The Amusing Early Roles of ‘Game of Thrones’ Stars

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Happy Game of Thrones Week , everybody! As we gear up for the season three premiere, it’s worth taking a moment to acknowledge an element of the HBO hit that doesn’t often receive proper recognition, amidst all the mythology and swordplay and coolness: the brilliance of its ensemble cast. In celebration of said thespians, we thought it might be fun to take a peek into their filmographies, where some surprising early credits paved their way to Westeros and Essos. The results of our archeological dig are after the jump.

Peter Dinklage

GoT Role: Tyrion Lannister Early Role: Tito, Living in Oblivion

For the decade and a half before GoT made Peter Dinklage a name brand, he was kind of your go-to little person for movies and television — which is why it seems so perfect that his very first film role, in Tom DiCillo’s wonderful 1995 “behind the scenes of an indie” movie Living in Oblivion, is that of a diminutive actor angry that he’s being used as a human prop for a hack dream sequence.

Lena Headey

GoT Role: Cersei Lannister Early Role: Lizzie, The Remains of the Day

Before she was cast in 300, Terminator: The Sarah Conner Chronicles, or Game of Thrones, Bermuda-born Headey spent 20 years toiling in minor television and film roles. But she’s always worked with heavyweights; witness her second feature film credit, playing a maid silently ogled by Anthony Hopkins (who is called out for it by Emma Thompson) in the 1993 Merchant-Ivory drama The Remains of the Day.

Emilia Clarke

GoT Role: Daenerys Targaryen Early Role: Saskia Mayer, Doctors

Clarke’s pre-Games filmography is pretty slim, but here’s a look at her onscreen debut — a one-episode role as a college girl stalked by her overprotective father on the BBC One soap opera Doctors. It’s a bit part, but she makes the most of it — now stay away and keep out of her life, Dad!

Ian Glen

GoT Role: Ser Jorah Mormont Early Role: Hamlet, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead

Glen had only been doing film and television for four years when he got the opportunity most young actors would give their eyeteeth for: the chance to play Hamlet on the big screen. The catch was, it wasn’t in Hamlet — rather, it was in the film version of Tom Stoppard’s comedy Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, in which the Prince of Denmark plays a decidedly supporting role (to the title characters, played here by Tim Roth and Gary Oldman). Branagh and Olivier may have gotten the showier versions — but did either of them get to cluck like a chicken?

Jack Gleeson

GoT Role: Joffrey Baratheon Early Role: Little Boy, Batman Begins

Sure, Batman, toss some swag to that kid. You can trust him!

Aidan Gillen

GoT Role: Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish Early Role: Aidan Lynch, Circle of Friends

Before The Dark Knight Rises, before The Wire, before Queer As Folk, Irish chameleon Aidan Gillen popped up in Pat O’Connor’s charming 1995 adaptation of Maeve Binchy’s book Circle of Friends, the movie that introduced us to the lovely Minnie Driver and got us thinking that hey, maybe that handsome devil Chris O’Donnell doesn’t have much going on acting-wise. Gillen mostly plays the background here, though he gets a few nice moments as one of O’Donnell’s school chums.

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau

GoT Role: Jamie Lannister Early Role: Gordon, Black Hawk Down

The irritatingly handsome Danish actor started doing films in his homeland in the mid-1990s, but his American film debut came in 2001’s Black Hawk Down. It shouldn’t come as a surprise; Ridley Scott’s dramatization of the Battle of Mogadishu featured before-they-were-stars turns by Tom Hardy, Eric Bana, Orlando Bloom, Ty Burrell, and Ioan Gruffudd as well.

Richard Madden

GoT Role: Robb Stark Early Role: Dean, Hope Springs

Madden was still in his early ‘20s — and sporting a much tamer head of hair — when he landed the role of Dean on the BBC comedy/drama Hope Springs (no relation to the Meryl Streep-Tommy Lee Jones movie, presumably).

Isaac Hempstead Wright

GoT Role: Bran Stark Early Role: Tom Hill, The Awakening

Not long before he was cast as Bran on Thrones, young Isaac Hempstead Wright appeared in the British big-haunted-school movie The Awakening, alongside Rebecca Hall and Gillen’s Wire co-star Dominic West. The movie’s not much, but Wright does the quietly creepy kid thing pretty well.

Maisie Williams

GoT Role: Arya Stark Early Role: Scraggly Sue, The Olympic Ticket Scalper

Well, here’s a twist — little Ms. Williams made her debut in Game of Thrones, so we can’t go back further and dig up something from earlier in her career. (She’s only 15, after all.) But hey, we’ll take the excuse to enjoy “The Olympic Ticket Scalper,” the Funny or Die short she did last year with Patrick Stewart.

In preparation for the return of one of our favorite shows, we’ve declared it Game of Thrones week at Flavorwire. Click here to follow our coverage.