The Game of Thrones Cast In and Out of Character
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Game of Thrones: In and Out of Character

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Jack Gleeson (Joffrey Baratheon)

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Joffrey is a murderous, impatient child king, whose responsibilities vastly outpace his capabilities — and his uncle isn't the only one who wants to slap him. Gleeson tousles his hair so his hair looks less like a wig of knives; you don't want to slap this 19-year-old, you want to take him to Six Flags.

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Rory McCann (Sandor Clegane/the Hound)

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The scar is fake, the long hair is fake, presumably the casual attitude about violence is fake, but that neck beard is 100 percent legit.

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Alfie Allen (Theon Greyjoy)

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Theon's a man without a home — his fellow Greyjoys reject his northern ways, but he's not really a Stark, even though he's spent so much time among them. He's such a stranger to his own family that his sister is able to seduce him. In real life, Alfie Allen's sister didn't seduce him — but she did write a song about him. His sister is Lily Allen, and "Alfie" is about him.

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Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Jaime Lannister)

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Jaime's the other half of the Tyrion twincest relationship, and no matter how evil or terrible he is, he's still just a dopplegänger for Prince Charming from the Shrek franchise. Maybe he should think about adopting Coster-Waldau's real-life beard, which makes him look like a cast member of thirtysomething?

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Carice van Houten (Melisandre)

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Melisandre is a mysterious priestess who births a scary shadow/smoke baby that murders people. Aaaaaahhhh. Freed from her monochromatically bloody color scheme, Carice van Houten seems like a nice Dutch lady, unlikely to give birth to a monster. Although if smoke does start to waft out of the bottom of her dress, best to give up your crown just to be on the safe side.

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Aidan Gillen (Petyr Baelish, a.k.a. Littlefinger)

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In character, he's devious brothel owner Littlefinger. Out of character, he passes for your favorite cultural anthropology professor.

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Lena Headey (Cersei Lannister)

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In character, she's Cersei Lannister, half of a twincestuous relationship, mother to bratty King Joffrey, and icy widow of the former King Robert Baratheon. Minus that medieval blonde wig, though, Headey's less evil and more badass, all while ridding herself of Cersei's constant "everybody in the world is disappointing me" expression.

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Conleth Hill (Lord Varys)

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World's snarkiest eunuch Varys has a gift for impersonation and can blend in to most scenarios. Conleth Hill looks like he could blend into a Commitments cover band.

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Maisie Williams (Arya Stark)

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Arya is among the series' smartest and most capable characters, able to keep her wits about her no matter what she's facing, be it gender discrimination or total exile or the power to secretly execute people. Williams seems to keep her hair at the exact same length, but with some careful styling and the removal of six pounds of dirt, she is the opposite of wretched.

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Isaac Hempstead-Wright (Bran Stark)

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Bran Stark is a the curious, determined little boy whose dreams are more potent than he realizes. Also, because he's paralyzed, he gets around on piggyback. Hempstead-Wright belongs on the adorable-tween train to Hogwarts, dreams or no dreams.

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Gwendoline Christie (Brienne of Tarth)

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Brienne — who declines her title because she's "no lady" — is as humorless as they come, and for a Game of Thrones character, that's really saying something. Gwendoline Christie really is six-foot-four, but seems both glam and pretty fun.

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Michelle Fairley (Catelyn Stark)

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Catelyn Stark can't catch a break these days: The majority of her children are missing, captives, or hostages, so she has to schlepp all over the Seven Kingdoms to try to broker peace. Fairely is substantially less weathered, but we'd happily let her negotiate hostage releases. She just has those vibes.

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Sophie Turner (Sansa Stark)

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Oh, Sansa. Poor, victimized Sansa, subject to emotional and physical abuse and trapped as Joffrey's fiancée-in-waiting. Sophie Turner fares slightly better, and the only teen overlord she's beholden to is Justin Beiber, whom she retweets every so often.

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Emilia Clarke (Daenerys Targaryen)

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How many dragons does a Khalesi have to breast-feed to get a little respect? Just the one'll do it, actually. Daenerys Targaryen, the once-reluctant, now adamant leader of the Dothraki, earned her people's admiration by hatching dragons. Emilia Clarke earned it by being nearly unrecognizable as a brunette.

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Sibel Kekilli (Shae)

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You have to be pretty damn interesting and charming to impress Tyrion Lannister, the snappiest and brightest of the bunch, but he and Shae really hit it off. You also have to be pretty interesting and charming to segue from German hardcore porn to HBO's biggest hit, but that's exactly what Sibel Kekilli did.