A Comprehensive Guide To ‘Game Of Thrones’ Stars In And Out Of Costume

The premiere of Game of Thrones‘s third season is finally upon us after seven months of waiting and waiting and waiting and more waiting. To the seven kingdoms of Westeros and the Iron Throne chess game we return, but with such a significant chunk of time having passed between the end of season two and the beginning of season three – and all kinds of crazy inter-regional conflict from the North to the Blackwater to Beyond The Wall – we thought it timely to do a quick recap on the major characters up to this point in the series. Not only that, we also want to strip away their costumes (in the figurative sense -ot the HBO look, boobies! sense) and reveal a little about the actors who play them. The fantastical direwolf-populated Game Of Thrones world is brought to life so utterly convincingly and the characters so well realised and acted that the line between actor and character can get emotionally blurry, so if you’re not yet prepared to see Jon Snow wearing a Hugo Boss suit without even a hint of black fur perhaps it’s best if you tap out now. We should also mention that there are several season one and two SPOILERS so don’t say we didn’t warn you. And now to Westeros!

NICKNAME: Derogatorily referred to as “The Imp” because of his stature.
QUICK PROFILE: He might be a dwarf but he’s one of the largest personalities and, arguably, one of the most fascinating characters in the show (and the books on which its based) because of his droll self-deprecating charm, complex familial relationships, and artful calculating sense of political and noble strategy (AKA the titular “game of thrones”). At the end of Season Two Tyrion is recovering from a brutal face wound endured in the Battle Of Blackwater where he was instrumental in defending King’s Landing against Stannis Baratheon’s fleet, but has lost his place as Hand Of The King now that his loathing father, Tywin Lannister, is back in the ‘hood.

GOODIE OR BADDIE? Tyrion is the unlikely hero you can’t help but root for, and one of the great comic foils to all the drama and violence. 


QUICK PROFILE: The New Jersey native with sexy baritone voice stands at 135cm but easily measures up to more vertically-commodious actors with a captivating commanding screen presence. Dinklage won an Emmy and Golden Globe for his performance in Game Of Thrones, but you might also know him as the douchebag children’s author who beats up Will Ferrell in Elf, or for his beautifully intimate breakthrough role in 2003’s The Station Agent. Next up Dinklage will be playing a villain in the new instalment of the X-Men franchise, X-Men: Days Of Future Past.


QUICK PROFILE: The highborn matriarch and now-widow of House Stark is strong-willed, family oriented and just a tad vengeance obsessed. Well versed in game of thrones’ strategising and negotiation, the mother of five is presenting providing noble counsel to eldest son Robb Stark – the newly dubbed King Of The North – while concurrently vying for his forgiveness after having covertly released his prisoner, Jaime Lannister, to exchange for her daughters who are held hostage at King’s Landing (as far as she knows). Shit’s going to get agonisingly real for Lady Stark in Season Three…
GOODIE OR BADDIE? She’s on the good team.


QUICK PROFILE: Did anyone else think Michelle Fairley was Joan Allen for a few splitseconds in the first episode? She’s got that sexy-maternal thing in spades. Fairley is from Northern Ireland and has appeared in all those British television dramas (The Bill, Heartbeat, Midsomer Murders, etc) and played Hermione’s mum in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Fun fact: Did you know she wasn’t the first Catelyn Stark? Jennifer Ehle (who you’d know as Elizabeth Bennett from the BBC production of Pride and Prejudice!) played Lady Stark in the pilot episode of Game Of Thrones before Fairley replaced her.

Photo by Jason Merritt


QUICK PROFILE: Cruel, manipulative, self-serving and power hungry, the beautiful golden-haired twin-fucker and widow of Robert Baratheon (former King of the Realm) resents the fact her gender is an insurmountable obstacle to obtaining a position of any real power. In that respect she’s a very pro-Feminist creation. She’s also a toxic sadistic bitch who uses sex to control men into doing her bidding; however, the two most commanding dude’s of King’s Landing are the ones she is most powerless against: her father, the Hand of the King Tywin Lannister and her psychopathic spawn, King Joffrey Baratheon. Will we see Cersei and brother Jaime reunite for some more incestuous banging in Season Three?
GOODIE OR BADDIE? A great villain, one you relish in hating.


QUICK PROFILE: Can you believe this poorly-dressed brunette gal is Cersei Lannister?! Before her blonde Medieval-style transformation for Game Of Thrones, the lovely English actress, who chews scenery with fetching panache as Cersei, played the lead in that Terminator spin-off series Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. I know! I didn’t pick it either! She also starred in spartan action epic 300 and is quite wonderful in the 2000 English film Aberdeen.

Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez


NICKNAME: Dany, Khaleesi, Mother of Dragons, Daenerys Stormborn
QUICK PROFILE: The self-styled Mother of Dragons has a complex personality divided into three notable sections: the city-conquering flame-resistant badass; the loving, nurturing baby-dragon-momma; and the vulnerable isolated teenage girl. Khaleesi and her posse of stragglers (including the smitten exiled knight Ser Jorah Mormont) scored a few ships after surviving multiple assassination and dragon-napping attempts, and is about to head over water in pursuit of her birthright claim as ruler of all Westeros.
GOODIE OR BADDIE? She’s not just good. She’s the best.


QUICK PROFILE: Yikes yikes YIKES. Get some Magic Silver White into that hair and some purple contact lenses over those green eyes immediately, please. There is no Emilia Clarke, only Khaleesi.

Photo by Jason Merritt


NICKNAME: Kingslayer
QUICK PROFILE: Charming, confident, impulsive and just shy of moral bankruptcy, Jaime Lannister is burdened by an occasionally-surfacing conscious, a weirdly narcissistic incestuous relationship with sister Cersei, and stratospheric notoriety from slaying the mad King Aerys Targaryen back in the day. After being released from enprisonment by Catelyn Stark, Jaime is en route to King’s Landing under the guard of rad female knight Brienne of Tarth with whom he shares a most intriguing chemistry as companions with both a mutual loathing and begrudging respect.
GOODIE OR BADDIE? Jaime Lannister really is a character that transcends viewer loyalty. He’s done despicable things, is clearly a villain and you hate him. And yet… you LIKE him too. I want him to turn it all around and embrace the good. I want him to break Cersei’s controlling spell over him and start being the hero he was born to be. Right?


QUICK PROFILE: The strong-jawed Danish actor has been big in his motherland (where he is also known as a writer and director) since starring in 1994’s hit indie thriller Nattevagten (Nightwatch). Coster-Waldau didn’t go Stateside until scoring a role in Black Hawk Down followed by supporting roles in movies like Kingdom Of Heaven and Wimbledon. Most recently he starred alongside Jessica Chastain in shitty looking supernatural horror Mama released earlier this year, has a billed role in forthcoming Tom Cruise scifi Oblivion, and could totally get work as a very convincing Denis Leary impersonator.

Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez


NICKNAME: Littlefinger (a reference to his ancestral property “the Fingers”)
QUICK PROFILE: If Baelish was on Survivor he’d be the guy other contestants describe as “playing the game” on those to-camera bits. The slimy self-interested brothel owner – whose betrayal of Ned Stark led to Stark’s execution by beheading – is a needling, calculating master plotter who pulls the strings of whomever he can as long as it meets his own interests, that is: climbing the social ranks to amass maximum power. Also has a chip on his shoulder about his unimpressive ancestral holding and bears a lifelong dream boner for Catelyn Stark.
GOODIE OR BADDIE? Highly suss 


QUICK PROFILE: English Irish actor Aidan Gillen has a touch of the Gary Oldmans about him. He’s got that freakish chameleon-like ability to effortlessly transform from one character to the next. And what a diverse bunch of characters he’s played. He’s done a lot of film work, including a turn as a hyper psychopath in terrible Jason Statham vehicle Blitz [highly recommended hangover viewing] and played a CIA agent in The Dark Knight Rises. He’s better known for his television work including a BAFTA-nominated starring role in Queer As Folk as gay, sex enthusiast Stuart Alan Jones, and as rising Baltimore politician Tommy Carcetti in The Wire.

Photo by Jason Merritt


QUICK PROFILE: Unlucky-in-love exiled knight Ser Jorah is Khaleesi’s right hand man and, inconveniently, also madly in love with her. The sexual tension is palpable but will they actually get it on? While capably kicking ass for the Mother of Dragons, Jorah’s also chasing a royal pardon so he can return to the home from which he’s been exiled (for slave trade – a crime he was driven to committing on account of being pussy whipped).
GOODIE OR BADDIE? Team Khaleesi.


QUICK PROFILE: Iain Glen is a Scottish actor who, based on the photo below, likes to dress like the lost Beegee. You might also know him as Sir Richard Carlisle the one-time fiance of Mary Crawley in Downton Abbey. Glen is a prolific theatre actor who has received three Olivier nominations, looks pleasing in a kilt and is a great kisser. Probably.

Photo by Tim Whitby


NICKNAME: Bastard, Lord Snow
QUICK PROFILE: Things got pretty heavy for the frustratingly honour-bound illegitimate son of Ned Stark (hence the nickname) last season. In addition to being nut numbingly cold all the time, Jon was captured then trapped by sexually flagrant wildling, Ygritte, and then forced to murder his fellow Man of the Night’s Watch, Qhorin Halfhand, to prove loyalty to the wildling clan led by Mance Rayder. Cue anxiety, self-loathing and guilt for poor freezing Jon Snow. With white walkers, wights, suspicious wildlings and come-hither eyes from Ygritte to contend with, Season Three guarantees even rougher times for the brave stoic Stark bastard.
GOODIE OR BADDIE? Jon Snow is all honour for the good of the Realm.


QUICK PROFILE: In real life the 26-year-old English actor is actually a descendant of nobility. According to Wikipedia his paternal great-grandfather was the 12th baronet of Harington, whatever that means. It’s pretty weird seeing him without a sword or a direwolf. Kit will pursue a career as action-style leading man after securing the lead role in Pompeii, Paul W.S. Anderson’s take on the historic eruption of Mt Vesuvius which will probably be awful.

Photo by Mike Coppola
NICKNAME: The King of the North
QUICK PROFILE: To paraphrase Britney Spears: Robb is not a boy, not yet a man. Torn between his duty and responsibilities as King Of The North and his impulsive teenage whims (he’s only 16 after all), Robb has proven himself a great leader in battles but is a self-serving weakling when it comes to matters of the heart. In Season Two he hooked up with an attractive healer despite a promise to marry one of the Frey’s daughters – a vital alliance for the North – so the betrayal might prove costly.
GOODIE OR BADDIE? He’s a good guy albeit a boring one.


QUICK PROFILE: Scottish actor with that gingery Byronic hero vibe about him. Another dude from the Game Of Thrones cast who looks really strange out of his Medieval sword-wielding garb.

Photo by Jason Merritt
NICKNAME: Lord of Casterly Rock
QUICK PROFILE: Minted, ruthless, proud and stone cold, Lord Tywin is a hard ass natural leader well versed in the art of war and presently stationed at King’s Landing as the Hand of the King. Father to Cersei, Jaime and Tyrion, he has always despised his vertically-challenged son because of his lack of ability with a sword and all the whoring and boozing, plus the fact his beloved wife died giving birth to The Imp.  
GOODIE OR BADDIE? An accomplished villain.


QUICK PROFILE: Fantastic English actor of stage and screen who gives one of the most commanding performances of the series. Mr Dance is also a screenwriter and director who is often cast as the villain because look at the steely gaze on the guy. I’m intimidated just looking at this photo.

Photo by Jason Merritt
NICKNAME: Arry and whatever else she calls herself while on the lam
QUICK PROFILE: Feisty, cunning and hellbent on revenge, pre-teen Arya Stark, the youngest daughter of Catelyn and Ned, is a rad little dude. She has recently escaped Harrenhal where she was serving Tywin Lannister under a false identity. She’s on the move bound for her mother with friends Hot Pie and Gendry in tow, and has mysterious assassin Jaqen H’ghar indebted to her lest she need an enemy taken out. With a preoccupation with swordplay and a fearlessness that belies her age, we can’t wait to see what Arya gets up to this season.
GOODIE OR BADDIE? She’s awesome.


QUICK PROFILE: Maisie Williams is English, 15 and probably hasn’t done anything prior to GOT worth mentioning but she is fantastic in the show.

Photo by Mike Coppola
QUICK PROFILE: Ah sweet, brave, determined little Lord of Winterfell. The fourth child of Catelyn and Ned Stark might have lost the use of his legs thanks to a particularly heinous act by Jaime Lannister, but he’s discovered some unusual power in his highly vivid direwolf-dreams. Thought to be dead by the hand of Theon Greyjoy, Bran fled Winterfell in Season Two with the help of former wildling Osha and the gentle giant Hodor.
GOODIE OR BADDIE? A goodie who seems destined for greatness.


QUICK PROFILE: Bless, look at this awkward teenager. Isaac is 13 and, according to his Twitter bio, is a schoolboy, pianist, wannabe drummer, guerrilla filmmaker, actor, Simpsons and Spongebob enthusiast, pretend philosopher, anarchist dog owner and sugar addict. He forgot to mention, experiments with leather pants.

Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez

QUICK PROFILE: Poor precious idealistic Sansa. Her dream royal wedding arrangement went south when her betrothed King Joffrey turned out to be an unhinged blood-lusting psychopath – not to mention his passive-aggressive bitch of a mother, Cersei Lannister. Needless to say Sansa’s thanking the gods that Joffrey passed her over in favour of a strategic marriage to Margaery Tyrell but in the meantime she’s stuck at King’s Landing as a veritable hostage…
GOODIE OR BADDIE? Forever the victim of the greater evils of Westeros.


QUICK PROFILE: English 17-year-old Sophie Turner was a relative unknown (that’s industry speak for ‘nobody’) until she scored the Sansa Stark role. For such a young actor she’s been incredibly impressive considering the range of extreme emotions poor Sansa has been forced to contend with: shame, fear, concealed fear, cray cray mortal fear, etc. Sophie has landed the lead role in an indie thriller called Panda Eyes with a decent cast that includes Jonathan Rhys-Meyers and Claire Forlani. She’s a natural blonde.

Photo by Mike Coppola
QUICK PROFILE: Unpredictable, petulant with a predilection for sadism, Joffrey is a vicious bully but ultimately a less than intelligent ruler of The Realm. He is now engaged to the beautiful and politically astute Margaery Tyrell.
GOODIE OR BADDIE? A downright horror.


QUICK PROFILE: He’s Irish, he’s 20, and this photo was once taken. Pretty sure he’s my new favourite person.


NICKNAME: Azor Ahai (only according to that red lady)
QUICK PROFILE: Humourless, unbending and, as far as he is concerned, the true heir to the Iron Throne, Stannis is another man driven by an intense obsession with honour and duty. He suffered a terrible defeat in the Battle of Blackwater, mostly due to the forethought of Tyrion Lannister who smashed Stannis’s fleet with wildfire. Now Stannis is regrouping back in his home joint, Dragonstone, with assistance from fire-loving weirdo Melisandre.
QUICK PROFILE: English actor Stephen Dillane is terrific as Stannis. He’s logged gigs in some major movies, playing Horatio in Zefferelli’s Eighties interpretation of Hamlet (which starred Mel Gibson, lol), opposite Nicole Kidman in The Hours as Leonard Woolf, and had a small part in Zero Dark Thirty. He won a BAFTA in 2009 for his portrayal of late photographic journalist Tom Hurndall, and is inexplicably sexy to most woman over the age 25.
Photo by Tim Whitby
NICKNAME: Well I call him ‘Punchable Face Dicklord’
QUICK PROFILE: Theon proved himself an A-Grade creep after betraying the Starks and taking command of Winterfell, all for the sake of impressing his surly disapproving father, Balon Greyjoy, king of the Ironborn. In a series of poor decisions, Theon faked the murder of the youngest Stark children, Bran and Rickon, earning him the sworn vengeance of Robb Stark. At the end of Season Three Theon’s own men rejected his leadership with a solid bash to the head. We still aren’t sure if they left him alive.
GOODIE OR BADDIE? He’s behaved poorly.
QUICK PROFILE: Did you know that the man who plays Theon Greyjoy is the younger brother of Lily Allen? The song “Alfie” off her album Alright, Still is about him! This is a revelation! Before landing the part of Theon, Alfie had small parts in Atonement and The Other Boleyn Girl. He is currently platinum blond with cheekbones that could carve a Christmas ham.
Photo by Kevin Winter
NICKNAME: Brienne the Beauty
QUICK PROFILE: Androgynous, immensely strong and highly skilled female knight. Brienne is falsely suspected to have been complicit in the mysterious murder of King Renly so she fled with Catelyn Stark who she has sworn to protect. As per Lady Stark’s orders Brienne is charged with escorting Jaime Lannister to King’s Landing in exchange for the Stark girls, having to contend with both Lannister enemies encountered on the road and Jaime’s sexist barbs about her massive size and unfeminine appearance.
QUICK PROFILE: An acclaimed theatre actress Gwendoline Christie scales up at a lofty 191cm and prepared for the role of Brienne by gaining several kilos of muscle mass and training in horseriding and swordfighting – all of which obviously payed off because she is magnificent as Brienne.
Photo by Karwai Tang
Phew! Hopefully that provides you with enough of a Game Of Thrones refresher to get you ready for Season Three. Come at us Winter, you brutal wench. The wait is finally over on Sunday, 31 March 2013 (USA time) premiering on HBO and shortly thereafter through the ether to a torrent shop near you.