[SPOILERS for Game of Thrones season 5 and the A Song of Ice and Fire novels ahead.]
Game of Thrones season 5 is already half over, and if you're at all familiar with how a season is structured, then you know that leaves only two episodes before the typically pivotal and climactic ninth episode ("Baelor", "Rains of Castamere", etc.). It isn't entirely clear just what will be this season's most shocking moment, but already season 5 has earned its fair share of big ratings and controversy. Which is basically par for the course on any season of Game of Thrones.
Yet while season 5 continues to build towards its climax, the machine that is the Game of Thrones production never ceases. Casting will soon begin on season 6 of the HBO series and the very first casting breakdowns for new characters are now available.
These breakdowns (via Watchers on the Wall) don't name characters specifically, which had been the case in the past, but their descriptions provide enough clues it's easy for book readers to guess who a few of them are. Here's the first casting breakdown, for example.
Pirate, man in his 40’s to late 50’s. He’s “an infamous pirate who has terrorized seas all around the world. Cunning, ruthless, with a touch of madness.” He’s a dangerous-looking man. A very good part this season.
That sounds an awful lot of like an Ironborn, what with their ransacking, pillaging ways. And given the age of the character and how well traveled he is, there's no other possible candidate than Euron Greyjoy, Theon's uncle and Balon's brother. There are actually four elder Greyjoys all together, but Euron "Crow's Eye" Greyjoy is by far the most ruthless. There's no other casting breakdown to suggest either of the other Greyjoys appear, so this may be another example of Game of Thrones' patented streamlining of George R.R. Martin's absolutely massive cast.
The Iron Islanders have been noticeably absent from Game of Thrones season 5, a fact that's made many book readers curious about how much of their upcoming narrative will be cut. If you'll recall, back in season 3 Melisandre has Stannis toss leaches full of Robert Baratheon's bastard, Gendry's blood on a fire while proclaiming the name of a usurper king he wants dead: Joffrey Baratheon, Robb Stark, and Balon Greyjoy. Obviously, two of those would-be rulers are dead, but Game of Thrones hasn't made a point of whether or not Balon is still alive.
In the books, Balon dies off page not long after The Red Wedding, and with all his sons either dead or Reek, his brothers vie for rule over the Iron Islands. Then his daughter, Yara (Asha to book readers) throws her hat in the ring and well, I'll leave it there to avoid spoiling too much of what could now potentially unfold next season. However, it should also be noted that with Euron being the world traveler he is, he's been to Valyria, traveled to the Far East, and is aware of Daenerys and her dragons. So Euron's arrival is only yet another sign of how much smaller and connected the world of Westeros and Essos is becoming.
The next casting breakdown is for another character expected to be quite prominent next season:
Father. Aged 50’s to 60’s, he’s one of the greatest soldiers in Westeros- a humorless martinet, severe and intimidating. He demands martial discipline in the field and in his home. It’s described as “a very good part” for next year and that he’s “centrally involved” in a protagonist’s storyline.
Judging by those traits this character is likely Randyll Tarly, father of everyone's favorite Night's Watchman, Sam. Only recently the elder Tarly was mentioned on Game of Thrones during a conversation between Sam and Stannis Baratheon - and it now appears that wasn't just nobility small talk. There's also these additional breakdowns for a mother and two siblings who are speculated to be Sam's mother, brother, and sister:
Mother, in her 50’s. She’s a sweet, plump, and adoring mother, and has a soft spot for one of her children who benefits from her decency.
Sister, in her early 20s. She’s a kind, friendly and unpretentious woman.
Brother, in his early to mid-20’s . Athletic, a good hunter, an excellent swordsman, manly, not particularly bright but the favourite child of the father.
These aren't characters readers meet in the books but they are mentioned frequently by Sam, though Randyll does make a few appearances, interestingly within Brienne's storyline. Game of Thrones, however, has significantly altered Brienne's storyline so there's no telling whether any upcoming interactions between Randyll and Brienne remain. And the casting of the rest of Sam's family implies the show will actually visit Horn Hill, the seat of House Tarly.
While it isn't exactly clear whether or not we'll see Brienne meet with the head of House Tarly, at least another of the the colorful characters she and Podrick meet on their journey is expected to appear: Septon Meribald, as suggested by this next casting breakdown:
Priest, in his 40’s or 50’s. A gruff ex-soldier who found religion. Now a no-nonsense rural priest who ministers to the poor of the countryside. He’s salt-of-the-earth man who has weathered many battles.
This season of Game of Thrones has begun exploring the Faith of the Seven more than any other thanks to the introduction of The High Sparrow. Meribald, much like The High Sparrow, is also a septon who travels the Riverlands aiding the poor. However, Meribald is far less fanatical and will likely appear in contrast as a member of the Faith to The High Sparrow.
Here are the remaining casting breakdowns for Game of Thrones season 6:
Leading Actress, in her early 40’s, she’s an elegant actress with a traveling theatre company. Fun, charismatic, rum-drinking actress in the troupe.
Priestess. Mid-20’s to early 30’s. Any ethnicity- she’s beautiful, intense, and magnetic.
Fierce Warrior, a tall man in 30’s or 40’s with a powerful physique. They’re looking for someone with “mixed ethnicity” for the role.
A large boy, with an actor who is 10-12 but playing 7 or 8. He’s described as “a clever boy” who seems too large for his age. He’s big and tall but not fat. “Characterful squat features” are a plus for this part. it’s specified that this is a one-time appearance.
12 year old boy, with brown hair and blue eyes. He needs to use a Northern accent. He has scenes where he has to spar with a wooden sword.The length of the role isn’t specified.
7 year old boy with dark brown hair, a narrow face and green eyes. He also has a Northern accent. He also spars with the wooden sword, so it’s safe to assume it’s the same scene. This role is similarly open-ended, the description only stating that the character is being ‘introduced.’
Speculation suggests those last three roles for young boys may indicate another flashback, and Watchers on the Wall theorize that the 7 year old with green eyes could potentially be a young Ned Stark. If true, that would make the older boy his brother, Brandon, but the other, large boy's role remains a mystery. As do those other available roles for an Actress, Priestess, and Warrior, though their "exotic" sounding descriptions imply they are characters from beyond Westeros.
What do make of these new characters joining Game of Thrones next season? Do you have any theories about who they might be? Or what part they'll have to play in the series' ongoing struggle for the Iron Throne? Sound off in the comments below!
Game of Thrones airs Sundays @9pm on HBO.
Source: Watchers on the Wall