Curtain Call Editorial

Curtain Call: Mark Stanley, Josef Altin, and Yuriy Kolokolnikov

First, the honor must be given to the men of the Night’s Watch.

Mark Stanley and Josef Altin–we salute you! It’s weirdly appropriate they bowed in the same episode, as they’ve been attached since the beginning of the series. Even in the books, Grenn and Pyp were sort of a quick/strong Yin/Yang to challenge Jon Snow.

It’s well known that, in the books, both Grenn and Pyp are still alive and well. It is the opinion of many that they were killed unnecessarily; I contend that if neither are due to suffer worse deaths in future books, then this was the way to go. Pyp ended up being a very important part of Sam’s growth as a character, and Grenn ended his days in the boots of the books’ Donal Noye, valiantly giving his life in a way that Game of Thrones fans will likely never forget.

Up until then I had viewed Mark Stanley’s best scene as the rather comedic one where Grenn told Sam about the farm girl he used to “wrestle.” Grenn’s death scene was a notch above, however; the recitation of the Night’s Watch oath, sweeping the other ill-fated lads (and their actors, who also rose up seemingly infused with Stanley’s energy) into an immovable force brought tears to the eyes. Pyp’s passing was shocking and tragic; Grenn’s death was powerfully heroic.

When we first got to know Mark and Josef, they couldn’t have been more different. Mark got the role of Grenn practically straight out of drama school; Josef, though young, was already a seasoned pro, having played memorable parts in television shows like Misfits and films like Eastern Promises. (Spoiler: he dies horribly in both. Joe is the new generation’s Sean Bean.)

They will both go down in Game of Thrones lore–a vital, heartbreaking part of one of the best episodes in the show’s history.

As to Yuriy… well now this is a cat of a different coat!

I love to hate villains, and often find them more valuable than many of the heroes. If not for Styr’s ruthless quest for crow blood, if not for his menacing physicality and his sheer power, we would not have the hero Jon Snow rise to the heights he did.

Yuriy was fantastic, and I can’t wait to see him in future roles–and other endeavors behind the camera. (Yuriy is a producer as well!) In future auditions, I highly suggest he carry a boom-box with him, and have it play Ramin Djawadi’s “Thenns” theme. I don’t think I will ever be able to see his trademark glower and not hear that frighteningly excellent piece; he could well frighten people into giving him whatever role he wishes.

As for Mark, he has just completed a short in which he stars, Baby, and will have a very meaty part in Our Kind of Traitor, with Ewan McGregor, Damian Lewis, and Stellan Skarsgård.

Joe is, as usual, in a ton of things, including the critically well received comedy The Hooligan Factory (currently just released in the UK I believe), as well as having just finished shooting Child 44 with Tom Hardy, Gary Oldman, and Noomi Rapace. I will be in line the first night out to see that one.

Gentlemen… take your bows. You are now immortal and beloved!


  • Mark Stanley was hot yo, alright? I don’t care about Donal Noye cause he was missing an arm and stuff, but Grenn was smoking. You do NOT kill smokin’! What’s wrong with you?

  • Unless it’s intentional timing to get more site hits, you guys should post up the pre-finale recap that’s now up on the Game of Thrones youtube page :)

  • Their heads were still attached to their bodies so Pyp and Grenn are still alive.

    To me.

  • Thanks to Brian Jurgens, I will always think of the Magnar of Thenn as ‘The Poutiest Cannibal’ whenever he appears on screen. He was a great villain though.

    Mark and Joe…they’ve been with the show since the beginning, so there’s a special sadness attached to saying goodbye to their characters.

  • Renly’s Peach:
    Mark Stanley was hot yo, alright? I don’t care about Donal Noye cause he was missing an arm and stuff, but Grenn was smoking. You do NOT kill smokin’! What’s wrong with you?

    That may be true but I always thought Josef Atlin/Pyp does not get enough credit for being even hotter. ;)

  • outdoorcats:
    Thanks to Brian Jurgens, I will always think of the Magnar of Thenn as ‘The Poutiest Cannibal’ whenever he appears on screen. He was a great villain though.

    Hah, it seems we read the same recaps. This show seems to get the strangest target demographics. :P

  • I definitely lean toward the intense, tragic poet type of guy (hel-LO Viserys, my secret shame) but I would not have kicked Grenn out had he come calling, that’s for sure.

  • All three did a fantastic job, Styr was a memorable villian and Pyp and Grenn have been with us since the first season. Great job by all 3 and you’ll all be missed.

  • Styr was fun. Pure camp, unambiguous villain. I appreciate that. And also he’s really hot under the scarring and cannibal weirdness but that’s incidental.

    Pyp and Grenn <3 Hurts to see them go so soon. I'm glad they went out fighting. Hats off to Altin and Stanley.

  • I also kinda felt that their deaths was unnecessary,just like Poor Irri and Rakkaro, but after reading this curtain call i kinda feel better about it,they are now immortal. jon vs Styr was just epic about all. Thanks for you excellent preformance !

  • Well done. Nice curtain call. And great work from all three. That Thenn theme is a great piece of work, and Yuriy Kolokolnikov had the perfect sense of menace.

    And Pyp and Grenn. Damn. I love that they didn’t show Grenn dying and instead just Jon and Sam come upon them and poignantly close his eyes.

  • Grenn pulled a Gandalf. Maybe next season we’ll get a white Grenn (he wore black till now, white cloak would be the Kingsguard, right?).

    Magnar was memorable since the Thenn introduction (love the theme, btw.) as a growling menace. Thanks to Yuriy, I could reply to Tormund that I f… love the Thenns.

    As for Pyp, well he got one Wildling, which is probably more than a good number of his brothers in arms. Josef managed very well to convey his uncertainty, fear and joy.

  • Renly’s Peach:
    Mark Stanley was hot yo, alright? I don’t care about Donal Noye cause he was missing an arm and stuff, but Grenn was smoking. You do NOT kill smokin’! What’s wrong with you?

    Really? He’s an average-looking bloke, I’d say. At least that’s what most women I’ve watched the show with have determined. Not bad-looking at all, but “smokin” seems to be a little much…

    Great, great actor, at any rate. Pyp and Magnar we’re great as well!

  • I always loved Pyp and Grenn, they helped shape Jon Snow into the leader he has become. Mark and Joseph are both super adorable, too. That picture of the five of them is breaking my heart. Bravo, gentlemen.

  • Yuriy Kolokolnikov was a great Styr. Actually I’m sorry we didn’t see even more of him. I don’t recall any showdown with Jon Snow in the books but that was great. And that guy is HUGE.
    Might have been nice to see more of his sinister bloodthirstiness. Y’know to make it more fun to see Jon kill his ass!

  • Ours is the Fury,

    Sorry about that.

    On topic:

    Sad to see all of them go, but i get that it was necessary to kill some known faces from the NW off. Otherwise the battle would’ve fallen somewhat flat. Just wondering who’s going to celebrate Jons election with him now, besides Sam.

    Grenn’s Last Stand was epic in every way.

  • Maester Murks: Ours is the Fury,

    Sorry about that.

    On topic:

    Sad to see all of them go, but i get that it was necessary to kill some known faces from the NW off. Otherwise the battle would’ve fallen somewhat flat. Just wondering who’s going to celebrate Jons election with him now, besides Sam.

    Grenn’s Last Stand was epic in every way.

    I get what you’re saying but I think they could have achieved that by killing only one of them. So sad to see them go. They were like a family to Jon and a lovable pair on their own

  • Josef Altin has been with us since the first season of Game of Thrones, and while Pyp never been the most skilled or celebrated member of the Night’s Watch, Altin’s work has not gone unappreciated. Pyp was the everyman on the Wall – someone condemned to a brutal and permanent fate for a “crime” that in no way merited such a sentence. Yet Pyp faithfully carried out his duties, no matter how unglamorous they were, and his attempt to find his courage in the midst of a brutal and frantic battle came across as a completely human response. That was largely due to Altin, who sold the character’s inner conflict extremely well. His struggle was made all the more potent when he finally found that courage in the heat of battle, and all the more tragic when his life was snatched away seconds later.

    Mark Stanley has also been with us since the first season of the show. For most of his tenure, he faithfully served as a supporting player to Kit Harington as Grenn faithfully served as Jon Snow’s friend and lieutenant during expeditions to the Fist of the First Men and Craster’s Keep, and later during the defense of the Wall. In lesser hands, Green might have been just another familiar face, but Stanley’s solid presence and subtle wit helped to establish him as a character, and led to an investment that paid off in a surprisingly potent way. As Grenn lead his faltering brothers in a recitation of the Night’s Watch oath, I felt chills creeping down my spine, and I know that I wasn’t the only one. It was a powerful and worthy death for a character who until that moment had always been supporting player, but when his moment came, he commanded the screen … and held the gate.

    Finally, there’s Yuriy Kolokonikov. From the moment that he swaggered onto screen in “Two Swords”, I knew that his Styr was going to be a force to be reckoned with, and indeed he was. Every time that the Magnar of Thenn appeared on screen, he commanded our attention with both his enormous frame and his ruthless demeanor. Styr possessed few “redeeming” qualities precisely because Yuriy was willing to portray him in such an uncompromising fashion, and the story benefited from his presence. For me, the most nerve-wracking moment of “The Watchers of the Wall” came Styr brutally slammed Jon Snow’s face into that anvil. Having read the books, I knew that Jon was not in line to die in that moment. But for one split second I believed that he might because Styr had been established as such a force of nature that he seemed impossible to overcome. Ultimately, that made the moment when Jon buried the hammer in the Magnar’s skull all the more satisfying, and gave me an even greater appreciation for Yuriy’s performance.

    Both Pyp and Grenn may live on in the books, but they could hardly have asked for more memorable exits in the show, and Josef Altin and Mark Stanley have my appreciation for their four years of diligent and admirable work on the show. Styr is dead in both mediums, but Yuriy’s take on the character was far more indelible, and I won’t forget his contributions any time soon. All three men deserve to be commended for their work, and they have my best wishes for wherever their careers take them next.

  • ArgonathofBraavos,

    Well I’m here to tell you he’s smokin’ and all your womenz are wrong.
    Definitely one of the more underrated actors on the whole show in terms of looks.

  • Fun fact from an interview, Yuri Kolokolnikov was scheduled to film a Russian TV series at the same time as Game of Thrones, and instead of cancelling either, he kept involvement in both shows simultaneously and was constantly shuttling back and forth between Ireland to Russia. Everybody thought he was crazy, but somehow he managed to do it and act in both.

  • Yuri made a great villain and someone scary for Jon to fight. Great contribution.

    Josef always seemed really enthusiastic about the show and that will definitely be missed. I was hoping he would stick around. I’d resigned myself to Grenn’s death when Donal wasn’t cast but wasn’t expecting Pyp to go too. I wailed when it happened.

    You can count me among the people who find Mark attractive. With someone less charming the character could have been boring and one note. And his performance in last weeks episode was great. I’m glad that he go to go out as a hero.

  • Yuriy Kolokolnikov’s portrayal of Styr was surprisingly one of my favorite characters to watch this season. He only had a handful of scenes, but he had a great presence every time. From his first swaggering steps on screen, to his introducing me to the term “ginger minge”. Thank you sir for the fun and twisted ride. You had me at “marbled”.

  • RIP ye 4* gentleman.

    *I believe the Thenn Sam killed was the Warg Joseph Gatt (who was woefully underused I believe).

  • Truthfully, I wish the showrunners had named the Thenns something else, since they had minimal likeness to those cool wildlings from the novels. However, that being said, Yuriy and Joseph Gatt nailed their parts and were quite enjoyable additions to the tale.

    Pyp and Grenn…I have forgotten what crimes brought them to the wall…but they were true Night’s Watchmen, some bravado, some fear, forgotten by family and homeland, thankless jobs, living on the edge, saving Westeros from an unknown evil. Well done, men. We’ll miss you.

  • Well done Curtain Call.

    Yuriy was terrifying from his first moment to his last.

    Josef was a sweet, endearing Pyp with a great soul. Mark’s Grenn was the perfect ranger. He died a heroic death and it was portrayed beautifully on screen. His last words reciting the oath was a memorable and heartbreaking scene. The Nights Watch was lucky to have Pyp and Grenn and viewers were lucky to have Josef and Mark. They will be missed.

  • Is it a bad thing if that’s true? :)

    Is every user on here a female fan just crushing on the dead ‘hotties’?

  • They did Grenn and Pyp justice they deserve. In the novels they just fade to irrelevance. Big mistake on GRRM’s part..

  • You will be missed, guys!!!
    Great acting, very loveable characters. (Well, two of them at least! :D )

  • Mark Stanley and Josef Altin did very well in there roles, at first Pyp and Grenn just seem like just above extras in the NW storyline but as things progressed I began to pay more attention to them, they both did some great scenes, of all different kinds. I am personally a fan of the show killing them off in the battle as I would dislike it if it repeated blackwater with few characters dying (Wouldnt say I disliked that about Blackwater, as long as they kept true to the books, but its just I wouldnt want it to become a theme) and seeing Pyp and Grenn exit this way rather than the way they presumably have in the books is a much better send off in my opinion. I hope to see Mark Stanley in some other stuff, I was already reasonably familiar with Josef Altin’s work but hope to see some more stuff with him in too.
    As for Yury, he’s been around for less time than the other two, and I personally disliked the way the show brought the magnar too life (he just came off as too comic book evil, especially with the whole cannibalism thing)but I suppose none of that is the actors fault and he did reasonably well with what he was given, I wish him luck for the future!

  • Really sad to see them go. All three of them have been fantastic. And btw, you don’t have to be female to appreciate a man’s hotness.

  • “There is no greater love than this: that a person would lay down his life for the sake of his friends.”

    Heartbreaking it may be, Grenn and Pyp were given heroic send-offs, in what is arguably the Night’s Watch’s finest hour. Mark Stanley and Josef Altin, you were awesome! True sworn brothers, to the end.

    And Yuri Kolokolnikov — imposing, frightening, unforgettable. His hungry glare will haunt my dreams, as will that incredible, primal score Ramin Djawadi conjured for his merry band of Thenns.

    Well done, all of you!

  • [email protected] Stark says:

    Josef Altin, I knew him right away from Eastern Promises, great work. And then Game of Thrones, wow, you are blessed, man! Mark Stanley, I enjoyed you in the Nights Watch and wish you much luck in the future. Yurly, you scared the crap out of me! Bravo to you all, you will be missed, and I look forward to seeing your future work. The Watch is forever.

  • Really going to miss Pyp and Grenn.

    Just re-watched the first half of Season 1 this weekend, and it felt pretty nostalgic seeing them meet Jon for the first time.

  • While these characters might be alive in the novels, and perhaps many had some valid arguments agains having them killed, I for one will choose to disagree. In the novels Pyp and Grenn also appear sporadicaly and are not exactly considered main characters, though as in the show, they are an important part in Jon Snow’s growth as a man, friend, leader and even fighter..and since characters in the “A Song Of Ice And Fire” have a very uncertain and often short life cycle, they become important to book readers, myself included. That goes for the show as well.

    As for Styr the Magnar of Thenn, though brutal,wild and fierce, and a canibal to boot, he is also possesed by a innate intelligence and awareness of the world he comes from and lives in. He understands that the lives of his people are important so that Mance Rayder’s warning about what would happen to all the Free Folk should they remain north of The Wall when winter trully comes in the form The White Walkers, resonates with him powerfully enough to see him put his pride aside and take the decision to join Mance, and man he might have little in common with, but recognizes as a real leader and his and his people’s best chance to get beyond The Wall, to the right side and thus survive.

    The fates of these characters might diverge in the show from those in the novels, yet I think that what the show acomplished doing is giving them more gravitas, more importance and converted them from bit players into ones that carry a lot more relevance to the overall story and the other characters they interact with than they would have had otherwise if their storylines dragged on and on…only to fade away in the background once again…given what is to come next!

    I see all the criticism, the crying and gnashing of teeth, but all that does is a disservice to the actors themselves and the wonderful work they did on our behalf as fans!

    I for one want to thank Yuri Kolokolnikov (Styr), Joseph Altin (Pyp) and Mark Stanley (Grenn) for their dedication to their characters, for their work on the show, and for the enjoyment they gave me as a fan when watching Season Four of “Game Of Thrones” and making an already unforgettable experience even better and more entertaining!

    So RIP Pyp, Grenn and Styr! And now their watch is ended!

    Hats off gentlemen, well done, indeed, well done!

  • Mark Stanley’s Grenn has been one of my favorite characters on the show ever since his “What in seven hells is that?!” “Piss off!” and – my favorite – “Why not?” I can’t tell you how much I’m gonna miss him. Him and the wonderful Josef Altin were the perfect comrades for Jon.
    And Yuriy Kolokolnikov – he was only present for a very short time, but he was already unforgettable. I can’t tell you how much I’ve enjoyed his magnetic, imposing, nonchalant performance.
    These three will be dearly missed.