One of the hottest shows to ever hit television is HBO’s Game of Thrones, thanks in part to its extremely convoluted plots and myriads of characters. Another part of what makes Game of Thrones so good is how its makeup and wardrobe departments transform recognizable actors into characters who look completely different from them. Add that into how each actor inhabits their roles with things like characterization and facial expressions, and many of these actors perform their characters so well that they become unrecognizable to fans in real life.
This is obvious with much of the main cast of the series: many of those actors rarely get recognized outside of the show. But those actors in supporting roles also transform themselves to play characters, some who only see much of their screen time in the backgrounds of scenes. The production still puts a lot of focus on how those characters look and act, making them just as interesting as Daenerys, Jon Snow and Bran.
That’s another reason the series is so good: an attention to detail that other shows might choose to overlook.
Here’s are Game Of Thrones: 15 Secondary Characters You Won’t Recognize In Real Life.
15. Quaithe (Laura Pradelska)
Quaithe is one of the characters on the show who always keeps her face covered. As a shadowbinder from Asshai, she always wears a mask.
This elaborate mask features carefully carved wooden pieces, and keeps her face from ever getting recognized. She possesses the mystical powers of prophecy and clairvoyance. The series only featured the character briefly in the second season, when she warns Jorah Mormont in Qarth that there were people who were jealous of Daenerys’ dragons.
Underneath that mask, though, is the beautiful actress Laura Pradelska. About the only thing recognizable about her is her eyes, but that’s probably not enough to make people stop Pradelska on the street and ask if she was on the show.
14. Locke (Noah Taylor)
Locke is one of few characters that never made an appearance in the A Song of Ice and Fire books, but got created specifically just for the Game of Thrones television show. He is a follower of Roose Bolton, as well as a member of the bannermen.
Like many of the male characters on the series, he sports a lot of hair, including a long mane and heavy beard. But if you take away all that facial hair (along with all the grit and grime), you get actor Noah Taylor, who looks strikingly different from his Game of Thrones counterpart.
13. Shireen Baratheon (Kerry Ingram)
Poor little Shireen Baratheon, the only daughter of Stannis. She was a very sweet and mild nine-year-old child who nearly died from greyscale as an infant. However, the disease left half of her face completely disfigured. Like many other characters on the series, her fate was death: she got sacrificed in a fire to the Lord of Light by Melisandre.
Shireen also looks nothing like the actress who portrays her, Kerry Ingram, but that’s just another sign of just how good the Game of Thrones makeup department really is. They covered the actress’ face with fake grey cracked skin and made her look completely different. Ingram is also a little older now, and looks much more grown up than Shireen (although Shireen never got the opportunity to grow up).
12. Khal Moro (Joe Naufahu)
Dothraki men have a very specific kind of look: not only are they all extremely muscular like they’ve trained all their lives to become warriors (they have), but they also have dark hair and beards, as well as a fierce guyliner stare that can intimidate pretty much anyone, except for maybe Daenerys.
Khal Moro is no exception, but he seems nothing like the actor who portrays him (except for maybe the six-pack abs and biceps). Joe Naufahu looks a lot different when he’s not sporting the Dothraki look, but either way, most women would probably admit that he’s easy on the eyes. It’s a pity that he didn’t last very long on the show, but is that really a big surprise?
11. Aeron Greyjoy (Michael Feast)
Most of Michael Feast’s roles before Game of Thrones were on the stage, although he does have a few film and TV credits. His most shining role to date is definitely as Aeron Greyjoy on the hit HBO series.
In real life, though, Feast looks nothing like Aeron, who has long white hair and a beard. It’s amazing how hair can transform a man, but it added a lot to Feast’s turn as the character, making him unrecognizable with a shaved face.
Aeron is a folllower of the Drowned God, as well as the brother to the leader of the Ironborn, Balon. Fans haven’t seen him since season six, so it’s likely that he’s still out there wandering the ocean in search of his niece and nephew, Yara and Theon.
10. Rodrick Cassel (Ron Donachie)
Rodrik Cassel served as the Master-At-Arms at Winterfell before Theon invaded the castle. Of course, that means that he was one of many who saw his end at Winterfell, with him telling young Bran before his death, “Hush now. I’m off to see your father.” Although fans expected that was the last they would see of the character, he did put in an appearance in season 6 when Bran saw him as a younger man.
The actor behind Rodrik, though, Ron Donachie, doesn’t really look like the character in real life. Sure, maybe if Donachie sported all that long white hair and that massive beard, he would look close, but the difference between the two men (although they are actually the same man) are striking.
9. Tycho Nestoris (Mark Gatiss)
Actor and screenwriter Mark Gatiss is very recognizable, especially for fans of shows such as Doctor Who and Sherlock (he most famously plays Sherlock’s brother, Mycroft). But when he appeared on Game of Thrones, many fans did not recognize him as easily as they probably should have.
Fans often see Gatiss decked out in a suit as Mycroft, but on Game of Thrones, he sported more hair than usual (again, proving that facial hair that can make pretty much any man look very different) and period clothes that made him nearly unrecognizable as a banker at the Iron Bank in Braavos.
8. Jon Umber (Clive Mantle)
Although Clive Mantle is not really a doctor, he did once play one on TV on the hit BBC series Casualty. Game of Thrones fans would probably not even recognize him in his previous role because he looks so different on the HBO show as Jon Umber (or Greatjon Umber, as he is often called due to his large size).
Umber was one of the proudest bannermen of the Stark family and was fiercely loyal to Robb as the first to refer to him as the King of the North. He is also one of the few surviving members of his family that made it out of the Red Wedding alive, mostly because he didn’t show up (although he did eventually die on the show). This is another case of facial hair making an actor almost unrecognizable.
7. Pyat Pree (Ian Hanmore)
Another actor who had to spend a little time in the makeup chair on the set of Game of Thrones is Ian Hanmore, who portrays Pyat Pree. As a warlock, Pyat has a very specific orange tint to his skin, as well as a lot of darkness and shadows around his eyes and lips.
On the series, Pyat looks mystical and otherworldly, which was sort of the point as he does seem to have those abilities. He’s one of the few characters that fans haven’t seen in awhile, but is, allegedly, out there somewhere still alive.
In real life, Hanmore doesn’t look quite as scary, but that wasn’t his first role that required that kind of makeup. He also looked pretty scary in the British series, The Fades, which he appeared in alongside Joe Dempsie, aka Gendry.
6. Septa Unella (Hannah Waddingham)
Hide a woman’s neck and hair, and make her look a little older with some subtle makeup, and it’s likely that she becomes someone completely unrecognizable. That’s the case for Hannah Waddingham, who portrays Septa Unella on Game of Thrones.
Unella is the one who grabbed Cersei and threw her into a cell in season five. She spent a lot of time visiting Cersei, trying to convince the other woman to confess of her sins. In that season, she was Cersei’s prime tormentor. But by season six, Cersei gets her revenge on the Septa by locking up her former captor, who Game of Thrones fans last saw screaming when she realizes she’s in a cell with Ser Gregor Clegane (or what’s left of him). Shame. Shame. Shame.
5. Balon Greyjoy (Patrick Malahide)
As head of the House of Greyjoy and a devout follower of the Old Gods, Balon Greyjoy strikes a very intimidating figure. He is a gaunt man with a hardened face that rarely smiles. This matches his gruff personality and stubborness, something he passed on to his children.
On Game of Thrones, actor Patrick Malahide portrays Balon, and it’s amazing what a little extra hair and good acting can do to create a character that looks so different from the person who portrays him. Balon’s long hair and facial stubble makes Malahide look so completely different that it’s likely he rarely gets recognized on the street.
4. Lord of Bones (Ross O’Hennessy)
One of the most fearsome of the Free Folk is the Lord of Bones, a mysterious raider who earns his nickname by wearing bones, including a skull on his face. That means that he’s virtually unrecognizable from the actor who portrays him, Ross O’Hennessy.
Hennessy took over the role in season five (actors often seem interchangeable for supporting roles on the series), just before he met Tormund, who beat him to death with his own staff. However, the corpse of the Lord of Bones remained, not getting burned, which means that he’ll probably return once the Night King reanimates him as a wight.
3. Orell (MacKenzie Crook)
On Game of Thrones, Orell is a Wildling who is also a Warg: he has the ability to take over the consciousness of an eagle, a skill he often uses for reconnaissance. Eventually, though, he uses this power too much and loses his mind inside the eagle permanently.
The actor who portrays Orell is Mackenzie Crook, who has made a living of becoming one of those faces that can change with each character he portrays. If he does look familiar on Game of Thrones to fans, that’s probably due to his performance as the bumbling pirate Ragetti in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. Otherwise, though, he doesn’t look anything like that in real life. But he’s an actor who is good at transforming himself, depending on the role.
2. Lysa Arryn (Kate Dickie)
Game of Thrones has a lot of weird characters, but none are probably more bizarre than Lysa Arryn, who kept herself trapped at the top of the Eyrie with her son Robin. But it was the way that she treated her son that made viewers cringe. Although Robin was far too old for it, she still breast fed him and treated him like a toddler.
The actress who portrayed Lysa, Kate Dickie, took this odd character and ran with it. Dickie doesn’t resemble Lysa at all, but perhaps that’s less to do with makeup and more to do with her performance as the character: from Lisa’s facial expressions to her posture, everything about Dickie’s performance made fans’ skin crawl. Ultimately, the creepy Lysa met her end at the hand of Petyr Baelish.
1. Gendry (Joe Dempsie)
Game of Thrones fans first met Gendry in the first season of the show, as the blacksmith who was also one of many illegitimate children of King Robert Baratheon. After the death of the King, though, Gendry fled King’s Landing, although he eventually returned to life as a blacksmith there in season four. After rowing off into the ocean for an absurdly long time, he eventually joined up with Jon, Daenerys, Davos, Jorah and The Hound in the current season of the series.
Many were recently surprised to learn that the actor behind him, Joe Dempsie, is the stuff of male model dreams. Basically, Gendry went from the dirty and awkward blacksmith to posing for photos in magazines.
Would you recognize any of these secondary Game of Thrones characters in real life? Let us know in the comments!
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