HomeTrendingHow the Game of Thrones Cast Should Really Look

How the Game of Thrones Cast Should Really Look

When putting a popular book series on television, casting can either make or break the show. Cast the wrong actress or actor – change the characters in anyway and the fans will know, resulting in them sharing their angry thoughts all over the Internet. In the case of Game of Thrones, based off the series written by George R.R. Martin, many of the characters break away from the ones that are in the books. In fact, they hardly match at all. For practical storytelling reasons, it became necessary for the producers and the writers to alter some of the characters looks. Here we will take a side-by-side comparison with the actors and actresses who aren’t exactly like their novel namesake, showing what they are really meant to look like. Fair warning! This list may contain spoilers for the Game of Thrones series, as well as the A Song of Ice and Fire books.

The major difference between the books and the television for Asha Greyjoy is her name, which the writers have changed to Yara on the show, mostly likely to avoid confusion with Osha, the Wildling who guards Rickon Stark. This isn’t the only thing that is different, however. Though actress Gemma Whelan has the hard, commanding demeanor, she doesn’t quite live up to the fan’s expectations. She certainly doesn’t match the way she is described in the books. As written by Martin: “Theon turned to give her an appraising glance. He liked what he saw. Iron born, he knew at a glance; lean and long-legged, with black hair cut shot, wind-chafed skin, strong sure hands, a dirk at her belt. Her nose was too big and too sharp for her thin face, but her smile made up for it.” – A Clash of Kings

Bran in the George R.R. Martin books is described as inheriting his looks from his mother’s side. In fact, every Stark child, aside from Arya, is meant to have auburn hair and blue eyes, just like their mother, Catelyn. In the show, Bran, played by Isaac Hempstead-Wright, loses this key characteristic, having brown hair and eyes. As said by Martin: “Catelyn had always thought Robb looked like her; like Bran and Rickon and Sansa, he had the Tully coloring, the auburn hair, the blue eyes.” – A Game of Thrones

Brienne of Tarth is a strong woman who desires to love and be loved in return. However, part of her tragedy is that she is painfully awkward and ugly by Westerosi standards. The one thing appealing about her is her big, blue eyes. Gwendoline Christie, who plays Brienne on the show, is anything but ugly. In fact, she is too pretty for the role, especially since Brienne is constantly being left with scars from her battles. For example, she had a run-in with Biter at the inn at Crossroads and nearly chews half of her cheek off. Christie, with no cheek half chewed off, does not exactly fit the role. As written by Martin: “Beauty, they called her… mocking. The hair beneath the visor was a squirrel’s nest of dirty straw, and her face… Brienne’s eyes were large and very blue, a young girl’s eyes, trusting and guileless, but the rest… her features were broad and coarse, her teeth prominent and crooked, her mouth too wide, her lips so plump they seemed swollen. A thousand freckles speckled her cheeks and brow, and her nose had been broken more than once.” – A Clash of Kings

The Game of Thrones show runner has now had two chances to get Daario Naharis right. Sadly, they failed both times. I guess, multicolored hair and a forked beard don’t really translate well onscreen. As written by Martin: “Daario Naharis was flamboyant even for a Tyroshi. His beard was cut into three prongs and dyed blue, the same color as his eyes and the curly hair that fell to his collar. His pointed mustachios were painted gold.” – A Storm of Swords

Though there are a few complaints concerning Daenerys hair, eyes, and age – it can’t be denied that the casting department did a great job when casting Emilia Clarke for The Dragon Queen. As written by Martin: “They dressed her in the wisps that Magister Illyrio had sent up, and then the gown, a deep plum silk to bring out the violet in her eyes… “She’s too skinny,” Viserys said. His hair, the same silver-blond as hers, had been pulled back tightly behind his head and fastened with a dragonbone brooch.” – A Game of Thrones

Euron Greyjoy is an intimidating figure in the books. Sadly, that is lost in the show. Although Pilou Asbaek does a commendable job portraying the Crow’s Eye, the writers have unfortunately overlooked what makes Euron a fierce character – his otherworldly looks. As written by Martin: “Euron was the most comely of Lord Quellon’s sons, and three years of exile had not changed that. His hair was still black as a midnight sea, with never a whitecap to be seen, and his face was still smooth and pale beneath his neat dark beard. A black leather patch covered Euron’s left eye, but his right was blue as a summer sky. His smiling eye, thought Victarion. “Crow’s Eye,” he said. “King Crow’s Eye, brother.” Euron smiled. His lips looked very dark in the lamplight, bruised and blue.” – A Feast for Crows

Sandor Clegane, otherwise known as The Hound, is known by fans for his gruesome scars that cover one side of his face. Though the HBO makeup artist gave it a valiant effort, arguably, it is still not enough. As written by Martin: “The right side of his face was gaunt, with sharp cheekbones and a grey eye beneath a heavy brow. His nose was large and hooked, his hair thin, dark. He wore it long and brushed it sideways, because no hair grew on the other side of that face. The left side of his face was a ruin. His ear had been burned away; there was nothing but a hole. His eye was still good, but all around it was a twisted mass of scar, slick black flesh hard as leather, pocked with craters and fissured by deep cracks that gleamed red and wet when he moved. Down by his jaw, you could see a hint of bone where the flesh had been seared away.” – A Game of Thrones

True fans of Game of Thrones know that Ser Jorah isn’t quite as handsome as the show portrays. According to the books, Ser Jorah is less built, much less attractive, and a little hairier. As written by Martin: “Ser Jorah was not a handsome man. He had a neck and shoulders like a bull, and coarse black hair covered his arms are chest so thickly that there was none left for his head.” – A Game of Thrones

The Bastard of Bolton is an evil and sadistic figure, both in the books and on the show. But, believe it or not, the show doesn’t come close to how evil Ramsay truly is. Also, in the book version, Ramsay is nowhere near as handsome and charismatic as Iwan Rheon. As written by Martin: “Yet for all the splendor of his garb, he remained an ugly man, big-boned and slope-shouldered, with a fleshiness to him that suggested that in later life he would run to fat. His skin was pink and blotchy, his nose broad, his mouth small, his hair long and dark and dry. His lips were wide and meaty, but the thing men noticed first about him were his eyes. He had his lord father’s eyes—small, close-set, queerly pale. Ghost grey, some men called the shade, but in truth his eyes were all but colorless, like two chips of dirty ice.” – A Dance With Dragons

For five seasons, Micheal McElhatton has done a respectable job of portraying the cruel, cunning, and cold Lord of the Dreadfort. There is just one problem – McElhatton looks nothing like his character should. According to the books, he is supposed to have long black hair, pale eyes, and a strangely unlined face. As written by Martin: “He had a plain face, beardless and ordinary, notable only for his queer pale eyes. Neither plump, thin, nor muscular, he wore black ringmail and a spotted pink cloak. The lord regarded her. Only his eyes moved; they were very pale, the color of ice.” – A Clash of Kings “The Lord of the Dreadfort did not have a strong likeness to his bastard son. His face was clean-shaved, smooth-skinned, ordinary, not handsome but not quite plain. Though Roose had been in battles, he bore no scars. Though well past forty, he was as yet unwrinkled, with scarce a line to tell of the passage of time. His lips were so thin that when he pressed them together they seemed to vanish altogether. There was an agelessness about him, a stillness; on Roose Bolton’s face, rage and joy looked much the same. All he and Ramsay had in common were their eyes. His eyes are ice.” – A Dance With Dragons

In the books, Theon Greyjoy suffered unimaginable torture by the hand of the Bastard of the Dreadfort. As a result, he aged by 40 years and becomes short of several fingers, toes, and teeth before he is able to escape his imprisonment. On the show, Theon escaped unscathed, which is in complete contrast to the books. As written by Martin: “The second lord, the straight-backed old man in the mail byrnie, studied Reek with flinty eyes. “Look again,” he urged the other lord. “His hair’s gone white and he is three stone thinner, aye, but this is no serving man. Have you forgotten?” The crookback lord looked again and gave a sudden snort. “Him? Can it be? Stark’s ward. Smiling, always smiling.” “He smiles less often now,” Lord Ramsay confessed. “I may have broken some of his pretty white teeth.” Reek did not know what to say, so he said nothing. One wrong word could cost him another toe, even a finger. Thus far he had lost two fingers off his left hand and the pinky off his right, but only the little toe off his right foot against three from his left.” – A Dance With Dragons

Peter Dinklage makes a fantastic Tyrion on the show, mostly due to the fact that he is much more attractive than the Imp that is described in the books. If George R.R. Martin had his way, Tyrion would have a “squashed-in” face, and about half his nose would be gone after the Battle of the Blackwater. He is also missing his Lannister pale blond hair and his different-colored eyes, all of which turns him into the Imp that we know from the books. As written by Martin: “Tyrion Lannister, the youngest of Lord Tywin’s brood and by far the ugliest. All that the gods had given to Cersei and Jaime, they had denied Tyrion. He was a dwarf, half his brother’s height, struggling to keep pace on stunted legs. His head was too large for his body, with a brute’s squashed-in face beneath a swollen shelf of brow. One green eye and one black one peered out from under a lank fall of hair so blond it seemed white. Jon watched him with fascination.” – A Game of Thrones

Charles Dance makes a very imposing figure on the show. Mastering the attitude of the tyrannical Tywin, Dance is just about perfect for the role. The only thing he is missing is a bald head and a clean shave. As written by Martin: “The Lord of Casterly Rock was as lean as a man twenty years younger, even handsome in his austere way. Stiff blond whiskers covered his cheeks, framing a stern face, a bald head, a hard mouth.” – A Storm of Swords

According to the novels, all of the Stark children (aside from Arya) look like their mother, with auburn hair and blue eyes. As for Robb in the show, his eye color is close enough but his hair is browner than red. As written by Martin: “The deserter died bravely,” Robb said. He was big and broad and growing every day, with his mother’s coloring, the fair skin, red-brown hair, and blue eyes of the Tullys of Riverrun.” – A Game of Thrones “He is a boy no longer, she realized with a pang. He is sixteen now, a man grown. Just look at him. War had melted all the softness from his face and left him hard and lean. He had shaved his beard away, but his auburn hair fell uncut to his shoulders.” – A Storm of Swords

The main problem that many of the fans have with Jamie Lannister on the show is his hair. Try as they may, the showrunners have not been able to get his hair right. It is always the wrong color and often the wrong length, irritating many Game of Thrones fans. During the first two season, Jaime should have a clean shave and long curly blonde hair. After being released from his imprisonment by Caetlyn, he shaves his head and lets his beard grow out. By the time season 6 rolls around, he should have a very unkept look – a far cry from the military cut that he had before. As written by Martin: “There came Ser Jaime Lannister with hair as bright as beaten gold, and there Sandor Clegane with his terrible burned face.” – A Game of Thrones “He squinted up from the floor, his cat-green eyes slowly becoming accustomed to the light.” – A Clash of Kings “I had hoped that by now you would have grown tired of that wretched beard. All that hair makes you look like Robert.” “Robert’s beard was black. Mine is gold.” “Gold? Or silver?” Cersei plucked a hair f om beneath his chin and held it up. It was grey.” – A Feast for Crows

Early on in the TV series, Lancel’s looks were accurate, for the most part. That all begins to change after joining the Sparrows, which is mostly imagined. In the book, Lancel suffers from severe wounds from the Battle of the Blackwater, aging him prematurely. Later on, he gives up his lordship and leaves his wife to join the Faith Militant, but there’s no face carving involved. As written by Martin: “Though only seventeen, he might have passed for seventy; grey-faced, gaunt, with hollow cheeks, sunken eyes, and hair as white and brittle as chalk. Though his hair had gone white, his mustache fuzz remained a sandy color.” – A Feast for Crows

There was a period of evolution where Barristan Selmy travels to Essos in order to join Daenerys’ retinue. During which, he has grown out his hair and beard. Eventually, he trims his hair, but this transformation is overlooked in the show. As written by Martin: “The other man wore a traveler’s cloak of undyed wool, the hood thrown back. Long white hair fell to his shoulders, and a silky white beard covered the lower half of his face.” – A Clash of Kings

Fans have enjoyed Stephen Dillane’s role as Stannis on the show. This is easy to believe given that he does a great job at delivering the character’s harsh, immovable persona. However, he doesn’t look like the Stannis of the books. The main issue is with his age. Stannis starts off as 34 in the books, but he looks older than Robert Baratheon, played by Mark Addy. The problem here is that Robert is supposed to be the older brother and Stannis the younger. As written by Martin: “Stannis Baratheon was broad of shoulder and sinewy of limb, with a tightness to his face and flesh that spoke of leather cured in the sun until it was as tough as steel. Though he was not yet five-and-thirty, only a fringe of thin black hair remained on his head, circling behind his ears like the shadow of a crown. Stannis kept his own whiskers cropped tight and short. They lay like a blue-black shadow across his square jaw and the bony hollows of his cheeks. His eyes were open wounds beneath his heavy brows, a blue as dark as the sea by night. His mouth would have given despair to even the drollest of fools; it was a mouth made for frowns and scowls and sharply worded commands, all thin pale lips and clenched muscles, a mouth that had forgotten how to smile and had never known how to laugh.” – A Clash of Kings

Similar to Kit Harington, Maisie Williams, Aidan Gillen, and Charles Dance, Carice van Houten was born to play the role of Melisandre. We give the casting staff a victory for this one. As written by Martin: “It was her!” Davos cried. “Mother, don’t forsake us. It was her who burned you, the red woman, Melisandre, her!” He could see her; the heart-shaped face, the red eyes, the long coppery hair, her red gowns moving like flames as she walked, a swirl of silk and satin.” – A Storm of Swords

Even though it is pretty obvious to book readers that Ned Stark doesn’t look much like his namesake from the novels, Sean Bean makes up for it by his amazing performance on the show. Not sure if there is anyone else who would be able to play Lord Eddard as well as he did. As written by Martin: “Bran’s father sat solemnly on his horse, long brown hair stirring in the wind. His closely trimmed beard was shot with white, making him look older than his thirty-five years. He had a grim cast to his grey eyes this day, and he seemed not at all the man who would sit before the fire in the evening and talk softly of the age of heroes and the children of the forest. He had taken off Father’s face, Bran thought, and donned the face of Lord Stark of Winterfell.” – A Game of Thrones

When playing King Robert, Mark Addy was a smart choice. However, it wasn’t the perfect choice. There are a few things off with the Robert, such as his hair, which is somewhat gray in the show. George R.R. Martin makes it clear in the book that, despite his obesity, Robert’s hair is black. In addition, it is said in the books that Robert towers over men with his large stature. Mark Addy is only 5’11” tall, making him slightly over average height. As written by Martin: “Since the night they had stood side by side in Greyjoy’s fallen stronghold, where Robert had accepted the rebel lord’s surrender and Ned had taken his son Theon as hostage and ward, the king had gained at least eight stone. A beard as coarse and black as iron wire covered his jaw to hide his double chin and the sag of the royal jowls, but nothing could hide his stomach or the dark circles under his eyes.” – A Game of Thrones

Edmure is supposed to be the baby of the Tully family, but from the looks of it, he seems to be about the same age as his older sisters when he should only be in his late 20s or early 30s at the start of the novels. Also, he hardly resembles his siblings, Catelyn and Lysa, without his red hair and beard. As written by Martin: “Her father’s guards waited on the water stair with her brother. Ser Edmure Tully was a stocky young man with a shaggy head of auburn hair and a fiery beard.” – A Game of Thrones

The Mountain that Rides has not been accurately depicted on the show and has been played by at least three different actors since the show began. The Mountains impressive height and build, has made it challenging to find an actor with similar qualities. Though many have tried, Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson has come the closet in appearance, though not in height, given that he is only 6’9” and the Mountain is described as being 8 feet tall. As written by Martin: “He was huge, the biggest man that Eddard Stark had ever seen. Robert Baratheon and his brothers were all big men, as was the Hound, and back at Winterfell there was a simpleminded stableboy named Hodor who dwarfed them all, but the knight they called the Mountain That Rides would have towered over Hodor. He was well over seven feet tall, closer to eight, with massive shoulders and arms thick as the trunks of small trees…. In the middle of the field, Ser Gregor Clegane disentangled himself and came boiling to his feet. He wrenched off his helm and slammed it down onto the ground. His face was dark with fury and his hair fell down into his eyes.” – A Game of Thrones “He is almost eight feet tall and must weigh thirty stone, all of it muscle. He fights with a twohanded greatsword, but needs only one hand to wield it. He has been known to cut men in half with a single blow. His armor is so heavy that no lesser man could bear the weight, let alone move in it.” – A Storm of Swords

Though Syrio Forel is loved among the readers and show-only fans as well, the readers will be quick to point out that there is one thing off about the “dancing master” – his full head of hair. As written by Martin: “The hall seemed empty, until an unfamiliar voice said, “You are late, boy.” A slight man with a bald head and a great beak of a nose stepped out of the shadows.” – A Game of Thrones


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