Since Game of Thrones became HBO's crown jewel, the series has made stars out of its core cast, with Kit Harington, Emilia Clarke, Maisie Williams, and Sophie Turner all turning their newfound fame into additional roles in both film and television. And with the increased recognition of the show and its cast, more and more established actors have found themselves eager to participate in the ongoing battle to claim the throne of Westeros. In fact, unless you're name is Brian Cox, it doesn't take much to convince anyone that an appearance on the series is probably a worthwhile endeavor -- a theory that may have been proven true with the recent casting rumor regarding a certain sports figure.
As the series gets set for its final two shortened seasons, it has reportedly lined up UFC fighter Conor McGregor for role in either season 7 or season 8.
At this point it's best to treat this news as a rumor, as it comes from an unnamed source quoted in the Northern Ireland newspaper The Sunday Life (via Collider). Though there is no mention of which character he's playing or what season he'll appear in and for how long, the report claims that HBO is the one who approached the professional fighter, stating he'd be a perfect fit for the show. The report states:
“It’s been agreed that McGregor will appear in one of the remaining two seasons of Game of Thrones. He was headhunted as it were by HBO, as one of the Game of Thrones directors is a huge UFC fan. They believed that he would be a perfect fit for the show.”
That's not a lot to go on, especially considering the source cannot be confirmed as an employee of HBO or a member of the Game of Thrones crew, but it's worth noting that in addition to having a high profile that would make him a likely contender for a bit of stunt casting, the series films in and around Dublin, Ireland, which just so happens to be McGregor's hometown.
As is to be expected, information on McGregor's potential role is scant, but given his physicality it wouldn't be a stretch to think he'll be threatening someone's life in some form or another when it's his time to appear on screen. In fact, there's a certain undead someone (okay, it's The Mountain) who may be in need of an opponent sometime soon. That would be a little bit of life imitating art, as McGregor actually once sparred with Hafthor Julius Bjornsson, the actor who plays The Mountain. The imposing Icelander later recounted the short match with GQ, saying, "He was trying to punch me. I didn’t feel anything. [laughs]" If nothing else, HBO may have inadvertently set up a rematch fans of both epic fantasies and MMA bouts will be excited for.
HBO and Game of Thrones may simply be casting McGregor due to his charisma, but that certainly won't hurt the ratings. With only two seasons left, Game of Thrones could continue to add to its viewership figures, as fans tune in to see how the storyline will play out. UFC fans who shell out more than $50 a fight may be willing to pay an extra $5 or $10 a month to get HBO and watch McGregor make his acting debut.
Popular mixed martial artists crossing over into films isn’t new by any means. In fact, recent years have seen a spike of MMA stars getting the Hollywood treatment. Georges St-Pierre portrayed Batroc the Leaper in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Meanwhile, Ronda Rousey has appeared in movies like Expendables 3 and Furious 7, and Gina Carano had a major role as Angel Dust in Deadpool.
Season 7 of Game of Thrones airs in the summer of 2017 on HBO.