Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...

The Best Performances From The 'Game Of Thrones' Cast

The Playlist By The Playlist Staff | The Playlist April 8, 2014 at 3:46PM

Oh, “Game of Thrones,” we’ve missed you so. But now that, as of Sunday's season opener, we are back in the warm embrace of a new season of the HBO phenomenon (which has officially been renewed for two further seasons), we’ve also found ourselves plunged back into the midst of one of the biggest ensemble casts on TV, and occasionally snapping our fingers at the screen going “Him! Him! That guy! Wasn’t he in that thing with the other guy from whatjacallit?” It’s one of the great joys of this exquisitely made show that the cast is so rich and deep and full of “that guy” character actors, but it can also be a bit of a pain when their other credits don’t come readily to mind, or when they’re rendered so unrecognisable under prosthetics, accents and/or exotic costumes that you simply can’t place them.
12
Game of Thrones, Season 3, Diana Rigg

Diana Rigg
Role in “Game of Thrones”: The formidable Lady Olenna Tyrell, de facto head of the Tyrell clan whose granddaughter Margaery is about to be married to the King, but has not, unlike others we could mention, allowed years of politicking and jockeying for power to dull her wits or her sense of humor.
Yes, But Where Else Do I Know Her From? One of the best recent additions to the cast, the 75-year-old Rigg has only had five episodes so far, but almost every scene with her is a sly delight. But then, Rigg’s career is a long one and we’ve been fans forever (this writer was reared on repeats of “The Avengers” the iconic British TV show that made her a star). In addition to famously being the only woman 007 ever loved enough to put a ring on it in superior Bond outing “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service,” she played opposite Oliver Reed in “The Assassination Bureau,” Vincent Price in “Theatre of Blood” and Kermit the Frog in “The Great Muppet Caper.” Mostly, however, she pursued a stage career in the U.K. and the U.S. as well as picking up many TV credits along the way, even launching her own sitcom “Diana” in 1973 which only lasted one season. The '80s and '90s largely saw her wasted onscreen in a succession of lacklustre films and TV remakes, though the “Mrs. Bradley Mysteries” in which she plays a sexier version of a Miss Marple-style lady sleuth, had its moments. A turn in 2006’s underrated “The Painted Veil” was probably the screen highlight of her '00s, prior to a great villanous turn in a 2013 “Doctor Who” episode, and, of course ‘Thrones’ in which, as a Dame, Rigg somewhat outranks the character she plays.
Fans Should Check Out: Not for nothing was Rigg dubbed the sexiest TV star of all time in 1999 (though she was always uncomfortable with the sex symbol tag), and while her stage work as Medea and Mother Courage especially is legendary, it’s the amazing Emma Peel that will always remain her indelible screen creation. Here’s her very first appearance. Swoon.

Joe Dempsie
Role In "Game Of Thrones": Gendry, a poor blacksmith who happens to be one of many illegitimate children of Robert Baratheon. Marked for death, he became a companion of Arya Stark, before being taken by red sorceress Melisandre, though he was last seen being freed by Davos Seaworth.
Yes, But Where Else Do I Know Him From? Along with Nicholas Hoult, Kaya Scodelario, Daniel Kaluuya and fellow "Game of Thrones" actor Hannah Murray, Dempsie was one of the original line-up of cult British TV series "Skins," and has slowly and carefully gone on to become one of the show's most successful graduates. After his "Skins" character Chris was killed off, Dempsie went on to appear in "Doctor Who" and "Merlin," before memorably playing the villain in Jack Thorne's short-lived but glorious TV series "The Fades." Dempsie also appeared in Tom Hooper's "The Damned United" and Jason Statham actioner "Blitz," and recently cropped up in the impressive ensemble of Sean Durkin's powerful miniseries "Southcliffe," and also has one of the leads, alongside Alice Englert, in period series "New Worlds" for Channel 4. He'll soon be seen as the lead in "Monsters: Dark Continent," the sequel to Gareth Edwards' breakthrough indie hit.
Fans Should Check Out: If you're a genre fan and you haven't yet seen "The Fades," you should rectify that stat—funny, inventive and creepy, it was a remarkably confident series, and Dempsie made for a surprisingly great bad guy. He's also excellent in the more grounded "Southcliffe" as an ex-soldier.

Mark Addy
Role In "Game Of Thrones": King Robert Baratheon, the boisterous ruler of Falstaffian appetites, who sees over the Kingdoms before he's done in by a boar (an accident engineered by his wife Cersei).
Yes, But Where Do I Know Him From? Yorkshire-born RADA graduate Addy was one of the better-known figures in the show, albeit in very different roles from King Robert: after starring in U.K. police sitcom "The Thin Blue Line," Addy had a key supporting role in sleeper smash "The Full Monty," picking up a Supporting Actor BAFTA nomination for his performance. This brought him to Hollywood, and after a supporting part with Michael Keaton in "Jack Frost," he went on to play Fred Flintstone in prequel "The Flintstones In Viva Rock Vegas," before co-starring with Heath Ledger in "A Knight's Tale" and Chris Rock in "Down To Earth." Addy then spent four years as a schlubby Chicago husband in CBS sitcom "Still Standing" until 2008, before starring in the third "Red Riding" film, "In The Year Of Our Lord 1983," and playing Friar Tuck in Ridley Scott's "Robin Hood." Addy currently plays a gone-to-seed version of Hercules in BBC adventure series "Atlantis," and continues to be a big theater name in the U.K.
Fans Should Check Out: Addy's a terrific theater actor (he was great in John Hodge's "Collaborators"), but our favorite of his screen performances is in 'Red Riding,' in which he played tortured, but heroic solicitor John Piggott—a rare pre-GoT indication that he was capable of dramatic power as well as comic skill.

Alfie Allen
Role In "Game Of Thrones": Theon Greyjoy, foster-brother of the Starks' turned inept traitor, turned castrated captive.
Yes, But Where Else Do I Know Him From: The son of actor Keith Allen and "Saving Mr. Banks" and "Jane Eyre" producer Alison Owen (and younger brother of singer Lily, who wrote a song on her first album about him), Allen started off his career with cameos in family work like "Elizabeth" and "Agent Cody Banks 2" (directed by uncle Kevin), before landing a role off his own back in "Atonement." Some smaller gigs in Daniel Craig vehicle "Flashbacks Of A Fool" and Natalie Portman-starrer "The Other Boleyn Girl" followed, before he replaced Daniel Radcliffe in the stage version of "Equus" on tour. Since then, he's appeared in a lot of low-budget British fare like "The Kid," "Powder" and the upcoming "Plastic," and has Keanu Reeves thriller "John Wick" in the can.
Fans Should Check Out: Allen's very good in one of his earliest substantial roles, Dominic Savage's TV film "Freefall," about the economic crisis. Even among a strong cast including Dominic Cooper, Riz Ahmed, Rosamund Pike and fellow "Game of Thrones" actors Aidan Gillen and Joseph Mawle, Allen made a strong impression.


Carice Van Houten
Role in “Game of Thrones”: Melisandre, Red Priestess of the Lord of Light, creepy-ass magician and supernatural murderess who has so bewitched Stannis Baratheon with visions of triumph and glory that he can’t see she’s got a different agenda entirely.
Yes, But Where Else Do I Know Her From? The beautiful Van Houten first came to our attention, after seven or so years in Dutch films and shows, when she took the lead in Paul Verhoeven’s homecoming project after his Hollywood years, “Black Book”—an entertaining thrillerish melodrama in which she plays a Jewish woman going undercover and under covers as a spy for the resistance during WWII. Seeing as she already had the '40s costumes probably, she was then cast as Mrs. von Stauffenberg in “Valkyrie” and then took a succession of films that didn’t quite cut through: “Repo Men,” “Black Butterflies” (co-starring her ‘Thrones’ antagonist Liam Cunningham, no less), “Intruders” and 2012’s “Jackie,” along with a supporting role in “The Fifth Estate.” This rather B-level streak looks set to continue with “Incarnate,” co-starring Aaron Eckhart, due in 2015.
Fans Should Check Out: Van Houten’s so good in ‘Thrones’ that it’s hard to believe she hasn’t had more starring roles (and hard to believe she’s actually only featured in 10 episodes so far as it feels like a bigger part), so “Black Book” is a good place to start, with Verhoeven on typically salacious and broadly entertaining form, yet with still enough intelligence and ambivalence on offer to make it more than a brainless watch. Trailer below.

Rory McCann
Role in “Game of Thrones”: Sandor “The Hound” Clegane merciless, seemingly mindless killing machine/attack dog of the King, turned deserter and unlikely protector of Arya Stark.
Yes, But Where Else Do I Know Him From? McCann’s imposing physicality (he’s 6' 6" in his socks) has seen him play warrior more than once, in “Alexander” and then in the live-action “Beowulf and Grendel,” “Clash of the Titans,” and Nic Cage tax dodge “Season of the Witch.” But he’s probably been at his best when playing against that type, or when allowed to subvert it as he does in ‘Thrones’ with the Hound’s constant toying with (but never quite attaining) redemption in the audience’s (and Arya’s) eyes for the sins he has committed. In fact, we noticed him first playing in absorbingly off-kilter U.K. TV show “The Book Group,” in which he played the wheelchair-bound Kenny, and we heard pretty good notices about “Rockface,” another U.K. show focused on the lives of a mountain search-and-rescue team. Most interestingly, however is “Slow West,” which is due for release this year and sees him play opposite Michael Fassbender, Ben Mendelsohn and Kodi Smit-McPhee in a 19th century western story.
Fans Should Check Out: If you want something completely different from the actor, check out “The Book Group” and if not, you can enjoy his comedic riff on the massive intimidating lunk he’s played so often, in this clip from “Hot Fuzz,” which is kind The Hound-meets-Hodor. Yarp.

This article is related to: Features, Feature, Television, Game of Thrones, Game of Thrones


The Playlist

The obsessives' guide to contemporary cinema via film discussion, news, reviews, features, nostalgia, movie music, soundtracks, DVDs and more.


E-Mail Updates