Blink and you’ll miss some of the super famous celebrities that have dropped by Westeros over eight seasons of Game of Thrones. Everyone from entire metal bands to professional athletes to Ed Sheeran have popped up in the fight for the Iron Throne. How many of these cameos did you manage to spot?
Snow Patrol may sound like a group of Night’s Watchmen on the lookout for frozen wights, but as fans know it’s actually an Irish indie rock band. However, lead singer Gary Lightbody did get to visit the world of Westeros during his cameo as a Bolton soldier.
He appeared in Season Three’s third episode, “Walk of Punishment,” singing, “The Bear and The Maiden Fair.” The song is about a bear licking honey off a “maiden fair,” which takes on a sinister tone considering the disturbing things to follow in the episode.
Richard E. Grant
Richard E. Grant is a Swazi-English actor and screenwriter. He’s known for his roles in Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Downton Abbey, and Doctor Who. Also, he was in Hudson Hawk. Grant cameos as an actor/playwright, portraying the arrogant Izembaro in Season Six.
He plays Tywin Lannister in a play within the show, so let’s see if we can get this right: Richard E. Grant is an actor and writer who plays an actor and writer who plays Tywin Lannister in a play within a show. Wow, this show has multiple layers… no wonder there’s an “Onion Knight.”
Kevin Eldon is an English comedian and actor, and has played roles in Hot Fuzz, and The IT Crowd. He’s actually played a couple of characters in Game of Thrones: as Camello, a member of Izembardo’s comedic theater troupe in Season Six. He plays a cartoonish version of Ned Stark, much to Arya’s dismay.
He also plays a Gold Cloak in Season Seven, who gets bribed to allow Davos (Liam Cunningham) and Gendry (Joe Dempsie) to escape with Tyrion (Peter Dinklage). However, after seeing Tyrion, they grow too suspicious, and they meet their demise at the business end of Gendry’s sword.
Neil Fingleton was an English actor and basketball player, with the title of tallest man in the European Union at seven-foot-seven. He played Mag Mar Tun Doh Weg, the king of the giants, and member of the Free Folk army. His steed is a mammoth, and he and Dongo are the last of the giants.
Unfortunately, they both meet their end in the episode “The Watchers on the Wall,” but their memorable appearances were both truly epic additions to the ever-growing mythos of Game of Thrones. Tragically, Fingleton passed away in 2017 of heart failure.
Ian McShane is an English actor who has appeared in Deadwood, American Horror Story, Ray Donovan, American Gods, and the films, Kung Fu-Panda and John Wick. He’ll reprise his role of Al Swearengen in the 2019 Deadwood HBO movie, of which he’s also an executive producer. McShane played Septon Ray on Game of Thrones, a member of the Faith of Seven.
He nurses The Hound (Rory McCann) back to health (or back to life?) after finding the latter with a broken leg and being eaten by bugs. Ray has a strong influence on The Hound, enough so that following Ray’s murder, The Hound goes on a vengeance-fueled axe-rage.
Mastodon is an American heavy metal who are featured in the most perfectly metal roles. They’re first seen as background wildlings in the episode “Hardhome,” as recently-turned wights. They reprise their roles in Season Seven, once again being featured as frozen, shambling wights.
There’s even a kickass behind-the-scene photo of Brent Hinds, face covered in blood, posing with a White Walker making devil horns. Already equipped with full bushy beards, we can’t think of anyone more suited to the role of crazed reanimated wildlings.
There were a couple of familiar faces in the Season Eight premiere, for the more observant viewers. Rob McElhenney is an actor most well-known for portraying Mac in It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. He’s also a creator, writer, and producers of the show. His razor-sharp wit and quiver full of barbs were not enough to save him in Game of Thrones, however, as he played one of the Ironborn guards holding Yara (Gemma Whelan) hostage.
He gets just enough time to look a bit surprised as an arrow sprouts out of his eye-socket, courtesy of Theon (Alfie Allen). Unfortunately, Mac from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’s safety mantra of “guard your eyes,” did not end up saving his character in Game of Thrones. This short cameo was easily missed, and as McElhenney wryly stated on social media, “Don’t blink.”
Of Monsters and Men
Of Monsters and Men are best known for hitting the top of the charts with both their 2011 debut album My Head Is an Animal and their single “Little Talks.” The Icelandic folk-rock band appeared in the sixth season as stage-bards in the play, “The Bloody Hand.” The scene is watched in horror/disgust by Arya (Maisie Williams) as they lampoon her dead family, portraying the events between Ned Stark and the Lannisters in cartoonish fashion.
Fortunately, they don’t seem to befall any horrible fate, unlike some of the musical cameos to come. One of their albums is titled My Head is an Animal, which is very Game of Thrones-esque, especially considering Robb Stark’s blood-curdling fate.
British rock group Bastille makes a sneaky appearance in the Season Seven finale “The Dragon and the Wolf”. More specifically, the band’s keyboardist Kyle Simmons pops up as a shambling White Walker following the nefarious Night King beyond the wall and into Westeros.
It actually makes a lot of sense casting a guy from a band called Bastille to play an undead soldier. The undead are basically rebelling against both the living and the concept of death, which is kind of like a class struggle. And the storming of the Bastille was a major event in the French Revolution. There are layers here, man.
One theme of Game of Thrones cameos is that they play to their respective celebrities’ strengths. Such is the case with Will Champion, the drummer for Coldplay. He appeared in Season Three’s “The Rains of Castamere,” and played, well, a drummer.
But not just any old drummer: he’s a secret assassin, who takes part in the ultimate betrayal in the Red Wedding. You could say he slayed his drum solo… as well as a bunch of Starks.
This isn’t the only “mastodon” that makes an appearance in Game of Thrones, as these noble beasts will appear north of The Wall. They reprise their roles, albeit slightly altered by the Knight King’s handiwork in “The Dragon and The Wolf.”
The creative forces behind such appropriately-titled albums as Blood Mountain and Emperor of Sand secured their place on the show in 2015, when they came out with a track called “White Walker,” which appeared on the Game of Thrones: Catch the Throne Vol. 2 mixtape to promote the fifth season of the show.
Game of Thrones, like most contemporary fantasy, drew great inspiration from The Lord of the Rings. So it’s poetic that J.R.R Tolkien’s great-grandson, Royd Tolkien, landed a cameo as a wildling in the jaw-clenching episode “Hardhome.”
It was an episode reminiscent of Helm’s Deep, but with far, far more zombified children. Royd Tolkien has also cameoed in The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King as a Gondorian Ranger, and in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug as a Burier of the Witch-King.
Animal Circus is a rocky/reggae/ska band based in London, featuring actor/musician Joel Fry. Fry made an appearance on Game of Thrones as Hizdahr zo Loraq, a former slavemaster and nobleman. He’s the pickup artist trying his able-bodied best to get with Daenerys (Emilia Clarke).
He’s briefly engaged to Daenerys, but unfortunately get shish kabobed repeatedly after an encounter with the Sons of the Harpy. Hopefully his musical career is more successful than his political career in Westeros. Joel Fry has also acted in a number of other TV shows and movies, including 10,000 BC.
Bart the Bear
It’s important to give all character actors and actresses credit, even those that walk on four legs and weigh 1,000 pounds. Bart the Bear is an accomplished ursine actor, who has appeared in such films as Doctor Dolittle 2, Into the Wild, and has cameoed in Season Three of Game of Thrones.
Bart, like most actors, lives in Los Angeles, and his scenes were filmed in his hometown (due to the flight restrictions on huge bears, and of course, the fact airlines nickel and dime you over honey and berries). He portrays a bear (he’s typecast) who fights Brienne in a pit. While it’s true Brienne (Gwendoline Christie) only gets a wooden sword to defend herself, she’s tough enough that it’s almost a fair fight.
Dr. Feelgood is a British pub rock band, featuring guitarist Wilko Johnson. He plays Ser Ilyn Payne, a man of few words (his tongue was pulled out with hot pincers by the Mad King). He uses a very different axe in the show than in his musical career, given that he’s the royal executioner.
In fact, he’s the one to behead Ned Stark (Sean Bean). His guitar style is described as “choppy,” so we’d say he plays true to type. At least he slays just as well in real life as he does in Westeros.
Ed Sheeran’s contentious cameo is no secret: the red-headed pop singer/songwriter was much reviled by GoT fans, who thought his appearance in Season Seven spoiled the immersion. But what the audience may have missed was his ultimate fate, mentioned off-handedly in Season Eight.
As Bronn (Jerome Flynn) is keeping company with several sex workers, a couple of them mention a particular Lannister soldier’s gruesome death by dragonfire: “That boy, Eddie… the ginger? That’s him. Came back with his face burnt right off.” The fans demanded their pound of flesh, and the writers happily delivered.
David Benioff and D.B Weiss
David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, co-creators and showrunners of Game of Thrones, couldn’t resist a small cameo, and a gruesome one at that. Their faces were used as molds to furnish a couple of the shelves in the Hall of Faces, a somewhat garish museum of skinned dead-people’s faces, used by the Faceless Men (along with some magic) in their assassination disguises.
What did the co-creators do to wind up as a pair of floppy masks? Maybe some disgruntled fans requested the services of the Faceless Men, after seeing that loathed Ed Sheeran cameo. Maybe Sheeran’s face is somewhere in there too.
David Benioff’s Parents
A less macabre cameo was made by David Benioff’s parents in the Season Four premiere. They get a background role as an older couple of peasants walking arm-in-arm on their way to King’s Landing. It’s a sweet tribute to his parents, though unfortunately, one can imagine they’ll have to languish under the insufferable rule of Joffrey.
Benioff’s parents are far from peasants in real life: his father is Stephen Friedman, former chairman of Goldman Sachs and United States President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board. Hopefully, their cameo is an indication that Benioff has a better relationship with his parents than the fraught familial relations on Game of Thrones. And if you’re wondering: Benioff changed his last name to his mother’s maiden name so that he wouldn’t be confused with other writers that share his name.
Noah Syndergaard is a baseball player and pitcher for the Mets. And like many Game of Thrones cameos, he’s given the opportunity to showcase his unique talents: by tossing a spear, and burying right into a Dothraki horse’s chest.
That’s a home run, but unfortunately, Syndergaard’s name proved prophetic: one of those pesky dragons turned him into a pile of charcoal briquettes. At least he got one last epic pitch in before getting burninated off the face of Westeros. He has 612 strikeouts, as of April 27, 2019, or 613 if you count that Dothraki horse.
Aaron Rodgers might be one of the best quarterbacks in recent history, but NFL stats don’t mean much in Westeros unless you’re a kick returner who can outrun dragonfire. Rodgers announced on his Instagram account that he would show up in the Season Eight episode “The Bells,” and people have had a difficult time spotting him.
Many GoT cameos are of the “blink and you’ll miss them” variety, so it isn’t that unusual that fans would have trouble picking out the Super Bowl MVP. However, most people agree that Rodgers is the unfortunate man caught in a blast of raging dragon’s breath.
Speaking of The Lord of the Rings, another Tolkien creation makes a cameo in Game of Thrones: Glamdring, Gandalf’s trusty sword, has somehow wound up upon the titular iron throne. It’s a little disturbing to think that Joffrey’s (Jack Gleeson) butt may have touched anything associated with our favorite fantasy wizard.
Does that mean Gandalf was defeated by Aegon Targaryen? Is that possible? We hope not, although it’s true that Gandalf hasn’t had the best of luck when it comes to great big fire-breathing monsters.
Steve Love is a Canadian actor and YouTuber, whose channel is devoted to impersonating Game of Thrones characters. Fortunately for Love, his impressions caught the attention of casting directors, and he was given a short-lived (literally) role in Season Six.
Love played “Steve,” a member of the Brotherhood Without Banners. He’s goofing around with his companions, when The Hound approaches from behind and quickly frees Steve’s head from the rest of his body, as revenge for Septon Ray (and the rest of the flock’s) murder.
Neil Marshall is a director working for Game of Thrones, and was behind the episode “Blackwater,” which revolved around the battle between the Lannisters and Stannis Baratheon’s army. Marshall has also had his share of cameos, including an archer on The Wall as they fend off wildlings.
Marshall practices archery in real life as well, allowing him to convincingly pick off wildlings with his bow. In addition to directing Season Four’s, “The Watchers on the Wall,” Marshall has also directed several horror-action films including Dog Soldiers (featuring Ser Davos himself, Liam Cunningham).
Sigur Rós is an avant-garde Icelandic rock band, known for eerie, angelic vocals. They’ve recorded a cover of “The Rains of Castamere,” but they’ve also appeared on-screen as musicians at Joffrey’s ill-fated wedding breakfast in the episode, “The Lion and the Rose.” Joffrey petulantly throws coins at the bards to get them to leave, and apparently even though the prop coins were made of rubber, one of the band members was hit in the forehead and hurt.
Yet one more reason to hate Joffrey. Although in actuality, the actor who plays Joffrey, Jack Gleeson, seems to be a lovely person and was in no way responsible for the coin-to-forehead incident. He’s retired from screen acting and is now part of a Dublin-based theater company called Collapsing Horse.
The Greyjoys are apparently lousy with hapless Ironborn guards. In the Season Eight opener “Winterfell,” one such guard portrayed by Martin Starr, an actor and comedian known for his roles in Freaks and Geeks, and Silicon Valley, in which he portrays Bertram Gilfoyle.
Starr’s Game of Thrones character is quickly dispatched via an arrow bolt to the prefrontal cortex. Though it may be hard to recognize him without his trademark glasses, he does a fantastic job of looking momentarily stunned before collapsing of fatal arrow-itis.
Roy Dotrice was a British actor, who narrated the A Song of Ice and Fire audiobooks. He’s done other audiobook work, and has been nominated for a Grammy award for his narrations. With his distinctive voice and connection to the series, he was originally slated to have a larger role in Game of Thrones as Grand Master Pycelle.
Unfortunately, Dotrice had to withdraw due to medical reasons. He ended up getting some screen time after all, appearing in a brief cameo in Season Two episode nine as the Pyromancer, Hallyne. Sadly, Dotrice passed away in 2017, at the age of 94.
George R.R. Martin
Though unfortunately George R.R. Martin’s bearded, bespectacled face has never been seen in Westeros via our TV screens, he was, in fact, featured in the Game of Thrones unaired pilot episode as a Pentoshi nobleman attending Daenerys’s wedding to Drogo (Jason Momoa). After they recast Daenerys, Martin’s scene was cut. He’s been offered further cameos, but he’s turned them down, probably using the excuse that he’s got more books to write.
Sure buddy, more “books,” wink wink nudge nudge (he’s totally playing Xbox all day every day). But if he’s not giving us more books, is it really too much to ask for him to make an appearance that makes the cut on Game of Thrones? Maybe as a Citadel maester or an older Sam Tarley? We can dream, can’t we?
Bryan Cogman has written eleven episodes of Game of Thrones, as well as the book Inside HBO’s Game of Thrones. Luckily, he gets to go inside Game of Thrones, literally, with his secret cameo as a Dragonstone servant who serves dinner to Stannis Baratheon and his wife, Selyse.
Cogman won’t, however, be serving us up the rumored prequel series to Game of Thrones, as HBO has recently cancelled the project. Maybe the rotting meat he was forced to serve his king was some sort of grim, cosmic foreshadowing.
Saxon (The Dog)
This one’s a bit of a cheat, since it’s not so much a cameo in Game of Thrones, but in Solo: A Star Wars Story. Very good boy and actor doggie Saxon plays Nymeria, Arya’s direwolf in Game of Thrones. Nymeria is technically a female dog, but Saxon is a skilled enough actor that he can play the opposite gender.
Nymeria was last seen roaming free in the wild, so hopefully she’ll make a return in Season Eight and we’ll get to bask in the inspired performance of Saxon again. He also plays a Corellian hound, an alien dog-like creature in Solo: A Star Wars Story, chasing after his GoT’s castmate Emilia Clarke. Truly, he is a versatile artist. The one question we have of this canine star: who’s a good actor? Is he a good actor? He is! Yes he is a good actor!
Country music star Chris Stapleton appears as a White Walker in “The Long Night.” Even though he was no more than a not-so-warm body recruited for the Knight King’s White Walker campaign against Winterfell in the final season, his participation was a dream come true for the
“I was like, you know, I would gladly fly to wherever in the world just to be a small part and get to watch that show going down,” Stapleton told Rolling Stone. “They were gracious enough to let me come participate that way.” Stapleton wasn’t alone: his bass player J.T. Cure and tour manager went to Northern Ireland to take part in the epic battle as well.