In a show full of terrifying badasses, Game of Thrones‘ Ser Ilyn Payne is one of the scariest. He just…stands there, unable to speak after the Mad King ripped his tongue out with a pair of hot pinchers. He instead does the talking he needs through his angry, empty eyes, and all the credit in the world goes to actor Wilko Johnson for making the silent character so memorable. But now, because life isn’t fair, Johnson has been diagnosed with terminal cancer of the pancreas. According to his manager, via Winter is Coming:
“I am very sad to announce that Wilko has recently been diagnosed with terminal cancer of the pancreas. He has chosen not to receive any chemotherapy. He is currently in good spirits, is not yet suffering any physical effects and can expect to enjoy at least another few months of reasonable health and activity. He has just set off on a trip to Japan; on his return we plan to complete a new CD, make a short tour of France, then give a series of farewell gigs in the UK. There is also a live DVD in the pipeline, filmed on the last UK tour.
“Wilko wishes to offer his sincere thanks for all the support he has had over his long career, from those who have worked with him to, above all, those devoted fans and admirers who have attended his live gigs, bought his recordings and generally made his life such an extraordinarily full and eventful experience. Thank you.” (Via)
Before GoT, Johnson was best known as a founding member of the 1970s British pub rock band, Dr. Feelgood. He played guitar and if you’ve never heard the band’s chart-topping album, Stupidity, do so now; its choppy sound was a huge influence on later punk bands like the Clash. Here’s a particularly great Johnson quote:
“Our energy was our legacy to the punks,” argued Dr Feelgood’s guitarist Wilko Johnson, quoted in Will Birch’s history of pub rock, No Sleep Till Canvey Island. “It was the violence of our act and the mean look which got to them. They didn’t have the knowledge or the technique, but they had the attitude.” (Via)
And he brought that “mean look” to Westeros. If only Johnson could do to cancer what Payne did to Ned…
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