Game of Thrones is no different from any ensemble television show or film in the sense that with so many characters to cast, you’re bound to make some mistakes. Sometimes those mistakes are of the variety where it was simply a blunder from the start — for whatever reason someone was cast who shouldn’t have been. But in the television world, particularly, the problem of miscasting can take entire seasons before it becomes evident. Actors grow (literally and figuratively), storylines change, and the needs of a character can evolve in ways that weren’t easy to see when the show began. Here are 10 of Game of Thrones’ casting missteps that fall into one of these categories.
1. Kit Harington – Jon Snow
Kit Harington isn’t a terrible actor, and his acting has definitely improved over the course of six seasons, but if there was one actor the Game of Thrones creators had to nail it was Jon Snow. Harington’s portrayal of Snow in the early seasons was especially wooden and could lean toward the annoyingly sulky — a trait that doesn’t really match the Jon Snow of the book. While some of this might be the fault of the showrunners, there’s a saying among actors that a great actor can make any line his or her own. What Harington gives us is a surprisingly passive performance even though that’s the last thing we should be getting from Jon Snow.
One excuse the showrunners don’t have is not knowing how important the character of Jon Snow would be when they started. When David Benioff and D. B. Weiss pitched to George R.R. Martin about taking up the rights, the writer decided to let them make the show when they correctly answered the question, “Who is Jon Snow’s mother?” So if we assume their correct answer was “R + L = J,” they should have known that the actor playing Snow needed to be not just good, but great.
2. Emilia Clarke – Daenerys Targaryen
Emilia Clarke did a great job with Daenerys Targaryen in the early seasons of Game of Thrones as she navigated a situation completely out of her control and grew from an impressionable, out-of-her-depth character to one ready to take back the Iron Throne. But now that Daenerys is firmly in a position where she is in control of her power, Clarke’s take on the character seems to veer further and further into a stoic trope that feels at times like it’s a parody of itself. Many times it feels like we’re watching an actor “play” tough. While that once made a ton of sense given Daenerys’ character arc, we’re at the point where it shouldn’t feel like a performance anymore. Whether it’s the fame getting to Clarke or simply overacting, Daenerys feels less interesting as the series goes on.
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