Brian Cox discusses turning down Game of Thrones

Brian Cox

Game of Thrones has landed a wide variety of respected actors during its six-year run,  but there are a few who got away and now we can add another to that list: Brian Cox.

He discusses his GoT encounter with Vodzilla. “Stupidly, I turned it down in the early days because they didn’t pay enough money,” he says, laughing. “Now they have more money. And I was silly. I was silly, it was silly, because I’m a complete addict now. But I don’t know what I could play.”

As he tells Vodzilla, several of his friends and acquaintances have turned up on the show since he said no in the early days, including Ian McShane, Max von Sydow, Clive Russell, Liam Cunningham and Charles Dance.

He raves about “Battle of the Bastards” and says it was “truly astonishing.“

But having passed on GoT before, that doesn’t kill his chances in the future (we hope). The actor says he’s “still waiting for the call for Game of Thrones.”

Cox was a name frequently mentioned by fans for several roles that have already turned up on the show, but there are two seasons left. One role that springs to mind is the archmaester of the Citadel that Sam will presumably be meeting with, mentioned in the season finale. This could be Marwyn from the ASOIAF books, and Cox would be a fantastic Marwyn.

So how about it, HBO? And what do you think, readers?

81 responses

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    1. Brian Cox has always been my first choice for Selwyn Tarth. He’s been named dropped nearly every season and who knows, maybe in season 7 Dany & crew will land in the Stormlands, or Olenna/Sand Snakes will try to ally with him, or Cersei will demand he go to KL to pledge fealty, or maybe even Jaime will flee to Tarth after something or another. I mean, there are a lot of ways he could make sense on the show now.

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    2. Funnily enough I was watching Deadwood last night and thought, ‘Cox would be great in GoT’. He’s also the rector of my university (well, old university, since I graduated in November) and we see him around on campus, sipping coffee. I don’t think he’ll need much encouragement to nab a role in the show in future!

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    3. I’m on board with that! I have seen him in a few movies and he was always great in his roles! He just looks like he could be from GoT, a rough around the edges type! I hope D&D and HBO give him another chance. If not, he sounds like a great fan anyway!

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    4. Unfortunately I only remember him as Agamemnon from Troy. What a great actor! Maybe he could play the older Howland Reed? No?

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    5. He’d make a great Marwyn, though I’m not sure the role is needed, in particular if the usual theories are correct and Jorah is heading to the Citadel to cure his greyscale. In that case, Sam and Jorah can exchange information about Jon and White Walkers, and Daenerys and Dragons, respectively; and then Jorah can head back to Dany with the same information Marwyn has in the books.

      It’d be great to see Cox in any role, though. He’d make a great Lord, if needed. MoF’s sugestion is great: Selwyn Tarly. I can see it.

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    6. Bryan Cox is an amazing actor and can really turn bit roles into amazing characters. Him as Uncle Argyle is still one of my favorite parts of Braveheart.

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    7. This is mostly off topic but there were some wondering if there was any truth to rumors that Djawadi wouldn’t be returning to score the rest of GoT. I just saw a new article about “Light of the Seven,” and it doesn’t give any sense that he will not. This part pretty much says that he will be:
      With season six behind him, Djawadi is eager for more “Game of Thrones” footage to be sent his way. “I have no idea what’s next, so I’m excited, too,” Djawadi says.
      http://www.techinsider.io/game-of-thrones-composer-finale-piano-song-2016-7

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    8. I would be ecstatic if they cast Marwyn. And if they do, Cox would be a perfect fit for the role.

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    9. As for who he was first asked to read for, my guess is Ser Rodrik Cassell, Balon Greyjoy or Magister Illyrio. (Cox is too old to play Robert Baratheon.)

      He would even have served as Tywin, though I cannot imagine anyone other than Charles Dance as Tywin now.

      And yes, if they have a Marwyn he’d be great for it. Ideal even. But if he hasn’t been cast for it by now — it isn’t going to happen. They are starting up shooting Season 7 already.

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    10. Steel_Wind:
      As for who he was first asked to read for, my guess is Ser Rodrik Cassell, Balon Greyjoy or Magister Illyrio. (Cox is too old to play Robert Baratheon.)

      I can’t imagine that an actor of Cox’s stature have been asked to read for a part as minor as Rodrik Cassell.

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    11. Brian Cox would be an amazing addition to the cast ^^
      Hope he gets a part in these last two season 🙂

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    12. TheMountainThatSkates:
      Bryan Cox is an amazing actor and can really turn bit roles into amazing characters.Him as Uncle Argyle is still one of my favorite parts of Braveheart.

      Agreed. That was a moving scene. “They are saying goodbye in their own way. Playing outlawed tunes on their bagpipes.”

      It would be nice to see an actor like him get a part a bit more substantial and fitting than Marwyn. He would have fit well as one of the northern lords. Without the books we have even less of an idea of what characters could be bigger parts. The show could do anything. It would be fun to see him listed in a casting notice after this though.

      Speaking of maesters of the Citadel, I have a friend who was so thrilled when reading to see the name Archmaester Walgrave because that’s her maiden name. I’d like to see the old, loony nutbar Walgrave be on the show for her sake.

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    13. Wow,
      I hope they cast him.

      I don’t know what major roles are left though? The archmaester?

      Maybe they will need people to fill Cersei’s small council.

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    14. MoF,

      Love the idea!! I would love to see Jaime meeting Brienne father hahaha!! Still if not, to see Brienne father would be the best!

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    15. MoF,

      Cool idea! I would love to have Selwyn The Evenstar cast! I’m a massive Brienne / Tarth stan so it would be awesome. Especially because he’s not even been seen in the books yet! It would be a first, I think – the show having a character who’s only been talked about / flashed back to in the books…

      Plus wouldn’t it be nice for us to see the one decent-ish father in Westeros after all the terrible ones? 🙂

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    16. Two roles that spring to mind immediately, if the show will use those characters:
      – Marwyn “the mage”
      – Present day Howland Reed

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    17. Brandon,

      Based solely on looks, I’d cast Brendan Gleeson as Brienne’s dad and Brian Cox as Meera and Jojen’s dad. I know having family members actually resemble each other isn’t a huge priority for the casting of the show, but wouldn’t those two be awesome??

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    18. I think he’d nail Selwyn Tarth. Granted I haven’t read the books in a while but when I think of Gwendoline Christie, I think Brian Cox could totally play her father. But, Hell, it’s Brian Cox. Man could read a newspaper and make it sound like a storybook. If he ever got a role in this show, D&D would be lucky to have him.

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    19. He would have been a great addition. But by now I could not imagine him playing any past roles. That is how good the casting was/is.
      With the show moving at a fast pace towards the end I don’t see him coming aboard, unless it is like Ian McShane, just for one episode.

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    20. Shane snow,

      McShane had a guest role, but it was a showcase guest role, with big speeches, etc. Rodrik Cassel was not nearly so important; he was a generic soldier part that existed mostly for the main cast to bounce conversations off of and deliver exposition (this doesn’t mean Ron Donachie didn’t bring a lot of likeability to the part; he did, as character actors ideally do to smaller roles). He had one really good scene, his last, but that was in Season 2.

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    21. Steel_Wind:
      As for who he was first asked to read for, my guess is Ser Rodrik Cassell, Balon Greyjoy or Magister Illyrio. (Cox is too old to play Robert Baratheon.)

      He would even have served as Tywin, though I cannot imagine anyone other than Charles Dance as Tywin now.

      And yes, if they have a Marwyn he’d be great for it. Ideal even. But if he hasn’t been cast for it by now — it isn’t going to happen. They are starting up shooting Season 7 already.

      Funnily enough the actor who played Rodrik is also from Dundee, like Cox.

      I couldn’t see Cox being in mind for Tywin, though. He’s about 5’6. Lena Headey’s priobably taller than him.

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    22. I would love to see Brian Cox appear in Season 7 as an Archmaester, be he Marwyn or a more conventional character. But yeah, he would be great in almost any role. Honestly, I don’t know how many new characters we’ll be introduced to in Seasons 7 or 8 that would be substantial enough to warrant an actor of Cox’s caliber, but if Game of Thrones can find a place for him, they absolutely should. Great to know that he’s a fan!

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    23. I could absolutely see him doing Citadel-Marwyn!
      But as soon as people mentioned Brienne’s dad I realized suddenly that would be awesome and want it to happen…I just don’t know when it would or what he’d be doing off Tarth.
      (You’d think he’d have already shown up if he was going to. The last time he heard about his daughter people were trying to ransom her for life sapphires in season 3. Well, maybe she sent him a raven off camera)
      I’d also love Howland to be cast, but that cute blond stunt guy who played him this season will probably guide that casting choice. I hope he shows up…

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    24. Brian Cox is great, but he’s short. He’s probably around Kit Harington’s height. I can’t see someone that short playing Selwyn Tarth. He’d be much better as Howland Reed because he does have that “rough around the edges” look. He’s definitely more of a Northern lord.

      I’d love to see Selwyn though. He’s been mentioned at least once per season since Brienne was introduced. I loved how Clive Russell and Gwendoline Christie played off of one another. He would have made a great Selwyn although he was a fabulous Blackfish.

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    25. Laura: That would be my first guess too.

      Probably a good possibility, but even before seeing James Cosmo’s performance if I was given the choice between the two to play the role I’d have chosen Cosmo. Admittedly though, I probably would have suggested Cosmo for about a dozen different characters before the series began. 🙂

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    26. Clob:
      This is mostly off topic but there were some wondering if there was any truth to rumors that Djawadi wouldn’t be returning to score the rest of GoT.I just saw a new article about “Light of the Seven,” and it doesn’t give any sense that he will not.

      Djawadi comes back to finish the series or we riot… FOR REALZIES

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    27. Brian Cox seems like a perfect Howland Reed, indeed, and his comments now remind me of Bill Nighy’s pleas to somehow, some way, end up in a Harry Potter film – and he ended up getting five minutes of screentime as Rufus Scrimgeour. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Cox in there somehow, as he’d be just great to have.

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    28. Jack Bauer 24:
      In the final scene were there any Tyrell ships, or just Targ and Dornish?

      Every time I’ve watched the scene I’ve looked for it and or other sigils and only see the two. With the Tyrell’s banner houses they supposedly have one of the largest, if not the largest fleet in the Seven Kingdoms. The Tyrells alone may not have many ships… so I don’t know if we’re suppose to assume anything from it. *shrug*

      Shadowcat85:
      Jack Bauer 24,

      There were Tyrell ships, yes

      I’ll have to look even closer I guess. 😛

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    29. One role that springs to mind is the archmaester of the Citadel that Sam will presumably be meeting with, mentioned in the season finale. This could be Marwyn from the ASOIAF books

      I can see that. I hope Marwyn is the archmaester mentioned…but the new RP Kinvara was introduced and then…nothing. Not on the ship to Westeros. Plus Marwyn, can’t be like, “check out my palantir, Sam. Meet my super team. Okay, gotta run to Mereen. Later.” So if there is a Marwyn, it’s likely to be a strongly adapted plot cause Dany already left and Marwyn’s super team is elsewhere (pate) or non existent (alleras).

      As for Howland Reed. Isn’t HR a stealthy assassin type? That is not Brian Cox (imo).

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    30. In addition to the ones already mentioned (Marwyn and Howland Reed being my favorite among those), I think he would be good as an Umber who didn’t join the Small John in support of Ramsey. They could use someone like Crowsfood or Whoresbane.

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    31. yes plz. any role will do, even a one-off Ian McShane sort of thing. is it spring 2017 yet? just kidding i like summer but no seriously is it spring 2017 yet?

      i wish i had never watched this show, or read the books, just so i could binge it all at once when it’s over. like i would risk an experimental lobotomy that erases all GOT/ASOIAF knowledge, and if i forget some other stuff like my name and address in the process i wouldn’t even be mad, cuz that’s how good it is.

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    32. Brian Cox is 70. 13 years older than Sean Bean. Is that not a bit old to play one of Ned Stark’s peers?

      Would that not put him in the same generation as Tywin, Barristan Selmy and the Blackfish?

      He would no doubt play Howland Reed well, but I feel like he’s a bit too old.

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    33. I desperately hope we’ll get Marwyn and Alleras, the Sphinx. The way that the grumpy, ignorant, haughty librarian behaved toward Sam and Gilly seemed to me to be truly setting up the need for some heroes like Marwyn and Alleras to step in.

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    34. Jack Bauer 24:
      How greedy. Yeah, I bet you got a huge payday for this season of Penny Dreadful…not.

      I highly doubt Brian Cox was asking for an astronomical sum but if the money isn’t there, he is supposed to just take the role based on what? The script? The quality of the work? The opportunity? He’s not a young gun anymore, he has paid his dues. He wants to get paid what he feels he is worth and earned. I imagine the size of this cast meant there wasn’t much to go around, even for a “name”, in the beginning. I am sure all of these cast members love the show and enjoy the evolution of their characters but I will bet my hat that if HBO didn’t significantly bump pay for many of the main cast members (which we know they did), you can bet your ass there would’ve been holdouts. Love of the work is one thing but they aren’t going to do it for a song.
      This show had a handful of known actors in the beginning and even those weren’t exactly household names. If Lena or Peter asked for 1M per episode now, would that be greedy or deserved? Hell…if Jennifer Aniston could make that per ep for a half hour comedy in the 90’s, then Lena and Peter definitely deserve it. I don’t view it as greedy, I see it as knowing your value to the machine.
      (*though I do think actors/associated acts are highly overpaid and overpraised but that’s for a different type of forum)

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    35. I should think that many actors, very famous or not would clamor to get even a small role on Game of Thrones. Ian McShane is a pretty popular star and was in like what….4 episodes of ONE season? I know that I have seen a few people interviewed that said they would play any role asked of them. Just so they could be in it.

      I remember Mr. Cox well in Troy, but my favorite was Uncle Argyle in Braveheart, he had some classic lines…

      First learn ta use this, then I’ll teach ya to use this

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    36. * outlawed tunes on outlawed pipes.

      All for Cox making a late appearance in the show. Loved him in Super Troopers

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    37. Loved him in The Long Kiss Goodnight, Troy and the Jason Bourne movies.

      Kells,

      I’m not surprised Cox or any actor would turn down a role on GoT at the beginning; I mean, who would have thought a TV show like that would ever become popular, much less iconic? And as you pointed out, they may love their work but this is a job – you go where you can be decently paid, like anywhere else.

      But, it’s cool Cox is such a fan now, and if the show can sneak him in before it ends that would be fine with me.

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    38. He would’ve made a good Jon Arryn (if Arryn had any real scene to play).
      Robert Rebellion prequel maybe? : )

      Brian Cox’s age would fit even better. Jon Arryn was around 80 when he died so he would’ve been 60-65 for Robert’s Rebellion.

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    39. And of course his marvelous outburst in Adaptation:

      ” Nothing happens in the world? Are you out of your fucking mind? People are murdered every day. There’s genocide, war, corruption. Every fucking day, somewhere in the world, somebody sacrifices his life to save someone else. Every fucking day, someone, somewhere takes a conscious decision to destroy someone else. People find love, people lose it. For Christ’s sake, a child watches her mother beaten to death on the steps of a church. Someone goes hungry. Somebody else betrays his best friend for a woman. If you can’t find that stuff in life, then you, my friend, don’t know crap about life! And why the FUCK are you wasting my two precious hours with your movie? I don’t have any use for it! I don’t have any bloody use for it! “

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    40. JCDavis: Ian McShane is a pretty popular star and was in like what….4 episodes of ONE season?

      More like 4 scenes in ONE EPISODE. They got him to sign on for a small, although somewhat substantial role in “The Broken Man.” It was a bit more than a typical cameo appearance, but other than a kick start to the reintroduction of Sandor there wasn’t much to it. Something of even that much exposure should have an appeal to actors though… I imagine we’ll see more of Sean Blowers as Lord Manderly next season, but as of right now that would seem tougher to get ‘names’ to sign on for.

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    41. Ginevra:
      I desperately hope we’ll get Marwyn and Alleras, the Sphinx.The way that the grumpy, ignorant, haughty librarian behaved toward Sam and Gilly seemed to me to be truly setting up the need for some heroes like Marwyn and Alleras to step in.

      Yes, please give us Marwyn and Alleras and Quaithe! I hope that Jorah returns to Quaithe — in Season 2 he spoke with her as she was tattoing some unlucky soul who was heading for Valyria. She could send him to Marwyn at the Citadel for a cure (or to be an experimental subject for Maester Marwyn). And I really would like to see Alleras, who exhibits very useful skills learned from both parents.

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    42. Love this dude! But glad he turned it down cos then he might not have done War & Peace, which has a special place in my heart now. It’s beautiful. His performance was measured but stirring. Perfect. The brief scene with him and Pierre makes me laugh every time.

      If he can get a small part or a cameo in future then that’d be sweet. Ironically I bet he’d do it for free now ha!

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    43. Brian Cox is a great actor for sure and no problem for me if gets a part to play. However, a thing which surprises me is they haven’t invited Brian Blessed to do a turn on GoT?

      He’s a superb actor and with that huge beard (and voice) he’s got could have taken on many roles in the show? He’s well up there with the likes of Charles Dance, Max von Sydow, Jonathan Pryce, et al.

      We’ll just have to wait and see I guess…

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    44. Brian Cox was almost on GoT?!! Whaatt!??! I’m absolutely certain they can rope him in for SOMETHING next season. A lord of some minor house, a noble, someone from a flashback… even if it’s just a one-episode wonder like Ian McShane. Brian is simply a joy to watch, in everything he does. I particularly relished his subtle performance as Menenius in “Coriolanus” with Ralph Fiennes. He would be great as a conniving, yet reasonable political type.

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    45. Jack Bauer 24,

      I thought he was outstanding in Penny Dreadful (although it had flaws it will be missed and certainly could have delivered another season) especially the chapel scene where the recounts the deaths of his wife and daughter to Josh Harnett’s character.
      Such gravitas and although I doubt we will see many major characters, I think he would be great in a cameo role; perhaps a lord or the arch maester in Oldtown.

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    46. Clob,

      Do you know where the rumors initially came from? All I remember is just one random poster in a thread mentioning it.

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    47. Brian Cox will always be to me the more frightening screen version of Hannibal Lector (no offense to Anthony Hopkins). No idea what role he could play but I would love to see him on GoT even if it is just for one episode as with McShane.

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    48. LatrineDiggerBrian:
      Clob,

      Do you know where the rumors initially came from? All I remember is just one random poster in a thread mentioning it.

      No, I really don’t. I never actually read anything ‘official’ myself either, just that I saw it mentioned/commented about a handful of times. Whether it had a true or false beginning I imagine it came from a single person/source.

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    49. Steel_Wind:
      As for who he was first asked to read for, my guess is Ser Rodrik Cassell, Balon Greyjoy or Magister Illyrio. (Cox is too old to play Robert Baratheon.)

      I can see him as the first option for Jeor Mormont.

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    50. Jack Bauer 24:
      How greedy. Yeah, I bet you got a huge payday for this season of Penny Dreadful…not.

      I know, right? Who among us would consider pay as a deciding factor in whether or not to take a job?

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    51. Jack Bauer 24:
      How greedy. Yeah, I bet you got a huge payday for this season of Penny Dreadful…not.

      You do understand that he’s a PROFESSIONAL actor, right?

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    52. I could easily have envisioned him as a Ser Jeor Mormont or Mance Rayder.

      He’d also have made a good Balon, Tywin or even Stannis – although I have loved the respective actors in those roles.

      As for who he could play now? I’m going for Howland Reed. Yes, he’s older than the conventional character however Ian McShane was 73 when he allegedly bagged the role if a 40 tear old.
      And ultimately, the showrunners want who they want, regardless of age.

      Besides, a long time has elapsed in the GoT world. We don’t know for sure how many years have passed since the events of the first season. The time lapse could be reasonably used to explain Howland’s age and appearance now.

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    53. Black Raven,

      I have to agree about Brian Blessed on GoT.. I would love to see him there.

      The first character that immediately jumps out for me is Selwyn of Tarth

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