George R. R. Martin Imagined Them Differently: The Way "GoT" Actors Should Look According To The Book

When shows are based on books, the casting has to be specific because each character has their own description. In the case of Game of Thrones, some people do not look exactly like what George R.R. Martin described, and this is sometimes due to the way they want to tell the story. Here we have a comparison of some characters in the show in relation to what is in the novels.

1. Yara/Asha Greyjoy

Aside from the fact that showrunners changed Asha’s name to Yara on the series, actress Gemma Whelan is not exactly like the character described in the books in terms of looks. Her personality is almost perfect, though. The description reads: “[…] lean and longlegged, with black hair cut short, wind-chafed skin, strong sure hands, a dirk at her belt. Her nose was too big and too sharp for her thin face, but her smile made up for it.”

2. Bran Stark

Actor Isaac Hempstead-Wright brings life to the character, but he is not like him in looks because the series ignored the fact that most of the Stark children took after Catelyn and her Tully family. According to Martin, “Catelyn had always thought Robb looked like her; like Bran and Rickon and Sansa, he had the Tully coloring, the auburn hair, the blue eyes.” If Isaac got some contacts and painted his hair, he would be perfect.

3. Brienne of Tarth

Actress Gwendoline Christie does a great job because of her height, hair color, and manner, but it’s unlikely that she will match the character’s description because Brienne has gotten into many altercations that have altered her face. “Beauty, they called her… mocking. The hair beneath the visor was a squirrel's nest of dirty straw, and her face… Brienne's eyes were large and very blue, a young girl's eyes, trusting and guileless, but the rest…”

“Her features were broad and coarse, her teeth prominent and crooked, her mouth too wide, her lips so plump they seemed swollen. A thousand freckles speckled her cheeks and brow, and her nose had been broken more than once.” 

4. Daario Naharis

We saw two different actors portray this role, but unfortunately, none of them were like the one in the books. The description reads: “Daario Naharis was flamboyant even for a Tyroshi. His beard was cut into three prongs and dyed blue, the same color as his eyes and the curly hair that fell to his collar. His pointed mustachios were painted gold.” Maybe, it was too weird to have him as a love interest for Dany on the show.

5. Daenerys Targaryen

Aside from the age difference, Emilia Clarke is absolutely perfect for the role of Khaleesi. Her eyes and hair might be somewhat distinct, but it works. “They dressed her in the wisps that Magister Illyrio had sent up, and then the gown, a deep plum silk to bring out the violet in her eyes… ‘She's too skinny,’ Viserys said. His hair, the same silver-blond as hers, had been pulled back tightly behind his head and fastened with a dragonbone brooch.”

6. Euron Greyjoy

Actor Pilou Asbæk is amazing, but the show disregarded his description almost completely. They should have made him scarier. “Euron was the most comely of Lord Quellon's sons, and three years of exile had not changed that. His hair was still black as a midnight sea, with never a whitecap to be seen, and his face was still smooth and pale beneath his neat dark beard. A black leather patch covered Euron's left eye, but his right was blue as a summer sky. His smiling eye thought Victarion.”

7. Sandor “The Hound” Clegane

While the makeup team does a fantastic job with the Hound’s face, it is not nearly as detailed as it was in the novels. “The right side of his face was gaunt, with sharp cheekbones and a grey eye beneath a heavy brow. His nose was large and hooked, his hair thin, dark. He wore it long and brushed it sideways because no hair grew on the other side of that face. The left side of his face was a ruin. His ear had been burned away; there was nothing but a hole.”

“His eye was still good, but all around it was a twisted mass of scar, slick black flesh hard as leather, pocked with craters and fissured by deep cracks that gleamed red and wet when he moved. Down by his jaw, you could see a hint of bone where the flesh had been seared away.”

8. Jorah Mormont

Khaleesi’s faithful soldier has been in the friend-zone since forever, and some us might have wondered why because he is so handsome. Well, in the novels, Jorah is not like that at all. “Ser Jorah was not a handsome man. He had a neck and shoulders like a bull, and coarse black hair covered his arms are chest so thickly that there was none left for his head.”

9. Ramsay Bolton

This is one of the most hated characters on the show, though Iwan Rheon was too handsome and charming in the role. The character is much more grotesque like his heart. “Yet for all the splendor of his garb, he remained an ugly man, big-boned and slope-shouldered, with a fleshiness to him that suggested that in later life he would run to fat. His skin was pink and blotchy, his nose broad, his mouth small, his hair long and dark and dry.”

“His lips were wide and meaty, but the thing men noticed first about him were his eyes. He had his lord father's eyes—small, close-set, queerly pale. Ghost grey, some men called the shade, but in truth, his eyes were all but colorless, like two chips of dirty ice.”

10. Roose Bolton

The calculating Lord of the Dreadfort was embodied by actor Michael McElhatton, who does not look at all like the character. “He had a plain face, beardless and ordinary, notable only for his queer pale eyes. Neither plump, thin, nor muscular, he wore black ringmail and a spotted pink cloak. The Lord regarded her. Only his eyes moved; they were very pale, the color of ice.”

11. Theon Greyjoy

His time under Ramsay Snow’s torture was awful on the show, but aside from losing his manhood, not much else changed. However, in the novels, the difference is striking, and according to a conversation between Ramsay and another lord, he lost teeth, fingers and more. “Lord Ramsay confessed. ‘I may have broken some of his pretty white teeth.’ Reek did not know what to say, so he said nothing. One wrong word could cost him another toe, even a finger.”

“Thus far he had lost two fingers off his left hand and the pinky off his right, but only the little toe off his right foot against three from his left.”

12. Tyrion Lannister

We all love Peter Dinklage, but we cannot deny that the actor is much better-looking than what is written about the Imp in the novels. “Tyrion Lannister, the youngest of Lord Tywin's brood and by far the ugliest. All that the gods had given to Cersei and Jaime, they had denied Tyrion. He was a dwarf, half his brother's height, struggling to keep pace on stunted legs.”

“His head was too large for his body, with a brute's squashed-in face beneath a swollen shelf of brow. One green eye and one black one peered out from under a lank fall of hair so blond it seemed white.”

13. Tywin Lannister

Actor Charles Dance played a wonderfully stoic leader of the Lannister clan, and his appearance is fairly accurate, but for his hair and beard. “The Lord of Casterly Rock was as lean as a man twenty years younger, even handsome in his austere way. Stiff blond whiskers covered his cheeks, framing a stern face, a bald head, a hard mouth.”

14. Robb Stark

As we mentioned, the Stark children, except Arya, look like the Tullys, and the show did a good job picking Robb, though his hair could have been a little redder. “’The deserter died bravely,’ Robb said. He was big and broad and growing every day, with his mother's coloring, the fair skin, red-brown hair, and blue eyes of the Tullys of Riverrun.”

“He is a boy no longer, she realized with a pang. He is sixteen now, a man grown. Just look at him. War had melted all the softness from his face and left him hard and lean. He had shaved his beard away, but his auburn hair fell uncut to his shoulders.”

15. Jaime Lannister

The main problem fans have with Jaime’s looks is his changing hair and beard, which has gone from clean-cut to disheveled throughout the seasons. Furthermore, he was supposed to look almost exactly like Cersei, though this must be impossible. “There came Ser Jaime Lannister with hair as bright as beaten gold, and there Sandor Clegane with his terrible burned face.”

16. Lancel

This character kept to the book’s description, but his story involving the Sparrows was created by the show. In the novel, he was injured during the Battle of the Blackwater which aged him, but his face was not carved. “Though only seventeen, he might have passed for seventy; grey-faced, gaunt, with hollow cheeks, sunken eyes, and hair as white and brittle as chalk. Though his hair had gone white, his mustache fuzz remained a sandy color.”

17. Barristan the Bold

While traveling to Essos to join Daenerys' forces, he grew his hair and bread, adopting the name Arstan Whitebeard. After revealing his true name to Khaleesi, he went back to his previous style. The show ignored this side of the character. “The other man wore a traveler's cloak of undyed wool, the hood thrown back. Long white hair fell to his shoulders, and a silky white beard covered the lower half of his face.”

18. Stannis Baratheon

While actor Stephen Dillane did a wonderful job portraying the role of strict Stannis, his looks are not exactly like what is described in the novels. In fact, he looked older than Robert although he was his little brother. “Stannis Baratheon was broad of shoulder and sinewy of limb, with a tightness to his face and flesh that spoke of leather cured in the sun until it was as tough as steel. Though he was not yet five-and-thirty, only a fringe of thin black hair remained on his head…”

“Stannis kept his own whiskers cropped tight and short. They lay like a blue-black shadow across his square jaw and the bony hollows of his cheeks. His eyes were open wounds beneath his heavy brows, a blue as dark as the sea by night. His mouth would have given despair to even the drollest of fools; it was a mouth made for frowns and scowls and sharply worded commands, all thin pale lips, and clenched muscles, a mouth that had forgotten how to smile and had never known how to laugh.” 

19. Melisandre

Actress Carice van Houten was the perfect choice for this role. “‘It was her!’ Davos cried. ‘Mother, don't forsake us. It was her who burned you, the red woman, Melisandre, her!’ He could see her; the heart-shaped face, the red eyes, the long coppery hair, her red gowns moving like flames as she walked, a swirl of silk and satin."

20. Ned Stark

Sean Bean might have been a fantastic addition to this series, but book fans know that he looked nothing like Eddard. “Bran's father sat solemnly on his horse, long brown hair stirring in the wind. His closely trimmed beard was shot with white, making him look older than his thirty-five years. He had a grim cast to his grey eyes this day, and he seemed not at all the man who would sit before the fire in the evening and talk softly of the age of heroes and the children of the forest.”

21. Robert Baratheon

Actor Mark Addy nailed Robert’s personality, but his hair had streaks of gray, while the character was fully black-haired. Moreover, he was one of the tallest people in the novels, and the actor is only 5’11”. “A beard as coarse and black as iron wire covered his jaw to hide his double chin and the sag of the royal jowls, but nothing could hide his stomach or the dark circles under his eyes.”

22. Edmure Tully

The younger brother of Catelyn and Lysa does not look at all like them in the HBO series, and he even seems older. “Her father's guards waited on the water stair with her brother. Ser Edmure Tully was a stocky young man with a shaggy head of auburn hair and a fiery beard.”

23. The Mountain

Several actors have played this role. Conan Steven (7’ tall) in season one, Ian Whyte (7’1”) in season two and Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson (6'9") since season four. Björnsson is perhaps the most similar in looks. “He was well over seven feet tall, closer to eight, with massive shoulders and arms thick as the trunks of small trees…. In the middle of the field, Ser Gregor Clegane disentangled himself and came boiling to his feet.”

"He is almost eight feet tall and must weigh thirty stone, all of it muscle. He fights with a two-handed greatsword, but needs only one hand to wield it. He has been known to cut men in half with a single blow. His armor is so heavy that no lesser man could bear the weight, let alone move in it."

24. Syrio Forel

While this character was minor in both the show and the novels, he was definitely a fan favorite, though actor Miltos Yeromelou has a full head of black hair. “The hall seemed empty, until an unfamiliar voice said, ‘You are late, boy.’ A slight man with a bald head and a great beak of a nose stepped out of the shadows.”

25. Ygritte

Actress Rose Leslie did an amazing job on the show, proving that Jon Snow knows nothing, but we can all agree that she is way more beautiful than the character’s description. According to Martin, “Ygritte's hair was such a tangle that Jon was tempted to ask her if she only brushed it at the changing of the seasons. […] She had a round peasant face, a pug nose, and slightly crooked teeth, and her eyes were too far apart.”

26. Cersei Lannister

No one can imagine anyone but actress Lena Headey for this hateful role, but there are a couple of differences in regards to her look in the novels. She developed a drinking problem and started gaining weight. “She was as beautiful as men said. A jeweled tiara gleamed amidst her long golden hair, its emeralds a perfect match for the green of her eyes.”

27. Sam Tarly

John Bradley is able to capture Samwell’s personality perfectly, but that is where the resemblance ends. Sam is clean-shaven and heavier than Bradley in the books. “By the look of him, he must have weighed twenty stone. The fur collar of his embroidered surcoat was lost beneath his chins. Pale eyes moved nervously in a great round moon of a face, and plump sweaty fingers wiped themselves on the velvet of his doublet.”

28. Littlefinger

While we all hated Lord Baelish with all our hearts, his character looked almost exactly like the description in the books and captured the fact that he was aging too rapidly. “Petyr had been a small boy […] slender and quick, with the sharp features she remembered and the same laughing grey-green eyes. He had a little-pointed chin beard now, and threads of silver in his dark hair, though he was still shy of thirty.”

29. Oberyn Martell

Actor Pedro Pascal made Oberyn Martell a fan favorite despite his short time on the series, and while his looks are somewhat similar, he should have had long hair and a widow’s peak. “His face was lined and saturnine, with thinly arched brows above large eyes as black and shiny as pools of coal oil. Only a few streaks of silver marred the lustrous black hair that receded from his brow in a widow's peak as sharply pointed as his nose.”

30. Missandei

Now, despite how much we love Nathalie Emmanuel, the character of Missandei was completely changed for unknown reasons. Her origin in the island of Naath and peaceful religion seems to point to someone with an Asian look. “The girl spoke the Common Tongue well, for one who had never been to Westeros. No older than ten, she had the round flat face, dusky skin, and golden eyes of Naath. The Peaceful People, her folk were called.”

31. Jon Snow

Kit Harrington is an actor that was definitely made to appear in Game of Thrones. Though his looks have changed over the seasons, we can all agree that he was the perfect choice. “Jon's eyes were a grey so dark they seemed almost black, but there was little they did not see. He was of an age with Robb, but they did not look alike. Jon was slender where Robb was muscular, dark where Robb was fair, graceful and quick where his half-brother was strong and fast.”

32. Arya Stark

Maisie Williams is the most accurate embodiment of Arya that we can imagine. Although HBO aged all the Stark children for story-telling purposes, she is still amazing in the role. “Arya took after their lord father. Her hair was a lusterless brown, and her face was long and solemn…. ‘Lyanna might have carried a sword, if my lord father had allowed it. You remind me of her sometimes. You even look like her.’”

33. Lysa Arryn

This character was almost completely changed in the show. In the novels, she was fat from several pregnancies and miscarriages. Actress Kate Dickie has the attitude on point, but there is no way anyone would ever believe she is overweight. “Her sister was two years the younger, yet she looked older now. Shorter than Catelyn, Lysa had grown thick of body, pale and puffy of face. She had the blue eyes of the Tullys, but hers were pale and watery, never still.”

“Her small mouth had turned petulant. As Catelyn held her, she remembered the slender, high-breasted girl who'd waited beside her that day in the sept at Riverrun. How lovely and full of hope she had been. All that remained of her sister's beauty was the great fall of thick auburn hair that cascaded to her waist.”

34. Gilly

Actress Hannah Murray portrays the character’s personality in a great way, but Gilly was supposed to be a lot younger. Furthermore, some fans did not like her bucktoothed look because nothing like that appeared in the novels. “Gilly was dark-haired and slim, with the big brown eyes of a doe. She was swallowed by the folds of Sam's old cloak, her face half-hidden by its hood, but shivering all the same. Her face looked wan and frightened.”

35. Benjen Stark

Though the characters of Coldhands and Benjen were merged in the series that is still debatable in the books. Moreover, for the most part, it seems like they got his looks fairly correct. “His uncle was sharp-featured and gaunt as a mountain crag, but there was always a hint of laughter in his blue-grey eyes.”

What did you think of this comparison between the characters in the novel versus their appearance on the series? We would like to know your opinion, so leave a comment down below and share this article with all your friends who have read the books and still love the show.

Sources used: Looper, Youtube/Looper


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