TV | July 14, 2017 5:00 am

‘Game of Thrones’ Audition Secrets From Casting Director

How actors got their names in the closing credits of HBO's hottest show.

The Secrets Behind Auditioning for 'Game of Thrones'
(left to right) Actors Rory McCann, Conleth Hill, Iwan Rheon, Gwendoline Christie, Peter Dinklage, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Maisie Williams, Emilia Clarke, Sophie Turner and Kit Harington, winners of Best Drama Series for 'Game of Thrones,' pose in the press room during the 68th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards at Microsoft Theater on September 18, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

The biggest stars of HBO’s Game of ThronesPeter Dinklage, Kit Harington, Emilia Clarke—have all become household names well outside House Stark and House Lannister.

But it begs the question: How did they all get there? As in, how did they land the parts? Because as anyone who’s been around actors knows, landing high-profile roles is not always a realistic Hollywood ending.

That’s where Thrones‘ casting director Nina Gold comes into play; it’s her job to build the show’s cast, run its auditions, recast if need be, and above all, hire actors who will resonate with large audiences.

Vanity Fair caught up with Gold and compiled a list of some of the best secrets to the show’s incredible casting—and we’ve curated our five favorite anecdotes below.

Mahershala Ali (of Moonlight and House of Cards fame) and Sam Heughan (Outlander) both auditioned for the show and didn’t get the parts. The X-Files‘ Agent Scully—a.k.a. Gillian Anderson—actually turned down a Thrones role.

Parents with talented children listen up: The Nottingham, England–based Television Workshop has become a go-to source of the show’s kid actors.

Gold finds inspiration—and dips into the talent pool from—Scandinavian crime thrillers like Borgen and The Killing.

Neither Sean Bean (Ned Stark) nor Peter Dinklage (Tyrion Lannister) had to audition for their parts; they were given a free ticket to Westeros.


Irish actor Kristian Nairn (Hodor) auditioned with just one line (obviously).