Conleth Hill from Game of Thrones (Varys) plays the space pope in 3 Body Problem

The new sci-fi show 3 Body Problem stars several Game of Thrones alumni, including a couple you may not realize were even there.
Conleth Hill as Varys – Photo: Helen Sloan/HBO
Conleth Hill as Varys – Photo: Helen Sloan/HBO /

3 Body Problem is a new sci-fi show out now on Netflix. Based on the Remembrance of Earth's Past trilogy by Liu Cixin, the show is about humanity's first contact with an extraterrestrial species. The show made by Alexander Woo, David Benioff and Dan Weiss, the latter two of whom also created Game of Thrones for HBO. And indeed, several Game of Thrones cast members appear in the series, including John Bradley (Samwell Tarly) as snack food tycoon Jack Rooney, Liam Cunningham (Davos Sweaworth) as government taskmaster Thomas Wade, and Jonathan Pryce (the High Sparrow) as Mike Evans, an oil heir who runs a cult dedicated to worshipping the aliens.

But there are a couple other cameos from Game of Thrones alumni you may have missed. I did. Let's start with Conleth Hill, the actor who played the spidery information broker Varys on Game of Thrones for all eight seasons. In 3 Body Problem, he plays the pope!

Some explanation may be in order. In this show, before we officially find out that extraterrestrials are involved, a couple of the characters are invited to play an extremely immersive virtual reality video game set on a world that's regularly devastated by climatic catastrophes. We find out later that the game simulates the inhospitable world where the aliens come from, but the game works by creating an environment the human players are familiar with, and populating it with figures from our own past. That's how Jack Rooney and Jin Cheng (Jess Hong) find themselves in a Renaissance-era castle explaining to the pope their theories about what's wrong with his world. And that pope is played by none other than Conleth Hill:

Varys was clean-shaven and bald while this space pope has a full thick beard and a huge hat, which may be why I didn't realize who I was looking at when I first watched the show.

Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, Dan Weiss explained that they reached out to Hill to offer him this role because he's Catholic — apparently he always found time to attend Sunday churches while filming Game of Thrones — so they figured having him play the pope "would be either very funny to him or not funny at all. Obviously, he thought it was fine." David Benioff recalled how they sold it to the actor: We were like, 'This isn't sacrilegious. It's a fake Pope on an alien planet. It's got nothing to do with the actual Catholic church.'"

3 Body Problem showrunners want to bring on other Game of Thrones alumni

If 3 Body Problem continues, Benioff and Weiss would love to bring on more Game of Thrones alumni. "There are a lot of other people we'd love to work with," Benioff said. "It kind of feels like, 'Well, why guys? Those guys are your favorites.' As much as we love John and Liam and John, there's a lot of people on Thrones that we'd love to work with again. It has to be the right role. So hopefully we get to keep making shows and don't get fired after this one, and bring some more people back, more reunions."

I would be 100% for this. Who wouldn't want to see Sophie Turner and Kit Harington and Lena Headey and Peter Dinklage playing scientists and cultists and maybe even aliens? It'll all depend on whether Netflix renews 3 Body Problem for another season. Deadline reports that the show clocked 11 million views in its first four days of availability, which is solid if not spectacular. I've also noticed that the show has been climbing the charts in the U.S. since it dropped last Thursday; it was in the number two slot for a minute before climbing to the number one slot yesterday and today, which I think is a good sign that it's catching on. This one is a slow burn kind of drama.

I'll hope for good news. You can stream all eight episodes of 3 Body Problem season 1 on Netflix right now!

dark. Next. 3 body problem changes. 5 biggest changes Netflix's 3 Body Problem made from the books

To stay up to date on everything fantasy, science fiction, and WiC, follow our all-encompassing Facebook page and Twitter account, sign up for our exclusive newsletter and check out our YouTube channel.