For all the accolades we rightly give George R.R. Martin, the author behind Game of Thrones, and David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, the showrunners, what often goes underappreciated is the work of casting directors Nina Gold and Robert Sterne. Consider the fact that they’ve taken a collection of barely known character actors and nobodies and assembled one of the best ensemble casts on television. I haven’t read the books, but it’s rare that I hear anyone complain that a particular character has been miscast. Consider that, when Game of Thrones began, the most famous actor on the show was Sean Bean, which was purposeful as it made the most recognized actor’s outcome all the more shocking.
Moreover, thanks to the success of Game of Thrones, many of the actors involved in the series have gained incredible fame, big enough in many cases to translate into feature-film success. Obviously, many of these actors were already bouncing around Hollywood and in British television, but two seasons of Game of Thrones have made them near iconic. No one had ever heard of Emilia Clarke before Game of Thrones, and now she’s tabloid fodder. It’s impressive.
But how well has that really translated into the world outside of Westeros? Better for some than for others. Here, however, is a look at the 10 actors most likely to come away with promising feature film careers.
Honorable Mention: Gwendoline Christie — Christie has absolutely no feature films on her slate, and only has one other British series — Russel T. Davies Wizards and Aliens — on her CV that’s even noteworthy. But she has a certain eccentric look about her that suggests that she could end up taking Tilda Swinton’s sloppy seconds for the next decade.
10. Oona Chaplin — Oona, who plays Talisa Maegyr and is the great granddaughter of Charlie Chaplin, was great in a British series with modest success in America, The Hour, but the only feature film on the horizon is Powder Room, in which she’s fourth billed among a bunch of nobodies. Still, she’s got the talent, and she seems like the kind of waifish, forgettable international actress that ends up starring opposite Tom Cruise is one of his action films.
9. Sophie Turner — Turner, who plays Sansa Stark, most likely has a direct-to-DVD future in front of her, including Panda Eyes, in which she’s first billed alongside some relatively well known actors like Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Claire Forlani in an Isabel Coixet (My Life Without Me) film. It’ll do the festival rounds and be forgotten, and unless Sophie Turner makes a bigger mark in GoT‘s future, so shall she.
8. Jason Momoa — Momoa was the show’s very first break-out star. Unfortunately, he frittered away that popularity on the Conan the Barbarian remake, which tanked at the box office (despite being unintentionally hilarious) and as the villain in Stallone’s Bullet to the Head, which fared even worse at the box office. He was up for a juicy role in Guardians of the Galaxy, but he let it slip through his fingers by trying to negotiate a higher salary. Idiot. Now he’s been reduced to third-rate Redbox fare, including Wolves and Debug — starring a bunch of nobodies, directed by nobodies — and Road to Poloma, written and directed by himself, in which his real-life girlfriend, Lisa Bonet, plays opposite him.
7. Richard Madden — Madden, who plays Robb Stark, has a few projects in the works, including The Long Promise opposite Rebecca Hall (The Town), but what makes Madden’s future possibly bright is that he’s being rumored for the role of Prince Charming in Kenneth Branagh’s Cinderella. That movie also stars Cate Blanchett, and would be a very high-profile role for Madden if he lands the gig. Otherwise, Madden will likely return from whence he came: British television.
6. Emilia Clarke — I’m still uncertain on Clarke’s feature film career. I think she’d probably do fine in British or American television after Game of Thrones (although, not being a book reader, I have no idea how long she’ll be on GoT), but her feature film career seems a little dicey. She has one film in the hopper, a Jude Law film called Dom Hemingway , in which she would play his love interest. There’s not any buzz about the film, and the writer/director, Richard Shepard, is of little note (at least so far), so it’s hard to know if the film will help her break-out.