One day after the “Game of Thrones” cast celebrated their season eight premiere in New York with a raging party, Jacob Anderson — known for his character on the show Grey Worm — has a hangover.
The actor and musician, who makes music under the moniker Raleigh Ritchie, doesn’t usually go out. He’d prefer to lay on the floor of his home in London with his dog, or watch “The Americans” with his wife on the couch. Last night was an exception. This being the final season of the series, he had to bring the show out with a bang. So he went hard with his friends and costars Emilia Clarke, Hannah Murray and Joe Dempsie.
This afternoon, he’s feeling the effects. He asks for a water and a coffee, jokes about having a Gatorade. When given the opportunity to lie down for a photograph, he takes it willingly. But these are all physical issues. Emotionally, he’s feeling more open than ever. Whether that can be attributed to the hangover or his personal growth as he moves through his late 20s (he’s now 28), is beside the point. Anderson’s inclination for communication — once stoppered by fear of judgment and trauma — is blossoming.
“Recently, I’ve had a phase of talking to my friends about things I would never talk to them about before,” he says. “I wouldn’t have felt comfortable or I wouldn’t have felt brave enough. [I’m] working through stuff with people I love and trust, you know?”
This moment of clarity has helped him through his latest project: the creation of a new album — his second after the 2016 debut, “You’re a Man Now, Boy.” As yet, the upcoming record is unnamed and doesn’t have a release date. Still, Anderson has put out a single, “Time in a Tree,” for which he directed the music video. He also wrapped a Raleigh Ritchie tour across the U.K., Canada and the U.S. at the end of 2018 that held great significance. It ended up serving as a confidence boost. At that time, he’d reached an impasse with the album, which he’d been putting together for a few years. He found himself overthinking every line he wrote and scrapping song after song. Anderson also had taken a year off from shooting “Game of Thrones,” and, artistically speaking, felt rusty.
“I was unfit, like my stamina wasn’t going to hold up to an hour and a half [performance],” he recalls. “I almost felt real imposter syndrome before we started. I was like, ‘I think I need to cancel this tour because I’m going to be letting people down every night.’”
But Anderson realized the way to assuage the apprehension was similar to what he’d done with friends. He had to get honest with the crowd.
“I was like, ‘Plan your set, but just talk to people,’” he says. “I just came out and said to the audience, ‘It’s been a while, I’m kind of scared, this is what’s been going on for the last 18 months.’ It didn’t feel like people were like, ‘Shut up and just sing.’ It felt like people were like, ‘Let’s do this, then. Let’s talk about some stuff.’ I got energy from a tank that I didn’t even know was there.”
Anderson began his music career at 17 in his hometown, Bristol. He started out laying down guest vocal tracks for local acts like the DJ and drummer Typesun. By 23, he’d moved to London and signed with Columbia Records. Meanwhile, he was getting more involved with acting, snagging roles on English TV drama series like “Injustice” and the BBC comedy “Episodes.”
The British artist has a wandering mind with creative, almost ADD-tinged inclinations. He wants to direct every music video for the album and is even working on a musical with a friend. He wants to direct films as well, at some point — to fill another spot in his brain that isn’t satiated by writing and acting.
“My head is filled with things I think I should be doing or should’ve done already,” he says. “I slow down because I doubt myself or I get anxious or have a bout of depression. Then I have to build my confidence back up, and once that happens, then I power through until the next time.”
— Raleigh Ritchie (@RaleighRitchie) May 7, 2019
With the finale of “Game of Thrones” on the horizon, he’s most focused on finishing the album. The record — which he said is 75 percent complete — holds some songs he’s pored over for months, and others he created in one take. But through this slog, he feels he’s found what he wants to say through his music, and to whom he wants to say it.
“There are aspects of my life that, for reasons of saving face or thinking I have to be a certain kind of man, I don’t talk about,” he says. “That’s what this album is for me, talking about the weird couple years I’ve had. Hopefully other people who have had a weird couple years will get some catharsis out of it, maybe tell their own story.”
More From the Eye: