Game of Thrones is practically perfect television–but it could’ve all been so very different.
Imagine if we’d had a different Daenerys, other than Emilia Clarke? Or if we’d been denied Kit Harington‘s magnificently moody Jon Snow?
Other actors were considered to play the best and worst of Westeros–here’s what GoT very nearly looked like…
DOMINIC WEST as MANCE RAYDER
“I was offered something on Game of Thrones,” West confirmed in 2012–believed to have been the part of Wildling chief Mance Rayder.
He turned down the part since it would’ve required him to film “in Reykjavik for six months”.
“My problem is, I’ve got four kids, and at the moment, I’m reluctant to be away from home for a long time,” West explained. His loss was Ciarán Hinds’s gain.
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GILLIAN ANDERSON as CERSEI LANNISTER
There’s no doubt that Lena Headey is perfectly cast as ruthless Cersei, but perhaps the only other actress who could’ve pulled off the part is Gillian Anderson.
Some speculate it was Melisandre, the Red Woman, but surely she was being chased to play Robert Baratheon’s scheming bride?
TAMZIN MERCHANT as DAENERYS TARGARYEN
A world without Emilia Clarke as the fiery Mother of Dragons scarcely bears thinking about. She is our Khaleesi.
But the part actually came to Clarke after the original Game of Thrones pilot was shot. Tamzin Merchant–then best known for playing Catherine Howard in The Tudors–was the first Dany, but was dropped after HBO demanded changes.
JENNIFER EHLE as CATELYN STARK
Another victim of HBO’s disdain for the original GoT pilot–”Watching them watch that original pilot was one of the most painful experiences of my life,” showrunner Dan Weiss later recalled.
Ehle–a BAFTA winner for her lead role in the BBC’s acclaimed ’90s Pride and Prejudice–was the first Catelyn, but was swapped out for Michelle Fairley. At least she was spared the Red Wedding.
LILY ALLEN as YARA GREYJOY
This one’s super creepy–Allen claimed she was offered the part of Yara, playing opposite her real-life brother Alfie as Theon. Remember that scene where Theon feels up his sister on horseback? Ewwww.
Here’s a few bonus entries for your amusement. This lot weren’t actually offered the part, but they did audition… or at least, so they claim:
SAM CLAFLIN as JON SNOW
He tried out for both the Bastard of Winterfell and Daenerys’s brother Viserys Targaryen, Harry Lloyd pipping him to the post on the latter.
Claflin had no joy with either—but doubtless landing the role of Finnick in the multi-million dollar Hunger Games franchise helped ease the pain somewhat.
DANNY DYER as PYPAR
You ‘avin’ a giraffe? The ultimate East End geezer claims to have been rejected by the GoT casting team not once, not twice, but three times. Those slags.
He made the confession last year on ITV’s The Jonathan Ross Show, naming Pypar–the ill-fated Night’s Watchman eventually played by Josef Altin–as one part he failed to land. Now, of course, he’s sitting pretty behind the bar of the Queen Vic.
IZZY MEIKLE-SMALL as SANSA STARK
Meikle-Small is a dead ringer for Carey Mulligan, playing a younger version of her character Kathy H in the 2010 film Never Let Me Go.
SAM HEUGHAN as LORAS TYRELL
It’s hard to believe, but there was a time when Outlander hunk Sam Heughan wasn’t hot stuff in Hollywood.
He auditioned for Game of Thrones an incredible seven times, but lost out to Finn Jones for Loras and Gethin Anthony for Renly Baratheon. He couldn’t even get hired as one of the Night’s Watch. Scandalous.
From: Harper’s BAZAAR US