Ever since Game of Thrones became the international phenomenon that it is today, the actors who have taken part in the show have become instantly recognizable. While the main stars have become some of the biggest (and richest) in the industry, even the side players have caught the eyes of most North American audiences. If you weren’t familiar with the British fraternity of actors before jumping on the Game of Thrones bandwagon, you surely are now. But there are some actors who haven’t got the same love. Sure, some of the actors on this list may not have been in enough episodes to warrant becoming “well-known,” but that’s not the only reason they’ve remained relatively anonymous. For all the actors on this list, it’s been the makeup and the masks that they wear in the show that have kept them hidden. So we thought it would be fun to go through and introduce you to all the actors who have been disguised by their character’s costume. It’s also a great way to celebrate the incredible makeup and wardrobe teams of Game of Thrones.
While there are some actors on this list that you will recognize or even know by name, most will be new to you. We don’t expect this list to contribute to making these actors the megastars that their co-workers have become, though. We simply want to put an actor’s face and name to the characters they play, which are fairly significant in many cases, especially for fans of the books. If anything else, this list will get you that much closer to knowing everything there is to know about Game of Thrones. Who knows? If any of these actors do become superstars, you can look back and think, I remember when they were playing a random masked character back on Game of Thrones. Obviously, there will be some spoilers here folks. So, without further ado, let’s unmask all the characters whose faces are kept hidden by makeup, masks, or helmets. Here are 15 Actors Behind the Masks and Makeup of Game of Thrones.
15. Gregor Clegane – Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson
By now, most Game of Thrones fans know that Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson plays the part of The Mountain, Gregor Clegane, but considering how often he wears a mask, we thought we should include him on this list. Besides, the character has switched between three actors since the beginning of the show, so it can be difficult to keep up. In season one, Gregor was played by Conan Stevens. After season one, Stevens left after being cast as Bolg in The Hobbit trilogy (a role that was almost completely edited out too). Ian Whyte, an actor who has played white walkers and giants on Game of Thrones, took over as Gregor for season two. In season four, Gregor’s role became much more central when Cersei took him as her champion. It was here that Björnsson took on the role. For those who are unaware, Björnsson is a four-time World’s Strongest Man winner. Standing 6 feet 9 and weighing 400 lbs, this is a terrifying human.
14. Styr – Yuri Kolokolnikov
The Thenn, if you’ve forgotten, is a cannibal tribe from north of the Wall. The main Thenn, the Magnar or the Lord, is named Styr. Even though Styr’s face is quite visible, we thought we would include him because the character’s scars and his bald head do hide the actor, Yuri Kolokolnikov, quite a bit. Kolokolnikov is a Russian actor best known for his work on Game of Thrones as well as playing Yuri on The Transporter Refueled. Styr and Jon eventually duke it out in the battle at Castle Black with Jon crushing the poor guy’s skull with a hammer in the end. Even though Styr wasn’t on the show for long, he had a lasting impression because of how sadistic he was and how daunting he looked.
13. Thenn Warg – Joseph Gatt
The Thenn Warg was a new character in Game of Thrones that fans of the books didn’t expect. Played by Joseph Gatt, the Thenn Warg didn’t have a name but he was memorable in that he’s one of the few wargs we see take control of animals (his animal was an owl). This Thenn was killed by Samwell Tarly with a crossbow bolt through the head. The actor, Gatt, is fairly recognizable as he has Alopecia Universalis, a rare condition that caused him to lose all his hair at a young age. Gatt’s most familiar work has come from his roles as Grundworth, a Frost Giant in Thor, the Albino in Banshee, and for video game fans, the role of Kratos in the God of War series.
12. Rorge – Andy Beckwith
Truthfully, the character Rorge and the actor who plays him, Andy Beckwith, don’t look a whole lot different, but the long hair and the scars hide him just enough to make him worthy to be included on this list. Rorge is a criminal who is recruited to join the Night’s Watch along with Jaqen H’ghar and Arya. Rorge later joins the Lannister army at Harrenhal and is killed by Arya with the help of the Hound. The actor playing Rorge, Beckwith, is well-known for playing Errol in Snatch as well as the Flying Dutchmen pirate, Clanker, in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise.
11. Shagga – Mark Lewis Jones
Remember when Tyrion formed an alliance with the leaders from the hill tribes back in season one? Well the one that got the most screen time was Shagga. Shagga would often recite his name as Shagga, son of Dolf and leader of the Stone Crows. He would also wear a tight-fitting helmet that covered much of his face. On the show, Shagga and his friends seem to disappear after the Battle of the Green Fork, which was weird. Still, the actor behind the helmet was Mark Lewis Jones. Jones is a Welsh actor who has been in a number of reputable films and TV shows, including Torchwood, Merlin, Waking the Dead, Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, Troy, and Robin Hood. Keep your eyes peeled when watching Star Wars: The Last Jedi as well, because Jones has been cast as Captain Canady in that highly anticipated film.
10. Stone Man – Calvin Warrington-Heasman
Calvin Warrington-Heasman is a stunt man who has been in a slew of gigantic films. His impressive resume includes Transformers, Jason Bourne, Wonder Woman, Pirates of the Caribbean, Avengers, and many more. On Game of Thrones, Warrington-Heasman was involved in the stunts for several episodes, but his big moment in the sun came in the episode “Kill the Boy.” It was here that Warrington-Heasman got to play one of the Stone Men. He’s the one who attacks Tyrion and Jorah Mormont, infecting Jorah with greyscale in the process. The makeup process to turn Warrington-Heasman into a Stone Man took about four hours to complete. The look was based on an advanced version of the greyscale that Shireen Baratheon’s has on the side of her face. As a model, the team used cracked riverbeds and elephant skin to give them an idea of where they wanted to take the look.
9. Quaithe – Laura Pradelska
Quaithe is a shadowbinder from Asshai that Daenerys and Jorah Mormont encountered a couple of times in season two. Quaithe’s mask and shadowbinding abilities make her one of the more mysterious and interesting characters that we know almost nothing about. Fans speculate that she may even have greyscale on her face or that, because of her shadowbinding and homeland in Asshai, she’s connected to the Red priests and priestesses, like Melisandre and Thoros. She gives a prophecy to Daenerys that hasn’t yet played itself out, so we may not have seen the last of her yet. Underneath the mask is actress Lara Pradelska. Outside of Game of Thrones, Pradelska has been in The Habit of Beauty and Love in the Age of Fear. Since her character wore a mask, there’s no guarantee that if Quaithe does come back on the show that it’ll be Pradelski playing the part.
8. Lord of Bones/Rattleshirt – Ross O’Hennessy
We first met the Lord of Bones (also called Rattleshirt) in season two after Jon was captured by the Wildlings. Later, in season three, the Lord of Bones presented Jon to Mance Rayder, the King Beyond the Wall. During this second meeting, the character took off his skull mask for the first time and we got to see his face briefly. At this point, the character was played by Edward Dogliani. Later, in season five, when Tormund and the Lord of Bones meet again at Hardhome, Dogliani had been replaced by actor Ross O’Hennessy. O’Hennessy is best known for playing Commander Quattrone on Da Vinci’s Demons. In this sequence, the Lord of Bones’ only function was to piss Tormund off and die. O’Hennessy totally nailed it.
7. Three-Eyed Raven – Struan Rodger
Most of us will associate the great Max von Sydow as the Three-Eyed Raven, but he had taken over the role for season six when the character became more of a central figure. Prior to that, beginning in the first season, the character was discussed but never seen, other than as an actual raven. In season four, however, Bran finally met the man behind the raven. Looking quite a bit different than the von Sydow version in season six, the Three-Eyed Raven played by Struan Rodger had a long white hair and beard. Rodger is probably most famous for his role as Sandy McGrath in Chariots of Fire, but he was also the Face of Boe for all the Doctor Who fans out there.
6. Wun Wun – Ian Whyte
Ian Whyte has been a part of the Game of Thrones team from the very beginning. Initially, he was cast to play a white walker (the very first walker seen on the show from episode one). Since he replaced another actor, he split the credit. In the second season, Whyte came back, this time as Gregor Clegane, again replacing another actor. In seasons three and four, Whyte took on another role that fit his body type, a wildling giant. You see, Whyte is a 7’1″ former basketball player. Being a giant is something that comes natural to him. In seasons three and four, the giant that Whyte played had no real name, but on the set, they called him “Dongo the Doomed” (he was the one shooting giant arrows up to the top of the wall). But Whyte’s big opportunity came in seasons five and six when he took on the role of Wun Wun, the giant everyone knew best. Wun Wun is the big ol’ giant who sacrifices his life to break through the gates of Winterfell, helping Jon Snow reclaim his home.
5. Mag The Mighty – Neil Fingleton
Mag the Mighty is probably the second most recognizable giant on the Game of Thrones (there are probably three who are distinct). Mag was the giant who is enraged after his fellow giant, Dongo (Ian Whyte), was killed. This led him to lift the gate underneath the wall all by himself and charge to the other side. Remember that moment? The giant charges and the brave men of the Night’s Watch meet him in the tunnel. Yep. That was Mag the Mighty. He ended up taking out six men from the Watch, including Jon’s pal, Grenn. Mag was played by the tallest man in the UK, Neil Fingleton. Sadly, the 7’7″ actor and former basketball player died at the age of 36 this past February. Fingleton played in several massive films and TV shows recently, including Doctor Who, Jupiter Ascending, 47 Ronin, and X-Men: First Class.
4. Leaf – Kae Alexander
Originally, Leaf, the main female member of the Children of the Forest, was played by the young actress, Octavia Alexandru. When the role was amped up and given a back story in season six, Kae Alexander took over the role. Before Game of Thrones, Alexander was on the TV shows Bad Education and House of Anubis. For her part as Leaf, Alexander had to undergo 9-10 hours of makeup and prosthetics each day of shooting. The results are truly amazing. The Children of the Forest were some of the coolest-looking characters on the show, blending elf-like images from stories and films with some tree and leaf-themed makeup and clothing. Leaf is the only Child of the Forest with spoken lines, so we can safely say she’s the leader. We don’t know really anything about her other than the fact that she’s thousands of years old.
3. White Walker Lieutenant – Tim Loane
The White Walker Lieutenant is often confused with another white walker because they have similar hairstyles, but this one is called the White Walker Lieutenant and is played by actor Tim Loane. The lieutenant is featured heavily in the epic episode “Hardhome.” He’s the walker that fights with Jon and is killed by him and his Valyrian steel blade, Longclaw. Loane is actually better known as a writer for TV than an actor, having written episodes for the TV shows Teachers, Casualty, Red Rock, and Versailles. His appearance in “Hardhome” is the only time he shows up in Game of Thrones, but it’s one of the best moments from the walkers. He’s also got that really amazing ice sword.
2. White Walker – Ross Mullan
Outside of the Night King, there is one White Walker that everyone recognizes. Though he is often confused with the walker that Jon Snow fights and kills at Hardhome, this particular walker is the one seen on horseback with the ice spear early on. He’s appeared in several episodes between season two and season four and he appears to be a lieutenant or commander of some sort. The actor underneath all that makeup and prosthetics is Ross Mullan, a man that is no stranger to wearing masks in film and on TV. He’s portrayed a Stygian witch in Clash of the Titans, a werewolf in Howl, voiced Neville on Bear Behaving Badly, and has played a few characters on Doctor Who, including the Teller and, perhaps most famously, the Silence.
1. The Night King – Richard Brake
Of all the characters on this list, The Night King is one of the best known, and the actor playing him is probably also one of the best known. However, in season six, when we finally see the man/actor who would later become The Night King, it wasn’t who we thought it was. It wasn’t Richard Brake. The actor shown was Vladimír Furdík, but the actor under all that Night King makeup was Brake. It turns out, Brake was replaced for some unknown reason. We will use Brake for this example because he’s the man under the makeup for all the other scenes. If you recognize Brake, it’s because he’s been in plenty of huge films before his…errr…break on Game of Thrones. He played Joe Chill in Batman Begins, was in Kingsman, Spy, Hannibal Rising, Thor, Halloween II, and more. He’s one of those actors who you’re sure you know; you just might not know his name or from where you know him.