How Do the Game of Thrones Actors Compare to the Characters?

Photo: HBO; Michael Komarck

We wouldn’t trade Maisie Williams for another actress for all the gold in King’s Landing, but she doesn’t quite have the profile that inspired a spiteful sister to call her “horseface” in the books. While some of the actors portraying the people of Westeros and Essos in the television adaptation of Game of Thrones come very close visually to how their counterparts are written on the page, others are worlds away (Daario Naharis, for one, had a dyed-blue beard). Thanks to the massive, illustrated version of George R.R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones, released on Tuesday, we can see how certain characters would look when they’re depicted closer to how Martin described them. Some of the images are recognizable to hardcore fans — from The World of Ice and Fire or A Song of Ice and Fire calendars — but others are new commissions from artists such as Magali Villeneuve, Arantza Sestayo, Michael Komarck, and Mariana Moreno. The biggest difference in how the characters look? The kids were so young!

In his mid-30s, Ned Stark is much younger in the books. (Sean Bean, now 57, was in his 50s playing this part.) Despite his youth, Ned is meant to look a little older, his beard beginning to gray. He’s said to have long, dark hair, dark gray eyes, and a solemn face. Photo: HBO; Michael Komarck
Jon Snow never quite fit in. At 14, roughly the same age as Robb, Jon was slender, where Robb was muscular. He was dark where Robb was fair. And he was graceful and quick where Robb was strong and fast. Robb took after the Tully side of the family, and Jon looked more like a Stark — dark-brown hair, dark-gray eyes. He has the long, solemn look of Ned Stark’s family.  Photo: HBO; Magali Villeneuve
Even as a 9-year-old girl, Arya resembled a boy. Her sister, Sansa, and Sansa’s friend Jeyne Pool think Arya has a “long horsey face,” and would tease her for that, and for her “blacksmith” hands. Her hair is “a lusterless brown” and short. She has a rough-and-tumble look to her, “all scraped knees and tangled hair and torn clothes.” All of this makes it easier for her to impersonate a boy when need be. Photo: HBO; Magali Villeneuve
Jon and Arya are the closest of the Stark siblings, both in terms of their relationship and their resemblance to each other. (“She even looked like Jon, with the long face and brown hair of the Starks.”) They think it’s because they both share Ned Stark’s face, but at one point, Ned tells Arya that she looks like his late sister Lyanna, later revealed to be Jon’s mother.  Photo: Magali Villeneuve
Sansa is 11 years old when her parents agree to her betrothal with Joffrey. Like her mother, Catelyn, and brother, Bran, she has the Tully coloring — auburn hair and blue eyes. She has her mother’s “fine high cheekbones” and “fine, delicate hands.” She is also tall for her age.  Photo: HBO; Magali Villeneuve
At 7 years old, Bran, with his “easy smiles and fire in [his] hair,” resembles his mother, Catelyn, and sister Sansa. For the show, they aged up all the children, so he appears to be closer to 10 years old, and they gave him darker coloring than his character has in the books. Photo: HBO; John Picacio
At 15 years old, Samwell is “plump, soft, and awkward.” When he arrives at Castle Black, he’s wearing a fur-trimmed surcoat, and he’s brought his own armor with him: “padded doublet, boiled leather, mail and plate and helm, even a great wood-and-leather shield.” But since none of it is black, Ser Alliser Thorne makes him reequip himself, and his new leathers are so tight around his legs and under his arms that he can barely move. “The new boy looked like an overcooked sausage about to burst its skin.” Photo: HBO; Magali Villeneuve
At 16 years old, Loras Tyrell was so beautiful he made Sansa swoon. “His hair was a mass of lazy brown curls, his eyes like liquid gold.” He would dress in mail “enameled as a bouquet of a thousand different flowers,” and in suits of “fabulous silver armor polished to a blinding sheen and filigreed with twining black vines and tiny blue forget-me-nots.” The blue of the flowers came from sapphires, while his cloak was woven of actual forget-me-nots, “real ones, hundreds of fresh blooms.” Photo: HBO; Michael Komarck
Peter Dinklage might be too handsome to be “the Imp,” as Tyrion’s often called, because of his supposedly hideous appearance — “a brute’s squashed-in face beneath a swollen shelf of brow.” But when fans talk about how Tyrion looks different in the books, usually what they’re talking about is his nose, most of which was lost in the Battle of Blackwater, leaving him disfigured. Here, we see Tyrion prior to that injury, nose intact, in the skirmish en route to the Eyrie. We do still get a slight sense of his mismatched eyes (green and black) and hair (blonde and black), the physical traits that have led some fans to theorize he’s a secret Targaryen. Photo: HBO; Mariano Moreno
Twins who “looked as much alike as reflections in a mirror,” the two lovers are “tall and golden, with flashing green eyes.”   Photo: HBO; Magali Villeneuve
Even at 12 years old, Joffrey was taller than both Jon Snow and Robb Stark. Like his mother (and secret father), Joffrey had golden hair and deep-green eyes. “A thick tangle of blond curls dripped down past his golden choker and high velvet collar.” Jon Snow thought Joffrey looked like a girl, with his pouty lips. Others thought he looked like his mother, Cersei, and sister Myrcella. But no one thought he looked like King Robert. Photo: HBO; Magali Villeneuve
The Targaryens all have the same hair (silver-blonde) and eye color (purple). The show skipped the purple eyes, and it also skipped what happens when Dany walks into the flames — not only her clothes burn off, but her hair does as well. Fans have lots of debates about this and whether she’s impervious to fire — later in the books, she does suffer minor burns. But on the show, she’s fireproof! Photo: HBO; Michael Komarck
How the GOT Actors Compare to the Characters