May 4, 2011
Game of Thrones - The Cast
So, three episodes in and things are starting to take shape, but what shape are they starting to take?
From pretty much every angle, this series is presenting a faithful, quality adaptation of the first book of George R. R. Martin's grim but great fantasy series, "A Song of Ice and Fire."
Predictably, the best performance by quite a gap is being given by Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister. As soon as he was cast, I was ready to pay for HBO. He is so goddamn good that I get irritated with how short some of his scenes seem to be. To be fair, though, Tyrion really doesn't get cooking until ... well, probably Sunday night at this rate.
I was a bit puzzled by the casting of Mark Addy as King Robert. Puzzled, that is, until his first scene in the first episode. He's doing a great job. His Robert is multi-layered in the best sense. He is sick of his wife and doesn't like his children. He still hurts over the loss of his true love. And, he's a mean drunk.
Sean Bean is tackling Eddard Stark with a grim stoicism that fits the character, but he's coming off a bit dull. I've always thought Eddard was a little thick -- he's clearly terminally stubborn -- but here he's often boring. I'm not sure what you could do with Eddard to make him more interesting, though. He's a stiff, hidebound guy surrounded by more colorful characters.
Likewise mired a bit is Kit Harrington as Jon Snow. Like Eddard, Jon is honorable to a fault (at least he starts out that way -- after that it depends who you ask), and like Bean's Eddard, Harrington's Snow is kind of overshadowed by the other characters who populate the series.
The other kids have all been aged up a touch, to no real detriment. Danerys (Emilia Clarke) is the most drastically changed, going from the book's scandalous 13 to ... oh, maybe 17-18 (Clarke was 22-23 at the time of filming, but she looks younger). It changes things, to be sure, but she's selling it, and it doesn't seem to hurt the story much. And, honestly, you really couldn't do anything else on TV. Even on HBO.
I will say that the kid they got to play Joffrey Baratheon (Jack Gleeson) hasn't done much for me so far. Yes, he's supposed to be a horrible person, but he's supposed to look like an angel, not a sneering Draco Malfoy clone. His best scene thus far has been one entirely fabricated for the series (though it doesn't jar), in which he tells his mother that he's ashamed of his beating and mauling at the hands of Arya Stark and her direwolf.
Lena Headey plays Joffrey's mother, Queen Cersei, and she is probably the character most altered by the transition to the screen. In the books, Cersei is pretty horrible even in chapters where she is the POV character. She's petty and cruel. The HBO series has softened her character a bit, and it isn't an unwelcome change. The Cersei of the books would probably wear out her welcome pretty quickly. This Cersei is still scheming, still cruel, but she is more obviously intelligent without seeming like a simple "evil queen."
Casting-wise, they have really done quite well. Tomorrow I'll go into other aspects of the show, and, yes, get a little critical. EDIT: Or not, really. I don't think I can make much hay of gripes with this show, to be honest, because I think it's really going to start rolling this Sunday.