Ser Rodrik Cassel: dignified, strong, steadfast. Ron Donachie: dignified, strong, steadfast. The actor played a man not too far from himself. But that in no way diminishes his performance. Rodrik Cassel was the Stark’s rock in the sea of churning waters that is Westeros. Ron Donachie’s performance was rock solid in a way that anchored the production and made those wildly-conflicted characters around him seem all the more erratic. This was illustrated all too well in Donachie’s final scene.
But before we get to that, let’s go back to the beginning. Ron Donachie was one of the cast members brought on for the original pilot. He has been with the production for the long haul. And his passion for the show, and the book series, was evident from the very beginning. Ron attended the very first Belfast “moot” (a moot is the Ice and Fire fandom’s term for a fan gathering). Even then, only a couple months after he had been cast, he had read all of the books and was delighted to discuss the details of the series to anyone who would listen.
His performance as Rodrik was just what the show needed. Nothing too flashy (well, except for those epic whiskers); just a dependable, veteran character actor doing his work and letting others take the glory. That being said, Donachie did have his moments. One of them was in season one, where we learned that Ser Rodrik is pretty good with a sword, when he took down some mountain clansmen during the attack in the Vale.
And then there was this past week’s death scene. Wow, that death scene. We saw Ser Rodrik defiant in the face of the ultimate betrayal, even if it meant he would lose his life. And it did.
Ser Rodrik met his death the same way he lived his life, with a quiet dignity. And his last words were so poignant. First, his reassuring words to Bran, “Hush now, child. I’m off to see your father.” And then his damnation of Theon, “Gods help you, Theon Greyjoy. Now you are truly lost.” So well played by Donachie, his quiet strength in stark contrast to Theon’s frantic emotions. I don’t think there were many dry eyes at that moment, not only in Winterfell, but in living rooms everywhere.
And so we mourn the loss of another great actor and another great character. And we gather now to give Ron Donachie and Ser Rodrik Cassel the send-off he deserves.
But he is not the only Cassel we want to recognize today. Jory Cassel, played by Jamie Sives, was killed in the first season, before the Curtain Call posts became a WinterIsComing.net tradition. So we think commemorating his performance now, alongside his on-screen uncle, is the proper thing to do. Sives’ performance was much like Donachie’s, understated but not under-appreciated. He was Ned Stark’s right-hand man in King’s Landing, as Rodrik served at Catelyn Stark’s side in her travels across Westeros, and he also met a painful end at the hands of a traitor. When Sives was on-screen, he injected the role of Jory with the right amount of warmth and humor.
So we bid the Cassels farewell from this tale. (Interesting sidenote: although the Cassel family is gone from the show, the Donachie family lives on as Daniel Portman, aka Podrik Payne, is Ron Donachie’s son.) Remember this is not a thread to discuss or debate the merits of the adaptation but is here for us to pay our respects to these fallen Stark heroes and share our appreciation for these two wonderful Scottish actors, Jamie Sives and Ron Donachie.