DAVOS SEAWORTH (LIAM CUNNINGHAM) One of Game Of Thrones’ few level-headed and morally forthright characters, this landed knight and former smuggler has still found it impossible to avoid the show’s famously gruesome ethical dilemmas, most infamously when he learned that his then boss, Stannis Baratheon (Stephen Dillane), ceremonially burned his own angelic daughter at the stake…which still rates as one of the show’s most truly heartbreaking moments. “It’s a show that you have to watch with other people, isn’t it?” Liam Cunningham told FilmInk. “You want someone beside you to go, ‘Did you fucking see that?’” While not usually at the centre of these moments, Cunningham’s brave, humble Davos Seaworth is often witness to them, and he rates as one of Game Of Thrones’ rare (relatively) nice guys.
BRONN (JEROME FLYNN) “When you’re in something like Game Of Thrones, and you get the chance to play a part like Bronn, with that cast and with Peter Dinklage, it’s wonderful,” actor, Jerome Flynn, has said. Though he’s been acting since the mid-eighties (most notably on the successful series, Soldier Soldier and Between The Lines), it took his wonderfully rugged and slyly hilarious performance as Bronn – the hardened soldier and fearsome fighting man who becomes friend and fiercely loyal protector to Peter Dinklage’s Tyrion Lannister – in Game Of Thrones to turn Jerome Flynn into an international cult favourite. Though also popular on the period crime series, Ripper Street, Flynn will always be most beloved as Game Of Thrones’ wisecracking, death-dodging, hilariously mercenary swordsman.
TORMUND GIANTSBANE (KRISTOFER HIVJU) With his flaming red hair and beard, wildling chieftain, Tormund Giantsbane – played with riveting vitality and bawdy humour by Norwegian actor, Kristofer Hivju – slowly moved from minor player to strong support throughout several seasons of Game Of Thrones, sharing a rich, mismatched-buddies-style chemistry with Kit Harington’s Jon Snow, and amusingly swooning over Gwendoline Christie’s imposing Brienne Of Tarth. “In all this horror and with the threat that they are facing, and as it gets more and more tense, when there’s a hint of love, it gives everybody a bit of life,” Kristofer Hivju laughed to Variety. “What’s more important in the end than love, right?” Hopefully, the ambiguously imperiled Tormund makes it out of Seven 7 alive, and will get to experience more of that love in Season 8.
OLENNA TYRELL (DIANA RIGG) In a show literally busting at the seams with scheming, ruthless, Machiavellian shot-callers, Olenna Tyrell – a wonderful late-career role for 1960s British icon, Diana Rigg, the brilliant star of TV’s The Avengers and the most cultish of the Bond films, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service – is one of the most ebulliently but icily vicious of them all. Able to chop the hardest of the show’s characters down with a mere phrase, Olenna is also dryly hilarious. Dying peacefully after sipping on poison (“I will miss playing Olenna Tyrell, because it was a great part,” Rigg said, “but all good things come to an end, and I think it was about time that the old bag croaked”), Olenna Tyrell – aka The Queen Of Thorns – also lays claim to one of the show’s biggest scalps as the behind-the-scenes killer of the hideous King Joffrey (Jack Gleeson).
DAARIO NAHARIS (MICHIEL HUISMAN) Originally portrayed by Ed Skrein in Season 3 of Game Of Thrones, the character of Daario Naharis took on a far more dashing and swashbuckling bent when Dutch actor, Michiel Huisman, was recast in the role in Season 4. One of the show’s impressive legion of sword-wielding warriors, Daario is a true badass, playing enforcer and compromised lover to Emilia Clarke’s imperious Daenerys. A former slave and champion gladiatorial pit fighter, eventual mercenary Daario is such a seasoned fighter that he casually refers to the Sons Of The Harpy attack on the city of Meereen – one of the most epically bloody battle sequences in the history of the show – as “a fair scrap.” A swaggering charmer, Daario Naharis “is very confident,” Michiel Huisman told Variety. “He’s very confident about a couple of things. And fighting is one of them, his skill in war.”
OSHA (NATALIA TENA) A wildling pressed into the service of The House Of Stark, Natalia Tena’s Osha grew from an enigmatic minor presence to a major supporting player from Season 1 through to 6 (she disappointingly sat out Seasons 4 and 5) of Game Of Thrones. Brave and fiercely loyal, the raggedly engaging Osha played longtime protector to Isaac Hempstead-Wright’s imperiled Brann Stark, finally delivering him to safety, but not so herself. In one of the show’s saddest but least celebrated deaths, Osha is cruelly dispatched by the diabolically hateful Ramsay Bolton (Iwan Rheon), who sniggers while he watches her bleed out on his floor after stabbing her in the neck. “She was just wonderful,” Game Of Thrones author, George R.R Martin said of Natalia Tena. “I couldn’t take my eyes off her. She was perhaps not the character as I had originally written, but in fact, she was a much more interesting character than I had originally written.”
GREY WORM (JACOB ANDERSON) & MISSANDEI (NATHALIE EMMANUEL) Sweet, warm, genuine romance is truly rare on Game Of Thrones, and the closest that the series has to a “cute couple” is unquestionably Grey Worm (Jacob Anderson) and Missandei (Nathalie Emmanuel), two of the most loyal and important allies in the court of Daenerys Targaryen. A eunuch warrior of the first order and a highly intelligent interpreter slave, respectively, Grey Worm and Missandei enjoy an immediate chemistry and obvious attraction, but their relationship unspools at a deliciously slow pace, generating rare on-screen tenderness, and providing an oasis amongst the blood and violence. “To get to develop a character over a number of seasons, for any actor, is so fulfilling,” Nathalie Emmanuel has said of playing Missandei. “It’s really fun playing her and seeing her come from indoctrinated slave to freethinking, free-feeling, official career woman.”
PRINCE OBERYN MARTELL (PEDRO PASCAL) Played with stylish, swaggering flair by Chilean actor, Pedro Pascal (Narcos, Kingsman: The Golden Circle), Prince Oberyn Martell – aka The Red Viper – is part of the ruling clan of the sun-drenched kingdom of Dorne, who arrives in King’s Landing shooting for revenge on the Lannisters, who have committed all manner of trespasses against his family. “The mistake with the character would be to play an over-the-top badass, and turn people off,” Pedro Pascal said of the role. “Ultimately, it’s not about being a badass. All of his danger, all of his lust, all of his rage, comes from a very specific emotional truth. It’s all shaped by a specific circumstance.” A revered fighter and strategist, Oberyn is also a pants-man par excellence, and he happily dabbles in both genders. “When it comes to war, I fight for Dorne,” he memorably says. “When it comes to love… I don’t choose sides.” Oberyn is a truly likeable character, which makes his horrific death – his skull is crushed by the bare hands of the mammoth mountain, Gregor Clegane, in one of the show’s most inventively gruesome moments – even more unbearable.
YARA GREYJOY (GEMMA WHELAN) A fierce seafaring warrior, born leader, and part of the ruling clan of the horribly bleak Kingdom Of The Iron Islands, Yara Greyjoy is a female badass to rival Gwendoline Christie’s far more celebrated Brienne Of Tarth. As brilliantly played with uninhibited abandon by comedienne/actress, Gemma Whelan (The Crown, The Moorside), she’s funny, bawdy, uncompromising and rampagingly bisexual, but beneath her steely exterior of brutality and bravado lies a soft heart. Though sharing a rocky, difficult relationship with her brother, Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen), she nevertheless stages a dangerous mission to rescue him from the vile clutches of the maliciously villainous Ramsay Bolton (Iwan Rheon), with disastrous and heartbreaking results. “She’s just a glorious character to play,” says Gemma Whelan of Yara. “She’s strong, and front-footed, and knows her mind, is apologetic but sensitive, family-oriented but not saccharine. She’s just brilliant! I think she speaks for herself really. She’s very, very likeable for all sorts of good feminist reasons.”
KHAL DROGO (JASON MOMOA) Arguably the greatest of Game Of Thrones’ minor players, Khal Drago – the leader of the barbaric Dothraki horseman, and the husband of Emilia Clarke’s Daenerys Targaryen – appears in only a handful of scenes of the first two seasons of the show, but is still fondly remembered by fans. Whether tearing out an enemy’s tongue through his throat or pouring boiling liquid gold over the head of a wannabe king, Khal Drogo – played with extraordinary physical presence by eventual Aquaman, Jason Momoa – is a hulking figure of brooding threat and menace, and still one of the most memorable to briefly rampage through television’s most influential fantasy landscape. “You think, in the first few episodes, that my character’s just this intimidating, badass king,” Momoa has said, “but you slowly watch him fall in love and see how frail he is compared to the other characters, who are meant to be the good guys, and you think they’re totally the opposite. There’s such richness to these characters.” We couldn’t agree more…