Favorite Game of Thrones Performances Outside Westeros
The season seven premiere of “Game of Thrones” is quickly approaching, so in honor of that we picked some of the best non-GoT performances by the cast of the hit HBO show.
Since Game of Thrones first aired in 2011, audiences have been enthralled with the stories that have taken place within The Known World. They have also been given numerous great performances from the incredibly large and talented ensemble cast. Throughout six seasons, the actors have consistently been nominated, and won, countless awards, including Peter Dinklage’s two Emmys for Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series.
As the seventh season premiere of Game of Thrones is quickly approaching, the writers at CineNation got to talking about some of the great performances the cast as given outside the hit HBO adaptation of George R. R. Martin’s popular fantasy series. In the honor of the highly-anticipated season premiere of Game of Thrones, we picked some of our favorite performances outside the world of Westeros.
Joe Dempsie as Chris Miles in “Skins”
Joe Dempsie, who plays Gendry in Game of Thrones, was once the infamous Chris Miles from popular UK TV series Skins. Skins was the trashy, charming and angsty teenage drama that the US tried to copy, but ultimately failed because the US doesn’t understand the beauty that is raunchy UK television (they got into hot water within the first episode).
Skins changes its narrative with a new cast every couple of seasons, and Chris was the loveable and messy comedic relief within the first cast, who unfortunately dies at the end of his storyline. He gets one of his other castmates pregnant, and before they can settle down as a family, he dies from a brain hemorrhage. This was pretty heavy in the Skins universe, because his was the first death of a cast member. His time on the show ended tragically, but the fans loved him because ultimately he was a well-written character. His entire essence is easily summed up in this scene, where he sheepishly interviews for a job.
I remember his death and funeral as one of the most poignant moments of the TV show, all because of Dempsie’s performance. Though his death wasn’t the saddest thing to happen on the show, it really struck a chord with the audience as a memorable event. After Chris became such a loved character, the writers attempted to replicate Chris with other renditions like Alo and JJ, but they never quite captured the beauty of his character, something that I attribute to Dempsie’s performance.
Rory McCann as Michael Armstrong in “Hot Fuzz”
By Sean Randall
As one of the most prestige shows on television, Game of Thrones has no end of amazing actors and actresses, from guest actors in Ian McShane or Max Von Sydow, to season and series regulars like Jonathan Pryce, Sean Bean, and Peter Dinklage, who give performances I absolutely love to watch over and over and over again. It’d be impossible to list them all. So I want to talk about one of the performances that is the most starkly different, most physically transformative, and most delightfully surprising. And that is how Rory McCann, the vicious and cold-blooded killer known as The Hound and Sandor Clegane, is also the mentally disabled, giant bag boy Michael Armstrong in Edgar Wright’s best film Hot Fuzz.
Okay, considering the admittedly great and recently released Baby Driver and my personal favorite Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, it may be inflammatory to say Hot Fuzz is Edgar Wright’s best film. So I will settle with the less inflammatory statement of best cop comedy. Parodic and masterfully done, Hot Fuzz looks at the seedy underbelly of crime and murder in a delightful small town in the UK which is filled to the brim with colorful, memorable characters. But my biggest and best surprise was seeing Westeros’ arguably most dangerous and notorious fighter and killer, maybe only second to his brother The Mountain Gregor Clegane, as a simple-minded, smiling bag boy capable only of saying the word “Yarp,” an affectation so endearing I myself have used it and its negative “Narp” in real life on random occasions.
There’s nothing to say really about the acting or the character arc because Michael Armstrong isn’t exactly Macbeth. While not as meaty a role as many others on this list, it’s such a stark (Ha!) departure from his Game of Thrones persona and is such a memorable and hilarious performance in an incredible comic film that I think Rory McCann should get special notice. I would love to see him on the screen in other comedies in the future.
Stephen Dillane as Thomas Jefferson in “John Adams”
By Alex Bauer
Stephen Dillane’s best work both come at HBO.
In 2008, HBO aired John Adams, a miniseries about the life of the United States’ second president and founding father. Throughout the series, viewers met fascinating characters from this country’s past, brilliantly portrayed by the various actors and actresses. A part of the marvelous array of talent on screen is Dillane’s Thomas Jefferson. The casting is perfection and the performance is proof.
Jefferson was not as intently focused as John Adams, who led discussions and arguments amongst the other founding fathers. Jefferson was more quiet, reserved. He did not speak out in debate, sticking to what he did best: write. Dillane excels at showing us this side of Jefferson. There are no lofty monologues for Jefferson, just quick bursts of information. Dillane seems to be always focused on something else; his brain is consumed by multiple thoughts. He also sticks to his guns. Jefferson firmly fights for his way of how a country should exist, ultimately fighting with Alexander Hamilton and Adams later in his career. Dillane picks up on the attitude changes, becoming a more direct and talkative Jefferson in his later career.
This 3 ½ minute clip says it all. Watch Dillane’s posture and mood when talking “business” — incredibly nonchalant but still productive. Then, when Franklin brings up something more interesting, Jefferson lights up and happily talks about his newest invention. The subtleness of Dillane’s performance makes it great.
Peter Dinklage as Tito in “Living in Oblivion”
I have to thank our very own Thomas Horton for introducing me to the greatness of Living in Oblivion. If you have ever been on a film set before in your life and you have never seen Living in Oblivion, then this might end up becoming one of your favorite films of all time. It pretty much nails everything that goes on. The cast of the film is phenomenal. Steve Buscemi is great as the director who just wants to make his movie, Catherine Keener is perfect in her role as the young actress looking for her big break, and Dermot Mulroney might give his greatest performance of all time as the pretentious, but talented cinematographer.
One of my favorite parts of the film, however, is Peter Dinklage. In one of his first onscreen acting roles, Dinklage plays Tito, a frustrated actor who is tired of dwarf actors getting the same roles over and over again. He isn’t in the film long, but he is easily one of the most memorable parts of the film. He also has a very hard time at laughing for some reason and Dinklage plays it brilliantly. Every time Buscemi asks him to laugh for the scene, Dinklage tells him he did, but he never made a sound. Dinklage slowly becomes confused because he doesn’t know what Buscemi wants.
Toward the end of the film, Dinklage rants about how he is tired of having to play a dwarf who appears in a dream sequence because it is so cliché. inklage plays the role straight, which in turn adds to the great comedic moments the character has. To me it is one of the best introductions to a great actor I’ve seen in a while. Check it out for yourself.
Also, I have to admit that I don’t actually watch Game of Thrones on a consistent basis, which I have been constantly ridiculed for by a number of our writers on here (you know who you are). But, Maisie Williams did show up at my apartment one time to say hey to roommates and me, and my fellow writers have never had that experience.
Honorable Mention: David Bradley in Season One of Broadchurch because he was amazing.
David Bradley as Argus Filch in “Harry Potter”
By Dan LeVine
Everyone raves about Maggie Smith’s McGonagall, Richard Harris’ Dumbledore and Alan Rickman’s Snape. But there are hundreds of excellent minor characters in the films that help bring the Wizarding World to life. And one of the best is Argus Filch, the Hogwarts caretaker, played by David Bradley, in seven of the eight movies.
In the novels, Filch is a terrifying faculty member who roams the halls at night looking for students out of bed (such as Harry Potter in nearly every volume). And Bradley plays the role with such believability, that it is near-impossible to read the book again without an image of him coming to mind. He truly transforms into Filch.
His biggest roles are in the first two films — in Sorcerer’s Stone, where he guards the Forbidden Section of the Library and in Chamber of Secrets, where he loses his only companion, a cat named Mrs. Norris, to paralysis. Believing Harry to be responsible, Bradley turns on Radcliffe’s character with such rage, that one fears for Harry’s life.
While Filch plays a brilliant antagonist in the earlier films, he eventually takes on a more comedic role as the series progresses. The moments of humor mostly come from Filch’s inability to realize that he is far too old for the job. He fires off a cannon (while sitting on it) and nearly falls off (GoF), he balances atop a rickety ladder to nail new rules to the stone castle walls (OoTP), and he also tries to catch our heroes coming out of the Room of Requirement while eating a sandwich, but falls asleep while doing so, mid-bite (also OoTP).
These performances are silly and don’t fully utilize Bradley’s acting skills, but he commits fully to the comedic role. I like to think that the change reflects how, like Harry, we are often frightened of some adults as children, but as we grow up, we learn that we were scared because haven’t truly understood them.
Whether it’s Harry Potter or Game of Thrones or another one of his other 100+ acting credits — if you see David Bradley hobbling along with a scowl on his face, you can bet that it’s bad news for our heroes.
Or as Filch would say — “Oh dear. We are in trouble…”
[Side note: Julian Glover (Grand Maester Pycelle) is the voice of Aragog in Chamber of Secrets!]
Related: this is hilarious
Julian Glover as Walter Donovan in “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade”
After a disappointing follow-up (my opinion, yes, but also Spielberg’s) to the near perfect action-adventure blockbuster Raiders of the Lost Ark, Spielberg wanted to get the Indiana Jones series back to the roots that made it a success in the first place. Gone were the mystic sacrifices in the heart of India; Indy headed back to the desert to race the Nazis to find another biblical artifact. And it totally worked.
There are several reasons Last Crusade is a much better Indiana Jones film than Temple of Doom (if you really want to know, I just might be tempted to write it out some day), but one of the big ones is that Temple of Doom lacks a true villain. All the evil energy of the film is just tacked onto the entire Thuggee people. While it is true that Indy is fighting the Nazis as an evil force in the other films, Raiders has Toht and Belloq as its driving villains; the dashing Belloq serves as an excellent foil for the creepy Toht. Last Crusade returned to strong villains with femme fatale Elsa Schneider and Julian Glover as Walter Donovan. These villains excellently put Indy on shaky ground by both presenting themselves as allies: Schneider as a potential love interest and Donovan as Indy’s father’s benefactor. When Donovan’s betrayal becomes apparent, he assumes a very important role in the series, one that was left out of Temple of Doom. He’s the foil for Indy. He’s an American with a deep desire to recover long lost treasures; just like Belloq, he has no actually loyalty to the Nazi cause. They are merely a large force to be used for his own gain.
One of the main themes throughout the Indiana Jones series is Indy’s own struggle with his greed and desire for glory over his sense of duty. It’s an internal struggle that he fights through most of his films, and it’s seen strongest when its mirrored in Indy’s adversaries. Belloq, Schneider, Donovan, all of them ambitious and charismatic, are eventually punished for their own greed, while Indy manages to escape and learn his lesson. Glover had large shoes to fill when he took on this pivotal role, and he fills them well, making Donovan a cool and calculated but cruel man, often even more treacherous than the Nazis as he hides his own intentions. He is a true delight of a villain to watch on the screen, right through the point when his own ambition allows him to be double-crossed into choosing “poorly.”