Wilko Johnson diagnosed with terminal cancer

We have some sad news to report. Wilko Johnson, longtime musician and Game of Thrones cast member, has been diagnosed with terminal cancer of the pancreas. The Guardian has some more details, including this statement from Johnson’s manager:

“I am very sad to announce that Wilko has recently been diagnosed with terminal cancer of the pancreas. He has chosen not to receive any chemotherapy. He is currently in good spirits, is not yet suffering any physical effects and can expect to enjoy at least another few months of reasonable health and activity. He has just set off on a trip to Japan; on his return we plan to complete a new CD, make a short tour of France, then give a series of farewell gigs in the UK. There is also a live DVD in the pipeline, filmed on the last UK tour.

“Wilko wishes to offer his sincere thanks for all the support he has had over his long career, from those who have worked with him to, above all, those devoted fans and admirers who have attended his live gigs, bought his recordings and generally made his life such an extraordinarily full and eventful experience. Thank you.”

Wilko was a member of the band Dr. Feelgood and after leaving them started his own band, Wilko Johnson Band. He has played Ilyn Payne in Game of Thrones for the past two seasons.

Winter Is Coming: Truly heartbreaking news. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Wilko and his loved ones during this difficult time.


  • Damn. I wish Mr. Johnson a quick recovery if that is possible, and if not, many more years of good health, all considering. Sad news.

  • Cancer really sucks. Praying for Wilko and his family and friends as they deal with this situation.

  • Udi,

    Unfortunately it’s terminal, but i’m sure you’re with me in wishing him all the best for what time he has left.

  • Terrible news. I’m glad to see Johnson is continuing live life on his own terms. He’s a cool dude.

  • Fuck Cancer.

    Sucks to hear about this Wilko, but I wish you the very best for the rest of your life, It seems you’ve led a good life so far (Especially compared to Illyn Payne) with your love for music and acting, so now all you can do is everything else you’ve ever wanted and enjoy every moment. All the best!

  • Sad to hear this news, and for the man himself – not the possible loss of the Ilyn Payne character. This real life and death situation is more important than any role on screen……

  • Very sad news indeed :-( Hopefully he’ll be able to enjoy the time he has left, and may it be a message to all of us that enjoying the small things is what is really important in life! Mr. Johnson doesn’t seem to be one of them judging by his resume, but too often people need to be faced with the inevitable for this realization to strike true…

    I wish you all the best Mr. Johnson, and if your tour through France brings you anywhere close to where I live I’ll surely be there to pay tribute to your talents and dedication!

  • Wow that is so sad to hear I really enjoy him on the show and was looking forward to his scenes with Jaime in the later seasons.

    Hopefully the doctors assessment is wrong and he can have more time to spend with his family and friends.

  • Oh, how horrible! Cancer of the pancreas is a dreadful thing to have to go through. His wife died of cancer, too, about 10 years ago.

  • Best wishes to him and his family. May his passing be peaceful and pain free. Cancer is so depressing. :( He added a lot for the role of Ilyn Payne. His presence was enough to strike fear in the hearts of many.

    His punk rock career was also super bad ass too. What a life he lived.

  • Oh man, brutal news. :(

    Obviously not the important thing here, but I was looking forward to his future scenes, sword training with Jaime.

    Best wishes to him and his family.

  • So sorry to hear about this. He does such a great job on the show. I’ll be thinking of him and his family.

  • This is indeed sad to hear. I’ve had two friends who have had/has cancer, one passed away about twelve years ago when she was 13 (bone cancer) and the other is currently in the process of having to go through radiation. She already lost a leg to stop the spread when she was a child and now it has popped up again :(

    All the best to Wilko and his family xx

  • So sad, truly :/
    At least he seems to have the means to live out the rest of his life the way he wants to…. going to Japan and all. Good luck Sir, you will be forever remembered!

  • Sad to learn of his advanced stage cancer. I hope he experiences more
    meaningful weeks with his family and friends, even completing a ” bucket
    list ” ( if he has one ). Visually , he fits the image of ASOIAF character,
    Payne. His expressive eyes and well expressed ser Illyn demeanor, easily
    convinced me of his handling upcoming scenes with Jaime ( on screen )
    He will be missed.

  • very brave decision not to go through with the chemo, that can be a very difficult decision, no doubt he means to make the last moments of his life living actively.
    good luck to him

  • This is very sad news indeed. My thoughts go out to him and his family! I must say that I respect his choice to not seek treatment and to enjoy the time he has left with his family.

    I have just been through this myself with my sister,who passed away this november of stage 4 liver cancer. She was only 51 and hers progressed from breast cancer(which she beat) into bone cancer then into her liver in 4 short years. She chose to fight in the last few months of her life for the sake of her children and husband . But She knew that the odds were against her . She suffered so much in the last weeks. Its an admirable thing to make that choice to not fight. I wish she would have made that choice and given herself and her family the time to be together. Cancer is the worst evil in the world. I am so sorry for those that have to suffer through it.

  • This is extremely sad news. As a great man once said, “Nobody deserves to die like that.”

    I wish Wilko and his family the best. Johnson’s portrayal of Ser Ilyn Payne was truly inspiring. He was every bit as intimidating in the series as I envisioned him in the books. I hope for the best in regards to his health and even though it’s terminal, I hope he is with us through the whole of season three.

  • Very sad news indeed. This woman will add her thoughts and prayers to the many who will be sending theirs to Wilko and family in the coming months. Hoping that he does all he wants to do in the time he has left and leaves our dimension in the best possible way. All our love to you Wilko!

  • Oh no, I am so saddened by this. I read the books after seeing the first season so I amagined Ser Payne with his great weathered face, hang in there! And excuse the pun, don’t let it lick you!

  • Since Margaret John, this is the most awfully sad news… Knowing that there is no other way to go… is just painfull…
    He was a great Ilyn Payne, no doubt, and I wonder if he had scenes for the upcoming season… for a final appearance… oh, and how much I waited for the Jaime\Ilyn scenes. But I really hope they do not recast the role.

  • Sad news indeed, my thoughts and prayers are with the family.

    I don’t suppose there’s any chance they could film his A Feast For Crows scenes early ? I enjoyed his appearences in Jamie’s chapters.

  • Thanks for giving us a heads up–will keep him and his loved ones in my thoughts. Wilko absolutely defines living life to the fullest, so am sure he will be a model in strength for us all in these coming months.

  • All the best Ser! I admire your spirit and strength and I can only say thank you for the entertainment you have given us all!

  • Tragic stuff! Just some really, really bad luck there, for Wilko… Life’s a bitch, I guess.

    Inspirational to see that he’s not just lying down after news like this – very much the opposite.

  • Not all terminal cancers turn out to be terminal. There is always hope, and I wish that he might live, but ultimately he — and all of us — will die.

    A good, full life must also teach you about dying.

    Hence: Above anything else, I am wishing Wilko strength, joy and illumination, in this world and the next one.

  • Such an awful loss this will be in so many ways…. Wishing hope and peace to him and his family. For me no one can top his Ilyn Payne, I will mourn amazing performances that shall never be.

  • Fuck cancer.

    I’d like to thank him for his work on this show which has always been really effective, I can’t imagine a better Ilyn Payne.

    I wish him nothing but the best.

  • So sorry to hear about this terrible news!!! He does such a fantastic job in his role as Ilyn, without even saying a word…… I hope he gets to enjoy his remaining time.

  • Thoughts, prayers, and karma out to him and his loved ones. The GoT family loves you, Wilko!

  • So sorry to hear this news. My thoughts and prayers are with you Ser Illyn. I didn’t know about your band, but I am certainly enjoying your music now.
    Perhaps during your tour of France, you could stop at Lourdes and drink the “Lourdes Water”. You are more than deserving of a miracle, and miracles do still happen. For me you will always be “The King’s Justice”.

  • Terrible disease. I have lost too many people to cancer. But, I am glad to hear he is taking charge of what time he has left. We are all reminded that life is short, and we should be making the most of the life we are given.

  • This is sad news indeed! We have already lost a few people working on the show…To Mr. Johnson I wish him peace and may his remaining moments be lived as best as possible! I want to thank him for his work on the show, he will forever remain part of our family!

    Be well dear ser!

  • Terribly sad news, eventually tragedy would strike such a large cast (GOT has been reasonably lucky in this regard considering how many cast members there are).

    I wonder if the added filming mentioned a few posts ago involves Jaime and Payne? Probably not unless Jaime is going to decide to keep the beard after he returns to KL? I really hope so, those scenes between Jaime and Payne can stand on their own and were such great moments.

    Sad sad news either way.

  • Everything you need Wilko.. my thoughts go to you and yours. Enjoy every moment.
    When I read AFFC I got emotional when Jamie went to Ser Ilyn and invited him to tag a long on the road , ” Maybe there is a chance for both of us” , search for redemption, even for Ser Ilyn, as I read I could imagine Wiko´s expression..tender and full of life

    I Hope Wiko finds everything he wants on his last journey..Im praying for a miracle

  • So sad to hear this. Having recently lost my grandfather, I reallyy see the value of choosing to live life to the full rather than spend a long time in hospital. My thoughts are with Wilko and his family.

    Wilko, your music rocks and you’re brilliant as Ser Ilyn. I hope you enjoy every minute and that you have time to do everything you hope to- if you have to go, go happy.

  • Sad news. His performance as mean and menacing was fun to watch. He will be in our prayers and will be missed…

  • A family member made a similar decision and lived nearly 2 mostly comfortable years, which was about a year longer than doctors projected with aggressive treatment. So I respect his decision to just enjoy the rest of his life. May the time he has left be full of love.

  • This is such sad news. He is so perfect as Ilyn Payne. It appears that he is facing his future with dignity and grace. What a brave man.

  • pls,

    As someone already mentioned: Doctors sometimes make wrong assessments. That is what I am hoping for as I am sure everyone else is. Odds are it is indeed Terminal but I personally know people who have been given wrong medical assessments and lived many good years. Brave man in any case.

  • Stephen:
    Dr Feelgood were a legendary band and he was a seminal guitarist near inventing the punk/new-wave style early in the 70s:

    check this

    Sad news but it sounds like he’s going to live his life as he wants which can only be admired. His legacy to the world of music will be incredible. He’s been criminally underrated for far too long, he’s every bit the equal of some of those more celebrated guitarists of the same generation, Paul Weller, etc. I hope more people can discover his work.

  • Kick ass till the end, Wilko, and God Bless. (and I’m probably one of the few on here old enough to remember your early music! now I have your most notorious song rattling around my brain in honor…)

  • Nick_Scryer,

    Fuck cancer indeed. My prayers are with Wilko and his family. I lost my aunt to liver cancer (heptocellular carcinoma), she beat the average and doctor’s estimates by two months, i pray Wilko has the same good fortune to have more time than he thought, and to live and love every minute he has. live and rest well, God be with you Mr. Johnson.

  • Terribly sad news, my heart goes out to Wilko. It’s a bloody shame, but at least the man can say that he lived. He tasted the Dornishman’s wife and that’s what really matters.

  • I would like to say how much I loved working with Wilko, I had been a fan of his stage performance and music since my teens and when he was cast in GOT I was really excited. He is an amazingly sweet, lovely individual being and he didn’t disappoint my built up teen image in any way.
    It seems that he is dealing with this hideous blow in the same way that he has dealt with his life. He is getting on with it and doing it his way. I would expect nothing less of him.
    Bless him, I remain a true fan.

  • Michele clapton, thanks for sharing, Michele. I’m sure you speak for many of your fellow crew members as well. The cast and crew over there really are like one big family.

  • My prayers and wishes go to Wilko and his family, don’t give up though, my mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer and only had a few weeks, then a Dr. from St. Josephs wanted to try a new treatment he learned from a seminar. That was 6 years ago and my mom is alive and in great health for someone her age.

  • hi Udi. indeed this is horrible news for anyone. my dad is a huge wilko fan and has seen him live. unfortunately, ‘terminal’ ilnesses are not curable and this will kill him eventually. we hope he can enjoy what is left of his full and crazy life, and may he rest in peace when his time comes.

  • That’s terrible news.

    I salute his decision to accept his fate, and I sincerely hope that he finds the strength to conclude his affairs on this world in a way worthy of such a brilliant man and person.

    It seems weird to weite a farewell to a person who’s still alive, but… farewell, Wilko. You were, are, and alwas will be a spectacular human being.