Game of Thrones season six has now begun filming, but the wait for its spring 2016 premiere still feels far too long. Assuming that George R.R. Martin, author of the A Song of Ice and Fire books, doesn't managed to publish "The Winds of Winter" before then, both avid fans of the books and casual viewers of the show will be on the same page as they head into season six. That is to say, no one aside from Martin and the show's producers knows what's coming.
The best clues as to what to expect in season six will likely come from casting news, such as Isaac Hempstead Wright revealing that he'll be returning to the show as Bran Stark and (presumably) picking up the Children of the Forest storyline again. There are, of course, rampant fan theories as to whether or not Kit Harington will be back as Jon Snow - either in season six or in one of the two seasons that will follow it - but when it comes to new characters, the Game of Thrones production team is trying to keep things under wraps.
Deadwood star Ian McShane has now joined Game of Thrones in one such mystery role. Entertainment Weekly reports that McShane will be playing a character with "a relatively small amount of screen-time during the season," but who nonetheless will be "of key importance." Though there's no information as to who McShane will be playing, the current popular theory among fans is that he's been cast as Samwell Tarly's distant, battle-hardened father, Randyll Tarly.
Originally hailing from the north of England, McShane's acting career dates back to the 1960s. Among American audiences he's best known for playing ruthless kingpin Al Swearengen on Deadwood, another HBO show, and more recently for playing notorious pirate Blackbeard in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. In other words, he's well prepared for the cruel world of Game of Thrones.
It's possible, of course, that McShane has been cast as a character that even readers of Martin's book series haven't met yet. Aside from Randyll Tarly, the other popular theory is that he's playing Euron Greyjoy, Lord Balon Greyjoy's younger (and wilder) brother.
Game of Thrones' strong ensemble cast has helped it to become HBO's most watched (and most pirated) show of all time, and McShane will only serve to bolster an already formidable collection of actors. It's a pity that he apparently won't be in season six much, but perhaps he's being set up for a bigger role in later seasons - if he can survive the game, of course.
Game of Thrones season six is expected to premiere on HBO in spring 2016.
Source: Entertainment Weekly