The world is obsessed with Game of Thrones. The hit HBO series, based on the novels by George R.R. Martin, portrays the dark world of Westeros as a place full of more than just terrors. Characters keep secrets that could destroy relationships and unravel conspiracies—or worse. And the actors and actresses playing those tight-lipped schemers have a few small secrets of their own.
Despite the never-ending torrent of paparazzi lenses pointed at them, the Game of Thrones cast carry colorful backgrounds that they aren’t exactly screaming from The Mountain’s back. In fact, you won’t believe these 10 goofy, embarrassing, and down-right strange details about the lives of the world’s biggest television stars today…
1. Kit Harington’s parents named him Christopher after the British playwright Christopher Marlowe, but know-nothing Jon Snow didn’t know that. Actually, for a long time, he didn’t know his name was Chris at all.
It was at age 11 he finally discovered his true name wasn’t Kit. “That was kind of a bizarre existential crisis for an 11-year-old to have,” he said. “But in the end, I always stuck with Kit, because I felt that’s who I was.”
2. While out at the bar with model April Summers in 2011, Sean Bean, who portrayed the honorable Ned Stark, honorably chased a man down the street after he made rude comments towards his date. The man fled—at first.
When the man returned, Bean sentenced him to a butt-whoopin’—as Ned Stark said, “the man who passes the sentence should swing the sword.” Though Bean was stabbed with a glass shard in the ensuing fight, he sat at the bar afterward and ordered a drink.
3. In Game of Thrones, Ser Bronn of the Blackwater pledges allegiance to whoever pays him the most. In the mid-1990s, however, portraying actor Jerome Flynn stepped away from high-paying Hollywood for a far-from-lucrative movement…
By 1996, Flynn rebuked Hollywood high rises for a commune as he became swept up in the EnlightenNext spiritual movement led by Andrew Cohen. He traveled the world sharing Cohen’s writings with all who would listen. Eventually, he left the movement.
4. Jerome Flynn also dated Lena Headey, who plays Cersei, briefly in 2002. To say the relationship ended poorly would be an understatement: the two can’t stand each other and producers keep them apart at all costs—even if it means reworking scenes.
During the season 7 finale, leaders of the Seven Kingdoms including Cersei assembled to discuss the country’s fate. Bronn opted to grab a drink with Poderick Payne instead. This was the producers’ method for keeping Headey and Flynn apart on set.
5. Despite her mountains of Lannister gold as Cersei, actress Lena Headey reported unbearable financial woes to courts after a 2012 divorce from her then-husband, Peter Loughran. Just how bad was her situation?
According to reports, Headey had just $5 in her bank account—even after a year on the show—during her divorce from Loughran, left, and paid for her two-year-old son’s, right, living expenses with credit cards. Surely the Iron Bank of Braavos had some collecting they could have done on her behalf!
6. Like Tyrion Lannister, early ’90s Peter Dinklage “was pretty angry” at life in general. Luckily, the future actor channeled his frustration into something healthier than a crossbow bolt to his father’s chest.
Dinklage sang and played the cornet for a punk band called Whizzy. One reviewer described the band as “a spectacle of sardonic yet optimistic folly to which you can’t help but dance.”
7. Fans of Game of Thrones’s more mature themes surely enjoyed some of the romantic scenes between Khal Drogo and Daenerys Targaryen. But in 2013, actress Emilia Clarke added a clause to her contract preventing similar scenes in the future…
With the clause, Clarke was no longer obligated to do nude scenes for the show. Still, she broke her own rule in season 6, when her character’s clothes turned to ash after burning the Dothraki leader’s tent.
8. Conspirators, slave traders, and angry Dothraki couldn’t kill Daenerys Targaryen, but tabloids in 2013 reported that a secret medical issue almost did in actress Emilia Clarke.
According to reports, just as Clarke finished her run on Broadway in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” below, she suffered a brain aneurysm. “Everyone was so scared for her,” a source said. If the rumor’s true, she obviously made a full recovery—but she no doubt needed a relaxing bath afterward!
9. Brienne of Tarth dedicated a few seasons of television and an entire book in pursuit of “a highborn maid with blue eyes and auburn hair” and gutting those in her way. But actress Gwendolyn Christie doesn’t show a similar dedication to finding out… her own age.
Yeah, the woman behind the 6-foot-3 warrior doesn’t know how old she is (estimates put her in her 30s). Her mother never bothered to keep track, and she’s never tried getting to the bottom of it; she probably didn’t get those figurines pictured below at a birthday party.
10. Between the 3rd and 4th seasons of Game of Thrones, producers re-cast Daario Naharis, replacing Ed Skrein, left, with Michiel Huisman, right (despite them looking nothing alike). People assumed Skrein left because he took a role in The Transporter Refueled—but the actor claimed otherwise.
“My plan was to stay with Game of Thrones for the long haul,” Skrein said. “That was always my plan. I would have loved to… but politics led to us parting ways.” Skrein, it seems, couldn’t handle the game of thrones played on the set of Game of Thrones.
Sure, now we know who these stars are, but exactly how do they interact with each other? Believe it or not, there’s still plenty of GOT drama that happens off-screen too…
When actress Emilia Clark, who plays Daenerys Targaryen, first met the actor Jason Momoa who played her onscreen husband, he apparently ran to her screaming “Wifey!” and tackled her to the ground. Talk about an introduction!
Much of season seven took part in Iceland, and the temperatures during filming sometimes dropped to 20 degrees below zero. To combat the frigid temperatures, actor Kristofer Hivju, who plays Tormund Giantsbane, ensured everyone had specialized warming gear.
Even though every character in the show is part of a vital storyline that unfolds throughout each season, Peter Dinklage, the actor who plays Tyrion Lannister, has appeared in more episodes than any other actor.
The most grueling scene to film for actress Gwendoline Christie, who plays Brienne of Tarth, was when she had to fight the character The Hound. She spent two whole months training just to build up the stamina she needed.
In 2012, one year after Game of Thrones debuted, nearly 160 girls from all over the United States were named “Khaleesi” after the character Daenerys Targaryen, which means “queen” in the Dothraki language.
The character Aemon Targaryen is completely blind in the series, which makes sense considering he’s over 100 years old. The actor who plays him in the show, Peter Vaughan, was actually partially blind when he was cast, which adds to the effect.
Fans had the chance to vote for the character they hated most, and Queen Cersei took the cake. Lena Headey, the actress who plays her, said sometimes she’ll be shunned or insulted in real life because of how much people hate the onscreen persona.
In 2014, Queen Elizabeth II visited the Game of Thrones set in Belfast, Ireland. She was given the opportunity to sit in the Iron Throne but declined because she isn’t supposed to take any throne that isn’t hers, even if it’s fictional.
Sansa Stark’s direwolf may have met an untimely demise at the end of season one, but in real life, actress Sophie Turner adopted the dog after filming was over. Of course, the dog wasn’t an actual direwolf; it was a Mahlek Northern Inuit pup.
With all the mind-boggling visual effects and the massive amount of background actors, it’s no secret Game of Thrones is expensive to make. The sixth season alone had a budget of over $100 million; that’s over $10 million per episode!
Because the budget is so large, literally everything about the show’s set design is a work of art. The dragon eggs from season one were so fancy that one of them was actually given to author George R. R. Martin as a wedding gift.
The onscreen relationship between Cersei and Tyrion Lannister is built on disdain and hatred. However, the actors who play the two characters are actually good friends off screen, and they often share apartments and meals together when their shooting schedules line up.
The massive actor who plays Cersei’s monster in the show was recast two different times throughout the run: after season one and season two. Icelandic professional strongman Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson took over after that and he’s been the big guy ever since.
It’s hard to picture actor Iwan Rheon playing any other character besides the ultra-evil Ramsay Bolton, but when he first started auditioning he was actually in the running for Jon Snow’s character. But, Kit Harington eventually beat him out.
Charles Dance, the actor who plays Lord Tywin, felt so bad about his brutal onscreen treatment of Peter Dinklage, who plays his son Tyrion, that he would constantly apologize to him between takes.
It’s safe to say that King Joffrey may be one of the most detestable characters of all time. Jack Gleeson, the actor who portrays the loathsome king, said his inspiration came from Joaquin Phoenix’s Commodus in Gladiator.
Kit Harington, who plays Jon Snow, and Rose Leslie, who plays the Ygritte, have the same off-screen chemistry as on-screen. The two fell in love on the set of the show and wed on June 23, 2018, in Scotland.
The production of the show is such a massive undertaking that it takes an entire year to film just one season. Season five alone was shot on 151 different sets across five countries, and there were 1,000 crew members and over 5,000 extras.
Actors Lena Headey and Jerome Flynn were involved romantically prior to being cast in the show, but things ended on terrible terms. It was so bad, in fact, that the actors refuse to be in the same scene together.
Throughout the show, most of the knights have a very specific knot tied into the front of their belts. Although it might look strange, many actual knights throughout history wore their belts this way to help fasten their leg armor.