Curtain Call Editorial

Curtain Call: Rose Leslie

When I met Rose in the spring of 2013, at the Beverly Hills Four Seasons, she was making the interview rounds with many of her fellow GoT actors. Fresh off her first season as Ygritte, I thought she seemed open and friendly, if perhaps a bit intense.

This was mostly because, when myself or other interviewers spoke to her, we had her immediate and rapt attention. She looked at us as though no one else or no other question was more important in that very moment. Her hands would fiddle with things–a water bottle or something close at hand, usually–but her gorgeous eyes (a deep sea blue-green) seemed to be extra intent, as though not just deciphering whatever question you had just asked, but perhaps even the hidden intent of it, if hidden intent there might be.

I first brushed it off as a newcomer sort of thing–a young actress fresh to the limelight (though she did win a Scottish BAFTA for her role in New Town in 2009) not wanting to miss a single question. But it was soon evident that Rose was not merely exhibiting a traditional extension of English etiquette–ensuring the curious intruders felt at home–she was truly invested in the conversation, keenly interested in any discussion or question having to do with Ygritte. She loved Ygritte as much as (if not more than) any person I have ever talked to–and I know a hell of a lot of Ygritte fans.

She owned the role, playing Ygritte with a cheeky sort of rough-and-tumble rarely seen in any character on television or film. And you can put part of Ygritte’s appeal in George’s lap, or in David and Dan’s, but the most credit goes to Rose. And she deserves every accolade, not only for the ferocity of her performance, but for the raw, choked honesty she was able to portray. The fans of this great series are spoiled, perhaps; the acting is largely an embarrassment of riches we gladly hoard. She was quite the find.

Rose is a performer I’m going to seek out in years to come. She proved her range within a one-year span, going from the buttoned-up and meek Gwen on Downton Abbey, to Ygritte who is anything but. It’s fair to say she won’t be pigeonholed or typecast any time soon; I imagine she is going to have a long and successful career if she chooses to, and won’t be too shocked to see the honorary Dame one day affixed before her name.

And what a dame! I can already imagine her gathering the Leslie Clan granddaughters and great-nieces about her chair as one of them asks, pointing to the white-leather bound bow hanging over her mantle (a wonderful parting gift from production), “Gram, what’s that doing up there?” And I can see Ygritte’s familiar playful twinkle in those eyes as she says with a hushed voice, “Well, a story comes with that, and if you’re good, you’ll hear it all.”

And what a tale that will be!

(One hopes it is a more delicate version than the one George is telling even now.)

She is a proud fan of the books; I’m not sure if she’s decided to pick up A Dance With Dragons just yet, as she has stated she wants to wait for the release of The Winds of Winter so that she knows she has something to continue. Alas, Rose is as mortal as any of us, forced to wait for word on the Winds.

Rose, like Ygritte, apparently likes to remain busy. She appeared in the UK television series Utopia this very year, and is set to star in the horror thriller Honeymoon alongside Harry Treadaway (wielding an American accent like a pro) and is shooting the comedy Sticky Notes even as I type.

But of course to us she will always be the redheaded wildling of our dreams. Ygritte, the only true love Jon Snow will ever know; now immortal.

Rose, it was a pleasure to have known ye.

Take a bow and know the love and respect we will always have for you.



  • Such a beauty and a talent! I have never been a big fan of her character (in the book or the show), but that is no fault of hers. She played the part wonderfully, and had such brilliant chemistry with Kit. She will be missed!

  • Rose you were amazing. It’s a shame they didn’t give you much to do in season 4 but you were so brilliant in your death scene.

    Is there going to be a curtain call for Josef Altin and Mark Stanley?

  • Such a beautiful, talented, charming young woman…

    I adored her portrayal of Ygritte. And I appreciated the enthusiasm that she always exhibited for this show, this story and the fans. I will truly miss her.

    We need a Curtain Call for the men of the Night’s Watch.

  • I didn’t really care about Ygritte in the books, but Rose Leslie managed to make her an interesting character from the get go. Sad to see her go. :(

  • She made me a huge fan of hers as well as Ygritte. Always in the moment and even when being tough she had the ability to open up her emotion to the audience. It wasn’t exactly vulnerability but a kind of honesty and direct communication, and it clearly inspired her other co-stars to play off her.

    I was particularly impressed with how ready and willing Rose was to engage with people as an ambassador for the show, for instance touring with the costumes and props, and appearances at Comic-Con. She just seems like a great mix of professionalism and warmth to go with all of that talent.

    I’m looking forward to the “Honeymoon” movie, but I already knew this wouldn’t be the last we’d see of Rose Leslie. I hope she becomes a household name.

  • [email protected] Stark says:

    Rose, I just adored your Ygritte. Thought you were spot on how I envisioned her. I also enjoyed you in Downton Abbey as well, but GOT made me proud of you. Much luck in all your future endeavors and may the Godswood be with you :)

  • Yrgitte is one of my least favorite characters in the book. I was even relieved when she died.

    In the show, Rose made me like and care about her. The actors on this show are always so great they make me miss characters I don’t miss in the books. Ygritte goes on this list.

    Thank you Rose for adding more substance to the character. We’ll miss you!

  • Nice post as always, FaB! Rose was so great, showing Ygritte’s strength and vulnerability. And she seems so personable and approachable and earnest! I’ll be looking out for her next projects.

    Best wishes for a great future, Rose! <3

    TECH: please fix the logging-out-on-refresh problem! very annoying!

  • So long, Ygritte! We’ll miss you, Rose, you are brilliant!

    (As I do with the other departed GoT cast, I’m going to definitely be watching for her next projects!)

  • Was so impressed with Rose when I first saw her in Downton Abbey and then was so excited so see her cast as Ygritte. And so cool that she is waiting to read DwD so she has more to look forward to –

    Best to you Rose! We are watching you and know you will have a wonderful career.

  • Loved her! She was perfect.

    Especially the emotional scenes with Jon Snow. I teared up at her longing “You’re mine. And I am yours.”

  • My favorite scene with her (I’ve said it before, but it’s her curtain call so forgive me my trespasses), was “The Climb.” It’s the discussion the two of them have about intimacy just before they do the climb.

    She taunts him by saying, “Well, I’m Jon Snow, I’ve killed dead men and Qhorin Halfhand but I’m afraid of naaaked giirrrls.”

    “I didn’t seem scared the other day.”

    “You were trembling like a leaf.”

    “Only in the beginning.”

    And she considers it for a second, and smiles a little and says, “Only in the beginning.”

    It’s the kind of conversation people only really have when they’ve just started having sex together, the kind of mind-blowing cathartic sex that’s at the beginning of a relationship (or in advance of climbing a goddamned 700-foot wall of ice), and she’s so unbelievably sexy talking about it. And this is after playing so buttoned-up on Downton Abbey.

    She brought so much to the role – certainly one of those “improved by the show” characters. That’s a well-written scene, and gives a lot of life to her later grim nature after she spurns him. I’ll miss her.

    (and yes, pls, a curtain call for Grenn and Pyp, mods…and Dontos! Aw, screw it, it isn’t happening.)

  • So many great actors on this show, and so many of them are leaving this show with their profiles raised and their careers at another level. Anyone wanna venture how many Oscars this group collectively ends up with? I’m going to go with 3, at least, assuming one for Dinklage, and not sure who the others are – but Rose could be one of them.

  • Rose, you are gorgeous and I love your voice! You were also awesome as Ygritte! Thanks for being part of the greatest show ever!

  • Ygritte was one of my favourite female characters on the show (screw the haters, Wildlings for life) and of course without Rose Leslie’s(who seems like on of the best people you would ever meet in real life) performance I dont think I would have loved her character as much. Will absolutely miss two of my favourite women on GoT.

  • I enjoyed Rose’s contributions to all the extra footage/con stuff she did, I ALMOST didn’t seethe with jealousy at her close work with Jon Snuh. Almost ;)

  • Rose Leslie will be sorely missed, she’s always a joy to watch in interviews, and her Yorkshire accent was on point!

    My favourite scene of hers is the three none fatal arrows in 3×10, her expressions as she pulls the bow string and forces her tears back are just the most genuine, heartbreaking thing

  • Hear hear, FaBster. Thank you for a wonderful portrayal of a wonderful character, Rose!

  • I loved Ygritte the first time I saw her and I’m gonna miss her so much! She is one of my favorite characters. The way Rose played her just made me love her more. I just adore Rose Leslie and I’m so sad to see her go!

  • Well I’m sad to see her go. She was great in the role, she was rough round the edges, fiesty, tough and at times enjoyable to watch. And I agree she should have a great career ahead, because she was one of the best actresses on the show, not with the likes of Dame Diana Rigg but alongside Gwendoline Christie and Natalie Dormer, and I think we agree she has has more acting skills than Emilia Clarke. Anyway, I wish Rose the best of luck with her career and life.

  • Rose Leslie is a smart, gorgeous, eloquent, and classy woman. Whenever I listened to her give interviews in her surprisingly posh accent or saw videos of her walking the red carpet at premiere events in some stunning dress, it seemed almost impossible to me that this incredibly elegant lady could so convincingly portray a fierce, sassy, and thoroughly wild member of the Free Folk. But Rose sold me on Ygritte’s toughness, her skill as a warrior, her determination, her deep ability to love, and her equally deep mix of heartache and anger when that love seemed lost to her. As she did so, Ygritte came to life before my eyes.

    All of the things that I’ve stated above are among the many reasons why the version of Ygritte that Rose has given us in Game of Thrones surpasses the Ygritte from Martin’s novels in my mind. She was a good character in the books, but I liked her primarily because we were seeing her through Jon Snow’s eyes and as Jon eventually grew to love her, my affection for her slowly grew as well. But on screen, every aspect of Ygritte’s journey from her first meeting with Jon Snow to her eventual death was given greater weight because of Rose’s excellent performance. The scene in the cave where Ygritte and Jon lose themselves in one another for a time is obviously one of the most iconic moments of their relationship, and together with Kit Harington, Rose pulled it off beautifully. I know that a lot of people thought the moment where Ygritte and Jon kiss atop the Wall at the end of “The Climb” was a bit cheesy, but it worked for me because I knew that it was the pinnacle of a relationship that was destined for tragedy. And while certain people also seem to have some issues with Ygritte’s death scene, thinking that it was staged as too much of a conventional Hollywood moment, that scene worked for me too because Rose and Kit again were able to convey so much heartache and regret in so few words. I knew that it was coming, and it still hit me like a punch in the gut.

    Rose was a special member of the Game of Thrones family, and she will be missed on the show, both by her colleagues and by viewers everywhere. But she has a long career ahead of her, and I wish her well in whatever endeavor she decides to tackle next.

    And wherever she goes, she will always be “Kissed by Fire”.

  • Rose’s depiction of a “Free Woman” was spot on with all the fire it required, and her acting made for some memorable moments in the Jon Snow story arc when that needed it. Looking forward to see her in future projects in general, and especially in the upcoming season of Utopia which is a series I’d recommend everybody to watch (it’s a bit off-beat, but very interesting, and the cinematography is exceptional). Farewell, Rose, you shall be missed!

  • You took the words right out of my keyboard. She’s a very talented actress, and I’m sure she’s going to have a big, bright future.

    zod: I didn’t really care about Ygritte in the books, but Rose Leslie managed to make her an interesting character from the get go. Sad to see her go. :(

  • Rose Leslie made an amazing Ygritte. She’s one of those actors who actually improved the character from the books.

    I liked her in Season 2, with her teasing of Jon… but I REALLY fell in love with her performance mid-way through Season 3. The emotion on her face when she looked over the Wall for the first time… and the hurt in her eyes when Jon betrayed her. The look on her face when she shot him full of arrows. And, finally, the amazing range of emotions on her face right before she died, as she was about to shoot Jon. That was some truly excellent acting, all with her face, no words at all. And her death scene, while perhaps a little cliche, really worked for me. One of the sadder deaths so far.

    Thanks for such a memorable performance, Rose!

  • Another perfect casting by GoT. If they don’t win the Emmy for that category then we have come to the wrong place for justice.

    Bravo, Rose! Thank you for making my Springs and Sundays that much sweeter.

  • Beautiful post FaB. Also:



    Greatjon of Slumber,

    Thank you. Your comments have said everything I feel, and more eloquently than I could ever express (believe me, I’ve been trying to write this post for the last 30 minutes). I liked Ygritte in the books but I loved her in the show, and most of that is because of Rose. In a show filled with wonderfully talented actresses playing complex female characters, she still stood out. She was an absolute delight to watch, and I have no doubt she will shine in her future projects as well.

    Bravo Rose!

  • A great Ygritte, as others have said, she made a 2 dimensional love interest fascinating. She isbibe if those actors who can communicate a lot with subtleties of her face. Her look at Jon Sniw right before her death was perfect.

    Btw, kind of love that there are so many different reactions to her death. Some always loved her having seen her vulnerable side in earlier seasons, others couldn’t see past her willingness to kill innocents for the Free Folk cause. She was a gray character, and truky gray characters should get those diverse opinions on their character.

    No matter what you think of Ygritte though, I think mkst of us can agree that Rose Leslie was wonderfulnin the role. Will miss her.

  • Rose did an amazing job in each one of her scenes. It had to turn out this way, but she’ll be missed. One of the best actresses on the show, in my opinion. Ygritte was never one of my favourites when reading the books, but Rose’s portrayal of her in the show was very special.

  • When Rose was cast, I remember seeing complaints… complaints! …that she was “too pretty” to be Ygritte.
    Well, she killed it.
    She was an amazing Ygritte.
    And, yes, hot too.
    Bravo Rose.

    (I’d say “encore, encore” but that could be a ghoulishly bad thing on Game of Thrones)

  • Thanks for the fire, Rose. May Ygritte forever find peace in that mountain cave.

    Good piece, FaB.

  • Thank you, FABio, for the kind words. All true. Rose’s Ygritte made up a huge deal for the lack of Quorin Halfhand, and every interaction with Kit was authentic and funny. The relationship was always going to be an important one for Jon and they nailed the casting. Looking forward to all her other projects and long may she reign in Hollywood XD

  • She was fantastic! I found Ygritte a bit irritating in the books but I loved her in the show.

    I could watch her ‘swooning’ scene with Kit forever it made me invest in that relationship. I wish she got more screen time this season and they hadn’t dragged out the battle so long but that doesn’t detract from her fantastic performance.

  • Michael Kehoe,

    …You would REALLY hate the final season of The Wire.

    Rose Leslie did an amazing job – she basically IS Ygritte – and I suspect that she will be one of the many actors who go from this show to great success afterwards.

  • Amanda M:
    Such a beauty and a talent! I have never been a big fan of her character (in the book or the show), but that is no fault of hers. She played the part wonderfully, and had such brilliant chemistry with Kit. She will be missed!

    Indeed. She shined in her role!

  • Rose did some great work with this character! You wouldn’t really expect how well she has been able to play this part, she brought ygritte to life very well, and i probably liked the character more after I saw her on TV, which is partly down to her.

  • Thank you Ms Leslie for owning that role, you are Ygritte and the only warmth and brightness that shone in the scenes filmed for that arc in the series. The oasis of life in a white desert of testosterone. You only have greatness ahead of you in the film and television industry, cannot wait to watch your next performance.

  • It’s funny how this show seems to be able to cast people who were born to play certain roles. People that play the characters in such a way that we could never imagine anyone else in that role anymore. Rose Leslie as Ygritte was most definately one of those people. She breathed life into the character, gave it so such sass, intensity, emotional depth and humour that I couldn’t help but smile every time I saw her on the screen.

    You will be missed Ms. Leslie!

  • Wish they hadn’t shorted the north in seasons 2 and 3. But Rose at least was a bright spot. Good work, Rose.

  • King DBC,

    Good to see some more love for the show; viewing figures were criminally-miniscule. Of course looking forward to finding out what Rose and Ian “Emperor Palpatine” McDiarmid’s roles are going to be.

    HBO, Please don’t faff about remaking it for the US market. Buy the rights to show the original & cast Geraldine James as Genna Lannister while your at it!

  • Rose made the role of Ygritte her own , a truly superb actress , also I had no idea she was cast in Utopia 2 , to anybody reading this who hasn’t seen the first series of Utopia do yourself a favor and hunt it down and watch it , that is one really brilliant show.

  • The look of anguish on Ygritte’s face as she watches Jon Snow ride away was amazing, just so intense. Even more impressive is just how long they held that shot, tight on Ygritte’s face; they stay with her for what seems like ages, but not once does the mask drop, not once does the intensity of the emotion falter. This is the kind of thing that’s really challenging for an actor, but Rose Leslie knocked it out of the park. She was just great, a truly talented actor.

    Kudos Rose!

  • Rose embodied the spunk and fieriness of Ygritte. She was alluring, she was cheeky, she was raw. Once I finished GoT season 2, I started Downton Abbey season 1, and was floored to see Rose Leslie play a character so completely different. Personable, charming, delightful — but the warmth was already there, the fire that set the north aglow.

    Farewell, Ygritte, kissed by fire — and best of luck to Rose Leslie!

  • A great actress and, judging from all the interviews I’ve seen of her (and they’re quite a few) a very lovely girl. I wouldn’t be able to think of a better Ygritte even if I tried, she really brought the character to life and made her even more interesting than the one from the books imo. She’s very hot too (love dem redheads), kissed by fire indeed.

  • Thank you for a great performance Rose. I was not a fan of Ygritte in the books but you made me a fan of her in the show. I look forward to seeing Rose in her future projects. Some smart TV show/movie is going to pick her up!

  • Lovely farewell, Rose was perfect and it just made me 100x more sad when Ygritte died. Wish Rose all the best in the future.

  • You nailed it right here: “She owned the role, playing Ygritte with a cheeky sort of rough-and-tumble rarely seen in any character on television or film.”

    Rose made Ygritte likeable immediately. I’m finding this particular GOT death a little heavy on the heart. I really liked that character, and that was mostly due to the performance of Rose Leslie.

    She will be missed!

  • Rose Leslie was great as the Wildling Woman Who Loved Too Much. Her expression when Jon Snow left her was heartwrenching.

    I thought later that Ygritte’s first request of Jon was that he burn her body when she died. Why didn’t he? That would have fleshed out the battle scene and got him in trouble with his superiors, so he would have to treat with Mance! Did the Night’s Watch just throw her body on a pile with the others?

    My request of D&D, get a woman in the writers’ room, at least when you’re brainstorming. Flesh out relationships more and kill fewer bugs. We’ve seen enough ways to die. I liked Pyp and Grenn, and Jon needed their votes!

  • I knew it was coming…but boy was it still hard to watch! Ygritte’s death was trully a hard one to swallow no doubt! I found Ros’s death disturbing and really miss Esme Bianco…as I do all the actors that have graced us with their presence on the show…

    But saying good-bye to Rose Leslie will be twice as difficult! She was a scene stealer no doubt, and as mentioned in the article above, she wholly owned Ygritte as a character, she immersed herself in the story and dissapeared inside her character embodying her to the last molecule!

    A talented actress, beautiful woman and sweet person, Rose Leslie will be terribly missed by this here fan! Her brief, yet passionate relationship with Jon Snow was beautiful as it was heartbreaking to watch! You want them to make it, but deep inside we knew that it was not meant to be…that goes both for Unsullied and Sullied…

    So as has too often become the trying, yet hallowed tradition on this site for this our object of complicated affection,”Game Of Thrones, I want to thank Rose Leslie for her fierce and dedicated performance on the show and for elevating its quality with her wonderful presence!

    RIP Ygritte (and she did quite beautifully so in the Season Four finale), Jon Snow might not know nothing, but he certainly knew and loved you!