Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Game of Thrones: Casting Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish

Before I begin this post, I just want to say the author of Winter is Coming has already done something similar. However, our choices to play Littlefinger mostly differ, which is why I decided to do a post about who I would like to see play Lord Petyr Baelish. The devious man known as Littlefinger is perhaps my favorite character (competing with Jaime Lannister) from the entire series. In a series filled with nobles, who are entitled to their positions by their blood, it's refreshing to see lowly Petyr Baelish embark on a meteoric rise to power within the complex King's Landing political structure. Sure, his means and obsessions might be considered unsavory and creepy by many, but I think he is a brilliant character. Without getting into spoilers (for anyone who hasn't read up to book 4 yet) Littlefinger is a man who literally has nothing when he comes to King's Landing. By the time he leaves, the "the second most devious man in the Seven Kingdoms" (according to Varys) had become a major player in the Game of Thrones. He thrives on chaos, and ultimately wants to destroy the nobles and prove that he is better than them. And I find that admirable. With my liking of the character, and his significance to the overall story, the character of Littlefinger is extremely important, which is why HBO, David Benioff, Dan Weiss and Nina Gold need to pick an excellent actor to play the diabolical rags to riches story of Westeros. Another reason as to why, I'm doing this post now is because we will be getting more casting news (I believe) shortly, so I might not get this opportunity again until next season.

Quick summary of Littlefinger's character as A Wiki of Ice and Fire
Lord Petyr Baelish, called "Littlefinger," begins the series as Master of Coin (or treasurer) on the King's small council. He is also a master of court intrigue, with his brilliance matched only by his ambition. He is handsome and meticulously stylish, but also quite short, giving a double meaning to the mocking nickname Edmure Tully bestowed on him. Though a lord, his original holdings are possibly the smallest in all the Seven Kingdoms, situated on the smallest of the Fingers. His grandfather was Braavosi, and took the Titan of Braavos as his symbol. Few are aware of this; Baelish wears a mockingbird as his crest instead.
Let's begin!

Honorable Mentions - James Callis (just became a series regular on Eureka, so he won't be Littlefinger) and Gary Oldman (far too many movies lined up to even consider a TV series) were both considered, but I decided to go with these 6.

If you have watched the opening scene of Inglorious Basterds, then you can understand why I would suggest Waltz to play Littlefinger. For those of you who haven't (I tried really hard at to find the scene, but was unsuccessful) Waltz displays all the acting ability and mannerisms necessary to play Lord Baelish. In the scene, Waltz is questioning a man about potentially hiding Jews within his house knowing perfectly well that he is helping them hide. However, he plays along, makes the man comfortable and even cracks a few jokes during the questioning just to gain the man's trust. Having gained some semblance of trust, Waltz increases the tension and creepiness of his character and proceeds to calmly litter the entire house with bullets. In those few minutes, Waltz shows you that not only does he have the ability to play Littlefinger, but he would excel in such a role. Don't believe me? The Academy gave him an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his role. However, the Oscar might prove to be an issue as that cuts down the chances of him appearing in Game of Thrones. Perhaps, the prestige of being involved in an HBO show might be alluring but a glance at his IMDB page shows that Waltz just wrapped filming for the Green Hornet, and has a couple of more projects lined up, which makes his chances of appearing in Game of Thrones very slim.

The Verdict - He has the acting ability, comedic timing, creepiness, and mannerisms for Littlefinger down. Hell, he even looks a bit like him though he might be a bit too old (53). The latter isn't that much of an issue, but the Oscar winner's work schedule wouldn't allow him to commit to a television series for potentially 7 seven seasons in a supporting role even if it is an HBO production.

It's a well known fact that HBO likes to keep things incestous with their actors, which gives West and other HBO alums a very good shot at getting a part in the series if they chooses to do. West was the main character in what many consider to be the greatest TV show ever: HBO produced The Wire . Moreover, he was recently cast by Nina Gold (Casting Director for Thrones) in The Devil's Whore so she is obviously familiar with his work and abilities. Those of you haven't watched either one of those should check out 300, where West does a good job of playing the character of Theron (pictured above), whose ambition rivals that of Littlefinger. Having watched the Wire and 300, I think West is more than capable of handling Littlefinger, he can even pull of the look. His British accent, while being somewhat of a problem in The Wire, will be an advantage when it comes to Thrones. His height (6 feet) might be an issue but the producers have already shown that they are willing to veer from the book described heights of the character (I'm looking at you Mark Addy).

The Verdict - If West chose to audition for the role, I think there is a very high chance that he gets it. The only thing stopping him would be the commitment to star in another television series especially in a supporting role. Of course, he has nothing major lined up in the future, ( he recently wrapped up shooting for John Carter of Mars) so maybe he does go for the role.

Before, I get any farther, I just want everyone to know that I'm a huge fan of Dexter, so my opinion is a bit biased. Having said that, Hall would be my second choice (we will get to first in a while) to play Littlefinger. Both Dexter and Littlefinger hide in plain sight. They both come off as disarming, but in reality they are exceptionally cunning and manipulative. Both of them take advantage of the fact that their opponents underestimate them. As I was reading (I try to imagine what actors what would play certain characters) I thought Hall could easily pull off Littlefinger especially in the later books when the true extent of Littlefingers's deviousness is revealed. Hell, he might even get an Emmy out of it. Unfortunately, it would never be possible with Hall's commitment to Dexter. Furthermore, I highly doubt Showtime wants their poster boy to be a Supporting Actor on an HBO production even if Hall does have a previous relation with HBO through Six Feet Under.

The Verdict - Though, he would be perfect for the role (if he could pull off a British accent), there is a better chance of Sansa becoming an entertaining character than Hall playing Littlefinger. The shooting schedule would never match up and Showtime wouldn't allow it.

Michael Emerson

Emerson is quite the popular choice amongst fans to play Littlefinger and it looks as of it is actually quite possible, since Emerson has just finished with Lost and doesn't seem to have anything else he is working on at least that's what his IMDB page says. Honestly, that surprises the fuck out of me since Emerson won Emmys and universal praise for his portrayal of Benjamin Linus. You would think network executives, or directors would be lining up at his door to offer him a job. Maybe, the team behind Game of Thrones has already approached him him and thy are keeping ii under wraps as per HBO's desire. After all, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles' corpse wasn't cold before HBO had signed Lena Headey to play Cersei Lannister. or maybe, Emerson is just busy pitching the TV show he and Terry O'Quinn were rumored to have come up with together. For the sake of extending this article, I'm going to go with the former and assume that Emerson could potentially be playing Littlefinger. First, that would be a fucking coup for HBO. Network executives, everywhere, are looking for the next Lost, and Game of Thrones has been brought up in that conversation. By getting the best actor and (arguably) most interesting character from the show, you would generate even more buzz for Game of Thrones. Buzz aside, it's not as if you are gettign a mediocre actor. Diabolical, Manipulative, and Creepy are often words used to describe Littlefinger. Well, Emerson has been doing a an excellent job of it for the past few years, and if he can master a British accent then I can only think of one or two actors who would be better suited to play Littlefinger.

The Verdict - Very much a possibility, since he doesn't seem to have anything else lined up. Emerson could do an amazing job with the role and would highlight the creepiness to Littlefinger. Emerson's acting talent would also allow the Master of Coin's dry wit and comic aspects to flourish. The only concern would be Emerson's age (55), but that can be ignored especially considering the benefits to acquiring Emerson.

If Emerson was one of the more popular choices then Gillen is one of the most logical choices to play Littlefinger. He has the prior relationship with HBO, and his agent even admitted to contacting the team behind Thrones to get Gillen some work in the series. The shooting will take place in Northern Ireland, which happens to be Gillen's home. All of these factors suggest some sort of involvement for the artist formerly known as Councilman Carcetti in Game of Thrones. What makes him a wonderful fit for Littlefinger is the ruthless ambition he displayed as Tommy Carcetti. Not only that, while watching the show, I actually believed that Tommy would actually fix Baltimore's problems even being familiar with the man's ambitious nature. A lot of that credit goes to Gillen's acting as he made the audience believe that he was the man for Baltimore. That kind of talent is going to come in quite handy if he gets cast to play Westeros' second most devious man. If you look at the picture above, you could totally see that smirk on Littlfinger's face as he sits in another one of the Small Council's meetings.

The Verdict - You don't break the bank on him, but he provides with you with a solid performance. Not only is Gillen a very talented actor, he is not well known, and that makes him perfect (From HBO's standpoint) for a supporting role like Littlefinger.

Look at that picture, it just screams Littlefinger. In a perfect world, Edward Norton would be playing Petyr Baelish, and he would do an absolutely stellar job with it. Unfortunately, we do not live in a perfect world, and Norton is far too big to grace the silver screen for a supporting role. He does have a connection with Nina Gold, since she was the Casting Director for The Illusionist, but I don't think it's going to come in handy when it comes to Norton.

The Verdict: He is one of the greatest actors of our generation, so a supporting role in a TV series will not appeal to him.

Update - I was right, we are set to get a casting announcement for Littlefinger soon. In the update announcing Dotrice's casting, Martin had this to say.
Meanwhile, casting continues. We're close on half a dozen other roles. Some of them may be hinted at here, others will be first announced on HBO's own GAME OF THRONES website, or through Mo Ryan, THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, and the other entertainment media. Watch this space. Watch ALL those other spaces too, especially if you're a fan of Harper Lee.
Harper Lee is the guy who wrote the classic To Kill a Mockingbird. How does that tie into Game of Thrones casting? Littlefinger uses the mockingbird as his crest. I pray to sweet baby Jesus that they got a terrific actor for Baeliesh. I know guys like Waltz and Norton are just pipedreams, but a guy like Emerson or West shouldn't be out of the question.

Update #2 - Aiden Gillen is going to play Littlfinger.

Thanks for reading!

Comment if you like, we would really appreciate it if you do.

If you need to contact us for any reason, telling us how great we are, asking us some questions, making suggestions, or even complaining, just e-mail me at philly_homer@yahoo.com

The artwork belongs to Amoka, who did a wonderful job doing portraits for many of the A Song of Ice and Fire characters. Also, thanks to the Westeros Forum and Winter is Coming for some of the info.

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