20 ‘Game of Thrones’ Stars Before They Were Famous

While Game of Thrones is known for launching the careers of newcomers like Kit Harington, Emilia Clarke, and Maisie Williams, the show features many veteran British actors as well, some of whom you might recognize…

1
Peter Dinklage
Game of Thrones, Peter Dinklage, HBO, Elf, New Line
HBO/New Line via Everett
Long before he became the God of Tits and Wine, Peter Dinklage appeared in the film Elf, as the children's author who beats up Will Ferrell. He also played himself in an episode of Entourage and appeared in the NBC series 30 Rock.
2
Lena Headey
Game of Thrones, Lena, Headey, HBO, 300, Warner Bros
HBO/Warner Bros via Everett
Before Game of Thrones, Lena Headey appeared in several big-budget films including The Brothers Grimm, but you probably best remember her as Gorgo, Queen of Sparta from 300.
3
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau
Game of Thrones, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, HBO, Black Hawk Down, Columbia Pictures
HBO/Columbia Pictures via Everett
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau began his movie career by playing Medal of Honor recipient Gary Gordon in Ridley Scott's Black Hawk Down. Coster-Waldau later said of his big break "My first U.S. movie was Black Hawk Down and a friend helped me put myself on tape up on the attic over my apartment in Copenhagen. We shipped it out and I got lucky."
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4
Charles Dance
Game of Thrones, Charles Dance, HBO, Ali G Indahouse, Universal
HBO/Universal Pictures via Everett
Charles Dance has appeared in more than 40 films during a career that spans five decades, but the internet best remembers him from his cross-dressing dance number in Ali G Indahouse.
5
Alfie Allen
Game of Thrones, Alfie Allen, HBO, Alfie, Lily Allen, Parlophone
HBO/Parlophone via YouTube
Alfie Allen is the younger brother of British pop star Lily Allen and is actually the subject of her song "Alfie" which bashes him for his laziness, drug use, and frequent masturbation. What a wonderful sister.
6
Aidan Gillen
Game of Thrones, Aidan Gillen, HBO, The Wire
HBO
Before Aidan Gillen played conniving bastard Petyr Baelish in Game of Thrones, he played conniving bastard Tommy Carcetti in the HBO series The Wire. He also appeared in opening scene of The Dark Knight Rises as the CIA agent trying to track down Bane where he delivers the infamous "You're a big guy" line.
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7
Rory McCann
Game of Thrones, Rory McCann, HBO, Hot Fuzz, Universal Pictures
HBO/Universal Pictures via YouTube
Yarp! In 2007, Rory McCann appeared as "Lurch" in the action-comedy Hot Fuzz. He also starred in this incredibly sexy porridge commercial (which is probably the first time in history that sentence has ever been written).
8
Jerome Flynn
Game of Thrones, Jerome Flynn, HBO, I Believe, Robson and Jerome
HBO/Robson and Jerome via YouTube
During the later half of the 1990s, Jerome Flynn and fellow actor Robson Green performed as Robson & Jerome. Their version of "Unchained Melody" reached number 1 on the UK Charts and was the best-selling single of 1995. Their singles "I Believe" and "What Becomes of the Brokenhearted" also reached number 1, as did their self-titled debut album and their 1996 follow up album Take Two.
9
Jack Gleeson
Game of Thrones, Jack Gleeson HBO, Batman Begins, Warner Brothers
HBO/Warner Brothers via Everett
Before the whole world was rooting against him, Jack Gleeson appeared in Batman Begins in 2005. Unfortunately, Gleeson has decided to retire from acting after his Game of Thrones stint.
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10
Sibel Kekilli
Game of Thrones, Sibel Kekilli, HBO, Head On, Strand Releasing
HBO/Strand Releasing via Everett
In 2004, Sibel Kekilli starred in the film Head-On for which she won a Lola, the most prestigious German film award. After her success, the press discovered that she had began her career starring in several pornographic films under the stage name "Dilara".
11
Iwan Rheon
Game of Thrones, Iwan Rheon, HBO, Misfits, E4
HBO/E4 via Facebook
Save me Barry! Iwan Rheon is best known for playing the creepy Simon in the E4 series Misfits from 2009 to 2011.
12
Natalie Dormer
Game of Thrones, Natalie Dormer, HBO, The Tudors, Showtime
HBO/Showtime via Facebook
Natalie Dormer has carved out a very specific niche playing manipulative royalty on premium cable channels. In addition to Margaery Tyrell, Dormer also starred as Anne Boleyn on the Showtime series The Tudors.
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13
Rose Leslie
Game of Thrones, Rose Leslie, HBO, Downton, Abbey, ITV
HBO/ITV via Facebook
Before she played the wildling Ygritte, Rose Leslie played Gwen Dawson in the ITV drama Downton Abbey.
14
Sean Bean
Game of Thrones, Sean Bean, HBO, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, New Line Cinema
HBO/New Line Cinema via Everett
We couldn't think of a better casting choice for Ned Stark. You might remember Sean Bean from one of his many famous on screen deaths in movies like Caravaggio, War Requiem, The Field, Lorna Doone, Tell Me That You Love Me, Clarissa, Scarlett, Patriot Games, Goldeneye, Don't Say a Word, Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring, Henry VIII, The Island, Far North, and Black Death.
15
Michelle Fairley
Game of Thrones, Michelle Fairley, HBO, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1, Warner Brothers
HBO/Warner Brothers via YouTube
Before she was a terrible mother in Game of Thrones, Michelle Fairley played Hermione's mom in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1.
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16
Pedro Pascal
Game of Thrones, Pedro Pascal, HBO, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, 20th Century Fox
HBO/20th Century Fox
Before his mind-blowing performance as the the Red Viper Oberyn Martell, Pedro Pascal appeared as a student in the season four episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, "The Freshman".
17
Diana Rigg
On Her Majesty's Secret Service, Game of Thrones, Diana Rigg
United Artists via Everett/HBO via WENN
As we've mentioned before, Diana Rigg is best known for her role as Emma Peel in the British TV series The Avengers, but she also played James Bond's wife Tracy Bond in the George Lazenby film On Her Majesty's Secret Service.
18
George R. R. Martin
George R. R. Martin
Brian To via WENN
Before he began working on the Song of Ice and Fire series, George R.R. Martin worked as a television writer for show likes The Twilight Zone. He originally quit television because he wanted to work on a project free from the concern about whether or not something was filmable which is ironic considering the popularity the Song of Ice and Fire series has gained since being adapted for TV.
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19
D.B. Weiss and David Benioff
Dan Weiss, David Benioff
Dennis Van Tine/Future Image via WENN
Game of Thrones showrunners D.B. Weiss and David Benioff worked as writers before their big break. Benioff even penned several high budget Hollywood epics including Troy and X-Men Origins: Wolverine. So long before Benioff was butchering Stannis, he was busy ruining Deadpool.

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