You know nothing, Jon Snow! EW’s James Hibberd broke the news in his Inside TV column: we have a wildling!
At last and after months of speculation we now know: Rose Leslie, formerly part of the fantastic Downton Abbey cast, has landed the much-coveted part of the wildling Ygritte in the second season of Game of Thrones.
The 24-year old Leslie has had little screen experience prior to her role on Downton, but the Emmy-beloved PBS show had a knack for finding just the right sort of British talent, so why shouldn’t Nina Gold mine that rich vein?
And Rose Leslie certainly looks the part! She’s a natural redhead with a swath of freckles across her cheeks and brow—much as Ygritte is described. There will likely be no need for wigs on this one, unless they’re demanding a shaggier look.
“Kissed by fire” indeed.
IMDB does not list Leslie as part of the Downton cast for season two, so it’s possible she opted for Game of Thrones (where Ygritte plays a much more prominent role) rather than continue her Downton storyline, but that’s of course just speculation. There’s always the possibility she could play both roles if shooting schedules are juggled just so, if the show decides Gwen needs to return… though Gwen did land her dream job as a secretary outside of Downton by season one’s end.
Fire And Blood: As a Downton Abbey fan, I really like this choice! Leslie’s character Gwen was perhaps one of the lesser-used Downton roles, but her distinctive face and demeanor made me notice her right away (I think her first episode was somewhere mid-first season). Gwen was anything but “wildling,” so she’s clearly not getting typecast. Welcome to the family, Rose!