Game of Thrones is one of the biggest shows on television, and the list of celebrities itching to make a quick appearance in Westeros is long and full of huge names. But, until this point, HBO has kept the cameos to a relative minimum and ignored all the A-listers willing to wear boiled leather in the sun all day as an extra.
That doesn’t mean there aren’t a couple of well-hidden cameo appearances throughout five seasons. Showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss are big music fans and have sprinkled the show with appearances from artists of all musical backgrounds. A few crew and family members have also made it into the backgrounds of scenes, along with a unique appearance by a former U.S. president.
Let’s take a look through all the cameos you might have missed while watching Game of Thrones. You can always go back and find them, or watch them for the first time on HBO Now.
Coldplay’s Will Champion
Hidden up in the galley with the rest of the Frey musicians leading up to the infamous Red Wedding is Coldplay drummer Will Champion. You might have noticed him doing his signature head bop while working a hand drum… no word on if he switched for a crossbow along with the rest of the band turned assassins. This wasn’t the last time Coldplay teamed up with Game of Thrones. They also created “Game of Thrones: The Musical” as part of a push for the Red Nose Day Fund, which raised more than $21 million for a number of charities.
Snow Patrol’s Gary Lightbody
Snow Patrol is best known for their hit song “Chasing Cars,” but their lead singer Gary Lightbody also sings a mean rendition of “The Bear and the Maiden Fair.” He pops up in season three, episode three as one of the Bolton bannermen who has captured Jaime Lannister and Brienne of Tarth. Lightbody is a self-described Game of Thrones fanatic, and had been seen around Belfast with the cast in the seasons prior to getting called on to don the flayed man sigil.
The Icelandic band popped up in season four, episode two of the show as a band playing “The Rains of Castamere” at the ill-fated Purple Wedding. After performing the song in typical gloomy Sigur Ros-style, King Joffrey dismisses them by throwing golden coins at the group. Fun fact: One of the prop coins actually hit drummer Ágúst Ævar Gunnarsson in the face, injuring him. You can check out the group’s dark take on “The Rains of Castamere” in full here.
Director Neil Marshall
Before Game of Thrones, director Neil Marshall was best known for cult horror movies like The Descent and Dog Soldiers. Now, he has a few more feathers in his cap: He was responsible for season two, episode nine’s “Blackwater” and the equally amazing season four, episode nine’s “The Watchers on the Wall.” The quality of the Blackwater episode is even more impressive when you consider he was a last-second replacement to direct the episode. Marshall is also an avid archer, so it was only fitting that he take his place alongside the Night’s Watch as an archer during the Wildling attack on The Wall.
George W. Bush’s Severed Head
This one technically isn’t a real cameo, but is too strange to not include. During season one, episode 10, Joffrey takes Sansa Stark up to the ramparts of the Red Keep to show her the heads of her slain bannermen. Mixed in with the heads of Ned Stark and Septa Mordane was the head of former U.S. President George W. Bush — a fact that wasn’t noticed til the producers pointed it out during the DVD commentary. Shortly after, they issued this apology/explanation:
“We use a lot of prosthetic body parts on the show; heads, arms, etc. We can’t afford to have these all made from scratch, especially in scenes where we need a lot of them, so we rent them in bulk. After the scene was already shot, someone pointed out that one of the heads looked like George W. Bush. We meant no disrespect to the former president and apologize if anything we said or did suggested otherwise.”
HBO did one better than just apologizing — they digitally removed the former president’s head from the scene entirely for future DVD releases.
Game of Thrones producer D.B. Weiss is apparently a huge metalhead, and recruited Atlanta band Mastodon to write a song to the second Game of Thrones mixtape called “White Walker.” Soon after that, the group was invited over to Ireland to participate in season five, episode eight’s “Hardhome” battle as Wildling extras. Drummer/vocalist Brann Dailor described the event to Pitchfork:
“I watched my best friends, Brent and Bill, murdered right in front of me as I myself was stabbed in the stomach and had my throat slit multiple times, and I didn’t mind at all. It made me love being in Mastodon even more. We are more than privileged and honoured to have been a part of one of the greatest stories ever told on film – and the catering wasn’t bad either.”
David Benioff’s Parents
Game of Thrones producer David Benioff’s parents make a quick appearance as peasants on the way to King’s Landing during the season four premiere “Two Swords.” Although they played the roles well, it’s worth noting that David’s dad is anything but a peasant. He was the former head of banking giant Goldman Sachs and a member of the George Bush administration. Sounds like we’ve got a real life Littlefinger right here.