Monday, July 12, 2010

Game of Thrones Casting Round Up: Barristan "The Bold" Selmy, Gregor Clegane, Jory Cassel, Samwell Tarly, and Syrio Forel found

By now, I really thought, we would have gotten the news as to who has been cast as Lord Petyr Baelish aka Littlefinger. After all on June 23rd, George hinted that we were due to get an announcement from, HBO, Winter is Coming, The Hollywood Reporter, or Maureen Ryan , about the casting very soon. Of course, George is the same guy who claimed that A Dance with Dragons would come out soon after A Feast for Crows and that was 5 years ago, so perhaps I should have learned to take George's predictions with a grain of salt. Before all you George defenders get all crazy just know that I kid.

Anyway, just because the casting for Littlefinger hasn't been announced doesn't mean that some of the smaller parts haven't been filling out quite. In the past 2 weeks, we have slowly gotten to see the ensemble cast come together as characters like Gregor Clegane, Syrio Forel and Barristan Selmy have seen actors attached to them. Instead of doing a post about each of these minor (compared to Bronn, Tywin, or Littlefinger) characters, I figured I would just do a casting round up, since it's easier for the readers to see it all in one place, instead of sifting through several posts.

Let's start!
Ser Gregor "The Mountain That Rides" Clegane

Gregor Clegane is the older brother of Sandor Clegane, he also happens to be the most feared knight in Westeros. Gregor's massive physique is only matched by his thirst for destruction and his his penchant for cruelty. It is often said that A Song of Ice and Fire is the grittiest and most realistic fantasy series out there, and Gregor plays a large part in carving that reputation. Instead of the knight in shining armor, Gregor is the monster out of your dreams. He is ill tempered and even quicker to lose the aforementioned temper. Just ask his victims.......Oh wait...they are all fucking dead. Gregor doesn't appear that much in the first season (unless they show just how Lord Tywin Lannister utilizes him) but when he does appear... Rest assured, his appearances will be memorable.

The actor playing him will be
The older Clegane's nickname is "The Mountain That Rides" and the 7ft, 330 lbs behemoth known as Conan Steven justifies that. If you have followed the casting for Game of Thrones very closely then you probably recognize that Stevens is the guy who wrote an an open letter asking to be cast as Gregor Clegane even before the casting for the pilot was finished. When the news leaked that Stevens had been cast, he wrote a post thanking the fans for their support and shed some light on how he came to be casted in the role. If you read the entry then you can see the enthusiasm the guy has for this role, and that more than anything else makes me think that Stevens is a good choice (his physique and experience with medieval roles are also good) to play Gregor.

Here is the post.

Ser Gregor Clegane I Am

(*** I have not yet signed the contract so nothing is 100% certain until then but we have a good relationship with the Casting and Production houses I am happy to be working with professionals on a professional Western shoot again. Production has been rather accomodating and flexible which has been an added bonus and makes me happy to be working with them ***)

Ser Gregor Clegane, "The Mountain That Rides" - the character for the upcoming HBO TV series that I originally wrote about waayyyy back in March 2007 has now been cast.

And it's me! I am to play Ser Gregor Clegane, "the baddest knight in a realm full of bad asses".

This is BIG news for my career, and next time some 2 bit Australian agent or casting agency looks at me with disdain and says that my CV contains "only" Asian movie credits and apparently not worth as much as a no pay, no budget Australian period piece that might show on regional TV networks to a huge Australia audience of 19 million potential (compared to the "only" 2.5 Billion people in the Asian market)

Anyway I digress. This credit as will validate my acting career in a major US TV series as Gregor Clegane is a major character. No walk on big angry bad guy role here. Thank God... and my preparations... and the fans.

The credit of working as Gregor Clegane with a big reputable company like HBO on a TV series that has such a promising production crew line up that it is as guaranteed as it is possible to get in becoming a hit TV show.....

Now I could go on about how great I am to land the role of Gregor Clegane, and I am pleased I must say.

BUT it would be inappropriate for me to say it was entirely my shining abilities that got me the role, when in fact if it wasn't for the fans of George R.R. Martins book series then I would not have even known about the role at all - which would make it pretty hard to audition for.

I think the best way to go about this is to give a little background on the books and the show, the character, then talk about the timeline of events that took me from the original 'heads up' email through to the current day.

Actually here is a link to a FAQ on the major fan site that explains what the book and TV series is about, here is a short excerpt:

What is Game of Thrones?

Game of Thrones is HBO’s drama series based on the A Song of Ice and Fire book series by George R. R. Martin.

What is A Song of Ice and Fire?

A Song of Ice and Fire (ASoIaF) is a medieval fantasy book series by author George R. R. Martin. The story is scheduled to span 7 books (4 of which are currently published).

What is it about?

Without getting into too many details, it is basically about a realm called the Seven Kingdoms which is going through a period of upheaval as different families and factions all attempt to gain control of the throne. The tone is dark, gritty and realistic with characters that are neither inherently good or evil. Although it is classified as a fantasy series, it is almost more historical in nature with the fantastical elements few and far between (although they seem to be growing with each book).

Well that was a lot easier than I thought, so onto the character next with another lift, this time from an email:

THE PRODUCTION TEAM: This project is produced by Carolyn Strauss, the HBO veteran behind HBO hits "The Sopranos", "Sex and the City" and "Rome" and is written and produced by David Benioff ("Troy"; "The Kite Runner") and D B Weiss ("Kashmir";"Untitled I Am Legend Sequel").

- Some big hitters there, looks like a home run is in the works for this series.

SER GREGOR CLEGANE: Caucasian. Aged 40s. A monstrous knight in the service of the cruel House Lannister. He is often dispatched to cary out their most ruthless and depraved missions. Over seven feet tall, brutish and enormously strong, Ser Gregor's prowess on the battlefield is matched only by his cruelty. An incredible physical specimen.

Not an easy pair of shoes to fill there. Lets see. 7 feet tall , strong , melee weapon fighting experience, an incredible physical specimen. They could have some trouble finding someone suitable for that role, add in a knight has to be able to ride a horse, and probably have a lot of experience fighting and of course doing their own stunts because at that height you are not going to get a stand in stuntman.

Thinking about this I thought I might take a shot and see if I could gether any information, so here is the timeline as it happened with explainations along the way on how I came to know about Ser Gregor Clegane right through to how I secured a "pre-audition" for the role and was eventually cast as Gregor Clegane.

  • 17 Feb 2007 - Fan Charles Wise contacts me via email to let me know that HBO have planned an upcoming TV series - I research the role a little, and find it of interest, though not sure how to go about getting into it if/when it goes into production, I add the name to the list of articles to write on my site
  • 07 March 2007 - I write the original article on wanting to be Gregor Clegane I list 10 reasons I would make a good Gregor Clegane at this stage I don't know who to contact and to be honest I think my experience and acting credits to date are not good enough, physically I am capable and I believe I can do it, but taking a risk on an unknown is a big chance for a production company, esp for TV where you may have to work with the person for years.
  • 01 June 2007 - Neil Fingleton, novice actor and Englands tallest man at 7'7" contacts me because of the article, we have remained pen friends since, He sent me congratulations on getting the role.
  • 12 Nov 2008 - Elio Garcia, the admin of fansite contacted me because of the Gregor Clegane article I wrote and put me up as a possible cast member in the discussion boards on his site. He also tells me that HBO have green lit the production of a pilot episode.
  • I start receiving emails from the fan base of the Song of Ice and Fire book series, as usual I respond to each email. One thing I did mention to one fan in particular is that the emails from the ASOIF fans seem to be longer, better written and with better comprehension than the general public emails I get.
  • 21 July 2009 - Fan John Nixon emails me telling that HBO is casting for the Game Of Thrones pilot now, I get go to GRRM's website and find out they are casting some characters in Australia. I see my chance, I have contacts in Australia, I get an agent (the same one I told to look out for this production as I wanted in, as usual the agent did nothing until I emailed and told her the casting was on now) to chase down the Casting Agency, I get the script for the pilot and the sides to read for hte character Drogo, one of the few characters they are casting in Australia, and the only one suitable
  • 15 August 2009 - Alex Harman contacts me about the original article and gives me a few pointers to correcting it, as well as providing news about the filming locations and accents to be used - a plus for me as an English accent is much easier than a US accent for an Australian.
  • 04 September 2009 - After finding out they seem to be having trouble filling the role I am able to secure an audition in Australia for the role of Drogo . Now the role is not suitable for me and I could only see myself getting this role as an extreme last resort by the producers. My main aim is to get in front of the casting director (via film) and hopefully be remembered come time to cast for Ser Gregor Clegane, in effect I am trying to set myself up for a "Pre-audition" for Gregor's role, thus helping my chances of getting a shot and jumping the gun on the competition.
  • 08 September 2009 - picks up the story that I may have auditioned and speculation runs riot. The response from the fan base surprises me and is flattering that most feel that I would be the ideal candidate to play Ser Gregor Clegane. Well to put the speculation to rest it was Drogo I was auditioning for.
  • Supportive and information loaded emails start to come in daily from varoius fans. Special thanks go to Jan Guilfoyle.
  • 10 March 2010 - Game Of Thrones HBO pilot gets approval so the TV series will be going ahead. Only now after 3 years do I finally have a chance at getting the role, as before this the role of Ser Gregor Clegane did not exist. Now I need to find a way to get into a casting for Gregor, I ask my new agent to chase this and a spot on Mad Max 4 up.
  • 27 May 2010 - Nina Gold casting emailed me directly saying that I had auditioned for them previously (!) and was I interested in playing the part of Ser Gregor Clegane? My heart jumped into my mouth at this news, what a heart starter for the day - I skipped my morning pre-workout coffee as I was already jumping out of my skin.
  • 07 July 2010 - and run articles that HBO has confirmed that I am to play Ser Gregor Clegane, as I am not sure if it'll be professional of me to write when the contract is still not yet signed I email my agent asking him if it'd be ok.
  • 09 July 2010 - having seen the story even running on French langauge wesites I guess it is OK to post my own article so I write this.

So there it is the entire timeline is over 3 years, rather a considerable amount of time. Good for me though I guess as I have worked in some notable movies in that time, including a Warner Brothers Hindi movie and with Yuen Woo Ping , the legendary Hong Kong action choreographer (Matrix, Kill Bill, Lethal Weapon, etc, etc, etc), as well as many other movies being released including Bangkok Adrenaline that I co-starred in and wrote the script for.

So it seems "the plan" worked, not much of a plan, rather taking opportunities as they arose and trying to make the best of them while trying to improve my chances for future outcomes.

As you can see from the timeline the fans and the fansites had a lot to do with me getting this role, but it did take me actioning things along the way, and most of it stems from writing that first initial article that one fan described as "cute" - not a word that fits well with me, but looking at it now it was rather amateurish in comparision to my writings these days.

Regardless it got the job done. Not only did I get a look in for the part of Ser Gregor Clegane, I secured an early "pre-audition" and surprising succeeded without knowing until the email came from Nina Gold casting.

This makes everything different. Time to stop my long 'vacation' (it sounds better than unemployed) and get myself back into gear. First off the gym, back at it 100% and eating too. People are already shocked at the changes in the last 2 weeks as my body responds to the increased workload, the muscle memory kicks in and I eat enough to fuel the regrowth.

Now I have the scripts to read for the episodes that I am in, I have secured copies of the books and am reading them for more background information on Gregor Clegane and what makes him tick.

There is a reason for Ser Gregor Clegane being cruel and blunt, a man of few words - and a dumb brute is not like that. Obviously there are past occurances in his life that made him this way. So far from what I have read that might provide clues are recurring migrain headaches and possible paternicide (killing his father). Though efficiancy and a disdain for lesser intellects would be what I am more inclined towards with a definite sense of superiority over most of his fellow men, with and added dash of internal rage that pours out at the slightest provocation.

I still have a lot to read, and I know Ser Gregor Clegane does not have many lines but that doesn't mean he sits around like a simpleton. The acting will have to be more portrayed through his face and most importantly his eyes as well as the way he moves.

As my good friend Big Mike in Hong Kong says "There are no small roles, only small actors"

This credit has the ability to launch my US and therefore International career. It will be a major turning point in my life, many, many changes are coming.


Ser Barristan "The Bold" Belmy

Ser Barristan the Bold is one of the most famous and revered knight is Westeros. Not only have his valiant deeds earned him the nickname "The Bold", he is also the Lord Commander of the Kingsguard. One of my favorite subplots of the entire series is the progression of the Kingsguard throughout the series. Obviously, Ser Barristan plays a huge part in that, so I'm excited on how they handle Belmy in the series.

Playing him will be

Ian McElhinney
The news of McElhinney being cast as Ser Baristan was revealed this morning via the twitter account of Oliver Powell. McElhinney is an Irish actor who has been working for the past 30 years. He has acted in stage shows, tv, and movies though I'm only familiar with his work as Pope Clement VII in Showtime's The Tudors. He only appeared in one episode but I immediately recognized him, so he had to be doing something right. Honestly, I expected a bigger name for Ser Barristan, especially considering his increased role, later on, but I won't complain about a solid actor.

Jory Cassel
Cassel is the loyal captain of Eddard Stark's guard, it seems as if he is going to play a larger part in the 1st seasons than he did in the book, which is a good thing as I like the character. I would elaborate on Cassel but I'm trying to avoid spoilers.

Playing him will be

Jamie Sives

The guy is an up and coming actor, he has appeared in the hit British series, Doctor Who, and he even secured a role in the remake of Clash of the Titans.

Here are some clips of his work


Syrio Forel
The former First Sword of Bravoos is one of the most popular characters amongst the fans, and I have to agree. Syrio Forel is a badass and not be fucked with. Again, I would go into more detail, but I don't want to spoil it for anyone who hasn't read the books.

Playing him will be
Miltos Yerolemou
I have no clue who this guy is, but foremost he needs to get a hair cut to play Syrio. Second, he better be damned good if he is going to play Syrio. Miltos has reportedly done a lot of good stage work and I'm hoping that translates into his portrayal of the former First Sword.

Samwell Tarly
If you are a Sam fan, then you oughta probably skip my description of him as I'm not the biggest fan of Samwell Tarly. Martin might as well have a template for Samwell chapters. I suck at life, because I'm a craven, I'm fat and useless, I should be dead, Angst over his dad and his family, and I suck at life some more. If I just elaborate on those ideas a bit, I would have my own Sam chapter. Sam is such a whiny bitch but he is till going to be an important character on the Night's Watch.

Playing him will be

John Bradley West

Bradley-West is very much an unknown since he just graduated from Manchester Metropolitan University. Good for the kid getting a role, in an HBO production no less right after college. I'm rooting for him, but he has a long way in ever getting em to like the character.
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

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, The Wertzone, and Winter is Coming for breaking the news, collecting pictures and all that jazz.

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