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Top 10 Actors Who Turned Down Game of Thrones

VO: Ashley Bowman
Written by Sean Harris They came, they saw, and they said no. Welcome to WatchMojo UK and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the top 10 actors who turned down “Game of Thrones”! For this list, we’ve rounded up an Ice and Fire selection of actors and actresses who were offered parts on the HBO hit series, but declined them. We haven’t included performers who auditioned but weren’t successful, as this list focuses only on those who willingly spurned the Seven Kingdoms. Special thanks to our user WordToTheWes for submitting the idea on our interactive suggestion tool: WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Top 10 Actors Who Turned Down Game of Thrones


They came, they saw, and they said no. Welcome to WatchMojo UK and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the top 10 actors who turned down “Game of Thrones”!

For this list, we’ve rounded up an Ice and Fire selection of actors and actresses who were offered parts on the HBO hit series, but declined them. We haven’t included performers who auditioned but weren’t successful, as this list focuses only on those who willingly spurned the Seven Kingdoms.

#10: Jonathan Pryce

Yes, yes, as everyone knows Jonathan Pryce is in “Game of Thrones” – playing the High Sparrow in seasons five and six. But his eventual casting came years after he rejected an early role in the show’s first season. Frustratingly, Pryce can’t recall the part he was originally asked to play, but he has revealed that he felt the show ‘wasn’t for him’ because he wasn’t a fan of the fantasy genre. Clearly, he was wise enough to change his mind when a second chance presented itself.

#9: Perdita Weeks

Having starred as Mary Boleyn in the first two seasons of “The Tudors”, Perdita Weeks was in line to play Roslin Frey, Edmure Tully’s bride at the now infamous Red Wedding. But she declined in favour of a prominent part in “The Heretics”, a gory 13th century drama that enjoyed its fair share of hype, but was never actually made. Issues over six-month shooting plans in Romania led to “The Heretics” being scrapped, leaving Weeks to try and beg for her “Thrones” role back. But, it was too late.

#8: Charlie Hunnam

A self-confessed “Thrones” fan, Charlie Hunnam very nearly copped a cameo in the series, but couldn’t commit to filming because of a shooting schedule clash. Again, no one’s exactly certain on who he was supposed to play or when he was supposed to appear – though there’s some speculation that he was billed for season seven, and was unavailable because he was working on “King Arthur”. True or not, Hunnam has admitted that he hopes the show comes calling again, one day.

#7: Jamie Campbell Bower

With parts in “Harry Potter” and “The Twilight Saga”, Campbell Bower’s certainly no stranger to world famous, big budget franchise roles – but this was one that got away. Jamie did feature in the “Game of Thrones” pilot, as the ill-fated Ser Waymar Royce. But when his scenes were earmarked for a reshoot, he was busy doing other things – namely starring as King Arthur in “Camelot”. He’s more a victim of circumstance than most on today’s list, but he still sidestepped a Westeros role, regardless.

#6: Jennifer Ehle

Another from the series’ infamous, unaired pilot episode, Jennifer Ehle originally starred as Catelyn Stark – a role which ultimately went to Michelle Fairley, in amongst a complete overhaul of the script and cast. Ehle has implied that she walked away to focus on other things, but some fans speculate that she may’ve been forced out the door. Either way, Fairley absolutely nails it. Tamzin Merchant was also majorly involved at first – playing Daenerys Targaryen – before Emilia Clarke became the Mother of Dragons we all know, love and are a little bit scared of.

#5: Dominic West

While West is rumoured to have been offered the role of Mance Rayder, who was introduced at the beginning of season three, he simply couldn’t squeeze the job into his then jam-packed schedule. With a part as Noah Solloway in Showtime’s “The Affair” to concentrate on, West was forced to turn “Thrones” down – clearing the way for Ciarán Hinds. Of course, as with most of today’s entries, it’s difficult to imagine this character convincingly played by anyone else.

#4: Ian McNeice

For our final visit to that pilot ‘episode that never was’, Ian McNeice originally played Illyrio Mopatis, a Magister of Pentos. Had he stayed on, it would’ve been him gifting Daenerys the dragon eggs, in what becomes a pivotal scene. But, when reshooting rolled around, McNeice was double-booked and had to back out. The reason? He’d bagged another recurring role in another massive TV series, “Doctor Who”. The actor appeared throughout the fifth season of the Sci-Fi show, playing Winston Churchill opposite Matt Smith’s Eleventh Doctor. So, swings and Roundabouts.

#3: Gillian Anderson

She’s best known as one half of Mulder and Scully in “The X Files”, but Gillian Anderson might’ve been a leading figure in “Game of Thrones” – had the telly fates fell differently. The actress has openly spoken of shunning the HBO series, because she didn’t want to spend extended periods of time away from her family. A fair explanation, but the revelation has long led fans to contemplate who Anderson could’ve played – with Cersei Lannister leading the way, closely followed by Melisandre.

#2: Brian Cox

He may be a British acting great, but Brian Cox freely admits the ‘silly’ mistake he made with “Game of Thrones”. Cox was approached at the beginning of the series, for what’s rumoured to have been a very major role, but refused because he wasn’t offered enough money. Given all that’s happened since, it’s a fair bet that the wages would’ve significantly risen, and pretty quickly – and Cox concedes that he’d love to have been involved, in hindsight. Still, there’s no guarantee that whoever he might’ve played would’ve even survived to see the bigger wage bills, anyway. A lot of the originals didn’t.

#1: Mark Strong

According to various reports, Mark Strong was all-but confirmed to star as Stannis Baratheon, but he dropped out in favour of another project. And, seeing as Stannis seemed a major contender for the Iron Throne for most of his run in the series, you’d have to hope that Strong’s other offer was worth the sacrifice… But, it probably wasn’t. Though the actor hasn’t commented on the situation himself, it’s believed he bailed on “Thrones” for “Low Winter Sun” – an AMC crime drama that was axed after just one series. Ouch.
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