For fans of Game of Thrones, the death of their favorite characters is a foregone conclusion. That’s a common theme when considering either George R.R. Martin’s novels or HBO’s TV series adaptation. What they don’t have in common, however, is the timing of when those deaths occur and who ends up getting the sharp end of a sword. Fans can understandably get upset when a character who’s very much alive in the current run of the books meets their maker in the TV series, because that’s not just a surprising twist but also one that goes against source material. Turns out that the actors who play those characters feel pretty much the same way. (If you’re not caught up with Game of Thrones then the following can be considered spoiler territory.)
So it’s with that in mind that Game of Thrones star Ian McElhinney is publicly airing his grievances about his character Barristan Selmy’s untimely death in the fourth episode of Season 5, “Sons of the Harpy.” While we won’t get into book spoilers here, let’s just say that Barristan is still alive, well, and fighting for his queen. McElhinney made the mistake of reading the books, and the additional error or believing that David Benioff and D.B. Weiss would stay true to the source material. His death on screen, though heroic, came as a surprise.
The Wrap reported on McElhinney’s comments at the MCM London Comic Con, comments that are similar to those he made back in May when the reaction to his character’s death was still raw. How did he feel at the time?
Truthfully, miffed. But I knew before I even saw the script because I got the schedule. Unfortunately I’d read the books, so I had expectations for season five.
Seems that the way it all went down still stings McElhinney a bit since we’re talking more than five months after the fact. Here’s how he found out about Barristan’s planned death, as he told EW in May:
It proves you should probably not read the books. I’ve read the books. So I thought this season I was going to have more to do, and I was really looking forward to that. And then I got my dates from my agent and I thought, ‘That doesn’t tally.’ Because there was no way if they were sticking to the books that I should be in for that number of weeks. It seemed to me they must be writing me out. So I had a word with the line producer and said, “Can you corroborate that they’re writing me out?” Then the [showrunners] rang me and told me, ‘Your time is up in this series.’ So perhaps I took them by surprise that I knew.
He was a little more candid about his reaction during the recent Comic Con press conference:
“If I’m honest, I was a bit disapointed by that. I felt I should have known, it wouldn’t have made any difference but I felt that as a matter of just courtesy, I should have known,” he said. “I was disappointed because I had enjoyed playing the part and I was looking forward to getting more meat in the part and I had to dared to presume that I would at least go into season six.”
I think it’s safe to say that book readers and fans of Barristan (or just McElhinney) probably feel the same way. I certainly do. Selmy had a fantastic backstory that was never fully realized in the HBO series, and his current story continues to unfold in the novels. To know that we’ll never get to see the latter play out is quite unfortunate, but who knows what we might see about the former.
As for McElhinney, this sounds like the end of his coming to terms with the loss:
“So be it. The deed is done and I’m on to other things and that’s that,” he said.
Game of Thrones returns for Season 6 in 2016. For more of our previous and continuing coverage, be sure to check out the following links:
- ‘Game of Thrones’ Season 6 Recruits Another Follower of the Lord of Light
- George R.R. Martin Says There Will Be a ‘Game of Thrones’ Movie, But There’s a Twist [Updated]
- Why Did ‘Game of Thrones’ Win the Emmy for Its Worst Season?
- ‘The Collider TV Podcast’: Ep. 3 – ‘Bastard Executioner,’ ‘Game of Thrones,’ Emmys
- ‘Game of Thrones’: Kit Harington Accidentally Says Too Much Regarding Jon Snow
- ‘Game of Thrones’ Season 6 Adds ‘Babadook’ Star Essie Davis