Our long international nightmare has ended; Game of Thrones has finished its hiatus and is back for its fifth season starting April 12 on HBO. As we all prepare to once more be enthralled by nudity, dragons, violence, nudity, shocking on screen deaths, Ice Zombies, nudity, movie worthy set pieces, sparkling dialogue, a cast of thousands, and oh yeah nudity, let’s pay tribute to the fact that one of the things that’s made the HBO series the global phenomenon it is, is its remarkably talented cast. In their honor, let’s take a look at what some of the series all-stars do outside of the show.
First and foremost it’s hard to imagine how the series could ever have been without Peter Dinklage’s Emmy winning performance. As the brilliant, alcoholic, sardonic, cynical Tyrion Lannister, Dinklage is arguably the heart of the show but years before GoT made him a superstar he wowed critics and audiences (including me!) with his inspired performance in The Station Agent, about a loner obsessed with trains and who in order to escape the world moves into an abandoned old train station. Written and directed by Peter McCarthy and co-starring Bobby Cannavale and Patricia Clarkson it’s an under seen gem of a movie for which Dinklage was nominated for a SAG award. Dinklage also later starred in both the original British version and inferior American remake of the comedy Death at a Funeral. Most recently he was in the blockbuster film X-Men: Days of Future Past as main baddie Bolivar Trask.
Before taking the world by storm as Daenerys Targaryen the Mother of Dragons, Breaker of Chains, etc, Emilia Clarke mostly worked on the London stage including two plays at St. Edwards and ten at Drama Center London among others. She did however appear in an episode of Doctors and in the SyFy TV movie Triassic Attack. Since joining GoT, she’s been in Dom Hemingway with Jude Law and Demian Bechir and will be starring as Sarah Connor this summer in Terminator Genisys alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jai Courteney and directed by Alan Taylor…who has, of course, also been a director for GoT.
The veteran English actor, Charles Dance, is spellbindingly chilling as the evil Lannister family patriarch. Small wonder since he’s been appearing in various television and movie productions since 1974. His credits include a Bond baddie in For Your Eyes Only, prison doctor Johnathon Clemons in Aliens3, and an MI5 officer in Michael Collins, as well as roles in China Moon, Gosford Park, The Imitation Game, and many, many more. He can be seen next in Woman in Gold with Helen Mirren, Johnathon Pryce, Katie Holmes, and Ryan Reynolds, and Child 44 with Tom Hardy, Gary Oldman, Vincent Cassel, and Noomi Rapace.
Long before she came to embody Cersei Lannister, the Woman We Love to Hate, Lena Headey portrayed the beautiful, ethereal Luce in the lesbian romantic comedy Imagine Me & You. (Also starring Piper Perabo and Matthew Goode.) She was the steely Queen Gorgo in 300 and the passionate, doomed artist Blanche Glover in Possession, as well as the titular role in The Sarah Conner Chronicles. Most recently, she just wrapped filming on Pride and Prejudice and Zombies co-starring Jack Huston, Lily James, and…Charles Dance.
Long before he starred as the honorable, noble, and doomed Ned Stark, Sean Bean had made a niche for himself playing villains in such films as Patriot Games, Goldeneye, and National Treasure. He also delivered a charismatic performance as the tortured Boromir in the original Lord of the Rings trilogy, was last seen in Jupiter Ascending, and just finished filming The Martian directed by Ridley Scott.
As the cunning Margaery Tyrell, who schemes to be Queen, Natalie Dormer has become a fan favorite, having made the character even more fascinating on screen than it was originally written. But her first big break came when she was featured in Lasse Hallstrom’s Casanova with Heath Ledger. After that came her role as Anne Boleyn in The Tudors which introduced her to an international audience and also got to redefine the roles of Jamie Moriarty and Irene Adler on CBS’s Elementary. She will also be reprising her role as Cressida in the next Hunger Games movie, Mockingjay Part II.
Before the Dutch born actor, became known as Ser Jaime Lannister-the Kingslayer, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau was known to American audiences as the Delta force sniper Gordon in Ridley Scott’s Black Hawk Down. He then went on to play the charming psychopath Clas Greve in the Dutch thriller Headhunters based on the Jo Nesbo novel. He just wrapped up production on Alex Proya’s Gods of Egypt with Gerard Butler and is currently filming Fun House with Martin Freeman, Tina Fey, Al Molina, and Margot Robbie.
Carice Van Houten
She’s been terrifying us all with her unnerving portrayal of Melisandre the Fire Priestess but in Carice Van Houten’s native Denmark the actress-singer is still best known for her lead role in Black Book the most commercially successful Dutch film to date. Her English language work includes Valkyrie, Repo Men, and Black Death. She also starred in the Spanish language horror film Intruders with Clive Owen and Daniel Brühl, and is about to begin production on the mystery/thriller Brimstone with Guy Pearce, Mia Wasikowska, and Robert Pattinson.
Stephen Dillance, the British born actor we know as Stannis Baratheon (the most dour of all the would be kings in Westeros) was in Spy Game with Robert Redford and Brad Pitt, The Hours with Nicole Kidman and Julianne Moore, and played Thomas Jefferson in the acclaimed TV mini-series John Adams with Paul Giamatti and Laura Linney. Besides his work on GoT, he’s also the male of the French-British crime drama series The Tunnel.
Since we began with the most popular male character on the show it seems only fitting that we end with the most popular female character on the show; Maisie Williams as Arya Stark. (I will not risk the blood bath of trying to decide between Tyrion Lannister and Arya Stark which is the more popular character but say simply that they are both truly awesome.) Since GoT was Maisie’s first role in any professional capacity she hasn’t had the chance to get the resume credits that many of the others here have accumulated, but she has appeared in indie films Heatstroke, Gold, and the BBC series The Secret of Crickley Hall. To the joy of geeks everywhere, she will soon be guest starring on a upcoming episode of Doctor Who.