Theon Greyjoy, is that you?
You could be a die-hard Game of Thrones fan and still walk by your favorite cast member on the street without a second glance, because the looks they’re sporting on the hit HBO fantasy series are a liiittle different than the stuff they typically wear. (That is, when their characters are wearing clothes at all… certainly not a given on Game of Thrones.)
To celebrate the series’ return for Season Three on March 31, we’ve rounded up a look at the cast's earlier roles... you know, before they were hunting down dragons in Qarth, torturing prostitutes in King’s Landing, or groping their sister on the way back to the Iron Islands.
1. Emilia Clarke
As the platinum-blonde Mother of Dragons Daenerys Targaryen, Emilia is a pretty striking figure on Game of Thrones ― and has fantasy fanboys all hot and bothered (and not just because her recently-found dragons have singed them with their fiery breath). Before marrying into the Dothraki, though, she did less admirable work in the 2010 TV movie Triassic Attack (which we're going to go out on a limb and assume was awful), and can also be seen in the 2012 drama Spike Island and on Broadway (naked!) in Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
2. Jack Gleeson
The sinister King Joffrey could scarcely be more evil. So who would expect little Jack to appear so innocent and adorable in galoshes in the family drama A Shine of Rainbows? Well, we’re not falling for it, Joffrey. We’d still push him off a drawbridge if we could.
3. Michelle Fairley
She’s Catelyn, the loyal widow of Ned Stark and an increasing force to be reckoned with, on Game of Thrones. Prior to that, the Irish actress appeared in the Nicole Kidman chiller The Others and is no stranger to fantasy thanks to her Muggle role as Hermione’s mom in Harry Potter.
4. Aidan Gillen
As the treacherous Littlefinger, he’s quite the cad and frequently makes use of the oft-topless female prostitutes at his disposal. He was equally a cad in a previous TV role, as Stuart on the UK’s Queer As Folk, though there he preferred the gentlemen over the ladies.
5. Lena Headey
Cersei Lannister is the conniving royal mother you love to hate. Some of Lena’s other roles haven’t been such a far cry from the fantasy genre, with a resume that includes 300, Dredd, and the heroic title role in The Sarah Connor Chronicles.
6. Kit Harington
As part of the Night’s Watch and Ned Stark’s illegitimate son, Jon Snow broods plenty of Game of Thrones. He took an equally heavy role in Silent Hill: Revelation as the schoolboy with similarly dicey parentage who chooses the forces of good over his family, alongside his TV dad Sean Bean.
7. Gwendoline Christie
Wizards vs. Aliens. That doesn’t sound too far afield from the adventures in Westeros, does it? Gwendoline stars as the daughter of villainous Nekross King, contrasting a bit with her honorable Game of Thrones role as the androgynous warrior Brienne of Tarth.
8. Richard Madden
As a child, he was part of the cast of the BBC1 children’s show Barmy Aunt Boomerang and later as Dean McKenzie of the oft-GIFed Hope Springs. Kind of an embarrassing start for the King of Winterfell, no?
9. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau
He’s the secret father of an evil boy-king, thanks to a covert love affair with his nasty sister Cersei (ew!). Jamie Lannister is bad news, but he was much more noble as a slain Medal of Honor winner in Black Hawk Down.
10. Maisie Williams
Arya may have disguised herself as a boy to hide her royal lineage from her captors, but she was a more modern (and less masculine) teen girl on the BBC series The Secret of Crickley Hall.
11. Alfie Allen
As a young actor, he had almost as interesting a childhood as Theon Greyjoy, starring with Cate Blanchett in Elizabeth and also appearing in another Oscar nominated film, Atonement. So not only was he used to the period and prestige of Game of Thrones, he was also accustomed to the nudity ― he took over Daniel Radcliffe’s role on stage in Equus.
12. Diana Rigg
The famous star of the 60's series The Avengers join the cast in Season Three as Olenna, the sharp-tongued Queen of Thorns.
13. Carice van Houten
She’s a priestess you don’t want to mess with on Game of Thrones ― particularly when she’s pregnant. But Melisandre is nothing like her role in Valkyrie as Tom Cruise’s wife, who fares better in WWII than he does.
14. Peter Dinklage
His short stature means appearances in movies like Elf (in which he is a regular little person mistaken for an elf), but Game of Thrones’ pint-sized badass has a hefty roster of film roles under his belt, in fantasies like The Chronicles of Narnia as well as more adult-oriented, modern-day fare like The Station Agent and Death At A Funeral. Still, Tyrion Lannister seems like the role he was absolutely born to play, since he’s emerged as the show’s biggest breakout star.
Which Game of Thrones star do you think has come the longest way from earlier roles?