Game of Thrones Top 5: Back from the Dead

Season Six of Game of Thrones kicks off this weekend, which means, of course, it’ll be time to say farewell to a few more characters. And since some of the plotlines have either moved beyond or veered away from the source material, most of us have no idea who’s getting gutted, poisoned, or beheaded in the new episodes.

But regardless of which characters get killed off this season, it’s nice to know that the actors portraying said characters rarely have trouble finding new gigs and new ways to entertain us on television and the big screen. Here are five of my favorite GoT “rebirths,” so to speak – some from series and movies that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed, and a couple from roles that I’m looking forward to.

pyp-10245. Pypar (Josef Altin)
Dies in Season Four, Episode Nine

Poor Pyp. Just when he thought he had a handle on the Night’s Watch job, he takes an arrow through the throat from that damn Wildling woman. This is a case of a character dying in the show before his time comes up in the books, which, unfortunately, means the character couldn’t have been that important to begin with. Hang in there, Sam.

The actor, Josef Altin, has made numerous television appearances both before and after Game of Thrones, but the best among those shows, by far, is BBC’s six-part crime drama River, starring Stellan Skarsgård. It’s a tightly woven detective mystery, but River also brilliantly explores loss, loneliness, and the conceit of our own memory. Altin plays a murder suspect who dies in the very first episode. He does however, make another appearance in the series (it’s been called “Wallander meets The Sixth Sense“). The show also features Owen Teale, best known as the not-dead-yet Ser Alliser Thorne, in a much more prominent role, and it’s available for streaming in the U.S. on Netflix.

Khal-Drogo4. Khal Drogo (Jason Momoa)
Dies in Season One, Episode Ten

Daenerys Targaryen’s Sun and Stars, the seemingly invincible Dothraki warlord, dies from a self-inflicted wound in the very first season (technically, Dany smothers his zombied body with a pillow, but the real killing stroke came from that festering knife gash). But with a body built for genre flicks, it was only a matter of time before Jason Momoa was commanding cinematic attention.

He’s DC’s Aquaman and, aside from Gal Gadot, the casting decision I’m most excited about. RF calls the cameo in Batman vs. Superman “weak,” but, for me, seeing Aquaman angrily lash out at deep-sea cameramen was one of the best parts of an otherwise trainwreck of a movie.


ned-stark-970x5453. Eddard Stark (Sean Bean)
Dies in Season One, Episode Nine

The beheading of Ned Stark was the the first truly shocking death scene in the series and made it painfully clear (to anyone who hadn’t already read the novels), that no character, no matter how seemingly important or beloved, was safe. You win or you die, and all that.

Sean Bean was already an established actor before taking on Stark in Game of Thrones, so there was no danger that he’d be scrambling to find future gigs. His performances as various undercover identities in the otherwise uneven Legends series on FX are pretty entertaining, but the best thing he’s been in since GoT is, without question, last year’s The Martian. His role as Mitch Henderson is rather minor, but the eccentric and emotional NASA flight director is part of an altogether outstanding ensemble cast of Earth-bound support characters, and part of what makes the film so much more than a solo stranded-in-space adventure.


talisa-stark-19202. Talisa Stark (Oona Chaplin)
Dies in Season Three, Episode Nine.

Robb Stark’s wife is the first, and possibly most dramatic, execution in the infamous “Red Wedding.” When the character of Talisa was first introduced, a marked deviation from Robb’s wife in the books, Jeyne Westerling, there was widespread speculation that the child she was bearing, The Heir of Winterfell, would take on some significance in both the series and future novels. But, you know… Red Wedding. Never mind.

Spanish actress Oona Chaplin has some pretty impressive bloodlines. She’s the granddaughter of film legend Charlie Chaplin, and great-granddaughter of none other than playwright Eugene O’Neill. And she’s also pretty impressive all on her own. So when news broke on the forthcoming Taboo, I was pretty excited. A period piece created by and starring Tom Hardy (speaking intelligibly, no less!) that casts the East India Company as the societal ancestor of evil multi-national corporations, produced by Ridley Scott, and featuring Chaplin? I’m going to watch the shit out of this.


oberyn-10241. Oberyn Martell (Pedro Pascal)
Dies in Season Four, Episode Eight

Even knowing the Red Viper was going to die in that climactic battle with The Mountain didn’t properly prepare us for one of the most gruesome death scenes ever filmed. And the fact that he was one of the best characters in the book, not to mention one of the highlights of season four, didn’t make stomaching his savage slaying any easier.

Luckily, we didn’t have to wait too long to see Pascal back on television. He followed up that impressive performance as Prince Oberyn with an even more intense turn as Javier Peña, one of the DEA agents trying to bring in Colombian druglord Pablo Escobar in the Netflix original series Narcos. And, since Escobar is back on the run as of the end of season one, I suspect we’ll see a lot more of Peña in the upcoming second season of this gritty series.