Having been busy with writing A Dance with Dragons, George has finally gotten around to writing a few words about several of the actors cast in roles. First, and most significantly, is Charles Dance as Tywin Lannister. As we exclusively revealed, Dance was always the #1 choice of the producers right from the time they got the greenlight, and George now confirms this. He also discusses Conan Stevens, cast as Gregor Clegane, noting that he first came to his attention when he auditioned first auditioned as Khal Drogo which Stevens revealed was a strategy for getting in front of the casting director in the hope that they’d keep him in mind for the Mountain that Rides.
Finally, GRRM discusses young actor Eugene Simon, cast in the role of Lancel Lannister. One of King Robert’s two squires in the novel, the other, his cousin Tyrek, will not be cast (at least not in this first season).
There’s a terrific blog post from Conan Stevens (cast as Gregor Clegane, the Mountain that Rides) from Belfast, in which he recounts details such as his diet, his training regimen, and his run-ins with Jason Momoa (Khal Drogo) and Rory McCann (Sandor Clegane, the Hound) at the training center, as well as bumping into executive producers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss. He mentions that he’s started work on a short, brutal fight sequence he’ll be taking part in, the choreography being handled by stunt coordinator Buster Reeves and his team.
Finally, after a question from us, he discusses seeing and trying on Gregor’s armor for the first time, and was very impressed by the work that was done. As he notes, having professionals making armor for you is a fair sight better than making it yourself (as he did when he was part of the SCA).
On Monday, he’ll be taking part in “intensive horse riding lessons” from a famous horse riding stunt team, and feels that with all this intense training and this film footage, he’ll be able to apply to be an accredited stuntman in his native Australia.
Actor Derek Halligan, cast in the role of the Night’s Watch master-at-arms Ser Alliser Thorne, has a long career behind him. At the Creative Choices website, he shares some of his experiences and advice to his fellow actors. It’s noted that while he has many television and film credits to his name, he still prefers theatre.
George has posted a new set of clues for the role of Grenn (“aurochs stew”):
“You’re too dumb to make this soup the way they’re making it in Belfast. Start with Becky, Tom, and Boss. Take away two fathoms. Now you want the second course. In the dark the breaker of rocks seeks the living stone. But take away the fat guy with six wives, and the babe with the bumbershoot as well, that salty wench. Out, out. What’s left tastes good, but just remember, there is no gamecock in aurochs stew. IMDB? What’s that? I’m Dumb Boy? Won’t help you here, no way, no how.”
This clue attempts to obscure things by splitting up the actor’s name, but we believe we’ve solved it: Yorkshire-born actor Mark Stanley, who is/was a third year student at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. Becky, Tom, and Boss are Mark Twain characters. Breaker of Rocks was the African nickname given to Henry Morton Stanley. Take away the Twain (the measurement from which Samuel Clemens picked his penname), take away Henry and Morton (by removing Henry VIII and the Morton Umbrella Girl), and you’re left with Mark Stanley. Another person of the same name happens to be a baseball player for the Univesity of South Carolina, whose team is named the Gamecocks.
ETA: GRRM confirms that Mark Stanley has been cast as Grenn.
As to IMDB being no help? The actor Mark Stanley has no apparent TV or film credits, and so does not appear in IMDB.
The last really major casting announcement has been made, thanks to Maureen Ryan at the Chicago Tribune: British actor Charles Dance has been cast as Tywin Lannister, Lord of Casterly Rock and patriarch of the Lannister family. Though his character appears late in the series, his presence is felt throughout the series. He is a Machiavellian figure, commanding, ambitious, and powerful.
Charles Dance was a fan favorite from early on, thanks to his performance in the BBC’s Bleak House and other productions. But Westeros.org can exclusively reveal that a source close to the production told us months ago that he was already a favorite of the executive producers, who had had an opportunity to meet with him (or so we’re told) as he was filming Your Highness in the Paint Hall in Belfast just before Game of Thrones began production there. We’re not sure why it took quite so long for negotiations to sort out, but suffice it to say, now it’s signed, sealed, and delivered.
Below, is an interview with Dance about his role in Sky’s Going Postal, an adaption from Terry Prachett’s Discworld oeuvre.
And here is Dance in his famous role of the unfeeling, grasping lawyer Tulkinghorn in Bleak House:
Dance recently appeared in actor James Franco’s short film, The Clerk’s Tale, which was promoted online with some high res stills that feature the actor in his role as a suit salesman.
The bad news: for medical reasons, Roy Dotrice has had to leave the production of Game of Thrones, which is very unfortunate. The good news is that he just needs 3-4 months of treatment and he’ll be fine. Our best wishes to Mr. Dotrice, and our hope that—as GRRM says—they’ll find a place for him in the production!
In his place, thespian Julian Glover—an old friend of Dotrice’s from the Royal Shakespeare Company, and an actor with a long, long list of credits stretching back 50 years—has been cast in the role.
And we’ve a new set of clues, a confusing set, but they seem to regard the actresses cast as Doreah and either Irri or Jhiqui (“big brother’s gift”, with GRRM clarifying in comments that his clue is for three roles only) and Shae (“sellsword’s gift”).
Over at “Not a Blog”, George R.R. Martin runs through several of the actors cast in roles related to the Vale of Arryn—Lysa Arryn, Robin Arryn, and Ser Vardis Egen. More notably, he touches on the fate of Ser Brynden Tully, the Blackfish. George explains it best, so we’ll quote him:
“... alas, his appearance has been postponed. Even with such a huge project as ours, there are budgetary constraints that require some characters to be cut, combined… or deferred to later seasons. That’s what is happening with the Blackfish. The plan, I am told, is to delay the introduction of the Tullys (Lord Hoster and Ser Edmure as well as Ser Brynden) until the second season. Brynden’s part in the events of A GAME OF THRONES will be filled in part by Ser Vardis Egen, and in part by Ser Rodrik Cassel.”
So, if the show gets a second season, we’ll be seeing the rest of the Tully clan.
As we recently learned, Castle Black was set to be built at Magheramorne Quarry. Now, a fellow fan by the handle of silverjaime has shared the first photos of the site, taken about a mile away from the building site (the nearest the public can get to it). The first picture is here, while a zoomed and cropped version can be found here. It looks like the quarry wall will serve as the Wall, either colored to look more like ice in CG, or perhaps used as a base on which to lay greenscreen.
Silverjaime also visited the Paint Hall area, and fell into discussion with the dialect coach for the production, Brendan Gunn. Gunn informed her that while the production would us “UK accents”, he did not provide details of whether there’d be regional variations other than to confirm that Aidan Gillen (cast as Littlefinger) would not use his native, Dubin accent. Gunn has previously worked on a very large number of films, including Michael Collins, The Butcher Boy, Meet Joe Black, and Snatch (where he helped Brad Pitt develop his Tinker accent). He also happens to have served as the dialogue coach for A Shine of Rainbows, a film which featured Jack Gleeson, cast as Joffrey Baratheon.
A video of Gunn discussing the dialects of A Shine of Rainbows is embedded below:
Following up on our previous report, we’re happy to see George confirm that actress Natalia Tena has won the role of Osha. As George writes: “When I saw that she was reading for Osha, my first thought was, “She’s great, but no way, she’s too young and too hot.” Then I saw her reading, and none of the other Oshas had a chance. Her charisma grabbed me by the throat and I could not take my eyes off her. David and Dan felt the same way. We’re all thrilled to have her.”
It sounds like an auspicious start to her time in the series!
GRRM’s latest clue seems to have gone up within moments of the deal being signed on the dotted line. He writes that this “wildling wench” is known both to Arthur and Morgana, that she’s not met Theon’s sister in the books (“yet”) but that she has in real life, and that both the actress and the character have “made a splash”.
The Rabbit01 seems to have cracked it, noting that Natalia Tena—best known for her role as Nymphadora Tonks in the Harry Potter films—has worked in productions with both Jamie Campbell Bower (King Arthur in Starz’s new series, Camelot, which led to Bower’s part in Game of Thrones recast) and Eva Green (Morgana in the same Starz production). Furthermore, Tena was at boarding school with singer-songwriter Lily Allen, the famous sister to Alfie Owen Allen, the actor cast as Theon (and recently confirmed to still hold the part in the fact sheet).
But the splash? Well, Osha did splash about in Winterfell’s hotsprings ... and as it happened, Tena made her own splash according to the Daily Mail, when she went skinnydipping in the middle of a crowded music festival. The same article mentions her connection to Lily Allen, which suggests to us that this article served as the source for two of the clues GRRM provided.
That seems to be much too perfect, so we’re going to endorse The Rabbit’s guess. We’ll update when/if GRRM confirms.
The fact sheet has quite a lot to absorb, so here’s the highlights in terms of new actors and crew that we’ve not heard of before today.
Lets start with new crew. First up, two new directors of photography have been named. Marco Pontecorvo and Alik Sakharov are both veterans of past HBO productions, particularly Rome. Pontecorvo recently made a mark as a director for the film Pa-ra-da, which garnered him several awards as well, while the Russian-born Sakharov received an Emmy for his cinemtaography on during the Rome episode titled “Passover”.
Joining them on the production side are a few new directors. For us, the most notable is Alan Taylor, an HBO go-to guy with many HBO productions under his belt, as well episodes of shows as diverse as Lost, Mad Men, and Nurse Jackie; he won an Emmy for his direction of a Sopranos episode, and has several other noms from the Director’s Guild Awards. The other new director named is Daniel Minahan, another go-to guy who’s directed episodes of Deadwood, Big Love, and a notable five episodes on True Blood.
Production designer Gemma Jackson and costume designer Michele Clapton remain on board with the production, which is very good to see. Though we’ve known this for a good while, I’ll note that the fact sheet confirms that the writing breakdown remains the same: executive producers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss will write seven of the episodes, while Bryan Cogman, Jane Espenson (of Buffy and BSG fame), and George R.R. Martin will write one episode each.
Of note for the production? Morocco is out—something George hinted may be a possibility a long while ago—and instead it looks like the second location for shooting will be Malta. Malta, rich in scenery—especially medieval castles, walls, ports, and so on—and a spare beauty will doubtless serve for shots of Pentos and the like, and will be an excellent locale if the series goes forward to a second or third season
And following the production teams and notes? The actors. Oh, boy, the actors. There’s so many of them!
The most significant additions to the list must be James Cosmo as the Old Bear, Jeor Mormont, a casting George revealed which is not yet on the fact sheet (see here for two other roles GRRM has confirmed). After that, it sure looks like Jerome Flynn as Bronn (Official Site) is the most noteworthy casting choice.
After that are the guest cast, which makes up the bulk of new additions to the casting rolls. I’m just going to paste them all below:
James Cosmo has been cast in the role of Jeor Mormont, Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch, according to GRRM’s latest post after someone finally got his devious clue (after he helpfully provided a hint). Cosmo is well-known to fans of genre film due to his memorable role in Braveheart as Campbell, the irascible, tough-as-nails father of Brendan Gleeson’s character. George says that Cosmo blew away the competition in his reading.
Keep an eye here, we’ll soon be covering all the new actors released in some more detail! To tide you over, here’s a show reel of Mr. Cosmo:
As per our previous post, our endorsement of the guess of Derek Halligan for Ser Alliser Thorne is correct; good job, Mormegil99! You can learn more about Halligan at Ulster Actors. The other clue, the lord who never had lines in the books, will be played by Sir John Standing, who played one of the leads in the adaption of GRRM’s novella, Nightflyers, more than 20 years ago.
GRRM promises many more roles to be announced shortly—we expect some news today—and hints that “maybe even a big one that you have all been eager for” will also be revealed in time.
Below is a video of Sir John conducting a public reading:
George R.R. Martin has provided fresh clues to three as-yet-unannounced roles, saying two are lords and the third is a knight. He writes:
“The first flew by night to find the truth. The second is a merry man from the god of war. The third was a supervillain, and once ambled amongst oak trees and hollies, where he might have come across a golden rose.”
In comments, the difficulty of these clues lead to some remarks, with GRRM responding that he wanted to make them tougher since the fans have been so quick to solve them in the past. However, we’re tenatively endorsing one guess: Derek Halligan as Ser Alliser Thorne (known for his derisive nicknames for Night’s Watch recruits, including Pimple, Monkey, and Ser Loon), via Mormegil99. Halligan has been in the long-running British drama/soap Hollyoaks, alongside actor Finn Jones (playing Ser Loras Tyrell, who bears a golden rose on his shield) and played the part of a supervillain, Dr. Nightshade, in a film titled Tonight We Fly.
The other two clues are unclear as yet, but the lord who gave up a lordship and received another strikes us as Lord Jeor Mormont, Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch (others are guessing Janos Slynt), while the silent lord… At first we read this as Ser Ilyn Payne, but obviously he’s not a lord. It seems possible that a scene from a draft of the pilot which was never actually shot—the death of Jon Arryn—may be reinstated in the course of the extensive reshooting.
GRRM also adds that Renly Baratheon will soon be announced, to complete the small council. Stannis Baratheon, however, will not be making any appearances in the first season.