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'Game of Thrones' Casts Key Season 2 Roles of Stannis and Melisandre

by Maureen Ryan, posted Jul 19th 2011 2:30PM
Update: EW reported one more bit of 'Game of Thrones' casting news late Tuesday: 'Camelot' veteran Liam Cunningham will play Davos Seaworth. Now all three of the major season 2 roles have been cast.

And I'll be interested to see what the Irish actor makes of the role, considering I've always thought of Davos as a mostly functional character who more or les exists so that readers of Martin's books could get updates on what was happening in Stannis' part of the world. But Cunningham is quietly excellent in 'Outcasts,' a UK series that is is airing on BBC America this summer.

EW has broken news that 'Game of Thrones' fans have been anxiously waiting for. We finally know who will play Stannis Baratheon, one of the contenders for the Iron Throne, and the show has also cast the role of the powerful priestess Melisandre.

Though I'd personally been hoping that Gina Torres would be cast as the sorceress Melisandre, who acts as an advisor to Stannis, the role went to Dutch actress Carice van Houten. EW says her credits include 'Repo Men' and 'Valkyrie.'

British actor Stephen Dillane, who played Thomas Jefferson in HBO's 'John Adams' and Leonard Woolf in 'The Hours,' among other roles, will play Stannis, who was frequently spoken about near the end of the show's first season.

Stannis is regarded as a serious, if not grim man and a fearsome warrior and, after his brother Robert died, he was regarded as a possible king for the seven kingdoms of Westeros. Who gets to sit on the Iron Throne, however, is a matter of some dispute, as evidenced by the many factions that had developed by the end of the show's first season.

Dillane's casting is excellent news, in my opinion. In my review of 2008's 'John Adams,' I noted that he gave "a marvelously laconic charisma to Thomas Jefferson." I agree with critic and Winter is Coming commenter Myles McNutt that Dillane probably deserved the Emmy that went to Tom Wilkinson for a "a showier (but less substantial) role" in that project.

The grim Stannis could probably use a dose of charisma. Not that he isn't an interesting man, but that particular Baratheon brother can be so very serious. I look forward to Dillane's take on the role, which may well bring a dose of wily electricity to the proceedings.

Others cast in the new season of the show include Natalie Dormer as Margaery Tyrell and Gwendoline Christie as the warrior Brienne, a fan favorite.

Adding to the excitement is a casting clue that George R.R. Martin recently dropped on his blog. Fans are still speculating about the character and actor that that clue refers to.

One more relatively big role for season 2 that has yet to be cast is that of Davos Seaworth. And of course there are dozens of smaller roles yet to be cast as well. Reading all the casting news will give us something to do until season 2 rolls around, I suppose.

By the way, for more discussion of 'Game of Thrones,' check out today's Ask Mo column.

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August 08 2011 at 7:40 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

BTW - van Houten is a solid actress, but the sex/nudity thing probably was a big part of casting.

July 20 2011 at 1:06 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

They picked van Houten because shes not afraid to show that "hooha" in HD. Seriously I bet you the first thin they say when they cast women is "Please disrobe and spread ya legs."

Sex is fine in shows, except for when it has no point, while completely distracting everyone from anything meaningful that may be going on.

July 20 2011 at 1:05 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Craig Ranapia

"Though I'd personally been hoping that Gina Torres would be cast as the sorceress Melisandre, who acts as an advisor to Stannis, the role went to Dutch actress Carice van Houten. "

Oh, much as there is no such thing as 'too much Torres" in my book, I'm wondering if producers took on board concerns over the show (unintentionally, I'm sure) playing into racially stereotypical tropes with the Dothraki. I love Gina as an actress, but not so sure "evil scary black woman" would sit well.

But totally agree with you about Stephen Dillane -- very solid character actor who never gets top billing but (IMO) in 'The Hours' quietly stole every scene he was in from Nicole Kidman's flashy Oscar-bait histrionics.

July 19 2011 at 4:39 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Craig Ranapia's comment
David Griffin

Hey Craig, I completely agree with you on the Ginna Torres topic. She is beautiful, and I loved her in Firefly, but the priestess is described as being white in the books, though I'm sure Ginna would give an excellent performance. Oh and Maureen, make sure you check Carice in 'The Black Book,' or watch her co-star with Sean Bean in 'Black Death.' In 'Black Death' you can really see how she could pull of the role of Melisandre.

July 19 2011 at 10:51 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Stephen Dillane is an excellent choice for Stannis. Can't say much for the casting of Melisandre as I'm not familiar with the actress.

Small correction about a character I'm really excited about seeing cast and you brought it up. It's Davos Seaworth, not Seaforth.

July 19 2011 at 3:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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