‘Game of Thrones’ Casting: Who Should Play Rhaegar?
For most of the summer, news about Game Of Thrones has mostly concerned the fact that the show is starting to wind down. Only two seasons remain, and both are expected to contain fewer than the traditional 10 episodes. For that reason, we’re mostly expecting to see a final round of characters dying off before a surviving batch of contenders battles for the Iron Throne. But lately some interesting casting news has been circulating, suggesting that we could soon meet Rhaegar Targaryen.
This would likely be the last major character to make a debut in the show. For those who may be fuzzy on who exactly this is, we think he’s Jon Snow’s real father. Rhaegar is Daenerys Targaryen’s older brother who’s believed to have been murdered by Robert Baratheon during the rebellion (before the show’s story began). The reason for said murder is that Rhaegar ran off with Lyanna Stark, who was betrothed to Robert. It’s been all but confirmed that whether by force or because the two were actually in love, Lyanna became pregnant with Jon; Ned Stark then vowed to hide Jon by claiming him as a bastard son, so that Robert would not hunt him as a surviving child with Targaryen blood.
We know a lot of this because of Bran Stark’s flashbacks in season six. We saw young Ned finding young Lyanna and baby Jon, but we didn’t meet Rhaegar. If the casting call rumors are correct, however, similar flashbacks could well introduce us to this mysterious Targaryen prince in season seven. But who should play the part?
From a combination of the recent casting call by HBO and descriptions in George R.R. Martin’s books—as well as artists’ renderings—we know a little bit about Rhaegar. He’s supposed to be tall and blonde with indigo eyes, lordly and, as he’s described at one point, “beautiful.” The coloring shouldn’t be a challenge; after all, it’s not as if Emilia Clarke is wearing her natural hair in her role as Daenerys Targaryen. The real challenge will likely be finding a relative unknown to take on the part. Thrones has thrived on launching careers more than tapping into existing ones. So just for fun, let’s look at a few folks who would make for interesting choices.
Here’s a young British actor who was actually suggested in one article exploring nine actors who could take up the role. Many of the selections there were too old given that we now suggest we’ll be seeing a young Rhaegar in flashbacks. But Pettyfer may be perfect. He’s reasonably tall, very good-looking, and somehow the guy just looks arrogant (which is a pretty Targaryen trait). Furthermore, some will recognize his face, but few will be able to place why. Well, he’s appeared in major films like Lee Daniels’ The Butler and Magic Mike, but isn’t known for a single signature role. He might be the most interesting suggestion out there for Rhaegar.
Ward is neither tall nor blonde, so he’s an unconventional choice. However, it’s worth considering that British soap operas sometimes produce more mainstream actors, and Ward has had recent work on Coronation Street. Believe it or not, this is still a remarkably popular show overseas, still airing regularly on ITV and having been leveraged as the subject for TV-based bingo rooms. The games, which cater to a fairly broad audience of online bingo players, will even have actors from the show do live bingo callings, which speaks to how the public recognizes the show. Thus, Ward may have surprising clout for a singer/soap star. He’s handsome and unexpected, and he’d be a blank slate for the writers (not to mention the make-up and outfitting crews).
Only 24 years old, Douglas Booth has a fairly impressive body of work to date. He’s reasonably tall and handsome enough that an “everything you need to know” profile described him as “the type of good-looking that makes you stop and drool in the street.” But there’s also something a little strange about his brand of good looks, which frankly would fall in line with how we imagine Targaryens. Booth has worked on numerous BBC projects and even portrayed Romeo (in 2013’s Romeo And Juliet). But at least outside of England, he’s still not a household name, despite also appearing in the likes of Noah and Jupiter Ascending.
Any Appropriate “Harry Potter” Veteran
It goes against the idea of finding a relative unknown, but if HBO wanted to make one last big splash with a casting decision, choosing one of the kids (now adults) from the Harry Potter franchise would certainly be a bold move. The actor who comes to mind is Tom Felton, who played Draco Malfoy and had the characteristic silver-blonde hair of the Targaryen family. However, there are other interesting options as well. Robert Pattinson (Cedric Diggory) certainly has the looks and height and Matthew Lewis (Neville Longbottom), who happens to be very tall, somehow turned into a “beautiful swan” after playing an unkempt, nerdy young boy for years.
Any of the above would make a fine Rhaegar, if indeed this character is on the way. It’ll be interesting to see which direction HBO goes with this vital, late-arriving character.
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