Most actors would probably love a chance to
score a role in HBO’s Game of Thrones, and
there’ve been plenty of A-list celebs
who’ve tried to get on the hit series to no avail.
But there was a time when that wasn’t the case.
Whether it was because of the grueling overseas filming schedule,
gripes with the cast’s pay scale,
or sheer confusion over the George R.R. Martin-inspired story,
here’s a look at some actors who refused
Game of Thrones roles.
Before Emilia Clarke gained international fame as Daenerys Targaryen,
Tamzin Merchant was originally cast as the Mother of Dragons
for the show’s original, unaired pilot.
The first version of the pilot was,
according to show runners D.B. Weiss and David Benioff,
a “massive problem,” and 90 percent had to be redone.
“We had this great opportunity when HBO decided
to pick up the series despite, um,
all of the problems with the pilot.
We got the chance to go back and rewrite it.”
When HBO reshot, Merchant dropped out of the project “for unknown reasons”
and moved on to Salem,
opening the door for Clarke to take over.
Merchant wasn’t the only original Game of Thrones
star to walk away after its early problems.
Pride and Prejudice star Jennifer Ehle was also in the
original pilot, playing Catelyn Stark,
but she, too, walked away after the
first take spelled trouble,
due to unavailability for the reshoots.
She went on to star in films such as The King’s Speech,
The Adjustment Bureau, and Zero Dark Thirty.
She also nabbed a part in the television series A Gifted
Man, so her career hasn’t really been hurt by her
decision to skip out on the role that
ultimately went to Michelle Fairley.
Jamie Campbell Bower
Another actor featured in the original pilot who had to
drop out was Jamie Campbell Bower.
The Twilight and Harry Potter actor was originally
cast for the role of Night’s Watchman Waymar
Royce in the scrapped pilot, but became unavailable
once reshoots were scheduled.
Around the same time, the actor was starring in the
small screen series Camelot and readying
for a lead role in The Mortal Instruments,
so he was replaced by Rob Ostlere.
It might not have made much of a difference for his
career anyway, since Royce was killed
in the show’s opening scene.
Maybe that was an omen?
Given his impressive resume, Scottish actor Brian Cox
might seem like a good fit for one of the Seven
Kingdoms, and somebody on the
show must’ve agreed — he admitted he was
once offered a role early on but turned it down over the lack of loot.
He told Vodzilla, “…stupidly, I turned it
down in the early days because they didn’t pay enough money.
Now they have more money.
And I was silly.
I was silly, it was silly,
because I’m a complete addict now.”
Cox admitted that he regrets missing out on his
chance, especially since it’s featured
some of his old friends.
He hopes he hasn’t closed the door on that opportunity for good.
“I don’t know what I could play.
Maybe I could do — I mean, I just watched my friend
Ian McShane, and I thought, ‘Ooh,
Ian’s in it’, so I settled down to watch him.
And I thought, ‘Ian did that?’ and immediately I thought,
‘God, they must have paid him well,
because I know Ian!’
I’m still waiting for the call for Game of Thrones and if
they’ve got more decent money,
I’ll be there!”
Hopefully they listen, because — seriously
— no one wants to be on the receiving end
of an angry Brian Cox.
“还有你 我的朋友 你对真正的生活一无所知!
“And you, my friend, don’t know crap about life!
And why the f— are you wasting my two precious hours with your movie?”
While it’s not quite known which Game of Thrones
role Dominic West was originally courted for,
many suspect The Affair star may have been
asked to appear as Mance Rayder,
the former Night’s Watchman who became known as
“The King Beyond the Wall” for his affiliation with the Free Folk.
Whatever the role, though, West told Huffington
Post in 2012 that he had to decline the “lovely
part” because of family obligations.
“I was offered something on Game of Thrones and
unfortunately, I hadn’t seen it, but my
nephew and his father said, ‘Gosh, Game of
Thrones is the only great show on!’
And I felt terrible, because I’d just turned them down…
It was a lovely part, a good part.
I’m going to regret it…
My problem is, I’ve got four kids, and at the moment,
I’m reluctant to be away from home for a long time.
I can get a lot of work in London and still be at home.”
X-Files star Gillian Anderson also had to say
“no thanks” to a chance at Game of Thrones
due to her obligations as a parent.
She told Stylist Magazine in 2013,
“Whether it’s Game Of Thrones or Downton Abbey, my
18-year-old cannot believe I’ve turned down things she loves.
But with a four and six-year-old, I can’t
justify spending that kind of time away from
home, unless I’m working with [Martin] Scorsese.”
While Anderson didn’t share which role she
might’ve been offered, many speculate that,
due to her famous red locks, she may have been a
match for Melisandre the Red Witch.
“There is someone I work with I like.
His name is Jon Snow.
But I’m not really sure he’s the right guy.”
“I’m pretty sure he’s dead.”
Game of Thrones fans will undoubtedly recognize
Jonathan Pryce as the actor who portrayed
the duplicitous High Sparrow in Seasons 5 and 6.
But believe it or not, he was actually asked to join the
show long before that — and turned it down.
As he told BBC Radio 4, “I’d said no to the very original
series of Game of Thrones and
all I did was flip through and look at the names, look on
these strange names, strange
dialogue and I thought ‘Oh, it’s not for me.'”
What changed his mind, he said, was the High
Sparrow’s personality and presence.
“High Sparrow, it’s a great character.
He comes into the story—everyone’s well established,
the goodies and the baddies,
and they’re all baddies in some shape or form—and
High Sparrow comes in as again quite relevant
because of the present Pope who presents himself as
a man of the people who’ll get down washing
their feet and stuff … yet he is this incredibly powerful
figure who has the wherewithal to dispense justice.”
This one simply has to hurt.
The Tudors and Penny Dreadful actress Perdita
Weeks was originally cast to star as Roslin
Frey, Edmure Tully’s wife.
But she backed out because her commitment
to another series called The Heretics required
her to be on location in Romania for six months.
One problem: the Romanian government refused to let
them film, and the whole show got scrapped anyway.
Weeks told The Daily Mail in 2012, “I gave up a role on
Game of Thrones to take the part
and even rang the producers to beg for it back once I’d
heard the news about Romania,
but it was too late.”
The role was ultimately played by Alexandra Dowling —
although Weeks might not have missed out on much.
The character has appeared in just one episode and
was notably absent when her husband returned in Season 6.
Irish native Ray Stevenson was also given a chance to
star in Game of Thrones in its
earliest episodes, but he told Movies.com
that he turned it down because he was simply
not into the TV scene at the time and that
he’s not willing to join it now since it’s already too developed at this point.
“I was offered [a role].
I also saw them before they even started, very early on.
I would rather have been [cast] at the beginning.
I think it’s wonderful, but it’s not something
I would come into at this point.
I don’t know if I would add anything to it at this stage …
I would rather have been involved in the growth of a show,
even though everyone gets bumped off left, right and center.
I kept seeing all the people I knew from Rome in it!
But I can’t, man!
Given that Stevenson joined both Dexter and
Black Sails in progress, though, it’s possible
he could still change his mind.
According to singer Lily Allen, she turned down
the chance to star in Game of Thrones
opposite her real-life brother Alfie Allen—she would’ve
been Yara Greyjoy to his Theon—because
of the ick factor associated with the roles.
She wrote in a Reddit AMA in 2014, “I’ve been asked to
do a Game of Thrones cameo, they
asked me if I’d be interested in playing Theon’s sister,
and I felt uncomfortable because I
would have had to go on a horse and he would have touched me up and s***.
Once they told me what was entailed, I said no thanks.”
Then again, she may have been pulling the Internet’s leg that time.
Her brother himself later came forward to dispel her
claim, telling Vulture that her
words weren’t true and that Gemma Whalen was
always the original choice for the role.
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