Last week in “Sons of the Harpy”, Game of Thrones lost yet another long-standing cast member. In “Kill the Boy”, his character briefly appeared as he lay in wake – as elegant in death as he had been in life.
Ian McElhinney is a veteran of the Northern Irish screen who has had an extensive career in both acting and directing spanning over thirty years. By all accounts, that career looks to be expanding even further in the near future.
Ian displayed a multi-faceted range of acting prowess during his time on the show as Barristan Selmy. And what a time it was – he has graced our screens since the very first season.
For many, Ian’s most memorable scene was in Season 1’s “The Pointy End”, when Barristan boldly turned his back on the newly-crowned Joffrey, threatening his Kingsguard brothers in the process. He completely sold the world-weary intensity of a man who has survived more battles than any other, while still retaining the vigour and will to do it all over again at a moment’s notice.
As adept as Ian was at selling the strong, noble side of Barristan, he was equally as talented with his character’s quieter moments, such as his light-hearted chat with Daenerys about Rhaegar in “Sons of the Harpy”. With a warm, caring smile and measured, gentle speech, you knew that this was as true a man as ever walked the Seven Kingdoms. He lamented the past, and truly believed that his new queen could emulate and renew the days of old.
Despite his sudden departure from Game of Thrones, Ian has been (and will continue to be) no stranger to the cast members. He recently appeared in two BBC shows – Ripper Street with Jerome Flynn and Clive Russell, and The Fall with Michael McElhatton. Earlier this year, he began shooting BBC’s The Truth Commissioner with Conleth Hill and Roger Allam, and the feature film A Patch of Fog, also with Conleth Hill.
If there was ever a knight in Westeros who came close to the fabled Arthurian ideal, it was Ser Barristan Selmy. He was a knight, a sword sworn to serve, protect and die for his liege. Thus, Barristan died as he lived – upholding the chivalric principles he believed in, and valiantly defending the honour of his queen. Barristan the Bold – a name honestly earned.
Here’s to Ian McElhinney, who so vividly allowed Barristan to shine both before and during his final moments. Simply put, it was a pleasure to watch him.
Now, in the spirit of Barristan and Rhaegar, let’s all raise our glasses to Ian, sing a song, and get horribly drunk.