We first reported this rumored casting a few weeks ago, but now it is official: Gemma Whelan has been cast to play Yara Greyjoy in season two of Game of Thrones. Yara was named Asha in the books, but has had her name changed in the show so as not to confuses audiences with the character Osha. James Hibberd of EW.com with the story:
Producers have tapped Gemma Whelan (Gulliver’s Travels, The Wolfman) to play
AshaYara Greyjoy, the older sister of the Stark family’s impulsive young ward Theon. Yara defies the Ironborn traditions of her family by commanding her own ship and leading men into battle, as well as having a penchant for axes.
Whelan is a British actress who has stage and some film credits to her name (noted in the quote above). Interestingly, she also has a bit of a comedic background, having won the Funny Women Variety Act Award in Sept 2010 with her character Chastity Butterworth. It could be that the producers will look to use her comedic talents in Yara’s memorable first scene.
Winter Is Coming: So Yara it is then. Hopefully I will get used to the name. It’s not a big deal in any case. Whelan is a bit different from how I imagined Asha/Yara, with a softer look and more comedy present in her acting (from the limited amount of clips I was able to find). Of course, looks can be altered and acting tailored to fit the character. So it remains to be seen whether the casting of Whelan indicates a shift in character to a softer, more playful
Asha Yara or whether Whelan was able to embody the toughness of Ash–Yara! (that is going to be hard to get used to) in the audition. I trust Nina Gold and I’m looking forward to seeing the end result, either way. Welcome to the cast Gemma!
UPDATE: In related news, HBO has confirmed the casting of Kerr Logan as Matthos Seaworth.