Irish actress Michelle Fairley talks about her role in Game of Thrones as the third season of the epic fantasy series begins.

Michelle Fairley may have gained worldwide fame for her portrayal of the iron-willed matriarch Catelyn Stark in Game of Thrones, but it's her arch-rivals who fascinate her most when she's watching the critically-acclaimed TV series.

"I love the Lannisters, actually," she says. "I love the scheming and I love the plotting and I particularly love the scenes when all the court is together."

The noble Lannister family are bent on the domination of Westeros, the world where Game of Thrones is set and where the Stark family from the north are seen as the moral yin to their devious yang.

"I love the way they all try to scheme against each other and they all have another motive," Fairley says. "No one is ever what they seem and I just love those scenes."


Taking on the role was both challenging and daunting, she says, but all the actors appreciate the effort that goes in to putting the fantasy world together that they must then bring to life.

"Everybody gives their best for this and you walk on to these incredible sets and these amazing costumes," Fairley says.

"By the time you as the actor get into or on to the set or the location, you're the last link in the chain so you feel the energy ... then it's down to you to do your job."

Portraying the Stark matriarch, now a widow, offers her a part in their multilayered world.

"I think that what's interesting about a lot of the female characters from the Stark family. They don't come from a bad place, they come from a good place and they learn the hard way," she says.

"You have to strategise ... you have to play an underhand game, you have to be smarter than the men, you have to scheme. But it's not in their nature, it doesn't come easily."

Fairley says trying to reunite her five screen children, from whom she largely becomes separated as the story progresses, is a major challenge for Catelyn.

"Sometimes bad things are good because they give you a purpose ... you have a focus and that's what you see at the end of that dark, dark tunnel.

"It'd be very easy to give in to grief ... but she has the hope that she will get the family together again and she has to go along with that, she has to have a belief."

- AAP / TimeOut