The popular fantasy series Game of Thrones is breaking all sorts of records around the world, while the cast continues to break hearts the more the universe grows. But, like you and me, these stars once had baby fat and looked a lot different than they do now. Some of these stars were well-known acting veterans across Europe before people in North America knew them including:
- Conleth Hill
- Charles Dance
- Liam Cunningham
At the rate that characters get killed off in this show, it’s a wonder that they have a cast left. We have HBO to thank for exposing the talent of people who were virtually unknown before they were a character in Game of Thrones, making them household names for many years to come.
Here’s a reminder of what the cast once looked like before they made it into Game of Thrones:
1. Liam Cunningham: The Irish actor began working as an electrician in the ’80s when he decided to give acting a try. He’s been in many theater, television and film productions including Clash of the Titans, Safe House and The Wind That Shakes the Barley. He plays the character of Davos “The Onion Knight” Seaworth, Hand of King Stannis Baratheon.
2. Iain Glen: He was born in Scotland and is best known for his villain role in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider. A few other notable works include Mountains of the Moon, Downton Abbey and Cleverman. He plays the role of Ser Jorah Mormont, the loyal soldier who follow Daenerys Targaryen until she finds out he’s a spy for King’s Landing.
3. Charles Dance: Known for playing clever bureaucrats and villains, Dance is one of the most respected actors of his generation. His most notable films include The Jewel in the Crown, The Golden Child, and Alien 3. He plays the role of the cold and calculating Tywin Lannister, the patriarch of the Lannister family.
4. Dame Diana Rigg: The English actress is known for appearing in the cult British 1960s series The Avengers, where she played the secret agent Emma Peel. She was also a Bond Girl in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, where she played Tracy Bond, Bond’s only wife. She played the role of Olenna Tyrell in Game of Thrones.
5. Sean Bean: Before he became one of the most important characters in Game of Thrones, Bean starred in the ITV series Sharpe, and played the role of Boromir in The Lord of the Rings. His Yorkshire accent is one of the most consistent and recognizable voices in the world. He’s no longer in Game of Thrones, but his character is said to have triggered the start of everything that happens in the show.
6. Emilia Clarke: The young actress had never held a main role in television until Game of Thrones came along when she replaced fellow newcomer Tamzin Merchant as Daenerys Targaryen. Today, she’s been nominated for various Emmys and Screen Actor Guild awards, and her career outside of Game of Thrones continues to grow.
8. Lena Headey: The actress has been active since 1992 and has been in The Brothers Grimm, 300 and The Red Baron. Soon after Game of Thrones she appeared in Dredd, The Purge, and will play the role of Lady Catherine de Bourgh in Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. She plays Queen Cersei Lannister, who currently holds the Iron Throne of Westeros.
9. Jason Momoa: Hawaiian-born Jason Momoa is an actor, model, director and writer who first came to our attention during his time on Stargate Atlantis. He was also in Conan the Barbarian before he joined the Game of Thrones cast as Khal Drogo, the first husband to Daenerys Targaryen. Today, he’s set to star in Dawn of Justice as Aquaman, and he also stars in the Discovery Channel show Frontier.
10. Kit Harington: Today, Harington is one of the highest paid actors on television, making over $1 million per episode on Game of Thrones. He’s also appeared in the films Pompeii, Testament of Youth and Seventh Son. He plays the role of Jon Snow, the bastard son of Ed Stark.
12. Ciaran Hinds: Hinds is an Irish film, television and stage actor whose career spans back to the 1970s. He’s appeared in high profile films that include Munich, There Will Be Blood, The Woman in Black and Frozen. In Game of Thrones, he played the role of Mance Ryder, a former member of the Night’s Watch who became King Beyond the Wall.
13. Michelle Farley: The actress has been active since 1986, with roles in films and TV series like Suits, 24 and In the Heart of the Sea. She played the role of Catelyn Stark, mother of all the Stark children. She was so beloved by fans that they refused to believe her character was dead until she confirmed that she was not coming back to the show as the undead version of Catelyn.
14. Sophie Turner: In terms of newcomers who found a perfect first step in Game of Thrones, Sophie is the perfect example. Soon after she played the role of Sansa Stark in the HBO show, she starred as a young Jean Grey in X-Men Apocalypse.
16. Tara Fitzgerald: The 48-year-old actress had made a name for herself before she landed the role of Selyse Baratheon, wife of Stannis Baratheon, in Game of Thrones. She starred in the film Legend, alongside Tom Hardy, and alongside Damian Lewis and Keira Knightley in the West End production of The Misanthrope.