Cast a great actor in the wrong role, and it might not matter how talented they are. Happily, Game of Thrones casting director Nina Gold, who recently received an award for her work, has made excellent decisions throughout the run of the show. Conleth Hill (Varys) recently discussed his casting journey with The Huffington Post, and it seems he came very close to sitting the Iron Throne—Hill originally read for the part of King Robert Baratheon.
It is true, to be honest, but I have to say that I came out of the meeting, which went all right, and looked who was in after me, saw who it was, and went, “Well, he’d be all right for it,” and he was, and he got it. You know, that’s showbiz.
Baratheon was played by Mark Addy.
On paper, the boisterous King Robert and the obsequious Lord Varys are opposites, and it’s surreal to imagine Hill dropping the one role for the other. Of course, Varys has survived for six seasons and King Robert didn’t even make it out of Season 1, so Hill probably counts himself lucky the part went to Addy.
Hill also described his audition for Varys:
I read for it, parts of the dungeon scene with Ned and the chest scene where he explains how he was made from sort of a slave to the security of Westeros, and I think once I had already accepted the part, they said, “How do you feel about shaving your head?”
Obviously, he was okay with the head-shaving part.
Varys’ scene with Ned in the dungeon may be his best scene from Season 1, as it marks one of the first time we get a look at his true motives. It’s very interesting that Hill mentions “the chest scene.” It sounds like he’s describing the scene from Season 3 where Varys explains to Tyrion how he became a eunuch. Had showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss written the scene that far in advance?
Finally, Hill described an awkward encounter with a Game of Thrones fan.
I’ve been very lucky. Most “Game of Thrones” fans are well-mannered and courteous. I have no trouble taking photos with people if they want it. I think the weirdest one was someone came running toward me with their hand in my crotch area, saying, “I wanted to see if something’s really there.” … Yeah, like I’d be that method.
Perhaps Hill and Jacob Anderson (Grey Worm) can form a support group.
Outside of Game of Thrones, you can soon see Hill in A Patch of Fog, a thriller about a troubled author. Check out the trailer:
A Patch of Fog will be available on VOD and iTunes tomorrow, January 24. And yes, that is Ian McElhinney (Barristan Selmy) playing Hill’s agent. Game of Thrones veterans unite!