As the television series Game of Thrones became a cultural phenomenon, the stars of the show, who were mainly unknown actors and actresses beforehand, became instant celebrities. It is estimated that the Game of Thrones ensemble cast is the largest on television. The cast members are reportedly some of the highest-paid actors on television, with some cast members earning more than $1 million per episode.
Game of Thrones is an American fantasy drama television series adapted from a series of fantasy novels by George R. R. Martin. The television show is created by D. B. Weiss and David Benioff. Most of the actors and actresses in the show, which is predominantly filmed in Belfast, Northern Ireland, are British.
Some of the main characters in the show are portrayed by:
Kit Harington (Jon Snow)
Just like his character, Christopher Catesby “Kit” Harington ironically also hails from an aristocratic family – Baron Harington of Aldingham. Before he was cast in a main role in Game of Thrones, the English actor graduated at the Central School of Speech and Drama in London in 2008. He also performed in British theater and came under the attention of the creators of Game of Thrones through his role in the stage adaptation of War Horse.
After auditioning for the role of Jon Snow, he was announced in the role on 19 July 2009. “It wasn’t a studied thing – some kind of actor who practices brooding in the mirror – it was a capacity to say a lot without saying a lot,” says David Benioff.
Peter Dinklage (Tyrion Lannister)
By the time he was cast in Game of Thrones, Peter Hayden Dinklage was already an established actor with numerous film, television cameo and theater roles under his belt. The American actor was born with achondroplasia (a form of dwarfism).
Naturally, when it came to casting the role of the “the imp” Tyrion Lannister, the creators of Game of Thrones’ first and only choice was Peter Dinklage. “He is the character come to life. When we originally started doing this [show] years ago, there were two roles we agreed on instantly [and one was that] we had to have Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister,” says George R. R. Martin.
For his work in the show, Peter Dinklage has won a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Series, Miniseries or Television Film as well as two Emmy Awards for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series.
Emilia Clarke (Daenerys Targaryen)
Emilia Isabelle Euphemia Rose Clarke was a virtually unknown English actress when she landed a main role in Game of Thrones. Tamzin Merchant was originally cast in the role of Daenerys Targaryen, but was replaced by Emilia Clarke.
According to the actress, she did the robot dance and the funky chicken during her audition. Apparently, creator of the show, David Benioff, jokingly requested that she did a dance – to which she wholeheartedly complied.
Lena Headey (Cersei Lannister)
The English actress has been cast in British and American film and television roles since she was 17 years old, and had already made a name for herself before being cast as a main character in Game of Thrones.
Lena Headey landed the role of Cersei Lannister after her friend, Peter Dinklage, suggested her to producers of the show.
Sophie Turner (Sansa Stark)
When she was just 13 years old Sophie Turner landed the role of Sansa Stark. The role is the English actress’ first professional acting gig. She was encouraged by her drama teacher to audition for the show, which conducted casting searches at local schools.
“It was very difficult at the beginning, particularly when I had my first crying scene,’ she said. ‘I’d never cried to order before, so I began to think of personal stuff that would make me sad and it was too much. I had to tell myself: ‘This is acting,’ and I had to put myself in Sansa’s situation,” she says.
Maisie Williams (Arya Stark)
At 12 years of age, Margaret Constance “Maisie” Williams was cast as Arya Stark in Game of Thrones. “The thing I was really obsessed about was whether I would earn enough money to buy myself a laptop. My stepdad, Gary, just looked at me and said: ‘I think there’ll be enough for a couple of laptops, Maisie,’” she says.
For her work in the television show she won an EWwy Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Drama, a Portal Award for Best Supporting Actress – Television and Best Young Actor and a Saturn Award for Best Performance by a Younger Actor. The English actress has dropped out of school to pursue her acting career.
Isaac Hempstead Wright (Bran Stark)
Isaac Hempstead Wright already featured in commercials and made a film debut before he was cast in Game of Thrones. The English actor joined the cast when he was 12 years old.