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!
Wow. Double wow, actually. We’ve been amazed and delighted with the casting, production, and writing team ... but this is the first time we’ve had our jaws drop.
From a tweet by Miltos Yerolemou, we discover that the legendary fight choreographer (this is not an exaggeration), William Hobbs, has been training Miltos ahead of his role as the Braavosi waterdancer Syrio Forel, formerly First Sword for the Sealord of Braavos. Hobbs has been responsible for just about every memorable fencing duel on stage and screen for 30 years. Memorable examples? Richard Lester’s The Three Musketeers and The Four Musketeers, The Duellists, and especially Rob Roy, as well as the award-winning stage production of Hamlet from 1995 which won notice from the New York Times and led to a profile of the fight choreographer.
What’s most noticeable is that Hobbs has no professional TV/Film credits these last 5 years, so his involvement in the background of Game of Thrones is a remarkable coup.
Below, we leave you with a video featuring what I consider to be the very finest duel ever put to film, from the finale of Rob Roy:
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:
HBO has released a massive fact sheet, full of casting information for lesser parts. The content of the sheet follows below. Keep an eye on this page later on the day, as we link up all the actors we can to IMDB pages, official sites, and/or videos.
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.
Thanks to Maureen Ryan, we have some new information on casting for HBO’s Game of Thrones. First up, the role of Varys—the eunuch spymaster called the Spider—will be played by Conleth Hill, who received the Laurence Olivier Theatre Award in 2001 for best actor in “Stones in His Pockets”. Hill has a personal website here.
The other news is that the role of Ser Waymar Royce, a young ranger of the Night’s Watch, has been recast. Originally the role was played by Jamie Campbell Bower, who has a notable fan-following thanks to his appearances in the Harry Potter series, but reshoots of the scenes (which we were aware of following news that the role of Will was being urgently recast—Bronson Webb being away filming Pirates of the Caribbean 4) meant that the actor (who has been cast as King Arthur in Starz’s new Arthurian series, Camelot) was unavailable. Instead, the role will be played by Rob Ostlere, a RADA graduate who has recently started his career on television in the U.K.
Below is a clip from the comedy Whatever Works, starring Larry David which features Conleth Hill in a role rather different from what Varys will be like, to say the least:
GRRM has been confirming a number of the casting reports which we’ve already made, such as Jamie Sives as Jory and Ian McElhinney as Barristan the Bold. He has just mentioned, however, that we’re sure to have more casting announcements soon. This falls in line with everything we’ve heard, and of course, with shooting set to begin in a week and a half, it makes sense.
In other news, North Ireland Screen has sent out an urgent request for swarthy, experienced horsemen for the Game of Thrones production. These are obviously extras for the Dothraki, and it seems like they’re not quite finding as many suitable riders as they’d like in Northern Ireland. If you or anyone you know fits the bill, this is a ripe opportunity for getting involved in the production.
Easily lost in the big casting news headlining the article, James Hibberd’s post at the Live Feed addressed two other points. First, although initially reporting that HBO was making an effort to put together an extended teaser or trailer for San Diego Comic Con, Hibberd now says that isn’t happening.
More notably, Hibberd addresses the extensive re-shooting that various re-castings (Michelle Fairley as Catelyn, Emilia Clarke as Daenerys, and now Will—a minor character who is featured heavily in the prologue—currently in recasting) will necessitate. According to Hibberd’s sources, the re-shooting shows HBO’s commitment to getting it right. Hibberd provides what may be an amusing example of the level of obsession HBO and the production team have over this: “When you’re creating a whole fantasy universe from a hit book series, you can end up with 20 opinions about what a chair looks like.”
George is back from teaching at the Clarion Writer’s Workshop, and is preparing a post about all the recent casting news, including a hint about the Aiden Gillen casting that came out just moments before his own post. Keep an eye on his “Not a Blog” to see what he has to say about the various casting items which we’ve been reporting on. The first entry is on the casting of Samwell Tarly and Rast, in which GRRM promises four more members of the Night’s Watch set will soon be announced.
One of the most anticipated remaining casting announcements for HBO’s adaption of George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones has just come out, courtesy of James Hibberd at the Hollywood Reporter’s blog, The Live Feed.
Aidan Gillen, a fan favorite from early on, has been cast in the role of Lord Petyr Baelish, more popularly known as Littlefinger. A scheming, immoral social-climbing conniver, Baelish is a pivotal character in the series, one that viewers are sure to love to hate.
Gillen first came to prominence in his breakthrough role as Stuart Allen Jones in the original Queer as Folk in the U.K., and has since gone on to appear in a number of productions, most notably the role of Mayor Carcetti (also a political schemere par excellance) in HBO’s acclaimed The Wire. Some months back, Paul Gude was in contact with his agent, and learned that the agent had heard about the possibility of a role for his client and expressed their interest. It seems to have worked out.
Below are two videos, one featuring him reading in his native Dublin accent. The other, we’re told, is a pivotal scene from The Wire which we’re placing below the cut as it contains spoilers:
According to the incomparable Oliver Powell, Ian McElhinney has been cast in the role of the famous Ser Barristan Selmy, the Lord Commander of King’s Robert’s Kingsguard. McElhinney, a Belfast native, has an extensive thirty-year career behind him. Most recently, he has appeared in a number of U.K. and Irish productions, including playing the role of Pope Clement VII in The Tudors. He’s turned his hand to stage directing with “Rock Doves”, which led to the interview (one of four parts) embedded below:
McElhinney has also lent his voice to dramatic readings as well, as seen as here:
A new interview with Lena Headey—cast as Cersei Lannister in HBO’s Game of Thrones—finds her talking about the series and her character. After having been away from work for a number of months due to her pregnancy and then birth of her first child, she describes herself as excited and “very ready and not ready one bit” to get back to work. Though she hasn’t read the novels, she seems to have a good grasp on what makes Cersei tick, as well: “smart , insecure, ferociously maternal, cutthroat, paranoid.”