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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


Richard Madden and Oona Chaplin in Game of Thrones

And beyond...

Oona Chaplin
The daughter of Geraldine Chaplin, granddaughter of Charlie Chaplin and great-grandaughter of Eugene O'Neill (how's that for a family tree...), the Spanish-raised British actress and RADA graduate played the ill-fated Talisa, bride of Robb Stark, on "Game of Thrones." Before the show, she had small roles in "Quantum of Solace" and "The Devil's Double," and played Dominic West's wife on "The Hour." More recently, she impressed in "Inside No. 9" and is starring in WWI nursing drama "The Crimson Field."

Mackenzie Crook
Before playing eagle-possessing wildling Orell in "Game of Thrones," Crook was best known for playing gawky Gareth on the original BBC version of "The Office." After that, he became an occasional Hollywood character actor, most notably as the wooden-eyed sidekick in the "Pirates of the Caribbean" trilogy. He's also won acclaim for his stage work in the U.K., most notably in a legendary production of "The Seagull" co-starring Chiwetel Ejiofor, Carey Mulligan and Kristin Scott Thomas, and for smash hit "Jerusalem," and can currently be seen on Fox's sci-fi cop show "Almost Human."

Sibel Kekilli
The German actress who plays Tyrion's lady-love Shae, Kekilli actually appeared in a number of pornographic movies before getting her mainstream break in Fatih Akin's acclaimed arthouse drama "Head-On," which won the Golden Bear at Berlin in 2004. Other than 'Thrones,' she mostly works in German film and television, most notably with a recurring role in regional police procedural "Tatort."

Natalia Tena
Tena, who plays wildling Osha, the guardian of young Rickon Stark, is another actress with fantasy credentials, having played fan-favorite Nymphadora Tonks in the later 'Harry Potter' movies. She also had a notable role in Hugh Grant rom-com "About A Boy," and co-starred in David Mackenzie's music festival rom-com "You Instead" with Luke Treadaway.

Locke, Noah Taylor in Game of Thrones, Season 3

Noah Taylor
Locke, the man who took Jaime Lannister's hand, needed a memorable face to make an impression in a brief time, and Australian character actor Noah Taylor was a pretty strong choice. The actor broke through in John Duigan's coming-of-age tales "The Year My Voice Broke" and "Flirting," and has since appeared in "Shine," "Almost Famous," "Max" and "The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou," among many others.

Robert Pugh
Welsh actor Pugh, who played vile baby-murderer/incestuous polygamist Craster on the show, is one of those British actors who's been in pretty much everything. Arguably his best known big-screen appearance was as one of Russell Crowe's crew in Peter Weir's "Master and Commander." He also appeared more recently in Polanski's "The Ghost Writer" and Scott's "Robin Hood," and had significant TV roles in "Doctor Who," "Longford" and "The White Queen."

Julian Glover
Though he looks rather different now, as wizened and disgraced Grand Maester Pycaelle, Julian Glover has a pretty storied career: on top of countless stage and screen roles, he played General Veers in "The Empire Strikes Back," the Bond villain in "For Your Eyes Only," (alongside 'Thrones' co-star Charles Dance) and evil Nazi Walter 'He Chose... Poorly' Donavan in "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade."

James Cosmo
The excellently named Scottish actor James Cosmo, who plays Jeor Mormont, the fearsome commander of the Night's Watch, has a long and storied history of big-screen appearances, mostly with a Scottish theme: he was Angus MacLeod in "Highlander," Campbell in "Braveheart" and Renton's father in "Trainspotting." More recently, he also played Father Christmas in "The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe," and had a recurring role as a priest in "Sons Of Anarchy."

Ciaran Hinds, Game Of Thrones

Ciaran Hinds
We've only seen glimpses of Ciaran Hinds as upstart king of the north Mance Rayder so far, but we're sure there's more to come, as you don't hire an actor of this caliber for a small role. Hinds previously had his HBO bona fides for playing Julius Caesar in "Rome," but he's a more familiar face from the big screen, with roles including "Road To Perdition," "Munich," "There Will Be Blood," "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy," and, uh, "Race To Witch Mountain." He just starred on Broadway in "Cat On A Hot Tin Roof" opposite Scarlett Johansson, and recently voiced the Troll King in "Frozen."

Donald Sumpter
Another one of those faces, Donald Sumpter, who played Stark confidante Maester Luwin, took the lead role of criminal Donald Neilson in '70s British crime flick "The Black Panther." Since then, he's had notable roles in "K-19: The Widowmaker," "The Constant Gardener," "Eastern Promises" and "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo," and will soon be seen in Ron Howard's "In The Heart Of The Sea."

Richard Dormer
The Northern Irish actor, who made a strong impression as seemingly immortal Brotherhood Without Banners leader Beric Dondarrion, came to prominence playing troubled snooker player Hurricane Higgins in a one-man show, before last year getting a big-screen showcase in charming Belfast-set punk biopic "Good Vibrations." He'll soon be seen alongside Jack O'Connell in much-praised Berlin competition film "'71."

Kate Dickie
Scottish actress Kate Dickie, who plays the inappropriately-breastfeeding Lysa Arryn, came to fame with a remarkable performance in Andrea Arnold's debut "Red Road." Since then, she's also appeared in British indies "Somers Town" and "Filth," and was one of the crew of the "Prometheus."

David Bradley
Yet another fantasy veteran, Bradley, who played Red Wedding perpetrator Walder Frey, is best known for playing caretaker Argus Filch in the 'Harry Potter' films. He's an RSC veteran with stacks of TV credits, who also had a scene-stealing turn in Mike Leigh's "Another Year," and appeared incomprehensibly in "Hot Fuzz," and more intelligibly in "The World's End." His career continues to go from strength to strength: he recently and movingly played original Doctor Who in biopic "An Adventure In Space And Time," won a BAFTA nod for whodunnit "Broadchurch," and replaced John Hurt in Guillermo del Toro's upcoming FX series "The Strain."

Game Of Thrones Rose Leslie
Oliver Upton/HBO

Rose Leslie
The wildling Ygritte is definitely her largest role to date and is ongoing, so we expect to see a lot more from Leslie in the future, but she did also have a recurring part on another TV phenomenon (though not one we can really say we've ever gotten into in the same way) "Downton Abbey," in which she played the maid Gwen. Also, for kicks, it's great to hear her natural speaking voice which is plummy and cultured and a million miles away from Ygritte's harsh Northern-inflected brogue.

Michael McElhatton 

Along with Hinds and Cunninghamn, another Irish actor for whom 'Thrones' has been a boon, McElhatton's been a well known face and voice on U.K. and Irish television for a long time, with the excellent mockumentary comedy show "Paths to Freedom," which he co-wrote, showing his range: in contrast to the perfidious but haughty Roose Bolton he plays a newly released lowlife prisoner called Rats. He also took roles in "Albert Nobbs," "Shadow Dancer" "I Went Down" and "Intermission," and the recent, very well-received "The Fall" TV show starring Gillian Anderson.

Conleth Hill
Another Northern Irish 'Thrones' alum, Hill is totally unrecognisable outside the show because as soon as he's got hair, he looks nothing like the oleaginous eunuch Varys. In fact he's had a six-episode arc on USA's "Suits" (Michelle Fairley/Catelyn Stark has also guested on the show) as well as a small role in "Salmon Fishing in the Yemen" and a part in a recent episode of terrifically weird concept TV show "Inside no 9" (in which Oona Chaplin/Talisa has also shown up, in case you're playing a "Game of Thrones" version of the Kevin Bacon game).

So we hope this set off as many "Oh that's what I'd seen him/her in!" moments for you as it did for us, and that it provided with you enough suggestions for further, extra-credit viewing to tide you over the gaping maw of the rest of the week till next Sunday rolls around.

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


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