All actors and actresses have had to take on roles that they aren’t proud of. When chasing your dreams, you have to sacrifice some of your integrity to put food on the table and build your resume. After all, nobody is going to care that you appeared as a background character in one of the worst movies of all time, right? Wrong. The minor characters that we saw in movies and TV shows a decade or two ago are now rising to stardom. And, thanks to the internet, we can look back on actors’ entire careers with the click of a button.
If you know where to look, you can find all sorts of embarrassing roles that your favorite actors once played. These awkward roles can serve as an inspiration to aspiring actors and actresses to prove that everyone starts somewhere. Remember, George Clooney was a failed actor until he was thrown into stardom in the 1990s when he starred in E.R.
The actors of Westeros are no exception, either. They may have starred or are still starring in the most popular TV show of all time, but their careers had humble beginnings. Including a knockoff Fred Flinstone, a former Baywatch star, and way too many TV movies, here are the most embarrassing roles the cast of Game of Thrones is trying to hide.
15. The Hound — Hot Fuzz
Sandor Clegane, otherwise known as “the Hound,” is portrayed by Scottish actor Rory McCann. Up until his role in Game of Thrones, McCann wasn’t a memorable actor. He usually played a big guy with little to no lines. In fact, during one of his performances, McCann said one word multiple times. That word was ‘yarp.’ Come to think of it, it’s not really a word, is it?
McCann’s first big role came when he portrayed the iconic character Michael “Lurch” Armstrong in the 2007 hit film Hot Fuzz. His role as Lurch is vastly different than that of the Hound. You would think that a character who only says one word a few times throughout the movie would be completely forgettable, but McCann’s delivery of the line made him a fan favorite. Though Hot Fuzz is filled with a number of great quotes, one of the most recognizable will always be ‘yarp!’
14. Tyrion Lannister— Pixels
Peter Dinklage became a household name for his portrayal of Tyrion Lannister on Game of Thrones. 16 years before he appeared in Game of Thrones, Dinklage appeared in his first film, Living In Oblivion, where he plays a dwarf actor who’s tired of only being given roles because of his size. Dinklage may have been attracted to this role because almost his entire career has been built around his size. Even in his most famous role, Dinklage was cast because he was a dwarf.
Despite being an incredible actor, Peter Dinklage phoned in his performance when he starred in Pixels alongside Adam Sandler and Kevin James. Every scene that Dinklage appeared in made me physically cringe. The movie has some funny moments, but Dinklage isn’t involved in any of them. He must’ve gotten a massive paycheck before filming began because it seemed like Dinklage didn’t care about this movie at all. It’s not like he was a stranger to comedy movies either because Dinklage nailed his brief role as Michael Finch in Elf.
13. Daenerys Targaryen — Triassic Attack
Emilia Clarke has shown off her body more than once while playing Daenerys Targaryen in Game of Thrones. But, as open as she is with her figure, she definitely doesn’t want you to know about some of the roles she landed early on in her career. To start, Emilia Clarke starred in a minute-long commercial for the non-profit organization Samaritans. The commercial aired just two years before Clarke landed the role that would change her life forever.
Among the commercials Clarke appeared in, she starred in a TV movie called Triassic Attack. It sounds like a low budget version of Jurassic Park, and it pretty much is. The movie takes place after a Native American business owner accidentally brings three dinosaur fossils to life. The fossils descend upon the nearby town and University and disrupt the community. If you’ve already seen Jurassic Park, don’t bother seeing Triassic Attack. Actually, don’t bother seeing it at all. It sucks.
12. Robb Stark — Barmy Aunt Boomerang
Richard Madden, also known as “Robb Stark” in Game of Thrones, broke into the British entertainment industry when he starred in a children’s comedy series titled Barmy Aunt Boomerang. The show ran for two seasons and revolved around Richard Madden’s character and the impact that his Australian aunt was having on his life. Early in the series, it’s revealed that Madden’s aunt Boomerang is actually a ghost who was killed when starring in an Australian soap opera. Since dying, Aunt Boomerang decided she was going to act like a “fairy godmother” to her nephew.
This short-lived British comedy was surprisingly well received by audiences. Though he was one of the youngest cast members, Richard Madden is one of the only actors on the show to go on to have an established acting career. In addition to appearing in Game of Thrones, Madden took over the big screen when he played Prince Charming in the 2015 rendition of Cinderella.
11. Robb Stark — Worried About The Boy
There’s no shame in appearing in a television movie. As you’ll see in this article, most actors will take any paying gig that they can get their hands on. When they’re just starting out, they need to make a name for themselves. They need to develop their professional portfolio and prove that they can consistently find work in an otherwise very competitive industry.
In 2010, just a year before appearing as Robb Stark in Game of Thrones, Richard Madden was cast as a character in Worried About the Boy, a TV movie just about everyone has forgotten about. He doesn’t even have the leading role in the movie. The fact that, within a year, he was on one of the most popular shows on the planet is a testament to how fast things can change for actors. All they need is one big break!
10. Ned Stark — A Non-Alcoholic Beer Commercial
Always dying in movies is sort of what Sean Bean is known for. It’s a signature in his movies that he almost has no control over — he just happens to be cast in roles where he dies. He must just have a killable face. Despite constantly dying, though, Sean Bean has managed to portray a number of iconic fictional and historical characters with his acting chops. The man has skill, which is probably why he’s cast to play such complicated characters — for example, his role as Boromir in The Lord of the Rings.
When Sean Bean was still trying to get his foot in the door of the acting world, he took a gig that haunts him to this day. In 1984, Sean Bean starred in a commercial for Barbican Lager — a non-alcoholic beer. In the commercial, Bean sips his Barbican Lager aboard an aircraft just seconds before saving it from crash-landing. Afterward, he reflects, “Thankfully, I was drinking Barbican.” The beer was a commercial failure because nobody wants to drink non-alcoholic beer.
9. Cersei Lannister — Waterland
Lena Headey is one of few actors on Game of Thrones to have a massive acting portfolio. The roles offered to her have improved in quality since she was cast as Cersei Lannister on Game of Thrones, but even before the show, she was finding steady work. For the most part, the work that she found wasn’t anything to be proud about. However, she played Leonidas’s wife in 300 (2006), so that’s pretty cool, I guess.
Headey’s first-ever acting role is something that she probably wishes she could hide from everyone. When she was a young adult, Headey landed a supporting role in the film Waterland (1992). The movie is a product of its time and is one of those movies from the ’90s that doesn’t hold up well under today’s standards. The movie has a very complicated plot, and though it shares a similar name, is nothing like the movie Waterworld (1995), which was an absolute disaster.
8. Theon Greyjoy — Agent Cody Banks 2: Destination London
There are a number of actors and actresses who built their acting careers during the late 1990s and early 2000s, which is why it’s so easy to find their embarrassing years. Alfie Allen is one of several actors on Game of Thrones who are thus far defined by their one role. In Allen’s case, his career is defined by his role as Theon Greyjoy. Like his co-stars, Allen has been offered a number of roles that he wouldn’t have otherwise gotten if he wasn’t put on the map by Game of Thrones. He’s been cast as that prick from John Wick (2014), and you can expect to see him in the next Predator (2018) film.
Allen’s career hit somewhat of a low when he was offered a role in Agent Cody Banks 2: Destination London. The first Cody Banks movie pulled in over $850 million at the box office, but the terrible cash grab of a sequel only brought in about $28 million. Thankfully, we were blessed with Alfie Allen singing a version of War that’s hilariously cringe-worthy.
7. Khal Drogo — Baywatch Hawaii
Surprisingly, Jason Momoa has had a fantastic career outside of Game of Thrones. Recently, he was cast as Aquaman in the upcoming Justice League (2017) film, and if the film succeeds as planned, we can expect to see him reprise his role in the DC Universe. While his role as Khal Drogo is definitely a highlight of his career, it isn’t the first time that Momoa was offered a role because of his massive size.
When he was 19 years old, Momoa, while working part-time in a surf shop, was cast in Baywatch Hawaii, where he played a character named “Jason Ioane.” Despite the producers wanting to milk the Baywatch name for everything that it was worth, Baywatch Hawaii struggled to find an audience and was quickly pulled off the air. Who would’ve thought that watching beautiful people run in slow motion on a beach in Hawaii would’ve gotten boring after two seasons?
6. Brienne of Tarth — The Zero Theorem
Due to her physical appearance, Gwendoline Christie had been handpicked by fans to play Brienne of Tarth long before auditions for the role even took place. The character is described as being unusually tall, muscular, and plain-looking, and you can’t help but feel that description is Gwendoline Christie in an essence. Debuting in the third episode of the second season, Christie has been a favorite ever since.
Graduating from her drama program in 2005, Christie’s career seemed to take off after she landed a few very minor roles. These minor roles included ‘Classy Shopper 2’ in The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus and ‘Woman In Commercial’ in The Zero Theorem a year after appearing in Game of Thrones. You would think that appearing on the most popular show on the planet would lead to better roles than a background character in a movie that bombed at the box office. Her role was so minor that it was difficult to find an image of her!
After nailing her role as Brienne of Tarth, Christie was offered roles in The Hunger Games franchise and plays Captain Phasma in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. According to rumors, Captain Phasma is going to be heavily involved in the plot of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, so keep an eye out for Christie!
5. Thoros of Myr — Dennis Pennis
Though a minor character in Game of Thrones, the importance of Thoros of Myr cannot be understated. Portrayed by Paul Kaye, Thoros of Myr has sort of woven around the other characters in the show and drives the plot forward in unexpected ways. Even though Game of Thrones is one of the most watched shows of all time, it’s just a tiny portion of Paul Kaye’s resume.
British comedy fans will know him as Dennis Pennis, a celebrity shock interviewer on The Sunday Show. Shortly after his debut, the Dennis Pennis character took off, and Kaye was given a massive budget to fly to movie premieres to interview celebrities on the red carpet. Some of the celebrities Dennis Pennis interviewed were Arnold Schwarzenegger, Kevin Costner, Morgan Freeman, and Bruce Willis. These awkward celebrity interviews were some of the first of its kind — and you can see how much the celebrities hated it. While the character was successful, Paul Kaye eventually grew tired of harassing celebrities at film festivals, and the character was retired.
4. Jorah Mormont — Tomb Raider
Jorah Mormont is the only son of Jeor Mormont, the commander of the Nights Watch in the kingdom of Westeros. The character is portrayed by Iain Glen, an established Scottish actor who’s appeared in a fair number of movies that kind of suck. You can’t blame Glen for his movies’ mediocrity because his performance always stands out. For fans of the Resident Evil series, you’ll recognize Iain Glen as Dr. Alexander Isaacs, the main villain of the franchise and founder of the Umbrella Corporation.
One of Iain Glen’s less glamorous roles was playing Manfred Powell in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider. In the movie, Glen plays an Illuminati member that’s become corrupted by the potential power of acquiring this magic-triangle thing. He kills pretty much everyone Lara Croft cares about and comes across as a massive jerk. More credit to Glen, I guess, for portraying such a hateable character. He has a slicked back mullet. That says it all.
3. Robert Baratheon — The Flintstones In Viva Rock Vegas
To put it lightly, the role of Robert Baratheon is nothing like any of the other roles that Mark Addy has taken. He’s starred in a number of comedy movies like The Full Monty (1997), where he was nominated for numerous awards. Just because Addy has made a living doing comedy doesn’t mean that the man doesn’t have any acting chops. He proved this when playing Robert Baratheon in the first season of Game of Thrones. This wasn’t Addy’s first role set in a medieval-esque time period, either. You may recognize him from his role in A Knight’s Tale, where he plays one of Heath Ledger‘s best friends.
In what appeared to be a cash grab from the movie studio, Universal Pictures released a sequel to The Flintstones (1994), replacing all of the original cast members. The movie, The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas, had Mark Addy replacing John Goodman as Fred Flintstone and Stephen Baldwin replacing Rick Moranis as Barney Gumble. Fans of the original movie saw right through Universal Pictures’s attempt to line their pockets, and the movie was a commercial failure. The movie was nominated for four Golden Raspberry Awards, which are awards given to the worst movies of the year. They’re like the polar opposite of the Oscars.
2. Missandei — Webs-x: What’s The Harm?
Nathalie Emmanuel is one of those actresses who are going to become household names in a few years’ time. With supporting roles in Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials, Furious 7, and The Fate of the Furious, Emmanuel uses her sex appeal to awe audiences around the world. When she appeared in Game of Thrones as Missandei, she was an instant fan favorite for reasons other than the fact that she strips several times. As Daenerys Targaryen’s interpreter, Missandei is arguably one of the most important characters introduced later in the series.
Despite owning her sex appeal in Game of Thrones, Emmanuel presented BBC Three’s documentary Websex: What’s the Harm? just a year before appearing in Game of Thrones. The documentary investigated the online sexual habits of people aged 16-24 in the UK. It’s ironic considering that Missandei has probably been a contributor to more than a few people’s online sexual habits.
1. Lord Varys — Britain’s Got The Pop Factor
Lord Varys, also known as “the Spider,” was forced to leave King’s Landing with Tyrion Lannister. The Spider is portrayed by Conleth Hill, who has a full head of hair despite his character being completely bald. Hill is a critically acclaimed actor who has won the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actor and received two Tony Award nominations over the course of his career. Hill has had a prolific career, but there’s a role from his past that haunts him to this day.
In 2008, comedian Peter Kay decided to make a parody of every talent search-based reality show. Kay’s creation was called Britain’s Got The Pop Factor…and Possibly A New Celebrity Jesus Christ Soapstar Superstar Strictly on Ice and is a product of its time. 10 years ago, comedians wouldn’t think twice about making fun of transgender people. The show focused on Geraldine McQueen, a transgender pop singer who has dreams of seeing her name in lights. Hill cross-dressed to play Geraldine’s mother, who didn’t approve of her child’s life choices, and the entire program takes jabs at transgender people. Looking back on it, Hill shouldn’t have tarnished his career with such an offensive role.
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