Back in July, we presented to you, Gentle Readers, our dream cast for the second season of HBO’s hit show Game of Thrones, based off George R. R. Martin’s book series A Song of Ice and Fire. Nearly two months later, casting is starting to wrap up, so we thought we’d take a moment to introduce you to the actors who will actually be donning their armor and stepping into Westeros. Surprised? Bemused? Some other reaction? Let us know what you think in the comments! Surprised? Bemused? Some other reaction? Let us know what you think in the comments!
You’ll notice that this isn’t entirely comprehensive. This is intentional; rather than inundate you all with every last page and squire who will be joining the cast, we’ve focused mainly on the major players. Like dead king Robert Baratheon’s (Mark Addy) brother Stannis. As a matter of fact, Stannis seems as good a place to start as any, so let’s begin, shall we?
Stannis Baratheon: Stephen Dillane
We’ve remarked before about how humorless and unnlikeable the second Baratheon brother is; however, we’ve also mentioned that a) Stannis is the true heir to the throne of Westeros (Joffrey isn’t Robert’s son and Renly is the youngest of the three brothers), and that b) Even if he doesn’t have a whole lot of people skills, he’s an excellent naval commander and might still make a good king. So who’s been tasked with the formidable challenge of making an extremely unlikeable character just as watchable as his friendlier counterparts? British stage and screen actor Stephen Dillane. You might recognize him from his work as Virginia Woolf’s (Nicole Kidman) husband Leonard Woolf in The Hours or as Thomas Jefferson in the 2008 miniseries John Adams—which, notably, was also an HBO production. Fun fact: Stephen’s son Frank played the 16-year-old Tom Riddle in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.
Melisandre of Asshai: Carice van Houten
Okay, so I REALLY wanted Christina Hendricks for Stannis’ magical, prophetic, sort-of-evil Lady in Red… but I’m kind of intrigued by the casting of Dutch actress Carice van Houten. Apparently she was originally up for a role in the first season of the show, but couldn’t take it due to scheduling constraints; though that role hasn’t been revealed, it’s generally believed that she was a frontrunner for Cersei Lannister, the role that eventually went to Lena Headey. Van Houten has said that she dislikes Hollywood, which is why her entire body of work consists of European films that American audiences may or may not have seen. She did, however, make quite an impression in 2006’s Black Book, so we can be pretty sure that she’s got some serious chops. Also, I kind of dig that HBO has cast a non-American or British actress as Melisandre; as with Shae (remember Tyrion’s favorite prostitute?), Melisandre is exotic and strange, so it was a shrewd move to cast someone from a less conventional (at least, as far as Hollywood goes) background.
Ser Davos Seaworth: Liam Cunningham
When news of this piece of casting first hit, all I could do was sit there and stare at Liam Cunningham’s picture while thinking, “gosh, he looks AWFULLY familiar…” And then it hit me: In 1995, a film adaptation of the Frances Hodgson Burnett novel A Little Princess was released, and Liam Cunningham played Sara Crewe’s father. Davos, you’ll recall, was once a smuggler, and it was only after he managed to sneak in some food to Stannis’ besieged castle that he was granted a knighthood—after, of course, being fined by Stannis a joint each from four of his fingers for his past crimes. Now that he’s a little older and a little craggier, he’s got just the right balance of rough-and-tumble and refinement needed to play a knight of Davos’ humble origins.