Is there life after Game of Thrones? The question has become a reality for the actors who populate the television series and have gathered massive fanbases since it was first aired in 2011. The HBO series, whose seventh season is currently being broadcast around the world, will end in 2018 or 2019, which gives its army of actors enough time to get out of their period garb and don new roles.
With over 200 characters, the adaptation of the George RR Martin novels has acted as a major springboard for untested talent. Game of Thrones has also created new and younger admirers for established names, such as Max Von Sydow (Three Eyed Raven), Sean Bean (Ned Stark), Jim Broadbent (Archmaester Ebrose), Indira Varma (Ellaria Sand), Peter Dinklage (Tyrion Lannister), Liam Cunningham (Davos Seaworth) and Jason Momoa (Khal Drogo).
Getting a role in Game of Thrones might not promise longevity, given the number of characters who die in every other episode. But being on the show has certainly boosted the careers of actors who would have been otherwise unknown. Here is how some of the most popular faces on the show are preparing for life beyond Westeros.
Kit Harington (Jon Snow)
Kit Harington, known the world over as Jon Snow, was a theatre actor before he became king of the North. In between discovering the truth about his parentage and making his way through various alliances, Harington starred in Pompeii (2013), Seventh Son (2014) and voiced the character Eret in How To Train Your Dragon 2 (2014). He stars next in indie director Xavier Dolan’s The Death and Life of John F Donovan as a reality television star alongside Jessica Chastain.
Emilia Clarke (Daenerys Targaryen)
Emilia Clarke appeared in plays and commercials before she landed in our midst as the silver-haired and ambitious Daenerys Targaryen. In an interview, the British actor confessed to dancing like a robot during her audition to land one of the most popular roles in the series. She played Sarah Connor in Terminator: Genisys (2015) and Louisa Clarke in the film adaptation of Me Before You (2016). The supernatural thriller Voice from the Stone (2017) disappeared without a trace, but Clarke’s prospects might improve with Philip Noyce’s upcoming thriller Above Suspicion and an untitled Star Wars spinoff based on the Hans Solo character.
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Jaime Lannister)
Coster-Waldau was a successful Danish actor and screenwriter who made his debut in Hollywood with Black Hawk Down (2001) and appeared in Kingdom of Heaven (2005) and Firewall (2006). He considers Jaime Lannister a highly fulfilling character, saying “What’s not to like about Jaime? As an actor, I couldn’t ask for a better role”. Coster-Waldau has built on his international fame in such films as Oblivion (2013), Mama (2013) and Gods of Egypt (2016). His next American project is the August release Shot Caller, in which he plays a hardened convict.
Lena Headey (Cersei Lannister)
A familiar face through such films as The Brothers Grimm (2005) and Zack Snyder’s 300, Lena Heady multiplied her fanbase as the scheming Cersei Lannister on Game of Thrones. Since playing the manipulative queen, Headey has acted in The Purge (2013) and 300: Rise of an Empire (2014) and headlined the television show Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. The World War I drama Red Baron and the wrestling movie Fighting with my Family are among her future projects.
Sophie Turner (Sansa Stark)
British actor Sophie Turner owes her career to Game of Thrones. She made her debut in the series at the age of 15, and appeared in Another Me (2013) and Barely Lethal (2015) before going fully mainstream as Jean Grey in X-Men: Apocalypse (2016). Turner will reprise the role in Dark Phoenix (2018), but Huntsville, an independent drama in which she plays the object of obsession of Dylan McDermott’s loner, will be out in 2017.
Peter Dinklage (Tyrion Lannister)
Peter Dinklage was already a name in Hollywood before he breathed life into the tragic Tyrion Lannister. He made his breakthrough in Tom McCarthy’s indie drama Station Agent (2003) and appeared in the British black comedy film Death at a Funeral (2007), Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian (2008) and X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014). His upcoming credits include Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (November 2017), the unscheduled television drama My Dinner with Herve, Avengers: Infinity War (2018) and the under production Three Christs.
Maisie Williams (Arya Stark)
Like Sophie Turner, Maisie Williams made her debut on Game of Thrones at the age of 14. She made her film debut with The Falling (2014), and got good notices for her performance. Williams has been in Book of Love (2017) and will be seen next in the biopic Mary Shelley (in which she plays a secondary role), the Marvel Comics production New Mutants and the animated movie Early Man.
Iwan Rheon (Ramsay Bolton)
As Ramsay Bolton in Game of Thrones, Iwan Rheom personified evil and sadism. The acclaimed stage actor, who had auditioned for the Jon Snow role, has several TV credits, including Vicious (2013-2016) and the series Urban Myths, in which he portrayed Adolf Hitler. In the upcoming series Inhumans, based on the Inhuman Royal Family comic books, Rheon plays Maximus.
Alfie Allen (Theon Greyjoy)
Alfie Allen made his mark as the battered and tortured Theon Greyjoy in Game of Thrones. He had previously appeared in small roles in Agent Cody Banks 2: Destination London (2014) and Atonement (2007). Among his major movie roles is Iosef in the hit action thriller John Wick (2014) and Predator (2018).
Aiden Gillen (Petyr Baelish)
He had a starring role in the HBO series The Wire from 2004 to 2008. Aiden Gillen has been in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises (2012), Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials (2012) and King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (2017). He is rumoured to be among the cast of the upcoming televisions series The Spy Who Came in From the Cold.
Richard Madden (Robb Stark)
While working on the play Tom Fool in London, Scottish actor Richard Madden was spotted by a team from the Globe Theatre. He later toured with them extensively. Madden was also a part of such projects as Chatroom (2010) and Worried About The Boy (2010). He played King of the North hopeful Robb Stark until his death in season four. Since then, he has played Prince Kit in Disney’s Cinderella (2015) and has a lead role in the TV series Medici: Masters of Florence and the upcoming Oasis.
Nathalie Emmanuel (Missandei)
After several stage productions in the United Kingdom and a role in the soap opera Hollyoaks in 2006, Nathalie Emmanuel was cast as the quietly fierce translator Missandei in Game of Thrones. She has been vocal about representing women of colour on the show. Emmannuel has been in supporting roles in Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials (2015) and Furious 7 (2015) and The Fate of the Furious (2017). She will reprise her Harriet character in Maze Runner: The Death Cure (2018).
Isaac Hempstead-Wright (Bran Stark)
Like some of his on-screen siblings, Isaac Hempstead-Wright grew up on the sets of the HBO series. He was 12 when he was cast as Bran Stark. His film debut was The Awakening (2011), after which he joined the cast of Closed Circuit (2013). Hempstead-Wright lent his voice to the animated The Boxtrolls (2014), and he reportedly plans to attend university after the series ends.
Gwendoline Christie (Brienne of Tarth)
Having been bullied as a child for her big build and androgynous looks, Gwendoline Christie has been passionate about playing Brienne. She appeared in The Hunger Games (2015) and played Captain Phasma in Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015) and Star Wars The Last Jedi (December 2017). Christie has also been in the second season of the Australian TV series Top of the Lake and has been signed on for the film adaptation of the science fiction novel The Darkest Minds (2018).
Oona Chaplin (Talisa Stark)
Oona Chaplin played Talisa Stark, the wife of Robb Stark, for two seasons before she was killed off in the Red Wedding episode. She acted in British and Spanish films before the show and had joined her mother, prolific actress Geraldine Chaplin, in three productions. She was seen in The Longest Ride (2015) and BBC TV series Taboo (2017). She will play a central role in all four sequels of James Cameron’s Avatar, the first of which will be released in December 2020.