The winds of winter are blowing as HBO brings Game of Thrones to an end in 2019. Seven seasons of the Seven Kingdoms have gifted us some brilliant performances from some of the best actors around.
While the likes of Kit Harington and Emilia Clarke laud it over top billing, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re the best stars to grace the show. With this in mind, here are 10 amazing Game of Thrones casting decisions.
Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister
Despite his small stature, Peter Dinklage has managed to reach the lofty heights of playing Tyrion Lannister and surpassed the hype of being George R.R. Martin’s favourite character. There are too many standout Tyrion moments to count, but if you want to see Dinklage at his Emmy Award-winning best, check out Season 4’s trial of Tyrion Lannister. Whatever the Imp is up to Season 8, we're expecting to see Tyrion swilling a cup of wine even as the rest of the realm falls to pieces.
Sean Bean as Ned Stark
The OG main character of Game of Thrones was Sean Bean -- living up to the actor’s history of being killed off in nearly every role he’s had. No one can quite say “bastard” like Mr. Bean and he became a highlight of Season 1. Unfortunately, Ned Stark’s arc pitched the character an early death and meant Bean’s time with Thrones was all-too-brief. Young Eddard featured briefly in those Tower of Joy scenes, but here’s hoping the showrunners have the ‘greensight’ to bring back the Stark patriarch in Season 8.
Despite failing to make it to the end of Season 1, few characters have had as much of an impact on others than Khal Drogo. Helping form the Mother of Dragons that we know today, Jason Momoa was more than just the man with the muscles as the Dothraki leader who stole Daenerys’ heart. Momoa is still a self-confessed Thrones fan and regularly pines after his Khaleesi on social media, but we’ll just have to wait and see if he returns for a flashback in the final season.
Diana Rigg as Olenna Tyrell
Finding someone suitable to play the formidable Queen of Thorns can’t have been an easy task, but thankfully, Dame Diana Rigg was on hand to do Olenna Tyrell justice. The perfect sparring partner for Lena Headey’s Cersei Lannister, Olenna was the permanently quotable meme machine who probably deserves her own spin-off. Even in her final scenes, Rigg was worth every penny and continued to steal the limelight.
Rory McCann as The Hound
Another diamond in the rough, Rory McCann has somehow managed to elevate Sandor Clegane to the status of fan-favourite. The scarred Hound has become much more than he loyal lapdog to the King(s) and famously turned tail from the Battle of Blackwater. It’s here that McCann really came into his own when paired with Arya Stark and then battling Brienne of Tarth. The burned brute is known for dropping some colourful language and looks set to have a pivotal role in Season 8. Cleganebowl anyone?
Jack Gleeson as Joffrey Baratheon
Game of Thrones has boasted many villainous performances, but most of these pale in comparison to Jack Gleeson as the sneering Joffrey Baratheon. Not only sharing an uncanny likeness with Caligula -- who Joffrey was based on -- Gleeson embodied everything viewers could want from the sadistic squirt. Outlasting most of his enemies, Joffrey made it to Season 4, where Gleeson also gave us one of the show’s best deaths. Gleeson has now left acting behind, making him one of the few Thrones stars who didn’t want the fame of the ice and fire epic.
Charles Dance as Tywin Lannister
The immense talent of Charles Dance made Tywin Lannister the guy we just loved to hate. Making his presence known as he rode in to save the day during the Battle of Blackwater, the Lannister patriarch ruled with an Iron Fist and even took up the role as Hand of the King. From his disdain toward his own son and his frankly brilliant death by crossbow, Tywin also got some of the show’s best lines. Dance’s villainous stare made Tywin the perfect villain who was set on preserving his family’s legacy.
Maisie Williams as Arya Stark
Another character who’s been on quite the journey, Williams has perfected the many sides of Arya Stark, from ‘Arry the orphan to deadly assassin. While opinions remain divided when it comes to Sophie Turner as Sansa Stark, it’s hard to find anyone who doesn’t think Williams is the perfect Arya. It’s no surprise that Arya is one of George R.R. Martin’s favourite characters, and it’s a treat that Williams has transferred this to the screen. We can’t wait to see if she can finally finish that list in Season 8.
Alfie Allen as Theon Greyjoy
While Theon might not immediately spring to mind as anyone’s favourite Game of Thrones character, that surely comes from Allen’s mesmerising performance. Theon doesn’t seem that complicated at first, but as Season 8 rolls around, the Greyjoy lord has finally seemed to find a pair of testicles. From privileged brat living at Winterfell to snivelling schemer, Theon’s arc has seen him change sides more than the Iron Thrones has had rulers. Highlighting Allen’s talents can’t be mentioned without Theon’s troubled years as Reek and that unfortunate ‘sausage’ incident.
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister
Kicking off Game of Thrones with its most controversial storyline ever, Lena Headey’s Cersei Lannister has cemented herself as one of the best TV villains of all time. The real clincher when it comes to Headey -- apart from her barbed one-liners -- is her ability to (sometimes) gain sympathy as Cersei. Headey is now alongside the Night King as the big bad of the final season, and we can’t imagine her anywhere else.