The sixth season of the highly acclaimed HBO series Game Of Thrones is underway and has everyone glued to their couches on Sunday nights. We’re only a few episodes in and people are already freaking out at how much has been revealed so far on the show. I won’t spoil anything, but let’s just say it’s turning out to be a season chock-full of revelations and surprises.
Speaking of revelations, the cast behind one of the most successful shows in cable history have a few little known revelations of their own. It’s always fun to dig into the lives of the people who play our favorite characters, and it’s all the weirder when it comes to a fantasy period piece like Game Of Thrones in which every character is immensely different from the people who play them. I’ve compiled 10 little secrets from the cast of George R.R Martin’s bloody epic turned TV show for your viewing pleasure. How did I attain these nuggets of information, you ask? Well, let’s just say I have eyes and ears everywhere. We’ll call them little birds that whisper in the wind… let’s just leave it at that, shall we.
13. Jason Momoa (Khal Drogo) Was A Lifeguard On Baywatch: Hawaii
Khal Drogo and his Dothraki clan may be terrified of the sea, opting to build “wooden horses” (they’re called ships, fellas) to take them from shore to shore instead, but actor Jason Momoa doesn’t seem to have any second thoughts about getting into the water. During his rookie years in Hollywood, the actor once played a strapping lifeguard on Baywatch: Hawaii, and will finally make his DC Universe debut as Aquaman, lord of the seven seas and occasional fish whisperer, in Zack Snyder’s upcoming Justice League movie in 2017. If you’re wondering how Jason Momoa secured the role of the barbaric yet strangely fan-favorite Khal Drogo, he did it in the most badass way possible… by doing the Haka. The Haka, mind you, is an ancestral war cry, dance, or challenge from the proud Māori people of New Zealand. If you ask me, I don’t think people behind Game Of Thrones or the execs at HBO could look the other way after a such a raw, power-driven audition like that.
If that’s not enough intel on the Honolulu-born Momoa, here’s a tidbit on that scar you see above his left eye. Truth is, it isn’t makeup. In 2008, Jason Momoa was attacked with a broken bottle, leaving him with that “beauty mark” that stretches above his eye, which is a constant visual trait on many of his characters. I know it’s unfortunate, but hey, at least it lends an edge to the kind of characters he plays, so I guess he turned a negative into a positive in the end.
12. Lena Heady (Cersei) and Jerome Flynn (Bronn) Hate Each Other
One of the key elements to any successful show is how well its cast and crew get along when the cameras aren’t rolling. It’s difficult to tell a story with a multitude of intertwining characters and storylines if the actors are having backstage beefs with one another. Fortunately, the cast of Game Of Thrones seem to get along extremely well and are like a close-knit albeit unrelated family…except of course, for Lena Heady and Jerome Flynn, who have fallen in and out of bitter relationships with one another since 2002. Apparently Heady and Flynn don’t even speak a word to each other on set!
From what we’ve learned, despite the couple being very coy about their dating life, is that the two used to date on and off with things finally culminating on very sour terms, and both Lena and Jerome have obviously not buried the hatchet yet. Rumor has it, and this is based on the words of a crewmember, that the tension between the two is so palpable that the producers have scheduled them to never be in the same room at the same time, and that they should be kept separated at all costs. I guess it makes sense, seeing as Lena Heady plays Cersei Lannister, a leading character on the show, and should be left at ease at all times.
11. Alfie Allen (Theon Greyjoy) is Lily Allen’s Brother
Theon Greyjoy, who was at one time arguably the most hated character on the show thanks to his vile behavior, may now forever be known as the guy who got his “pride and joy” snipped by the inherently sadistic Ramsay Bolton during one of the most unsettling depictions of torture in a TV series. However, actor Alfie Allen was made famous way before his days as the heir to the ‘Iron Islands’ on Game Of Thrones. Alfie is in fact the brother of popular singer-songwriter Lily Allen, and he was even the main subject of one of her songs titled…you guessed it, “Alfie”.
She sings, “Ooooo Alfie get up it’s a brand new day, I just can’t sit back and watch you waste your life away, You need to get a job because the bills need to get paid…”
I think we can all agree that Alfie took his sister’s advice to heart and made something of himself. The once-lazy Alfie finally quit being a weed-smoking couch potato and landed himself a pretty sweet deal, wouldn’t you agree?
On a more serious note though, what is it with men getting their genitals chopped off on this show? It’s like a very weird trend that just won’t stop.
10. Sibel Kekilli (Shae) Was A Different Kind of Actress…
The beautiful Sibel Kekilli, famously known on Game Of Thrones as Shae, the prostitute turned love interest of overwhelmingly fan-favorite Tyrion Lannister, used to work as an adult film star before Hollywood came a calling. You read that correctly. Her stage name used to be Dilara. And now you can Google that name…you know, for research purposes. She left the world of adult films and ventured into acting after moving to Germany, before being (ironically) asked to play the role of a prostitute in Game Of Thrones. Talk about a serious case of typecasting! But fret not, because Game Of Thrones has opened up a lot of opportunities for Sibel to explore more diverse characters. She is currently playing Sarah Brandt on the German TV show Tatort and is set to star in a film titled Im Feuer due in 2017.
Speaking of adult film stars, Sibel Kekilli isn’t the only former ‘skin-flick’ actor that the show has employed. Apparently the producers of Game Of Thrones have a long-running tendency of casting adult film actors for various nude scenes across the show, with the biggest concentration of them appearing as sex workers in Petyr Baelish’s famous brothel in King’s Landing.
9. Lady the Direwolf Belongs to Sansa… in Real Life
Some of the most beloved characters on Game Of Thrones aren’t even human. I’d wager that if you asked most fans to rank their favorite to least favorite characters on the show, the magnificent direwolves would rank somewhere way on top. Then again, that should come as no surprise since the wolves are basically big, overprotective, inherently obedient dogs… and who doesn’t adore dogs, right?
Sophie Turner, the actor who plays the much beloved Sansa Stark and can most recently be seen playing Jean Grey in X-Men: Apocalypse, adored her direwolf on the show so much that she eventually decided to adopt the Mahlek Northern Inuit Dog all for herself! That’s right, Sophie Turner is now the proud human companion to Zunni, formerly known as Lady on Game Of Thrones. In a lengthy interview with The Coventry Telegraph, Sophie said that she had always wanted a dog but was never allowed to have one when she was younger. But then the Turners fell in love with Zunni on set and managed to persuade the producers to let them keep her.
That’s all well and good, but imagine having to walk into the Turner household only to find their guard dog is a massive white wolf. Better bring a change of pants, just in case.
8. The Night’s King Killed Batman’s Parents
Apart from being the ferocious face of fear and malevolent leader of the prophesied ice-army known as the White Walkers, the Night’s King was also responsible for the heinous murder of Bruce Wayne’s parents in Batman Begins. That’s right, the frozen zombie boss in Game Of Thrones was also an equally cold hearted killer in Gotham City, back when Christopher Nolan had just churned out his first Batman film in what would become a standard-setting trilogy. British-American actor Richard Brake, who played Joe Chill in Batman Begins, can also be seen in the music video to Muse’s “Knights of Cynodia”. Coincidentally, Joe Chill could also be the street name for the Night’s King because of how unintentionally apt it is.
However, Richard Brake wasn’t the only Game Of Thrones actor to star alongside the Dark Knight. Actor Jack Gleeson, famous for playing the most hated, b*tchfaced character on the show, Joffrey Baratheon, was also in Batman Begins as a little kid who Batman actually rescues from an escaped convict towards the third act of the movie. Feel free to use that piece of trivia the next time a conversation turns awkwardly silent at a party.
7. Peter Dinklage (Tyrion Lannister) Was the “Wake Up Guy”
A lot of folks are only now coming to know of the charming and charismatic Peter Dinklage after his rise to pop-culture superstardom on Game Of Thrones, but the fact is he has been showing up in movies and TV shows for a very long time. While his acting prowess speaks for itself, little credence is given to just how powerful his voice is, and in my opinion, Peter Dinklage has one of the best voices in Hollywood today. Apparently the producers of Seinfeld, one of the biggest and most popular TV shows ever made, seemed to have shared that opinion and decided to cast Dinklage in one of the show’s episode as the memorable “Wake Up Guy”, whom we later learn is named James. Now that you know that, you’ll probably never watch that episode the same way again.
But that’s not all about Peter Dinklage. The actor who is now synonymous with the role of Tyrion Lannister is also a staunch vegetarian. And yes, I know what you’re thinking… you’ve seen the man chew on juicy pieces of fowl, and sometimes well-prepared servings of steak on the show. Like everything else on TV, looks can be deceiving, and what you’re actually seeing is tofu disguised as meat that Tyrion is chowing down on.
6. Maisie Williams (Arya Stark) Can Bust a Move
Does a girl have a name? Arya Stark, one of the topmost favorite characters on Game Of Thrones, may be bent on creating lists of characters on the show whom she wants dead, but actress Maisie Williams has less vengeful tendencies in real life. Arya’s real-life counterpart loves to dance. Maisie has been a student of the Susan Hill School of Dancing since she was 10, and stated in a recent interview with Yahoo! that she would love to perform on stage or in front of a live audience just to show people what she can really do as a dancer. But don’t just take her word for it, the video above went viral in 2012 and for good reason. Because Game Of Thrones is regarded as dark, gritty, and oftentimes depressing, it’s fun to watch the cast of the show enjoy themselves off set. In the video, the feisty, violent Arya Stark busts out some seriously epic dance moves to the likes of LMFAO and Beyoncé in grand flash mob style.
Here’s something else about Maisie Williams that you might not have known. Apparently she has trouble watching scenes depicting graphic violence or horror. According to her, she can’t stomach watching her own admittedly violent scenes and sometimes has to leave the room or cover her eyes when they’re on.
5. Kristian Nairn (Hodor) Is A DJ
Hodor isn’t a man of many words. In fact, much like Groot from Guardians of the Galaxy, the only word Hodor knows is his own name. But when he’s not saying “Hodor” ad nauseam, the gentle giant’s real-world counterpart, actor Kristian Nairn, is busy scratching turntables and being a professional DJ! In fact, he’s actually pretty good at his parallel career and even began incorporating elements from Game Of Thrones into his electronic works of aural art once the show really took off. Here’s the kicker…Kristian puts his skills on display at raves all over the world called “Rave Of Thrones”. No I’m not kidding, and you can watch the video above to see for yourself.
When asked about choosing between his acting career and DJ-ing fulltime, Nairn said that both careers differ and he had no reason to choose.
“Luckily, I think I do a good job of doing both. I have a really, really busy work schedule, but it’s so different,” he said. “I mean, acting – what you do, you don’t get any reaction […] on TV, and then there’d be Twitter. But if you’re on a DJ set, you’re get a reaction right in the front – from the music crowds – either they hate it or they like it. I like the live reaction.”
4. Gwendoline Christie (Brienne of Tarth) Doesn’t Know Her Birthday
It’s hard to believe that anyone doesn’t remember their own birthday, but that’s exactly the case with Brienne of Tarth herself, Gwendoline Christie. Apparently her mum never kept track of Gwendoline’s date of birth and the tradition of celebrating one’s birthday was never a big deal in the Christie household. As weird as it sounds, Gwendoline doesn’t really know her exact date of birth to this day, and has also lost track of her exact age!
Circling back to Game Of Thrones, Gwendoline credits her athletic past as the reason why she was able to look the part of the imposing Brienne of Tarth. Believe it or not, she was once a semi-professional gymnast, before an injury forced her into an early retirement. Fortunately, one closed door seemed to have opened another in her life, and Gwendoline Christie was once again able to follow strict diet regimens and extremely rigorous training routines to do the character of Brienne justice. But that’s not where her luck ends. Her height and stature helped land her the role of Captain Phasma in what is now the single biggest US domestic draw in the history of Hollywood, Star Wars: The Force Awakens!
3. Peter Vaughan (Aemon Targaryen) Is Blind In Real Life
Peter Vaughan, the charismatic British thespian who played the wise and insightful Master Aemon Targaryen, is a total bad-ass hailing from an era when grit and resilience were things people truly prided themselves over. Peter was born in 1923 and has enjoyed a long and illustrious career in the field of entertainment and performance arts, receiving a coveted BAFTA nomination for his moving portrayal of an Alzheimer’s patient in Our Friends In The North, a BBC Two drama that aired in 1996. Ironically, ‘Our Friends in The North’ sounds exactly like something you’d hear in an episode of Game Of Thrones.
Back when he was 84-years-old, an age most would consider decades past the official retirement bracket, Peter mentioned in an interview with Shropshire Magazine that he wants to keep acting for as many years as possible, as long as he’s able and the offers keep knocking at his door. Staying true to his word, Peter Vaughan is still accepting roles today, at age 92! Unlike his character Aemon though, actor Peter Vaughan is apparently only partially blind, but fortunately for him and everyone who enjoys his work, the lack of sight doesn’t seem to be stopping him from doing what he truly loves.
2. Tamzin Merchant Was Almost Khaleesi
Can you imagine anyone other than Emilia Clarke playing the silver-haired Daenerys Stormborn of House Targaryen, the first of her name; the Unburnt, Queen of Mereen, Queen of the Andrals and the Rhoynar and the First Men, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, Breaker of Chains and Mother of Dragons? No, probably not, but there was a time when someone other than Miss Clarke was inked in to play the role of our great Khaleesi instead! Gasp!
One of the actors shortlisted to embody the Mother of Dragons was none other than the beautiful Tazmin Merchant, who is famous for her work on Tudors as Catherine Howard. I suppose if we never saw Emilia Clarke in the now-iconic role we would have never been aware of what we were missing in the first place… and I’m sure Tamzin Merchant wouldn’t have been bad at all. It’s just that, Emilia to Daenerys is like Robert Downey, Jr. to Tony Stark… it just doesn’t feel right to have someone else fill those shoes (or lack thereof) because of how synonymous they’ve become with their on-screen personalities. Furthermore, Emilia has become an empowering icon of sorts for young women everywhere, especially after her very vocal opinions about scenes depicting female nudity and how they should always be within context instead of serving as blatant exploitation.
1. That Wasn’t Kit Harington’s (Jon Snow) Butt
Remember when Jon Snow and Ygritte had a little naughty-naughty time in that cave back in season three? Of course you do. Apparently Jon is proficient at tongue stuff, if Ygritte is to be believed, despite him being a virgin at the time and all. Good on you Jon, you cheeky b*stard!
Anyway, if you thought that was a glimpse of Kit Harington’s bare behind you caught during the deed, you sir are sorely mistaken. Kit had injured his ankle and was unable to film certain scenes during that time, prompting the producers to get a crew member who was of the same height and build as Kit, and who had similar hair color, to step in and film a quick shot of Jon Snow jumping into a pool. Unfortunately for the stand-in, he had to trim his long black locks to match the length of Jon Snow’s on the show… but hey, at least his butt is now immortalized in one of entertainment’s most prominent sex scenes. What’s even better is that Jon Snow and Ygritte are a real-life couple now. That’s right, actors Kit Harrington and Rose Leslie found actual romance on set and have been seeing each other ever since.