Pre-Game – 9 Early Roles Of Game Of Thrones Cast Members
Although there’s little question that pulling a gig on Game of Thrones has proven to be a significant career enhancer, it’s important to remember that the majority of these actors didn’t simply materialize out of thin air: most of them had careers prior to finding their way to the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros, and as tends to be the case with anyone’s back catalog, not everything they worked on was what you’d consider HBO-level material. For your amusement (and probably to their chagrin in some instances), here are several early roles by Thrones cast members during the pre-Game era.
Emilia Clarke, Triassic Attack (2010)
Before she was transformed into an international superstar as a result of playing Daenerys Targaryen, Clarke had virtually no on-camera experience as an actress, bringing to the table one episode of a TV melodrama (Doctors) and one SyFy Original Movie. Fortunately, that movie—Triassic Attack—provided her with the opportunity to say, “Why, yes, I do have experience working with giant reptilian beasts,” which takes you surprisingly far in the world of Game of Thrones.
You can see a clip of Clarke’s work on Triassic Attack in this behind-the-scenes clip. (She’s the one dressed like Pocahontas.)
Peter Dinklage, Tiptoes (2003)
Although it was named an official selection for the 2004 Sundance Film Festival, Tiptoes has become legendary for taking an amazing cast—including Matthew McConaughey, Kate Beckinsale, Gary Oldman, Patricia Arquette, and even David Alan Grier—and slipping them into a very strange little film. When Steven (McConaughey) and Carol (Beckinsale) get pregnant, Steve has to admit that he’s actually the only typically-sized person in a family of dwarfs. Yes, Oldman plays a dwarf (he’s just that good an actor) and Dinklage memorably plays his best friend, who has a French accent and says outrageous things as loudly as possible. Although he only makes a fleeting appearance in the trailer, it’s long enough for you to get the essence of Dinklage’s character.
Lena Headey, MacGyver: Trail to Doomsday (1994)
Headey’s first performance for American television was, alas, in what remains the last time viewers saw Richard Dean Anderson portraying the one and only MacGyver. In this TV movie, Headey plays Elise Moran, whose father is killed, thereby setting into motion a series of spine-tingling events which find MacGyver doing what he does best: saving the day when the odds are against him. Although she’s never provided with a close-up in this clip, that’s Headey at the very end, which means that she has the honor of being the last person to ever share an onscreen conversation with MacGyver. Why, that’s almost as impressive as being on Game of Thrones!
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Filthy Gorgeous (2006)
If you’ve ever seen this Showtime production, then you must be one of the lucky few who happened upon it when flipping through your Showtime On Demand viewing options back in 2007. That’s when the network seemingly decided to cut their losses with this 2006 pilot, which never made it to series despite starring Isabella Rossellini as the owner of a high-class escort service in New York City. Written by Ron Nyswander (Philadelphia), Filthy Gorgeous boasted a certain amount of buzz, but its failure to get picked up can probably be attributed to the fact that it was under consideration at the same time as Dexter and The Tudors. Tough break, Nikolaj.
Alfie Allen, Agent Cody Banks 2: Destination London (2004)
When the opportunity arises to take the spotlight, there’s only one thing to do: take it and run. That’s what Berkhamp, Allen’s character in the lone sequel to Agent Cody Banks, does when the student orchestra playing in front of Queen Elizabeth and visiting heads of state has to kill time to prevent the G7 Summit meeting from starting. When the call goes out to improvise. Berkamp is challenged to “go for it,” so he shrugs, leaps to his feet, struts over to the microphone, slips on a headband, and—true story—launches into a German-accented version of Edwin Starr’s “War.”
Conleth Hill, Britain’s Got the Pop Factor (2008)
First things first: the full title of this program is actually Britain’s Got the Pop Factor… and Possibly a New Celebrity Jesus Christ Soapstar Superstar Strictly on Ice, and it’s a pretty funny parody of singing-competition series as well as just reality television in general. You’ll be hard pressed to identify Hill without warning, given that he’s buried under both drag and old-age makeup, but keep your eyes open for Geraldine’s mum. That’s all we’re saying.
Ben Crompton, 102 Dalmatians (2000)
There’s nothing wrong with having a kid’s film on your filmography, especially when it’s a Disney production, so Crompton’s pretty lucky, all things considered. Still, it’s worth at least a little bit of a tease that one of his earliest film roles found him playing the slightly dimwitted assistant to Cruella de Vil’s parole officer in the live-action sequel 102 Dalmatians.
Jonathan Pryce, Doctor Who: The Curse of Fatal Death (1999)
Jonathan Pryce has been a respected character actor for so many years at this point that it almost seems unfair to go digging through his formidable catalog in search of something embarrassing. Instead, we’ve opted to spotlight a project which relatively few Americans know about: his turn as the Master. Yes, we’re referring to the long-lived Doctor Who villain, but it’s not an incarnation you would’ve seen battling Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant, Matt Smith, or Peter Capaldi. No, Pryce found himself doing battle against…Rowan Atkinson? Yes, in a very special Doctor Who serial made for Comic Relief, Atkinson played the Doctor…and so did Richard E. Grant, Jim Broadbent, Hugh Grant, and Joanna Lumley, for that matter. You can see all this below—along with Pryce’s highly enjoyable (and thoroughly intentional) scenery-chewing in The Curse of Fatal Death.
Max Von Sydow, Flash Gordon (1980)
Okay, we know this is without question the least obscure project to be found anywhere on this list, but we’re considering this a public service message so no one forgets: Max Von Sydow played Ming the Merciless in Flash Gordon. This is only one of many reasons why the man is a legend, but it’s our personal favorite and a great way to wrap up the proceedings.