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Sopranos Director Joins Game of Thrones

Timothy van Patten, one of HBO’s most well-known and well-regarded directors with credits including The Sopranos, Sex and the City, The Pacific, Deadwood, Rome, The Wire, and nearly half the episodes of Boardwalk Empire, has come on board to direct at least one episode of HBO’s new fantasy drama series. He joins previously announced directors Brian Kirk, Daniel Minahan, and Alan Taylor.

Although this information has unofficially been floating around for a week or two (a hat-tip to The Rabbit for first noting it to us), HBO asked us to hold off on reporting it as GRRM had been intending to do it. However, with his busy schedule and departure for Ireland for awhile, they gave us the go ahead. We can certainly understand that, given his profile among A-list television directors.

Inish Times Meets Art Parkinson

The Inish Times has a cute profile of young Art Parkinson, recently revealed to be cast in the role of Rickon Stark, the youngest of the Stark children. Art, 8 years old, was apparently chosen after a massive (and unsuccessful) effort across Ireland, England, and Scotland to find just the right actor for Rickon. According to his mother, actress and drama school teacher Movania Parkinson:

“I’m an actress so I’d know a lot of people and friend of mine told me about how the team behind ‘Game of Thrones’ were looking for a Rickon Stark and couldn’t find him. She said she was surprised we hadn’t put Art up for audition so we did. He did a screen test on the Friday, met with the producers on the Monday. He met with Brendan Gunn, the voice coach who is also a native Irish man and he was asked to do the same reading as he had previously done. The next thing we knew they said ‘Congratulations, you’ve got the part.’
Aidan Gillen Interviewed

The Irish Times has published a profile of Aidan Gillen, the Irish actor cast in the role of Lord Petyr Baelish, better known to fans as Littlefinger. Gillen was a popular fan choice for the role, after his stellar work in such series as the original Queer as Folk and The Wire. The interview is largely focused on another project, Love/Hate, but Game of Thrones is referred to when his current facial hair is brought to the reader’s attention:

The facial hair he is sporting is for a role in the upcoming HBO series Game of Thrones (billed as “ The Sopranos in Middle Earth”), currently shooting in Belfast.

His character, Petyr Baelish, is a shadowy, mercurial figure. “So I based this look on Peter Mandelson circa 1984,” he says.

For those not familiar with U.K. Politics, Peter Mandelson was a television producer who rose to prominence with his involvement in the Labour party. He was one of the first individuals described as a “spin doctor” in the U.K., and earned the sobriquet of “the Prince of Darkness.” He did indeed wear a mustache in the 80’s and early 90’s.

Gillen’s remark suggests that the specific look for Petyr is his interpretation, which is interesting.

Casting Updates from GRRM

While getting back into the swing of things after his trip to Australia, George R.R. Martin has provided some interesting updates on casting.

The role of the youngest Stark child, Rickon, has finally been filled with the a Belfast-native child actor, Art Parkinson. He very briefly appears in the 2008 Northern Irish horror film Red Mist (produced by Mark Huffam, a key member of the Game of Thrones production):

art parkinson (1)

He seems about 5-7 years old here, so we suppose he’s in the 7-9 range, a good deal older than the 3-year-old described in the books.

More notably, the role of the maegi Mirri Maz Duur—a character who appears late in the first novel, and plays an important role in the narrative—has been given to Mia Soteriou (George writes Sotiriou, but the production confirms that Soteriou is correct). A vocal coach and theatre composer as well as an actress, she appeared in the international hit Mamma Mia!, and has a number of theatrical and television credits in the U.K. Looking at her photos, she certainly looks the part.

Finally, there’s been a minor change in the role Elyes Gabel is playing. Originally cast as the Dothraki warrior Jhogo, he has been redubbed Rakharo, another of Daenerys’s personal guards. The reason given was that it was felt Jhogo sounded too similar to Drogo. We discuss the differences between the two characters, such as they are, on our characters page.

Muscular Dothraki Warriors Wanted

Extras NI has put out a fresh, urgent call for extras to be Dothraki Warriors. The specific brief is for “dark, swarthy skinned, muscly men that are at least 5 ft 10 to 6 ft 6 in height”. Contact information is provided in the above link.

It’s been noted to us that second unit filming in Malta was already supposed to have begun, and principal filming was set to start in October. Could the urgency of this call for extras be a suggestion that there’s a problem with obtaining sufficient extras at the Malta end?  It’s interesting to wonder whether any of these extras will find themselves offered a trip to Malta for the several weeks of shooting there.

Roger Allam Joins Game of Thrones

HBO has informed us that the character of Magister Illyrio Mopatis, scheming benefactor to Viserys and Daenerys Targaryen, has been recast. Roger Allam, a well-known actor of stage and screen, has been cast in the role after Ian McNeice had to withdraw from the part. McNeice had filmed the role for the pilot, butthe recasting of Daenerys and the consequent necessary reshoots led to a scheduling conflict that could not be sorted out.

Among notable roles played by Allam are Inspector Javert in the first London staging of Les Misérables, two Laurence Oliver Award-winning theatrical roles in 2000 and 2001, sleazy television presenter Lewis Prothero in the film adaption of Alan Moore’s V for Vendetta, and a leading role in the new film Tamara Drewe. Below is an interview with actor from September 8 during the U.K. premiere of the film:

Daenerys Targaryen Still

And to wrap up the initial burst of new media from HBO for Game of Thrones, here’s their new still of Daenerys Targaryen, played by Emilia Clarke. Gorgeous!

Third Game of Thrones Promotional Image

Credit: Helen Sloan/HBO. Used with permission.

More Child Actors

One of the features of Game of Thrones is the number of characters—some quite significant—who are children. Two smaller parts along these lines have now been filled, according to Winter is Coming: Callum Wharry as Prince Tommen Baratheon and Aimee Richardson as his elder sister Princess Myrcella. We reported on her casting for the pilot last year, although it was indicated then that hers was the sort of role that may be recast if the series went forward. Clearly, that’s not the case.

New Amrita Acharia Interview

Amrita Acharia, cast in the role of Irri, has been interviewed in national Norwegian paper, Dagbladet. Below is a partial translation provided by A Song of Ice and Fire forum member Lacuna:

[Filler about HBO’s previous sucesses] The norwegian girl has been cast in the new HBO show ”Game of Thrones”, which is currently being filmed in Ireland and Malta. The show is based on the series ”Song of Ice and Fire” by George R. R. Martin. The cast is comprised of several well-know actors, such as Sean Bean, best known for his role as Boromir in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. ”This is of course incredible. I have a supporting role, but I am in eight of the ten episodes of the first series. I play Irri, the maid of one of the main characters”, Acharya says to Dagbladet. A learning experience The Tromsø native received her education at The Academy of Live and Recorded Arts (ALRA) in London, and has mostly done theater work so far. She says the transition to a production like Game of Thrones is enormous. ”There is a massive crew involved. The budget is huge, and the sets are gigantic. Even though I’m not a main character, this really is a great learning experience.” And the 23-year-old has a lot to look forward to. Her career is really kicking off, even though it’s only been a year since she got her bachelor’s degree at ALRA. [Information about her other projects, (TV series Doctors, movie The Devil’s Double), background, (Katmandu, Ukraine, England, Tromsø), rejection for Norwegian citizenship, Visa to the UK expiring.]

At the end, the articles notes that Canal+ will air Game of Thrones in Norway beginning Fall or Winter 2011.

Jason Momoa at Dragon*Con

We’ve had a few reports from Dragon*Con, where Jason Momoa has been hanging out this weekend, signing autographs and participating in panels. We’ve had a couple of reports from fans who’ve had a chance to chat with him. First, Sidney reports that Drogo’s braid reaches to Jason’s knees (if you’re wondering, yes, that’s somewhat longer than Drogo’s braid is described in A Game of Thrones, but that’s quite a minor detail!)

And some interesting details from 10zlaine. First and foremost, Jason unequivocally indicated that the Twitter account using his name is a fake. See the photographic proof, a very fierce Momoa holding up a signed paper in which he wrote, “It’s a fake twitter account. Kill that motherfucker. I am Jason Momoa.” Remember, folks, if a celebrity account isn’t verified, be wary.

Now, as to HBO’s Game of Thrones, 10zlaine notes that Jason indicated he was going to go back to filming very soon after Dragon*Con; we’re guessing this will be shooting interiors and some exteriors in Northern Ireland before filming shifts to Malta in October. Jason also remarked that he’s working hard at learning some lengthier chunks of dialogue for Drogo, made difficult by the fact that it’s all in David J. Peterson’s Dothraki language created for the series.

The Eyrie in September Too?

An article in the Brazilian magazine Epoca Sao Paulo feaures young actor Lino Facioli, and mentions his role in Game of Thrones. Chiefly, it notes that he’s due to start filming his scenes—as Robin Arryn, the sickly young Lord of the Eyrie—this month. The article also covers his concern about having to wear removable braces and his role in the Russel Brand film Get Him to the Greek.

For those keeping score, Lino’s scenes would fit into Catelyn’s sixth and seventh chapters.

Thanks to MouthTheOne for bringing the article to light, and WiCnet for the RT. Also, a translation of the article can be found here, provided by Vasco Cardoso.

The Headsman and the Ranger’s Return

Via Winter is Coming, the role of Ser Ilyn Payne—the mute King’s Justice, headsman for King Robert—has been given to musician Wilko Johnson, once of the blues band Dr. Feelgood. Also, Bronson Webb is back on board as the ranger Will after scheduling conflicts put this in jeopardy; we’re glad to hear this in particular, having been told by sources involved in the production that he was absolutely terrific on and off set.

Finally, via Twitter, something we’ll classify as second-hand, the claim that author Steven Erikson (best known for the Malazan Book of the Fallen epic fantasy series) revealed at the Czech convention, Tricon that he would be riding a horse as an extra during Game of Thrones. From what the original reporter, webmaster of the Czech A Song of Ice and Fire fansite, says, he was told Erikson said this via a friend. We’re looking to see if we can get confirmation from Erikson himself.

Updated: As we guessed, this was a misunderstanding due to the second hand nature of the information. Over at Tor.com, Erikson posed that he had expressed interest in being an extra because he’s an equestrian, but it’s not the case that he is now one.

Below, we’ve embedded a video of Johnson performing in London three years ago:

And here’s a documentary in which Johnson was interviewed:

Joe Dempsie Interview

Following Alfie Allen’s interview yesterday, Joe Dempsie (cast as Gendry) discusses his role with the Crosby Herald. He remarks on how he’s started hitting the gym more to better fit the role, though he admits his 5’8” height is something he won’t be able to fix for those expecting Gendry to be tall.

The reporter’s description of Gendry as someone who could “unite or destroy” the Seven Kingdoms should probably be taken with a grain of salt rather than as some indication of any greatly changed role for the character.

Alfie Allen Interview

ITN has posted a brief video interview with Alfie Allen, the actor cast in the role of Theon Greyjoy (who can very briefly be glimpsed in HBO’s teaser). Alfie mentions that he’ll be playing Eddard Stark’s ward, and that part of his role involves learning an accent. When asked what sort of accent, he responds that he’s not allowed to say. Whether this accent is the same general accent chosen for Westeros, or is intended to represent something of his origins on the Iron Isles, is an interesting question.

The stills from it show that his hair is a good deal longer than it was when the pilot was shot.

Allen’s has recently completed filming on a film about the 1970’s Northern Soul music scene, SoulBoy.

Martin Confirms, Adds a Fifth

George R.R. Martin has confirmed all four guesses that we’ve listed (with added Youtube videos featuring performances): Lalor Roddy as “Assassin”, Simon Lowe as “Wineseller”, Mark Lewis Jones as Shagga, and Clive Mantle as the Greatjon. He also adds a fifth name to the mix, Susie Kelley, cast in the role of innkeeper Masha Heddle.

He’s taking off for Australia and the Worldcon there on Monday, so does not expect he’ll be providing updates for when other roles—he lists Ser Ilyn Payne, Prince Tommen, Princess Myrcella, Rickon Stark, Mirri Maz Duur, “and more”—are cast and can be announced.