For the last few years, San Diego Comic Con has acted in part as HBO's debutant ball, where fans can always look forward to some surprises and special announcements that accompany the panels. Though the "Game of Thrones" panel itself left something to be desired (mostly thanks to the book series' author George R.R. Martin being a terribly inept host), the revelation of 14 new cast members (9 of whom appeared in a promotional video) did not disappoint.
It's a huge number to take in, but series creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss actually held quite of few of the characters back from this most recent season to keep the confusion down (and for non-book readers, I can imagine it was still pretty overwhelming). Still, the upcoming third season, which will air in March of 2013 (creeping up earlier and earlier each year! No complaints here), will tackle just the first half of the third book in the series. What's the rush, when only five books have been published so far, and George R. R. Martin has been taking close to a decade to complete the most recent installments?
There are plenty of characters who have been cut for clarity, and many fans were worried that some of those in the following list would not be appearing at all. Better late than never, right? Hit the jump for the Who's Who and commentary on the upcoming cast and characters. (Spoiler note: If you don't want to know anything about the next season, go no further. There aren't any spoilers, but I do introduce each character).
Clive Russell as Brynden "Blackfish" Tully
The Blackfish, a fan-favorite, is Catelyn Stark's uncle. In the book series, he lends invaluable advice to Robb as he leads his troops to the south. It's uncertain what his role may be in the TV series, as Robb has mostly been busy getting busy with Talisa and neglecting the war thing, his duty, and his loyalty to his family and his troops. Back on point, Clive Russell looks to be a great choice to play the beloved and weathered uncle.
Nathalie Emmanuel as Missandei
Missandei is a character who appears late into A Storm of Swords
following some of Dany's best story lines (trust me, she will not just run around screaming for her dragons all of next season). In the book series, Dany does not lose practically all of her khalasar as she does in the TV show, so Irri remains a faithful servant. However, with Irri dead, it looks like Missandei - who is a translator Dany meets - might take her place. Nathalie Emmanuel, who is best known for a role in the British soap "Hollyoakes," looks like a fine choice.
Mackenzie Crook as Orell
Many fans of the book series have been fancasting Mackenzie Crook as all different characters in the series - the bottom line: he needed to be on the show. Orell has a rather small part in the book series which I'm hoping, through the casting of Crook, will be expanded upon. I can't say much more without getting spoilery, but Orell is a Wildling whose arc involves Jon Snow.
Kerry Ingram as Shireen Baratheon
Shireen is Stannis Baratheon's only daughter, and a poor, homely little creature as well. In the books she suffers from an affliction called "greyscale," which is exactly what it sounds like. Add to that growing up at Dragonstone with Stannis as your dad? Pity this creature. The child actors on this show have been exceptional, and I'm sure Kerry Ingram is no different. According to Wikipedia she's already won a Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Musical ... and yes, she's thirteen.
Thomas Brodie-Sangster as Jojen Reed
This is a casting I happen to be personally really excited about. Thomas Brodie-Sangster has been "that kid" in a ton of films from Love, Actually
to Nanny McPhee
to Bright Star
. He's 22 now, which makes me feel like I'm about 105. Still, with his perpetual baby-face, and I think he'll be perfect for Jojen, who meets up with and helps to guide Bran and the others who escaped Winterfell.
Ellie Kendrick as Meera Reed
Ellie Kendrick is exactly what I imagined Meera to look like in my mind (even though she described as having straight long hair and green eyes, it somehow felt right), and I would guess she's close to what a number of book readers also envisioned. Meera is Jojen's older sister and a skilled huntress. She helps the group forage for food as they head north.
Richard Dormer as Beric Dondarrion
There's not much I can say about Beric without spoilers, but suffice it to say he's an intriguing character who leads an outlaw gang called the Brotherhood Without Banners, who have been mentioned in passing in the television series (Beric appeared briefly in Season One, too, played at the time by David Michael Scott). The Brotherhood mainly ransack Lannister camps, and leave the small-folk alone. They are kind of like folk heroes, with Beric as their leader. Beric is supposed to be a strong and handsome man, and Irish actor Richard Dormer seems a perfect fit.
Paul Kaye as Thoros of Myr
Paul Kaye was the first casting choice that gave me real pause. Thoros is a red priest, much like Melisandre, and is with Beric in the Brotherhood Without Banners. Though Kaye is more or less the opposite of the way Thoros is described in the books, that doesn't have to be a bad thing. Kaye is an interesting and sometimes controversial figure in British entertainment, and the oddness that he brings to Thoros might be interesting.
Diana Rigg as Olenna Tyrell (a.k.a. the Queen of Thorns)
Now this is perfect casting. In the book series, it takes a long time for Margaery Tyrell to be revealed as far more ambitious than her demure exterior would suggest, though in the TV series she has already been plain in her desire to not just be "a" Queen but "the" Queen. Her grandmother though is known as the real brains behind the operation. Watching Diana Rigg elegantly scheme and manipulate those around her will be a joy.
Phew! I did mention there were 14 new cast members, right? These nine were just the start ... here are the remaining casting choices (so far) who were apparently not available to shoot the promo video:
Tobias Menzies as Edmure Tully
Fans of the HBO series "Rome" may recognize Menzies as Brutus, as in et tu, Brutus?
Menzies is a great character actor whose particularly brand of pomposity will go nicely with the character of Edmure Tully, Catelyn's brother, who is known to have a hot temper but general good nature (and also enjoys wenching - he and Robert Baratheon probably would have gotten along). After his father's death he becomes the Lord of Riverrun, supporting Robb in his battles against the Lannisters.
Philip McGinley as Anguy
Anguy is a young archer who rides with the Brotherhood. Philip McGinley is a good-looking lad from Liverpool. That's about all I know at this point!
Kristofer Hivju as Tormund Giantsbane
Giantsbane is a Wilding raider who is self-described as "Tall-talker, Horn-blower and Breaker of Ice, Husband to Bears, the Mead-king of Ruddy Hall, Speaker to Gods and Father of Hosts." I know that makeup and costumes can do plenty to change a person's appearance, but I don't really think Hivju will need much of it, do you? He looks pretty perfect for the role.
Tara Fitzgerald as Selyse Baratheon
Selyse is Stannis' wife. She doesn't much care for him, he doesn't much care for her. Lovely. She's supposed to be unattractive, but Tara Fitzgerald is not, so one wonders what the makeup folks have in store for her.
Anton Lesser as Qyburn
Qyburn is a creepy old ex-maestar who enjoys doing medical experiments on live bodies. Cersei is a big fan. Anton Lesser will be perfect for Qyburn. Like Tobias Menzies, he's a great character actor who most recently portrayed the head of a 1950s BBC news program on the excellent series "The Hour" (pictured).
Overall, I think that the legendary casting department for this show has continued to excel itself. But wait, there's more! There are still a number of key characters to be cast, including Mance Rayder (known as the King Beyond the Wall), so stay tuned ...