep into this, but you know what I mean? That’s something that’s important in a leader and he has the potential to do that, being the Three-Eyed Raven and so on. I think the people of Westeros will probably be better off with him than everyone else who came before.
What was it like filming the council scene? It must have been hot that day, guessing from the water bottle on set.
Did you see the leak that happened with the water bottles?
OK, I was worried you hadn’t seen it and everyone would be like, “Robin Arryn points out massive water bottle.” But no, we went to lovely Seville in the south of Spain, and it was an amazing experience. The whole thing was just so beautiful. We went to these old, old ruins to film the last scene and everyone was there—well not everyone, at least a couple of people have died since filming started. But most of the main cast was there in this surreal location, filming this important scene. It was amazing. It was also very hot. We had cooling suits, like a Spandex-type thing where it goes under your costume and has cool water running through from these pumps, just to keep us cool on set. It was proper, like, astronaut gear.
I have a question for you about the council itself. Was everyone identified by name in the script? There were a few new faces there, and I wondered whether one of them was supposed to be Howland Reed.
Ooh. The short answer is I really wouldn’t know and if I did, I’m not sure I’d be able to talk about it. But I have no idea, honestly, I’m not lying!
OK, OK. Did anyone apart from your family know you were going to be in the scene?
I’m not sure if I’m allowed to say because I probably wasn’t allowed to tell people. (Laughs) But yeah, my close friends and stuff knew. But because I was never a hundred-percent sure I was going to be in it, I always really played it down and was like, “I might be in it, I filmed for it.” I guess I couldn’t lie about filming for it because people knew when I was off filming. So they sort of had a hunch that something was up. But I never wanted to confirm it a hundred percent because A) I can’t, and B) there’s always a chance of it not going through.
What are your feelings on how Season 8 unfolded? Was there anything you would have liked to see on the show that we didn’t get to?
Yeah. It’s a tricky one. I know there’s a lot of people who aren’t too happy about the whole thing. But it’s so hard to say because, how do you finish off a series the size of this one? It’s so much pressure to get something good. And while there are things that I would have liked to see, I’ve warmed to the way things have played out. And for my character at least, it’s all played out pretty well it seems.
Are you in university now? Do you plan to keep pursuing acting?
So I’ve just finished a foundation in arts and design at Camborne College of Arts in London a couple of weeks ago. And as soon as I finished that, I’ve just been so busy with roles. Like, it came with perfect timing. I’m doing a play at the moment in Covent Garden in London called To Drone in the Rain, which I’ve posted about on my Instagram, and I’m also filming a couple of projects which I’m not sure if I’m allowed to talk about just yet. But yeah, it’s all playing out quite well so far.