For the next feature in our series of Game of Thrones season 5 casting articles, we’re going to change things up a little and speculate about not one but two characters: Prince Doran Martell, the ruler of Dorne, and his daughter, Princess Arianne.
For years now, fans have been speculating that we might not see any of the Martell clan beyond the flashy Oberyn. With all the references to Dorne and its characters this season however, it seems more and more likely that we will be seeing some significant players from the southernmost of the Seven Kingdoms.
In the season four premiere Prince Doran, his health problems, and Sunspear (the seat of House Martell) were name-checked when Tyrion greeted the Dornish contingent. In episode three, Tywin admitted to Oberyn how much the Crown needs Dorne to hold off Daenerys, should she arrive on the shores of Westeros. In episode five, Oberyn discussed his daughters back home, and confirmed that Myrcella was happy when he saw her last with them. The regular mentions this year are giving fans hope that in season five, we’ll be seeing the Dornish characters and their home in the south.
So with that said, let’s take a look at some fan favorites and possibilities for the roles of Doran and Arianne Martell.
In the books, Prince Doran is in his early fifties, a decade older than his brother Oberyn. To many, he looks much older than this. He’s in poor health, having a soft body and suffering from gout in his legs that makes it difficult to walk, though he doesn’t complain. The prince is wise, appearing more reserved and patient than his infamously hotheaded younger brother.
Alexander Siddig – The British actor is a long-time favorite of fans for the role. Siddig is known best for his role as Dr. Bashir on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, but in recent years has kept busy with supporting stints on Da Vinci’s Demons, 24, and Atlantis. He’s young for Doran, but with the show casting a younger Oberyn, Siddig being almost ten years older than Pedro Pascal is ideal. Siddig won’t be returning for the second season of Atlantis. Is the time right for GoT?
Edward James Olmos – For those envisioning an older Doran, the Mexican-American actor is another favorite. Olmos has a career spanning forty years of film and television, with highlights such as his Oscar-nominated turn in Stand and Deliver and his leading role on Battlestar Galactica as Admiral Adama. Olmos is hugely respected and certainly has the gravitas for the part of the ruler of Dorne. Perhaps HBO should give him a call?
Naseeruddin Shah – The legendary Indian actor is most familiar to western audiences for playing the father of the bride in Monsoon Wedding and Captain Nemo in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. At 63, his age and looks fit well with the character and with his towering screen presence and over a hundred films to his credit, there’s no question he could nail the part of an ailing prince and beleaguered father.
Demián Bichir – Bichir first came to fans’ attention as a possible Doran when he joined the cast of Showtime’s Weeds as Esteban Reyes. In 2011, even more fans took notice when he starred in A Better Life as a gardener hoping to improve his son’s lot in life, and he picked up an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor. Bichir is currently starring in FX’s The Bridge, however, and with him playing the lead and filming into the summer, it may take him out of the running.
Erick Avari – A veteran of film and television, Avari has appeared in The Mentalist, Stargate, Warehouse 13, The X-Files, Heroes, The Mummy, and Daredevil just to name a few productions. He’s worked primarily in American television, and is overdue for a ripe, longer-running role on a drama like Game of Thrones.
Arianne Martell is the eldest child and heir of Prince Doran. The princess of Dorne is hot-tempered and strong-willed, resembling her uncle Oberyn more than her father in personality. Being the future ruler of her region, Arianne has an interest in politics and playing the game.
Arianne is described as having “jet-black ringlets that [fall] to the small of her back,” olive skin, and dark eyes. She’s short with a voluptuous figure, and is a seductive beauty.
Janina Gavankar – This actress is a familiar face for HBO viewers, as she played shapeshifter Luna Garza on True Blood for two seasons. She’s also scored recurring gigs on Arrow, The Vampire Diaries, and The L-Word. George R.R. Martin himself once told Janina that she resembled Lady Nymeria, Arianne’s Sand Snake cousin. However, Gavankar is costarring in NBC’s new series The Mysteries of Laura this fall, which means she may not be available.
Antonia Thomas – Thomas is best known for playing Alisha on the E4 hit Misfits. After leaving the show in 2011, the British actress has turned up in films like Spike Island and Sunshine on Leith (using her singing talents extensively in the latter) and in the mini-series Fleming and Homefront. Thomas has a few small films in the can, but hasn’t broken out yet as a leading lady. She certainly could pull off Arianne’s confidence and sensuality, and would be an interesting choice.
Catalina Sandino Moreno – The Colombian actress burst onto the scene with her Academy Award-nominated performance in Maria Full of Grace in 2004. Since then she’s turned in strong supporting performances in films like Love in the Time of Cholera and Che: Part One and Two. Last year, she costarred in The Bridge as Alma Ruiz. Catalina is in her early thirties, but with an older Doran, that’s not a problem.
Freida Pinto – Pinto won hearts with her big screen debut as Latika in Slumdog Millionaire, and has been a favorite for fancasting the role of Arianne ever since. The actress has followed up with a variety of international films. Her most notable movie since then has been Rise of the Planet of the Apes. However Pinto has never done television and is more adept at playing sweeter characters, so despite looking the part, she may not be the best fit.
Amber Rose Revah – This year, the 27-year-old English actress is starring as Mary Magdalene in Son of God. She’s appeared in several European TV programs, including The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Borgia, What Remains, and House of Saddam. Her most notable film roles to-date have been supporting parts in From Paris With Love and I Can’t Think Straight. Revah has a smart presence in her roles and would be a solid choice for the Dornish princess.
Ours is the Fury: What does everyone think of these choices? Do you have any fantasy picks of your own? If the show decides to introduce either or both of these characters next year, they have a good bit of leeway with the ages, I think. After all, Doran is ten years older than Oberyn so he could easily be more than that on the show. The age is not very important as long as there’s a believable gap between father and daughter. Speculate away!