How could anyone even attempt to top the casting in HBO’s hit series, Game of Thrones!? After all, the show has some of the most ingenious actors of all time. Not only do most of the performers closely resemble the characters that George R.R. Martin created for his Song of Ice and Fire series, but they also bring something fresh to the iconic characters.
In short, the showrunners absolutely nailed it. Therefore, it’s pretty wild to believe that any fan could come up with a better alternative. But that doesn’t mean that it can’t happen, or that we don’t come up with a good point or two. That’s precisely what this list will be delving into. Searching out fan-casting choices allows us the opportunity to imagine what we’ll probably never see.
There’s a strong chance that no one else will play an adult Cersei Lannister but Lena Headey. Besides, now that we’ve experienced her multi-dimensional and intimidating performance, it’s hard to think of anyone else playing the Lannister Queen Regent. We should be thankful to her for bringing the character to life, as well as all of her castmates. But when a fan comes up with a strong alternative and uses Photoshop appropriately, it’s utterly possible to picture an alternative choice. Only then can we determine whether or not that choice would have been better. In some cases, it’s possible to imagine other performers better suited for the roles.
Here are 25 Game of Thrones Fan Castings Better Than What We Got.
1. MARK STRONG AS STANNIS BARATHEON
It’s hard for anyone to make Stannis Baratheon likable, but Stephen Dillane did more than an adequate job bringing him to life. He even gave Stannis a few moments to show some love for his daughter. Some fans feel like Sherlock Holmes and Kingsmen star, Mark Strong, would have been a stronger choice.
Strong is utterly likable, but also has the powerful, stern demeanor that Stannis needs.
Chances are, he would have done an amazing job with the role. He also has some experience playing period-piece knights, line in Robin Hood.
2. GILLIAN ANDERSON AS CERSEI
As many fans know, Gillian Anderson was actually offered the role of Queen Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones. However, the tremendously successful X-Files and Hannibal actor turned down the role as she didn’t feel she could leave her young children for an extended period of time. Shooting North American-based television shows were just easier for her.
However, some fans think she would have made an even better Cersei than the tremendous Lena Headey. If you’ve seen Anderson’s cold and calculated psychiatrist on NBC’s canceled Hannibal series (now available on Netflix), you’d understand why they like her.
3. GARRETT HEDLUND AS RHAEGAR TARGARYEN
So many fans were excited to see Dany’s long since passed older brother, Rhaegar, portrayed on screen. However, he was only briefly seen in a flashback sequence at the end of the latest season of Game of Thrones. The actor who portrayed him, Wilf Scolding, did a fine job. It’s hard to say anything more about it because he was there for a blink of an eye.
If the show had cast someone like Garrett Hedlund as Rhaegar, they probably would have done more with the character.
The Tron Legacy star is a heartthrob but also has some presence and acting ability to pull off the highly important character. There’s also a physical resemblance between him and actor Emilia Clarke, who plays his sister Dany.
4. AMANDA SEYFRIED AS MELISANDRE
Amanda Seyfried would have been a completely different choice for Melisandre than Carice van Houten. Most notably, there’s an age difference between the two. Seeing that Game of Thrones is completely mythical, anyone could play the ageless Red Priestess.
In fact, if Seyfried did play Melisandre, it would have been even more understandable why so many people fell under her spell. Her eyes are incredibly expressive. They’re almost like magnets to the mind. Therefore, it’s easy to imagine how she would use them to bewitch the minds of Stannis and his followers.
5. LILY COLLINS AS SHAE
Shae was supposed to be a character from a far-off land. Therefore, it made sense why Sibel Kekili was cast to portray her on the early seasons of Game of Thrones.
It may have been even easier for Tyrion to fall in love with Lily Collins.
Collins would have been an even better choice for the role of Shae for multiple reasons. If you’ve seen movies like Stuck In Love than you know that Collins can play both feisty and romantic; traits that Shae absolutely had to have. Collins also has shown her diversity in films such as The Mortal Instruments, Love, Rosie, Mirror Mirror, and To The Bone.
6. SAM CLAFLIN – JON SNOW
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire star, Sam Claflin, was actually offered the role of Jon Snow before Kit Harrington made him iconic.
While Harrington is almost synonymous with “Jon Snow,” Claflin may have been the better choice.
Both of them are skilled at playing the hunky quiet type who’s unassuming at first but soon shows immense worth. But Harrington does occasionally stumble here and there in terms of performance. He also tends to only have one or two facial expressions. Claflin, on the other hand, has a very consistent filmography where he’s shown his diversity, heart, and brute strength. Some of the highlights include The Pillars of the Earth, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, The Quiet Ones, and Love, Rosie.
7. BRADLEY JAMES AS TOMMEN BARATHEON
One Game of Thrones fan, who goes by “Queen Catelyn Stark”, was really keen on fan-casting Merlin actor Bradley James as young Tommen Baratheon. Chances are, casting James wouldn’t have gone over well with the hardcore Song of Ice and Fire fans. This is because the character of Tommen was already aged up when Dean-Charles Chapman played him.
James is an impressive actor who is experienced with the fantasy genre. He also would have made Tommen more age appropriate for Margaery Tyrell. If Tommen had survived to age, James would be the best choice to play him. At the very least, he looks as though he could be related to the Lannisters.
8. MAHERSHALA ALI AS XARO XHOAN DAXOS
It’s possible that the creators of Game of Thrones are really unhappy that they didn’t cast Mahershala Ali in the role of Qarth-merchant Xaro Xhoan Daxos. The Oscar-winning star of Moonlight actually auditioned for the role but told Jimmy Kimmel that he lost out on it because it was one of the worst auditions of his life.
Still, a good casting director can see past a bad audition. They should have been aware that this guy could really act. Not only would Ali have added an incredible dimension to Xaro Xhoan Daxos that wasn’t really there to begin with, but he also would have made the character likable.
9. ORLANDO BLOOM AS RHEAGER TARGAREYN
The creation of this image proves that fans would have been thrilled to see Orlando Bloom as Rhaegar Targaryen. Although the character was portrayed by a lesser known actor for a very brief amount of time in the show, chances are the role would have been expanded if Orlando Bloom showed interest.
Bloom is basically fantasy royalty.
Not only did he star as Legolas in both The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit Trilogies, but he was also Will Turner in Pirates of the Caribbean. Audiences would completely believe that this guy started a war that ended the Targaryen Dynasty and brought the Baratheon and Lannister families to power.
10. JAMIE CAMPBELL BOWER AS WAYNOR ROYCE
Who is Waynor Royce? Well, he’s merely the first person to be eliminated on Game of Thrones. That’s kind of a big deal, no? If you can’t recall, Royce was one of Night’s Watch members who traveled North of the Wall in the pilot episode. He then confronts a White Walker, who slays him almost instantly.
Although the role was small, it would have been incredible if Jamie Campbell Bower got to keep that role. He was originally Royce in the unaired pilot for the show, but he was replaced by another actor when the episode was reshot. Having Campbell Bower in the show would have been a great piece of nerdy trivia, as he also plays a Young Gellert Grindelwald in Harry Potter.
11. SAM HEUGHAN AS LORAS TYRELL
Finn Jones is probably even happier that he got to portray Sir Loras Tyrell now that his Iron Fist Netflix show is canceled. Jones did a very good job with what he was given, but clearly, fans would have preferred Sam Heughan. Unfortunately, that never came to pass, even though Heughan auditioned for Game of Thrones a total of seven times! One of the roles that Heughan auditioned for was Loras Tyrell.
He would have made this character far hunkier, like he was in the novels.
This would have added to the romance between him and Renly Baratheon. Even though the Game of Thrones team couldn’t find a spot for Heughan, he got his star-making performance on Outlander.
12. ADELAIDE KANE AS LYANNA STARK
Lyanna Stark is essentially the Helen of Troy of The Song of Ice and Fire story. She is the woman that inadvertently caused a war to start that brought an end to the Targaryen Dynasty and put the Baratheon and Lannister families in power. She, therefore, should have been played by someone as magnetic as Adelaide Kane, which one fan suggested.
Kane is best known from her starring role on CW’s Reign, where she portrayed Queen Mary Stuart. Kane has more than enough acting abilities to captivate the entire audience to fall in love with her– a trait that whoever played Lyanna Stark needed.
13. JARED HARRIS AS THE HIGH SPARROW
It turns out that Jared Harris actually auditioned for the role of The High Sparrow and lost out to Jonathan Pryce. The Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows star would have been perfect for the highly manipulative spiritual leader. After all, he’s had experience perfecting that trait while playing Professor James Moriarty.
He would have added a level of charm and charisma that was lacking in the character.
This way, we would have actually liked him instead of just worrying about him climbing the ladder. Harris has proven his worth in multiple shows and movies, including The Crown, AMC’s The Terror, Mad Men, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and The Expanse.
14. DAKOTA FANNING AS GILLY
It’s not that Hannah Murray does a poor job of portraying Gilly, it’s that Dakota Fanning would have been the more experience choice. Fanning is one of those child actors who not only stayed out of trouble but also became a better thespian as she aged. If you need proof of this, check out The Alienist, Brimstone, or The Runaways.
Fanning’s wide-eyed curiosity would have made her an ideal pick for Gilly. She also has the natural, stripped-down beauty that would have captured the heart of Sam. Though it’s up to the writers to determine what to do with Gilly, Fanning could have taken the character on a far firmer character arc. This is in contrast to the mostly unused and uninteresting character we currently see.
15. HOLLIDAY GRAINGER AS MYRCELLA BARATHEON
In order for this fan’s dream casting choice to have been picked, Game of Thrones needed to have been made a few years before it did. Holliday Grainger was a bit too old for the role of Myrcella Lannister, even when Myrcella was still breathing. However, Grainger would have been a superior choice to what we got on the show.
Grainger possesses the abilities of both a naive, love-driven young woman and the sharp intellect of a Lannister.
The Borgias star would have taken the character on a far more complex journey than what we received on the show.
16. COLIN FIRTH AS KEVAN LANNISTER
Kevan Lannister was dreadfully underused on Game of Thrones. In fact, most fans don’t know if the character is still kicking or not. If the show had picked Colin Firth to portray Tywin’s brother, chances are, he would have been better used.
Firth also needs more opportunities to play strategic leaders like Kevan. The Oscar-winning actor could have elevated the role to the stratosphere. Not only would the audience actually care about Kevan if Firth played him, but he’d quickly become one of the fan favorites. How could anyone deny someone as versatile as this King’s Speech, Love Actually, A Single Man, and Kingsmen actor?
17. CARRIE-ANNE MOSS AS ELLARIA SAND
Aything goes in a fantasy world such as the one in Game of Thrones. Having said that, Carrie-Anne Moss would have been a stellar choice for Ellaria Sand, Oberyn Martell’s paramour. Moss is one of those actors who can carefully walk the fine-line between graceful and fierce. She did so as Trinity in The Matrix, and even continues similar traits in Netflix’s Jessica Jones as Hogarth.
Moss’ eyes can exude that blinding rage that is such an important part of Ellaria’s role on the show.
Additionally, it would be cool to see Moss go toe-to-toe with Lena Headey.
18. CELINA SINDEN AS YOUNGER CERSEI LANNISTER
In order for the filmmakers of Game of Thrones to have pulled off this fan’s casting choice, they would have had to travel back in time. There was a young Cersei Lannister seen in a flashback on the show. Therefore, it makes total sense that some would have loved to see Celina Sinden play her. After all, the Reign actor would have been perfect for the job.
However, even at the time of the flashback, Sinden was just too old for the role. If Game of Thrones does a flashback of the character while she’s in her teens or early twenties, Sinden is the ideal choice. Not only does she look like a young Lena Headey, but she also has the required acting chops.
19. JESSICA BROWN FINDLAY AS LYANNA STARK
Due to the fact that Lyanna Stark has already been portrayed on the show, fans can only debate about who should have played her. Earlier, we discussed one fan’s desire of seeing Adelaide Kane in the role. However, another fan would have loved to see Jessica Brown Findlay as the mother of Jon Snow.
Findlay is a particularly good choice as she has a ton of experience in the fantasy and costume drama genres.
She’s played important roles in Downton Abbey, Winter’s Tale, Victor Frankenstein, Albatross, and Harlots. Findlay is excellent at pulling off elegance, a trait necessary for the character of Lyanna Stark.
20. KEIFER SUTHERLAND AS JAMIE LANNISTER
When you think about Keifer Sutherland as Jamie Lannister, it’s easy to see why some fans would love to see him in the role. The guy is just so great at pulling off the smarmy, egocentric, good-looking, lead character. That’s precisely who Jamie was at the start of the show.
Sutherland also has the talents necessary for Jamie’s well-written journey of self-discovery and remorse. Although Nikolaj Coster-Waldau is utter perfection in the role, the 24 star probably would have been just as strong. It would have also been an interesting turn for Sutherland. The character, after all, is exceptionally complex.
21. NICOLAS CAGE AS STANNIS BARATHEON
Everyone loves making fun of Nic Cage. The vast majority of his more recent movies have been less than enjoyable, causing him to be the ultimate B-movie star. But Nicolas Cage is an Oscar-winner. He can be an utterly brilliant actor and starred in excellent films such as Leaving Los Vegas, Adaptation, Raising Arizona, and Moonstruck. If he was cast as Stannis Baratheon, like some fans suggested, there’s no doubt that it would have been his comeback role.
First and foremost, Stannis would have been a major departure for Cage.
It would have challenged him in a way that he hasn’t been before. Plus, Stannis is the silent type. This is one of the only traits that he and Cage have in common. Therefore, his resting face would have felt natural.
22. EMILY BROWNING AS MAERGERY TYRELL
Natalie Dormer brought everything she had and more to the character of Margaery Tyrell. In fact, she made the character far more interesting than she was in the books. But we also can’t help but picture Emily Browning as the late, social-climbing Queen. In fact, she probably would have been ideal for the role.
Browning has shown that she has all the traits to play a character like Margaery. She’s shown her elegance in God Help the Girl. We’ve seen her vibrant heart in A Series of Unfortunate Events. We’ve seen how she can use her beauty as a weapon in Sleeping Beauty. And we know just how manipulative she can be from her role in American Gods. In short, this doe-eyed actress would have been more than perfect as the Tyrell Queen.
23. BERNARD HILL AS THE MAD KING
We haven’t yet received a long enough flashback of The Mad King to truly determine whether or not David Rintoul was the right casting choice or not. Since the character is so vital to the history of the story, it’s possible that we could receive a longer flashback sequence in the coming season of the show. It would be great if the filmmakers reconsidered their casting decision and hired Lord of the Rings actor Bernard Hill instead.
Everything we need to know about Bernard Hill was in his performance as King Theoden.
Not only did he portray the King of Rohan as a complicated leader, but he also played him during his “mad” times. Hill has more than enough experience playing a demented king. He’d be perfect for Aerys Targaryen.
24. MACKENZIE FOY AS SANSA STARK
Sophie Turner’s Sansa Stark has had more than a few stellar moments on the show, but she can be a bit inconsistent. It took a long time to endear us to the character. This is something that Mackenzie Foy wouldn’t have a problem doing.
Not only is Foy closer in age to the Song of Ice and Fire character, but she’s also shown her versatility as an actor. Her big break was in The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn. Since then, she’s starred in The Conjuring, Interstellar, and The Little Prince. She’s also leading a famous cast in 2018’s The Nutcracker and the Four Realms. Foy is consistently likable, capable of showing a tender heart, and can play tough as nails. These are important qualities for Sansa.
25. NATALIE PORTMAN AS MARGAERY TYRELL
Natalie Portman may just be one of the greatest actors of her generation. She’s consistently shown great depth, heart, elegance, and class in her roles, even in the damaged or highly manipulative ones. Therefore, she’s the best for the role of Margaery Tyrell. There’s just no way that Natalie Dormer or Emily Browning could compete with someone as talented as Portman.
Portman is the type of performer who falls deeply into her roles.
This means she’d likely disappear into the character of Margaery. We’d never see a glimmer of acting. We’d just see the character. Unfortunately, Portman starring as Margaery is an impossibility. It’s just a dream of some fans that will never come true. That doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy the thought.
Which fancasting do you think would have been better for Game of Thrones? Let us know in the comments!