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The 13 Best Game of Thrones Actors, Ranked

September 9, 2017
10 min read

You can make a bestseller with a cult following into a television series, have a million dollar set, the state-of-the-art technology and some great minds from the technical areas , but if the actors in the screen don’t match up to their parts then everything goes to shit. Game of Thrones is lucky enough to have great actors, most of them who have done justice to their parts. The 13 best Game of Thrones actors are as follows:

13. Pedro Pascal as Oberyn Martell

There are characters you see for seasons, who you wish ends up in the iron throne. Then there are characters who just appear 10% of the entire series, who woo you, charm you, make you feel pity for them and finally exit the show in the grandest way possible. Oberyn Martell is a very well written character. He is a character high on energy, cheerful, witty and strong but deep inside he is wounded and half dead for the injustice served to his sister. If playing him wasn’t tough enough Pedro had to convey all his emotions within 7 episodes and he not only made it look convincing but also made the character to be remembered for a long time. This just shows how much of a talent powerhouse Pedro Pascal is.

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12. Kit Harrington AS Jon Snow

To all the fans of Jon Snow who didn’t expect him to be found this low on the list, I’m sorry. But, in a show with dozens of twisted characters with deep characterizations there isn’t going to be huge scope for a character who is pure. But, the above thing said Kit Harrington has the charm and the woo factor to remain the fan favourite just like the character in the book. Although criticised for his performance in the first couple seasons, he has indeed grown as an actor and has shown the internal fears and conflicts of Jon Snow convincingly and could even sell the bad written Resurrection part of his character.

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11. Michelle Fairley AS Catelyn Stark

Catelyn Stark, on the surface may appear to be a weak mother, who just wants to safeguard her children. But she also happens to be one of the strongest yet tragic characters. She cares for her children, and considers their safety her utmost priority. She despises Jon for that he is a bastard born of her husband but the scene where she tells Talisa that she regrets hating Jon is where Michelle Fairley is at the peak of her acting prowess. She not only gives life to the character for that could’ve been done by any mediocre actor but she creates a connect with the viewer, which requires talent and mastery.

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10. Stephen Dillane AS Stannis Baratheon

Stannis Baratheon from the books would come and haunt the show makers for the rest of their life. Stannis was one of the best characters in ASOIAF. Stannis was a just king second only to Ned Stark, but the show portrays him as a man who is weak and who can be easily manipulated. But the only justice the show makers did to Stannis Baratheon was that they cast Stephen Dillane. Stephen Dillane is an acting genius and the sequence when he is confronted by Brienne displays how much emotion could be shown even by a man who is portraying a character who is dull, rigid and mostly to himself , without even slightly breaking out of his character.

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9. Aidan Gillen AS Petyr Baelish

Petyr Baelish is the trump card character for any writer. The writer could make the character do a thing that other characters could not and it’ll still be believable to the audience. Petyr Baelish is the catalyst of the whole show, one who moves the plot forward. But the tricky part comes when such a character gets translated from paper to screen. That’s where the belief factor becomes crucial and it lies entirely on the hands of the actor to portray a character who is not only complex but also plays an integral part in moving the plot forward. Aidan Gillen is a naturally gifted actor and he makes us connect with the character’s strength, weaknesses and also its unpredictability. His character deserved a better send off, but in this show who gets it.

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8. Charles Dance AS Tywin Lannister

How more arrogant can a character be? How more enthralling and narcissistic can a character be? Tywin Lannister as intelligent as Tyrion, as unforgiving as Ramsay and as selfish as Baelish. But beneath this character lies a master planner who knows where to keep who and a person who demands respect to each and every being who meets. Charles Dance, a seasoned actor gave a touch to the character where he amplified every character trait mentioned above. He doesn’t just know that he is the smartest man in the room, he believes it. He is obsessed with the Lannister legacy but his torn between the love for his family and the hatred for his dwarf son. He portrays each and every emotion that George RR Martin wrote in his book convincingly and in the due process created one of the best character portrayals in the show.

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7. Jack Gleeson AS Joffrey Baratheon

How much can I hate a character? Well, obviously George RR Martin made me hate Joffrey in ASOIAF. But this guy raised the hatred for his character exponentially. There hasn’t been such unanimous hatred for a character in Television history and this young actor (who was just 18) gave one of the best acting performances in the show. When George RR Martin watched the show he told Jack, “Well Done! Now everyone hates you”. But, Unfortunately, Jack has announced retirement from acting, but I just wish he returns, I want to see the different dimensions of his talent.

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6. Iwan Rheon As Ramsay Bolton

The only reason why he is above Joffrey is that his character didn’t have that much of scope on the paper. He is just another twisted character, in a show full of twisted characters who loves pain. But Iwan made the character three dimensional and gave life to someone who appears to be cartoonish on the paper. His relationship with his father was portrayed brilliantly by the actor and the most important aspect of all, he displayed the inner fears of the character and also at some point made us sympathize with him. That’s the biggest achievement of iwan. He made us connect with a character who is very difficult to understand in the books, yet staying true to his characterization.

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5. Nikoliaj Coster-Waldau AS Jamie Lannister

He is a “Kingslayer”, yep. He tried to kill a child in the very first episode, yep. He has an incestuous relationship with his twin sister, yep. But, would you’ve believed when I told you right after the first season that after a few seasons, he would be your most favourite character. But the best part of his character, is everything is so organic. There isn’t a sudden transition. Nikoliaj dived deep into the character, explored the unexplored charts and became every part of the character itself and in the due process gave one of the greatest performances in Television history. His scene with Brienne of Tarth in the bathing pool and his scene with Myrcella Baratheon in the ship are the best acting moments in the entire show, which just goes on to show how great he is.

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4. Emilia Clark AS Daenerys Targaryen

Well, she is arguably the second most popular character on the show (after of course Tyrion Lannister). She also is one the most prominent figures  both literally and figuratively. Emilia Clark is all round excellent in a role that requires everything that could be demanded from an actor: from histrionics to nudity. Clark carries the weight of being one of the most important characters with chutzpah.

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3. Alfie Allen AS Theon Greyjoy

He betrayed the house he grew with. Then he lost his most powerful possession. He was stripped of his identity and was emotionally pushed to an extent where he forgot himself. But then out comes his bravery. He insists his sister to be take over the Iron islands instead of him. Then when war strikes he is affected by PTSD and as a result couldn’t protect his sister when she need him the most. This is one of the best character arcs ever written and to pull it off the way Alfie did is a remarkable achievement. The only reason why he is not in the top two positions is because Theon is considered as a side character which also explains why he is hugely underrated and underappreciated.

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2. Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister

Cersei is the strongest character in Game of Thrones. She has been constantly made to feel less than, been in unsuccessful relationships and lost all her children, who she cared about the most. But somehow she appears to be balanced, as she balances her wounds and desires masterfully. Lena Headey makes it almost impossible to visualize anyone else in her place. When you are playing Cersei, you are walking on a thread, too much of emotions makes her character over the top while not portraying any emotion at all makes her disconnected with the audience. But Lena Headey portrays this role effortlessly with the right amount of emotions hidden behind cold, icy face. The “Walk of Shame” sequence was enough for her to cement her position in the list.

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1. Peter Dinklage AS Tyrion Lannister

“I demand a trial by combat”. Never have I got such goose bumps watching a scene. Peter Dinklage was born to play Tyrion and Tyrion was written to be played by Peter Dinklage. The HBO makers apparently didn’t have any audition while casting Tyrion. Because sometimes, you don’t have to. Especially, if the actor is the bone and flesh of the character. Peter Dinklage is an acting goldmine and Game of Thrones extracts every ounce of gold from him. There are Actors, There are Enactors, Then there are a certain group of people who live in front of the camera portraying the character like they have been the character ever before and will be till eternity. Peter Dinklage is one such actor and his prowess can be written as a 1000-word article in itself.

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