HBO often holds Game of Thrones above and beyond its current television lineup as the best show on their network. With several accolades and awards flying in the direction of the show’s acting, writing, and direction on an annual basis, it’s easy to see why. Yet, out of all of the things which HBO pats itself on the back for with Game of Thrones, there’s one fact about the medieval epic that often goes overlooked: Game of Thrones undoubtedly has the sexiest cast on network television. With a cast brewing with faces belonging to Lena Headey, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Emilia Clarke, Kit Harington, Natalie Dormer, Nathalie Emmanuel, Jason Momoa, and Carice van Houten (just to name a few), there’s plenty of eye candy for its audience to choose from, although not every castmate is as graced in the looks department or so their characters would lead people to believe.
The makeup team behind Game of Thrones truly is remarkable. Just about every actor who’s stepped onto a Game of Thrones set is a sexy beast, but the makeup team does such a good job at dirtying them up to fit their characters, some audiences would never even know how hot some of these characters are when the cameras stop rolling. Thankfully, we’re allowed to see what these actors look like when they aren’t filming, and boy, are they some stunners. Here are what these supposedly ugly Game of Thrones characters look like in real life once they’ve wiped away all of the grit and grime from their face and attire.
15. Yara Greyjoy – Gemma Whelan
Theon isn’t the only Greyjoy who looks like he’s been through rough times. As Theon’s older sister, Yara Greyjoy (originally Asha Greyjoy in the books before the TV producers decided that the name Asha could get her confused with another character, Osha) is played by Gemma Whelan. Just seeing the two side by side, the character and the actress are clearly utter polar opposites. Yara Greyjoy is a much more butch, hard-edged fighter, while Gemma Whelan comes off in interviews as a feminine bundle of joy. Yara Greyjoy also happens to be bisexual (seemingly with a preference toward women) while Gemma Whelan herself is dating a man named Gerry. In addition to acting, Whelan also happens to be a comedian and a professional dancer.
14. The Waif – Faye Marsay
The Waif is best remembered as one of the most hated characters in Game of Thrones history, which says a lot considering that the show has spawned such nefarious villains as King Joffrey and Ramsay Bolton. After gaining infamy among the fanbase for torturing fan-favorite Arya Stark, The Waif drew much ire from viewers. What made The Waif even easier to hate was the fact that she wasn’t exactly a looker herself. No offense to the actress who plays her, but the way that the clothing and makeup departments made The Waif out to be pale faced and deadpan, it did her no favors. In all honesty, it made her look far too young for an adult to legally judge her as attractive. Thankfully, the 30-year old actress, Faye Marsay, looks like a fully developed adult in real life and doesn’t have to worry about being mistaken for a minor.
13. Gilly – Hannah Murray
Sometimes, all it takes is some dirt smudged across the face for a normally stunning actress to look unlike her usual beautiful self. Take Hannah Murray for example. Whenever she’s playing Gilly on Game of Thrones, she’s playing one of the show’s resident Free Folk, and the Free Folk have never been the wealthiest, most luxurious people in the show’s history. To fit the part, she’s covered in dirt and tattered rags that she has to wear on a daily basis. Those who’ve never seen Hannah Murray outside of Game of Thrones were shocked to see how she looks in real life once she started hitting the red carpets.
12. Brienne of Tarth- Gwendoline Christie
As a soldier at heart and a fighter at her core, Brienne of Tarth was never a character who was going to win any beauty contests. With fighting the good fight being the main thing on her mind at all time, external beauty was never a priority for Brienne. Looking at how rough, bloodied, and battered Brienne tends to look like on the show on a regular basis, audiences would have been justified to be rightfully shocked to see what the actress looks like in real life. In direct contrast to her character’s more masculine presentation, Gwendoline Christie fits a more feminine aesthetic. The actress’s towering stature standing at 6’3 has allowed her a number of acting opportunities to play characters similar to Brienne. Most recently, she’s playing Captain Phasma for the new Star Wars sequel trilogy.
11. Septa Unella – Hannah Waddingham
Considering the fact that a major bulk of Septa Unella’s screen time sees her wrapped up from head to toe, we don’t usually see much of the actress herself. When she’s not playing the character on Game of Thrones, Hannah Waddingham is a highly accomplished theater actress and singer. She found her career breakout in playing the Wicked Witch of the West for a West End production of The Wizard of Oz. Her performance won the whatsonstage.com Theatregoers Choice Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Musical, and Waddingham’s career started to truly sail off from there. She wound up nabbing her first lead role in the theater production of Kiss Me, Kate and then fell into several television appearances, her role on Game of Thrones being one of them.
10. Ramsay Bolton – Iwan Rheon
Ramsay Bolton was just the worst. The guy gave King Joffrey a run for his money as the most hated character in the history of the series. He truly was a despicable character. In real life, Iwan Rheon doesn’t look or come off as nearly the same kind of nasty villain as his Game of Thrones counterpart. While Ramsay the character always looked just as ugly on the outside as he was on the inside, Rheon actually looks quite ravishing. We’ve stated that most of the men on this list look like leading-man material in real life, but Rheon is already on the cusp of Hollywood stardom. After breaking out as the star of the UK superhero series, Misfits, and following that up with Game of Thrones, Rheon is set for another starring role in Marvel’s Inhumans.
9. Ygritte – Rose Leslie
Maybe it’s all of the dirt that they rub on her face for the role of Ygritte, or maybe it’s even the homely clothes that she has to wear for the part, but the show does no justice to the dazzling beauty of Rose Leslie. To be perfectly honest, the way she looks on the show makes her out to be someone who looks like she hasn’t showered in a fortnight. In real life, in addition to being gorgeous, Rose Leslie has accomplished a lot in just the last couple years on stage, on the small screen, and even on the big screen. Most recently, Leslie had a supporting role in the 2016 sci-fi horror film, Morgan. Now that her Game of Thrones character has been definitively killed off, Leslie’s career can only skyrocket from here.
8. Arya Stark – Maisie Williams
For a good portion of her long and illustrious run on Game of Thrones, Arya Stark spent some time posing as a boy. Her real-life counterpart, Maisie Williams, however, doesn’t have to worry about being mistaken for a boy in any sense. Since taking on the show-stealing role, the 20-year-old actress has been on the steady rise upward on the Hollywood ladder. Although the show is set to come to a close next season, Maisie Williams has nothing to worry about because her career can go anywhere from here. For the next year alone, she’s booked to appear in a plethora of projects, including a Mary Shelley movie and New Mutants for the X-Men franchise.
7. Osha – Natalia Tena
Natalia Tena is perhaps best known for her portrayal of Nymphadora Tonks for the Harry Potter film franchise. In her role as Osha for Game of Thrones, Tena looks virtually unrecognizable. Like a chameleon adapting to its surroundings, Tena has morphed into a wild and ravenous character. It makes sense considering that Osha herself comes from the wilding Free Folk clan, but not even the most hardcore Potterheads would think twice that it’s Tonks beneath all of that grit and grime. Tena has always possessed tremendous acting prowess on stage and onscreen — onscreen, in particular. She won multiple awards for her lead role in the indie film 10,000 km. Following her character’s exit from the show in Season 6, Tena’s acting opportunities are endless now.
6. Theon Greyjoy – Alfie Allen
Theon Greyjoy looks like a bit of a weasel, doesn’t he? We can argue that his frazzled look is the result of the torture he suffered at the hands of Ramsay Bolton, but when we look way back to their first season, he always looked like a soggy weasel that was just pulled out of the pond. We could pin this on the fact that this is just how the actor’s face happens to be, but if we were to see how Alfie Allen looks in real life, we would see that he actually cleans up quite nicely. Once he’s had a shave and combed his hair over, the London native looks like Hollywood leading-man material. Some would argue that with a face like that, Allen automatically becomes husband material.
5. Euron Greyjoy – Pilou Asbæk
In the books, being ugly must have been a hereditary family trait for the Greyjoy clan, and the creators of the series were dead set on making the Greyjoys as ugly as possible. The same goes for Theon’s uncle, Euron Greyjoy. Maybe he just comes off as ugly because he’s riddled with a tacky handlebar mustache, but that’s the ugliest mustache that we’ve seen on a human being. Pilou Asbæk doesn’t look nearly as horrible in the facial region as his Game of Thrones counterpart, but mustaches are a hard look to pass on to anybody, and the handlebar mustache is like a kiss of death as far as looking attractive goes. Thankfully, when he dons a regular beard or opts for the clean-shaven look, the actor actually has some leading-man potential.
4. Robert Baratheon – Mark Addy
Robert Baratheon was the successor to The Mad King, Aerys. The more that Baratheon started to lose his own marbles, the more he drew some of his own comparisons to The Mad King. To make the parallels to The Mad King all the more apparent, Mark Addy was costumed to look, well, mad; a complete and utter mad man. With a wildly unkempt beard, frizzy hair, and an oafish demeanor, Addy certainly looked the part during his stint during Game of Thrones‘ first season on the air. In real life, Addy actually has an unassuming charm to his looks. One may call it the Barney Rubble effect; he may not be Ryan Gosling, but he’s a unique kind of attractive, and it helps that he’s funny. The Barney comparison is ironic considering he actually played Fred Flintstone on the big screen before.
3. Petyr Baelish – Aidan Gillen
There was always something about Petyr Baelish (better known as Littlefinger) that never sat right with fans at home. Maybe it’s the fact that he looks just as much like a sniveling snake as his character has proven to be over the years. Oddly enough, the actor behind the character doesn’t look nearly as sniveling at all. Oddly enough, there’s not much about his appearance in front of the camera that drastically changes how he looks when he’s away from the set. Perhaps, it’s the rather unappealing mustache-goatee combo that makes Aidan Gillen look more like road-killed rodent left on the side of the road in the blazing hot sun. Without that scruffy look on his face, men and women would agree that Gillen looks hotter than the sun.
2. The Hound – Rory McCann
It should be rather fitting that a man dubbed as The Hound has a face that looks like something that a dog chewed up and spit right back out. Rest assured that in real life, the actor’s face doesn’t actually look like overcooked chewed-up baloney pulled off of the carcass of a starving malamute. That’s the product of a devastatingly convincing makeup job. In actuality, Rory McCann actually looks like quite the dashing gentleman. McCann himself has actually had an awfully interesting road to the top. He went from getting fired as an extra on the set of Willow for laughing too much, had a quick 15 minutes of fame thanks to a BAFTA win, and now has become a recognizable face from Game of Thrones, even though his actual face without makeup isn’t as easily recognized.
1. Tyrion Lannister – Peter Dinklage
Tyrion Lannister is often bad-mouthed on the show as some sort of monstrosity due to his dwarfism and is treated even worse in the books. Described in the books as “the youngest of Lord Tywin’s brook and by far the ugliest,” as well as having a “brute’s squashed-in face beneath a swollen shelf of brow” and “one green eye and one black one peered out from under a lock of hair so blonde it seemed white,” Tyrion comes off as one of the most unattractive characters in Game of Thrones history. Apart from the weird eyes, Peter Dinklage more than makes up for it with having a squashed-in face and a “head…too large for his body,” another book attribute. He lives up to his character, but in real life, his looks fall more on the chipper side.
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