When Game of Thrones first hit our screens in 2011, the only big names it featured were Sean Bean and Lena Heady. The rest of the cast was practically unknown. Five seasons later and those same actors would struggle to walk down the street nowadays without being chased by screaming crowds of super-fans. They really have taken the world by storm.
Although they can now happily bask in the glory of fame, it wasn’t always this easy for them. After Emilia Clarke told her father that she wanted to become an actress, he replied that there was only one line she needed to learn: “Do you want fries with that?” Actors often spend years taking on small roles just to try and network their way to the top. After having worked on the award-winning show which attracts millions of viewers every week, it is a virtual guarantee that the actors will never have to struggle for work again.
This list focuses a spotlight on some of the minor performances the cast had before fans got to know them as the stars they are today. These include cheesy pop videos, topless TV adverts, low-budget horror flicks and garish kids TV. They will never have to lower themselves to these standards again but it’s always nice to look back and see just how far they have all come – and have a really good laugh along the way!
10. Sean Bean in The Bill
Before Sean Bean became a big-name movie star, he had his very first acting job as Horace Clark on ITV’s popular crime drama The Bill. This was in 1984, a time before reasonable haircuts and a dedicated make-up team to hide unwanted acne.
Bean, who was born in the English county of South Yorkshire, finally in 2001 he was snapped up for the role of Boromir in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring and the rest was Hollywood history. In a career that has spanned over two decades, he has died violently on screen more than 20 times – with Game of Thrones being no exception.
9. Gwendoline Christie in Wizards vs Aliens
Gwendoline Christie is more commonly known as the strong and loyal Brienne of Tarth. However, many younger TV lovers will recognize her as the part human, part alien Lexi on the popular kids series Wizards vs Aliens. Actors have to take on any part they can get in the tough industry, so there’s no blaming her for accepting such a cheesy role.
Christie is probably thankful she never allowed herself to become typecast as a squeaky-clean kids TV star because Game of Thrones has seen her praised as a remarkable actress. Now her acting career really has taken off as this year she will appear in Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay.
8. Mackenzie Crook in The Office
Orell in Game of Thrones is a Wildling and a warg. He can change his conscious to that of an eagle and is regarded as a brave fighter. In season three he claims that “People work together when it suits ’em. They’re loyal when it suits ’em. Love each other when it suits ’em. And they kill each other when it suits ’em”.
On the opposite spectrum there is Gareth who is an annoying paper salesman from the UK version of The Office. His only memorable quote is, “You know the phrase softly softly catchee monkey? I could catch a monkey – if I was starving I could”. After Mackenzie Crook spent fourteen episodes playing this character, he must have been delighted when he was finally cast as someone with a bit more pizzazz then this bowl-cut pushover.
7. Stephen Dillane in John Adams
Wait a minute… isn’t that Stannis Baratheon? Does that dashing long hair actually belong to the feared Lord of Dragonstone? The man who will stop at nothing to claim the Iron Throne? Embarrassingly enough – yes. Actor Stephen Dillane was cast as Thomas Jefferson in the historical period drama John Adams.
Previously, Dillane had avoided wearing elaborate costumes. He mentioned in an interview with the Telegraph, “I was very snobby about them for a while. I thought I would feel hamstrung by the costumes”. The London-born actor didn’t realize he would eventually be eating his own words when he was cast in 2011. His costume for the role of Stannis is head-to-toe leather, full body armour and a heavy cloak. Nobody said the life of a Baratheon was an easy one.
6. Emilia Clarke in Triassic Attack
The road to fame and recognition is not always a smooth one and Emilia Clarke, who plays Daenerys Targaryen, knows this all too well. In 2010, fresh out of acting school, she took on the role of Savannah in the TV movie Triassic Attack. The film is about three dinosaurs which are unintentionally brought to life by the owners of a museum and then run rampant in the city. There’s a reason you may have never heard of the movie – it was a major flop.
Luckily, Clarke was given another shot at fame when she auditioned for the part of Khaleesi. At the time she was waitressing in restaurants and needed this big break more than ever. She won the role and has become more accustomed to big-budget productions including this summer’s blockbuster Terminator Genisys.
5. Thomas Brodie-Sangster in Love Actually
Before his voice had broken, Thomas Brodie-Sangster was “that cute little kid” from Love Actually. Unfortunately, when your childhood is captured on-screen you won’t be able to run from repeats as the actor sighs, “It’s on every Christmas at least three times”. He plays young Sam who learns how to play the drums to impress his classmate and love-interest Joanna.
Now at 25-years-old, his looks – which appear to hold the secret of eternal youth – have kept him working ever since. His character Jojen Reed is supposed to be a 13 year-old but his cheeky features knock years off of him. Not a bad acting career for a guy who never intended to be a star. He stated in an interview: “I never went to a drama school or anything. I just gave it my best shot, and everyone seemed to like it, so I carried on doing it”.
4. Rory McCann in a Scott’s Porage Oats Commercial
How does The Hound get his daily strength as a savage swordsman? He eats Scott’s Porage Oats, of course! Before Rory McCann was cast as Sandor Clegane, he had his first acting job as the face of a breakfast cereal. His ripped torso and capacity to take off his shirt in each advert won him a hoard of female fans.
He told Rolling Stone magazine that as a member of the Game of Thrones cast he has an overwhelming impact on people. He claimed in the interview: “It doubles your chance on a Saturday night. I’ve gone to a few conventions and they all go crazy! I’m obviously having some effect, because the times when they have a photo opportunity, you can feel them shaking. Really trembling, like it’s a really big deal”. Ladies, make an orderly queue for The Hound, please.
3. Charles Dance in Ali G Indahouse
The last person you would ever expect to be caught on camera in a leopard print top and leather mini skirt would be Tywin Lannister. Yet here he is in Ali G Indahouse in all his glory. Actor Charles Dance landed the role almost a decade before he became the much-feared Lord of House Lannister.
In 1975, he joined the Royal Shakespeare Company and in 2006 was awarded an OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) for his services to drama. We have this funny feeling that this clip wasn’t included in the showreel which was screened after he received the honour. Or maybe it was and The Queen of England just has a very open mind?
2. Jerome Flynn as Robson & Jerome
Jerome Flynn was once one half of the famous pop-duo Robson and Jerome (ask your parents). They had huge hits with “Unchained Melody” and “Up On The Roof”. The pair had a trademark performance technique of always sharing one microphone between them as they crooned their way through heart-breaking ballads.
It was a golden rule throughout the 90’s that there always had to be some very cheesy acting that took place in the music videos. Watching YouTube clips of the pair will have you wondering how Flynn ever managed to land the honourable role as Bronn the Commander of the City Watch.
1. Mark Addy in The Full Monty
Mark Addy must have fallen out with his casting agent a long time ago as his acting CV has some real cringe-worthy gigs on there. He played Dave in The Full Monty which saw him as an out-of-work welder turned stripper. The movie cost $1 million to make and reached sales of over $100 million at the box-office so obviously there were some people who actually wanted to see him get his kit off.
Three years later he took on the role of Fred Flintstone in The Flintstones: Viva Rock Vegas. Unfortunately it gained many unfavourable reviews with Rotten Tomatoes awarding it just 25%. It was also a box-office flop after costing $83 million and making just $59 million back. It didn’t put him off acting though and a decade later he took on the role as the ruler of the Seven Kingdoms, Robert Baratheon.