Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Game of Thrones Season 2 – Casting Update!

HBO has a hit on its hands, and it doesn't hurt at all that between seasons of Game of Thrones a new book in the series finally released (No, haven't read it yet. Have three things on my list to finish first, including one other that will for sure be reviewed here.) Fans of the show who haven't read the books are likely reeling from the last few episodes of that first season, and wondering with all of the tragic and exciting, erm, things (don't click that if you don't wan't spoilers) that happened, where can the show go next season? Those of us who have been fans of Westeros for years already know that we've got a few new characters turning up, and some of these are incredibly important for the story to be able to move forward.

Casting has been surprisingly amazing for the characters I've grown to know well over the last ten-plus years that I've been a fan of the books. I've heard the usual complaints from the people I expected to hear complaining that this character wasn't cast quite old enough, that one has hair the slightly wrong shade, and the other one isn't actually and actor 8 feet tall capable of shooting lighting from his... well, you get the point. Reasonable folks who have seen casting directors do a hell of a lot worse with beloved characters have, in general, been very pleased with the actors selected so far. These new characters, however, give casting directors all new opportunities to enrage fans, and some of the people showing up in season two are ones you just can't get wrong and do the rest of the show right. So, how'd they do?

The face of Stannis Baratheon. I always kinda pictured him as
Sam the Eagle from The Muppet Show, but I suppose he was busy.

There's been an awful lot of talk about wars, and succession and family, and at the center of those conversations has been Stannis Baratheon. We haven't seen him yet, but we've heard a whole lot about him. He's younger than Robert, but older than Renly, and his personality leaves quite a bit to be desired if the rumors are true. His strict and grim nature make it impossible for a populace to ever love him as a king, and this fact means that people can (and will) go to war to make sure exactly that can never happen. Stephen Dillane, best known for his work on The Hours and his role as Thomas Jefferson in John Adams has been cast as the Lord of Dragonstone and potential heir to the Iron Throne. Dillane is a versatile British actor, capable of pulling of the gravity that personifies Stannis. It is a challenge to play a character with absolutely no sense of humor or warmth, and I look forward to his portrayal.

Stannis' religious beliefs have also remained off-screen for the first season, as we've been introduced to two of the Westerosi religions, the Old Gods of the North and their godswoods and the worship of the Seven as practiced by the Andals and most of the rest of the continent. The Red Priests and Priestesses of R'hllor, Lord of Light hasn't even been mentioned up to this point, but, to be fair, even in the books only minor characters espoused this new faith in the beginning, and it feels more like a cult than a legitimate priesthood. This will all change with the introduction of Melisandre of Asshai, advisor to Stannis Baratheon. The mysterious and reverent (some might say fanatical and seductive) Melisandre is a tricky character to cast, and Carice van Houten, a Dutch actress best known for her part in Valkyrie is a flat-out perfect choice. She looks amazing with flame-red hair, and should nail the piercing gaze and exotic mannerisms of the Red Lady just fine.

Melisandre has that look like she wants to have sex with you
 and set you on fire, maybe not in that order.

Earlier this summer, two other casting announcements were made, and I won't gloss over those. There are two ladies associated with Robert's other brother, Renly, who haven't made an appearance mainly due to his brief time in season one being on the Small Council, rather than at home. We saw in Season One that Renly has already found love, though very few publicly know of his homosexuality, and it wouldn't really do for someone taking a shot at the throne to have his knight-champion and his, um, queen, for lack of a better word, to be the same person. In preparation for “looking the part,” Renly must marry, and who better to assume that role than his lover's sister, Margaery Tyrell? Ser Loras' beautiful younger sister has been cast, with Natalie Dormer, who played Anne Boleyn on The Tudors taking on the role in a spot of inspired casting. They've managed in all cases to get actors who look as though they could be related to their on-screen siblings, and this is no exception.

Cute as a button, and perfect for the younger Tyrell. At least she won't
have to worry about her husband and brother not getting along... and her wardrobe will be fabulous.
The other woman in Renly's life who would desperately like to be both knight and queen if Ser Loras didn't already have the jobs locked up is Brienne of Tarth. Brienne “the Beauty” was tricky casting, as she's described as freakishly tall with a broad and homely face. I personally worried that they'd take one of the pretty actresses known for “tough chick” parts and cast her here. I am glad that my fear was completely unfounded. Gwendoline Christie is 6'3”, and while not bad looking while fully made up, her features are well-suited to the part without modern cosmetics and with just a little bit of grime and makeup to “ugly her up” a bit, I couldn't imagine a better job casting. Her only major screen role was a supporting player in The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, but she's been working in the UK for years.

I can't imagine that is is much of a compliment to be called "perfect"
for Brienne, but she is such a loved character that the adoration of fans can't hurt.

With summer rapidly giving way to a new fall season, principal shooting will likely have to start fairly soon, which means that there are only a few key characters left uncast. I'm looking forward to hearing who is finally cast as Davos Seaworth, the Onion Knight, though insiders say the most likely choice is Irish actor David Wilmot, also an Alumni from The Tudors. If all goes well, the new faces we'll run into next season will help to bolster the cast, as we know the body count rises as the Game is played. You win, or you die. 
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Bonjour Tristesse said...

Those are all very good castings. Carice is perfect and Gwendoline Christie has the right height, they just need to ugly her up some more. Dormer is a bit old for Margaery but most of the TV characters are older than their book counterparts.

I'm looking forward to see who gets cast for the Ironborn roles, especially Asha.

Alpha said...

"Onion Knight"

That takes me back...

Electric Addict said...

the young tyrell is cute :)

The Angry Lurker said...

Seen an update or two today on this but by far you have a lot more info, looking forward to this as I have just finished the second book. Good work.

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