Not a Blog

As Ser Jorah Mormont…

August 21, 2009 at 1:22 am
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… we have Iain Glen, another distinguished British veteran of stage and screen.

Glen has a really great website at http://www.iainglen.com/ Check it out. Not only does he have a list of all his credits, but the site includes clips from many of the film and television roles, so you can get a wonderful sample of his range and talents. I wish more actors had websites this good.

One of his credits was KINGDOM OF HEAVEN, Ridley Scott’s marvelous film about the Crusades and the fall of the Kingdom of Jerusalem. Nicolaj Coster-Waldau also had a role in that film, hence the “gone to the wars” clue. But Coster-Waldau was not a kingslayer there, which was good for Glen, since he played Richard the Lionhearted. And killing Richard before his time would certainly have changed history. KINGDOM OF HEAVEN was filmed in Morocco… and Glen will be returning to those same locations to shoot the Pentos scenes for our pilot.

Iain Glen also appeared in MOUNTAINS OF THE MOON, co-starring as Speke to Patrick Bergin’s Richard Burton. A wonderful performance in a fine film. Of course the character he will be playing in the HBO pilot, Ser Jorah Mormont, has never seen the Mountains of the Moon in Westeros, although the actor has seen the African version.

Like many of the best British actors, Iain Glen is a chameleon who often disappears into his roles. Visit his website and play some of his clips, and you may realize you have seen more of his work than you realize. He won’t just play Ser Jorah, he’ll BECOME him.

That’s Ser Seven, and that’s all folks.

For now.

As Daenerys Targaryen…

August 21, 2009 at 12:52 am
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… we have the lovely and talented young British actress Tamzin Merchant.

I know my readers play the casting game. Well, confession time, so do I. Ever since I began A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE (way back in 1991, thought it wasn’t until 1994 that I got writing in earnest), there was always a little part of me that would watch every television show and movie with one eye looking for actors and actresses who might work as my characters.

And so there I was, watching THE TUDORS (which I have VERY mixed feelings about, I confess), when Tamzin Merchant came on screen as the fifteen year old Katherine Howard, Henry VIII’s fifth wife. I sat up at once, thinking, “Hmmm, she could be a good candidate for Dany.”

Katheryn Howard, as all students of history know, ended with her head on the block, much like Henry VIII’s second wife, Anne Boleyn. Which gave her something in common with Ned, hence that clue. And she was Henry’s fifth wife, hence the “fourth is fifth” clue.

Dany is very difficult role. She starts out vulnerable and scared, but blooms on the Dothraki sea, and becomes a powerful leader by book’s end. It’s no secret that HBO’s Dany will start out older than Dany does in the book; that was a change that had to be made, if we wanted to keep the sex scenes, and David and Dan and I were all agreed that the sex scenes were essential. Tamzin can play much younger than her actual age (as she does when playing Katheryn) and her sex scenes on THE TUDORS were as hot as anything I’ve ever seen on TV. In her readings, she showed Dany’s other side as well, commanding and charismatic after Drogo’s death. I think she’ll be marvelous.

I believe I mentioned at worldcon that we were down to three finalists for Dany, which was true at the time. It was a hell of a hard choice, since the other two contenders were also great… so great, in fact, that I hope we can use both of them in other roles should the series last several seasons. (Yes, I know just the roles, and no, I won’t tell you which ones, nor the names of the other two actresses. Sorry, not kosher). All three were smashing. But Tamzin was Dany.

(some of her earlier work, pre TUDORS):

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As Robb Stark…

August 21, 2009 at 12:35 am
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… another terrific young British actor, Richard Madden.

Madden did some great readings as well, blowing the competition (some very good competition) out of the water.

He has done a lot of stage work in England, including playing Romeo in a recent production of ROMEO AND JULIET in Leeds castle. That was the clue I blew, when I talked about a player exclaiming about roses in a castle. Of course, it is Juliet who exclaims that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, not Romeo. Sorry about that. I did get the “castle” part right. Macbeth and Hamlet and many of the Bard’s history plays have scenes in castles, but ROMEO & JULIET does not… but the particular production that Madden was in was staged in Leeds castle.

Madden has also been cited as one of Britian’s hot young actors by ESQUIRE, which became another clue. He’s gotten some great reviews, and has a terrific look for Robb. If we go three seasons, women will weep… (and so may I).

As Arya and Sansa Stark…

August 21, 2009 at 12:16 am
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… we have Maisie Williams and Sophie Turner, respectively.

These were the toughest ones to find clues for, since neither one can be found on IMDB, YouTube, Google, or any of the other places I searched. When you google Maisie’s name, however, you get a bunch of hits for Maizie Williams, a singer for an old pop group called Boney M. But of course THAT Maizie Williams was not our Arya, hence the clue that one player was NOT a boney pop singer.

Here’s our Arya:

Sophie Turner was just as hard to find. No, she’s not the middle-aged actress who played in the DR. WHO episode. She’s not any of the other Sophie Turners that google will turn up, either. I thought about trying to cobble together some kind of “not Sophie Tucker” clue, but finally gave it up as a bad idea, and in the end I never did drop a hint for Sophie.

Here’s Sansa:

(That’s not the best picture, I know. Sorry, didn’t have a lot to choose from. I am sure better pictures of both Maisie and Sophie will be forthcoming).

You guys cannot possibly know how hard these roles were to cast. I’ve viewed dozens of readings for both girls. Sweet kids, some with great looks, all of them bright and eager and enthusiastic… but good child actors are rare. Maisie brought Arya alive in a way that none of the other kids could match, right from the first. Sophie read two scenes; the scene with Arya on the kingsroad, and a much later one when Joff is forcing her to look at the heads on the walls. Two very different sides of the character. She knocked ’em both out of the park.

I think you’re going to love these girls. I know I do.

As Theon Greyjoy…

August 21, 2009 at 12:01 am
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… we have Alfie Allen.

I knew absolutely nothing about Alfie when this process began, except that he had done some kickass readings for us. His audition for Theon was particularly strong, especially the scene where Theon returns to Pyke to confront his father Balon (no, that won’t be in the pilot, but it was a great scene to use in the sides).

After he was cast, of course, I went to learn more about him on the internet, and discovered all sorts of interesting things. Like the fact that he replaced Daniel Radcliffe as the lead in the West End production of EQUUS, which became one clue — he has something in common with Harry Potter. Also, he’s the young brother of the British pop star Lily Allen. One of her first hits starred Alfie — being played by a puppet:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qRX57zprNdw

(Sorry, embedding is disabled on that one, but check it out. I confess, I am not exactly an authority on today’s music, and I had never heard of Lily Allen before Alfie was cast. But in the past couple of weeks I have become a huge fan of her music, especially “Alfie” and “Not Fair.” Be warned, though, her songs have plenty of explicit lyrics).