13 Iconic “Game Of Thrones” Roles That Were Almost Played By These Other Popular Actors

1.

Mahershala Ali as former Daenerys stan Xaro Xhoan Daxo.


Netflix / HBO

Back in January, the Oscar-winning star told Jimmy Kimmel that he felt like he was “too stiff” during one of his auditions for Thrones because of the awkward, backless stool he was sitting on. All these years later, casting director Nina Gold admitted to Vanity Fair, “Wow, how could I have ever turned down Mahershala Ali?”

2.

Gillian Anderson as (maybe???) mother-of-the-year Cersei Lannister.


NBC / HBO

Although Anderson and Gold have not elaborated on which character Anderson had been considered for on Thrones, many fans have speculated it was for the role of Cersei Lannister. Gold told Vanity Fair that she is a favorite actor of hers. And in 2013, Anderson told The Daily Mail, “My 18-year-old cannot believe that I would turn down Game of Thrones or Downton—things she loves to watch.”

3.

Sam Heughan as hot king Renly Baratheon.


Starz / HBO

In an interview with Vulture a while back, the Outlander star explained how he auditioned “loads of times” for Thrones including for the roles of Renly, Loras, and even some of the Night’s Watch characters.

4.

Tamzin Merchant as perfect being Daenerys Targaryen.


Starz / HBO

Merchant was another recast after the troublesome original pilot was filmed. According to Time, George R. R. Martin loved her performance as fifth wife of Henry VIII, Catherine Howard on Showtime’s The Tudors as well as her initial reading as Daenerys. But no one really knows why she was recast!

5.

Eugene Simon as fuckface Joffrey Baratheon.


HBO

Although Simon was ultimately cast as Lancel Lannister, he previously told the Chicago Tribune, “I originally auditioned for the role of Joffrey Baratheon. And the role, rightly so, was kind of made for Jack Gleeson.” He continued, “I’m glad I didn’t get the part because I wouldn’t have been able to give it the credit that Jack’s done. I mean that.”

6.

Jennifer Ehle as definitely-never-coming-back-as-Lady-Stoneheart Catleyn Stark.


Columbia / Universal / HBO

Ehle was actually, officially, cast as Catelyn Stark. Like, they even shot the original pilot with her. However, after Benioff and Weiss had to completely rework their problematic pilot, the footage of her performance was simply replaced with Michelle Fairley’s.

7.

Iwan Rheon as fellow bastard Jon Snow.


HBO

This is actually a somewhat ~famous~ case of almost-was casting from the Thrones-verse. Although he missed out on playing the heroic Jon Snow role, according to an interview with The New York Times, David Benioff and Dan Weiss were so impressed with Rheon that they “kept him on [their] radar.”

8.

Izzy Meikle-Small as Robin Arryn-smacker Sansa Stark.


BBC / HBO

In an old interview with The Telegraph, Meikle-Small said, “I got to the final two to play Lady Sansa Stark, but I didn’t get it. I was a bit sad, because the show’s massive, but I’m not that unhappy, because they all show a lot of flesh, don’t they? I don’t think my parents would be happy.”

9.

Conleth Hill as lover of wine King Robert Baratheon.


HBO

Conleth confirmed this rumor in a Huffington Post article earlier this year. He also explained that after going in for the role of Robert, he saw actor Mark Addy (who DID end up playing Robert Baratheon) and thought, “Well, he’d be all right for it.”

10.

Sam Claflin as creeper Viserys Targaryen (and also Jon Snow).


Universal / HBO

In an interview with Cinema Blend, Claflin said that he actually audition for both Viserys AND Jon Snow at the same time. However, he was “kind of glad” he didn’t get either part because he enjoys being a fan/viewer of the show.

11.

Dominic West as (probably) ~fiery~ King-beyond-the-Wall Mance Rayder.


Disney / HBO

In an interview with The Huffington Post, West said he was “offered something on Game of Thrones and unfortunately, I hadn’t seen it, but my nephew and father said, ‘Gosh, Game of Thrones is the only great show on!’ And I felt terrible, because I’d just turned them down.” He couldn’t remember the name of the role he’d been offered, but he did say it would have been “similar in stature or importance to Ned Stark” and involved him being “in Reykjavik for six months.” Based on this info, most fans have speculated it was for the Mance Rayder role.

12.

Jamie Campbell Bower as forgotten Night’s Watch ranger Waymar Royce.


Screen Gems / HBO

In an interview with Movieline, the Twilight star actually revealed that he too had been in the original pilot, playing Waymar Royce (from the very opening scene of the first episode, where they encounter a White Walker). Although, we don’t know why he was recast.

13.

And finally, Jared Harris as that jerk High Sparrow.


SyFy / HBO

In an interview with Vulture, Harris explained how he’s lost many parts over the years including Anthony Hopkins’ part in Westworld and, of course, the role of the High Sparrow to Jonathan Pryce.

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