Richard Dormer makes ‘zany’ shift to ‘The Watch’

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Richard Dormer has gone from wielding a flaming sword on “Game of Thrones” to a more lighthearted fantasy world in “The Watch.”

Premiering Sunday, Jan. 3, on BBC America (8 p.m.), “The Watch” has an irreverent tone similar to “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.” Set in a city teeming with punk-rock aesthetics that’s “somewhere in a distant secondhand dimension” — as a title card onscreen informs viewers — and based on Terry Pratchett’s ‘Discworld’ novels, the series follows an unlikely group of misfits who find themselves having to save the city of Ankh-Morpork from a villain.  

“When I read the scripts, I’d never come across anything like it,” Dormer, 51, tells The Post from his home in Belfast.

“It’s very zany and irreverent but a real heartfelt piece of comedy.”

Richard Dormer as Captain Sam Vimes in "The Watch."
Richard Dormer as Captain Sam Vimes in “The Watch.”
Ilze Kitshoff/BBCA

Co-starring Matt Berry (“What We Do In the Shadows”) as the voice of a sword named Wayne and Sam Adewunmi (“Doctor Who”) as the nefarious Carcer Dun, the show’s humor is sometimes “Monty Python”-esque; title cards share information such as “20 years, 4,698 bottles of booze and 68,237 brain cells later” and characters utter lines like, “You’re Captain Vimes? But you were trying to urinate on that dog!”

Dormer’s character, Sam Vimes, is the captain of the city’s police force that’s known as the titular Watch.

“There’s a lot of me in Sam,” says Dormer. “I decided in my head that he’s three figures from cinema. He’s Humphrey Bogart in ‘The African Queen,’ which is where the little necktie comes from. And Lee Marvin in any of his films because he’s that wild-eyed kind of frazzled thing. And then Harrison Ford in the ‘Star Wars’ movies because he has a bit of swagger as well. On the outside, he looks rough and craggy, but inside he’s a gentle good soul.

“I think the producers thought of me because I play a lot of tortured souls; troubled men with good hearts.”

Richard Dormer and Lara Rossi in "The Watch."
Richard Dormer and Lara Rossi in “The Watch.”
Ilze Kitshoff/BBCA

Unlike Bogart, Marvin or Ford, however, Sam Vimes plays the electric guitar at one point. Dormer even learned the instrument for the role, he says. 

“It’s the most joyous thing at my ripe age to suddenly come across the electric guitar,” he said. “As a teenager, I played the acoustic because everybody else was playing electric. And now I’ve discovered it and it’s transformed my life. Half an hour or one hour a day, I plug in, and I’m on my Stratocaster.”

The Northern Irish Dormer, who co-starred in the Sky Atlantic series “Fortitude” (2015-2018), is best known for playing Beric Dondarrion on “Game of Thrones” — the eye-patch-wearing, flaming-sword-wielding leader of the Brotherhood without Banners who underwent resurrection long before Jon Snow (Kit Harington) made it fashionable. 

“When I have my beard I get stopped [by ‘GOT’ fans] in a lot of airports, train stations, restaurants,” he says. “But not so much now because the beard’s come off. It’s nice to be anonymous.”

Richard Dormer as Beric Dondarrion in “Game of Thrones.”
Richard Dormer as Beric Dondarrion in “Game of Thrones.”
Helen Sloan/HBO

He says he thinks “The Watch” will cheer audiences up. 

“I’m quite confident that once they get into it, it will lift their spirits,” he says. “It’s very dark times that we’re in. Every day I think of this quote that the show creator Simon Allen said: ‘In dark and troubled times it’s better to light a candle than curse the darkness.’ And I think that’s what this show does.

“It’s about love and hope and it’s redemptive and very funny.”

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