Part of the challenge when adapting a book series to television is figuring out how to best honor the appearance of the characters in the books without necessarily alienating your viewing audience. George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire faces that challenge with every new character cast in Game of Thrones. Sometimes the fans (book readers) are right, and sometimes they are wrong, like these silly complaints fans had about the initial casting of three key Game of Thrones characters.
But then again, sometimes Martin’s characters really are just too ugly for the screen. That’s when casting directors adapt. They try to find actors who live up to the spirit of the character, and not necessarily the appearance. Overall, it’s probably been good for the series. After all, we might not feel the same about Tyrion if he were actually missing his nose.
Here are the 10 most egregious changes from the book to the series in terms of appearance. Most were made more attractive, but in at least one instance (Catelyn Stark), the actor isn’t as attractive as the character described in the book series.
10. Renly Baratheon — He is tall, handsome man with black hair falling to his shoulders. His hair is long, but always well kept, and he prefers to be clean shaven.
9. King Joffrey — Tall for a boy his age, with blond curly hair. He’s handsome, has bright green eyes, pouty lips and an evil sneer. He is thought to look quite feminine. So, basically, the series got everything wrong except the evil sneer.
8. Sandor Clegane — Huge, heavily-muscled man. The right side of his face is gaunt, with sharp cheekbones and his long hair is dark and thin and brushed so that it covers the left side since no hair grows there. The left side of his face is a ruin with no ear and a twisted mass of scar around his good left eye. Slick black flesh is pocked with craters and deep cracks that ooze red and wet. On his jaw, bone shows. The HBO series seems to have gotten a less gruesome version of that.
7. Lord Mace Tyrell — Tyrell is handsome and a once-powerful-looking man, though he has turned to fat. He has curly brown hair and cuts his beard into a triangular shape that has white spots within it. Sorry, this guy was never handsome.
6. Arya Stark — A long face, grey eyes, and brown hair. She is skinny and athletic. At the start of the story, she goes by the nickname “Arya Horseface.” There’s nothing “horse face” about Maisie Williams. She’s pure adorable.