Over four seasons on the air, Game of Thrones has done for male facial hair what Mad Men did for skinny-fit suits. The show's plethora of scruff may make it hard for newcomers to tell the show's dozens of characters apart ("He's the gruff, slightly charming bearded guy. No, the other gruff, slightly charming bearded guy!"), but for diehards, each beard on Game of Thrones is as beautifully distinct as a snowflake. (A dirty, dirty snowflake.) At GOT's season-five premiere in San Francisco this week, we asked an assortment of cast members about their favorite beards on the show. Whose bristles came out on top?
Maisie Williams (Arya Stark)
"Who has the best one? I literally just looked over my shoulder to see George [R R. Martin]. He isn't on the show, but he has a pretty awesome beard. There are so many. I would love for women to have beards because I love coming to a new project and watching the makeup artists [with male actors] saying, 'Oh, should we cut this bit? Or should we just have a mustache?' Can you imagining being able to be that versatile just with facial hair? I would love that. Sophie [Turner] does this a lot when she's messing around, she'll take her hair and make it into a beard, which is very fun."
Nicolaj Coster-Waldau (Jaime Lannister)
"Best beard on the show, that's obvious: It's Kristofer Hivju, Tormund Giantsbane. I know there's been a couple of times when he's been doing other projects and they want him to cut the beard and he's like [mimics Hivju's Norwegian accent], 'No. I am not cutting my beard. It is who I am.'"
Ian Beattie (Meryn Trant)
"Mine, of course. I keep it trimmed and it's so perfect. Every single [hair] is exactly the same length, perfect. I keep it a lot of the time, there's been a few jobs I've had [to shave] in between, but thankfully I'm a rather hirsute individual, and it grows quite quickly. Although every single season I've been on Game of Thrones, I have this nightmare where I'm trimming the beard, and I've taken the lid [of the beard-trimmer] off, and I [look in the mirror in horror], and there's a bare line on my face. Every single season I've had that nightmare, every one. It's really weird."
Iwan Rheon (Ramsay Bolton)
"I think it's got to be Tormund, he's got quite the beard. You could lose a badger in there. He's got an absolute doozy. It's amazing when you see him. 'Wow, how long did that take to grow?' He's like, 'Bah, couple of days.' What?!"
Dean-Charles Chapman (Tommen Baratheon)
"Sir Davos. I love that beard, man. He pulls it off pretty cool."
Liam Cunningham (Davos Seaworth)
"The makeup people were absolutely delighted when I walked onto this show. He's described as a guy with a graying beard, and there are quite a few people who have to get beards put on — there's walls of beards in the makeup trailer sometimes — but when I walked in and had this big, full thing, the makeup people went, 'Thank God!' They were delighted that I fit the character, at least the beard color. I got to be careful when I start growing it. This is just lazy, but I have to get it going around mid-April, so I've got about a month's time — less, actually. Three weeks' time I've got to start growing it, takes about eight weeks to get it going. I have to push [grunts and pretends he's forcing the hairs out of his face], push it out."
Peter Dinklage (Tyrion Lannister)
"I got one this year. [Grins.] It took a couple months to grow."
Michael Huisman (Daario Naharis)
"I like Peter's beard. What did he say?"
Emilia Clarke (Daenerys Targaryen)
"There are a lot of good beards! I mean, I had to shave mine this morning because I didn't want to show everyone up. There's a lot of rugged beard-acting happening on the show for sure. I don't have a favorite. Well, Iain Glen's ain't so bad. They're all pretty good."
Sophie Turner (Sansa Stark)
"Kit [Harington]'s is always good. Kit would love me to say that, though, like he probably paid me to say that. 'Kit's hair is amazing.' Did Kit vote for himself? He would've. Of course [Ian Beattie chose himself]. He has a good beard. So many to choose from. They're all so hipster."
Conleth Hill (Varys)
"Peter! He grew a beard for this season, and he wears it well. [Points to own head.] This is a wig now! [Laughs.] No, I shave my head every June. Thankfully, it grew back. There was a danger that it might not, but it did."