The young stars of Game of Thrones are breaking out of Westeros and onto the big screen

The younger stars of Game of Thrones are popping up everywhere on the big screen, writes Colette Keane

The young stars of Game of Thrones are breaking out of Westeros and onto the big screen

There’s nothing like being in one of the world’s biggest shows on television to kickstart your ambitions for global fame and screen domination. If you can’t use being in the mammoth TV show Game of Thrones as a springboard to fame and fortune then nothing is going to catapult you onto that big screen.

Many of the young stars on the show are doing just that — some more successfully than others. Even some of the more experienced stars are reaping the benefits such a mega show can bring to their careers, such as the impossibly good-looking Danish actor Nikolaj Coster-Waldau who plays Jaime Lannister.

He is being cast in US romcoms such as The Other Woman with Cameron Diaz, while Peter Dinklage (right) who plays the acerbic dwarf Tyrion Lannister, landed a role in the most recent X-Men film.

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It has done no harm to its many Irish cast members either, such as Liam Cunningham (below right), Aiden Gillen, and Ciaran Hind. Cunningham, who plays Davos Seaworth in the world of Westeros, recently laughed off the attention of the show’s many ardent fans.

He joked only last week that he now knows what it is like to be a member of One Direction after one fan fainted as she shook his hand.

One of the biggest stars of the show could actually be its locations, with Northern Ireland top of that list, along with Dubrovnik and Iceland.

Game of Thrones fans are willing to travel far and wide to get a little closer to their favourite show and Belfast has responded with guided tours and exhibitions.

It is this devotion shown by its fans that many directors are hoping will translate into box-office hits. Some of the show’s younger stars are already making their way onto both the big screen and stage.

Here we take a look at some of the ones who are already riding the GoT wave and ones to watch in the future.

Kit Harrington (Jon Snow)

Jon Snow might know nothing, but Kit Harrington certainly knows how to capitalise on his newfound fame.

Since his dark curls first bounced onto the screen in Game of Thrones in 2011 playing the illegitimate son of the Ned Stark, the young man full of wounded pride and an unwavering sense of justice has proved he is more than just the protector of The Wall.

He landed his first film just one year later, playing Vincent in Silent Hill, and was honoured in 2013 with the Young Hollywood Actor of the Year award for his critically acclaimed performances in GoT.

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In 2014, he threw off his black fur cape to reveal a highly chiselled body for the lead role in the not-so successful sword and sandals epic Pompeii.

You know you’ve really made it, however, when you are asked to voice a character in an immensely lucrative animation franchise; Harrington provided the right sense of brawn and sensitivity as Eret in How to Train Your Dragon 2.

He changed eras again as the main love interest in the First World War story Testament of Youth and he already has a number of films in the pipeline for both this year and next, including one with Oscar winner Jessica Chastain. Well, he always did have a thing for red heads...

Emilia Clarke (Daenerys Targaryen)

She may be the Mother of Dragons, but Emilia Clarke’s portrayal of Daenerys Targaryen has given birth to a whole generation of little girls bearing the fictional name due to her popularity.

We have seen the penniless princess transform herself into a queen with a legion to command, and her fans are now following her to the stage and screen alike. Almost unrecognisable without her platinum blonde tresses, Clarke has been quietly building on the kind of fame only an epic show can bring.

She had done plays and some films before GoT, but after her performances in the show won her a string of nominations and awards, directors started to sit up and take a bit more notice.

She played Holly Golightly in a Broadway production of Breakfast at Tiffany’s and in the same year starred in Dom Hemingway alongside Jude Law. Clarke will take on the iconic role of Sarah Connor in this year’s Terminator: Genisys opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger himself.

She has at least one other film due out this year and has been rumoured to be starring in the remake of Bonnie and Clyde.

As with her onscreen character, don’t underestimate Emilia Clarke.

Sophie Turner (Sansa Stark)

It might have taken a push from her drama teacher for her to audition for the part of Lady Sansa Stark, but there is no holding Sophie Turner back from the limelight now. In GoT she plays the girl who dreams of being a queen with all the fairytale connotations such a life of privilege can bring.

She gets a rude awakening when she is promised to the psychopathic King Joffrey who beheads her father in front of her, whips her, and delights in threatening to rape her whenever he feels like it after he marries another.

As her belief system is shattered and she must rebuild herself, so too has Sophie built on her success and secured a string of films from independent thrillers to her recent signing as Jean Grey in X-Men: Apocalypse, due out in May 2016.

Before that, though, we will see Turner this year taking the titular role in the biopic Mary Shelley’s Monster.

She already has plenty of experience trying to deal with monsters, having to put up with Joffrey, but just like her alter ego Sansa Stark, we are only just beginning to see what Sophie Turner, 19, is capable of.

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Nathalie Emmanuel (Missandei)

Nathalie Emmanuel, 26, must be one of those actors their fellow stars hate — a scene stealer. She is just one of those people that the camera loves and her scenes in GoT have been increasingly reflecting this. It was only a matter of time before other directors caught on.

In GoT Emmanuel plays Missandei who starts off as a mere slave but quickly turns from Daenerys’ lady-in-waiting to her translator and trusted confidante. Nathalie had a few credits to her name before GoT came alone, notably as Nala in the West End production of The Lion King.

She has also invariably been described as ‘Hollyoaks actress’ Nathalie Emmanuel. But that could all change after her appearance in the latest iteration of the juggernaut franchise Fast and Furious. Part 7 has only just been released and reviews so far have been favourable, as she shares scenes with Vin Diesel, Chris Bridges, Tyrese Gibson, and Michelle Rodriguez.

In addition to this, Emmanuel has lent her dulcet tones to an upcoming audiobook, The Killing Woods.

Although she hasn’t many film credits to her name yet, Emmanuel only joined GoT in 2013 and has already landed a part in a major blockbuster and been linked with a number of other high-profile projects and names. She has also been signed as a permanent cast member for the next two years of Game of Thrones.

Here we go again

So you think you know what’s going to happen just because you have read the books?

Think again. Season 5 of the hit Sky Atlantic fantasy series Game of Thrones kicks off on Monday night and even the man who created all of the bloodthirsty backstabbing and downright bitchy characters we love (and hate) has warned readers they know as much as Jon Snow... nothing.

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Readers of the books have taken a certain smug pride knowing most of the dramatic twists and turns played out on screen, but in a recent interview at the Writers Guild West Awards, George RR Martin (inset above) revealed that the co-creators of the TV show, David Benioff and DB Weiss, have some major twists planned that will see the series kill off characters that even he didn’t think of bumping off.

“People are going to die who don’t die in the books, so even the book readers will be unhappy,” Martin said. “So everybody better be on their toes. David and DB are even bloodier than I am.”

Fans will be delighted to hear that Martin has finally settled down and started writing again, although it is likely Game of Thrones the TV show will outstrip Game of Thrones the books within a couple of years.

Martin, who had written one episode for each of the first four seasons, did not write an episode for this season as he was trying to finish the sixth novel of the series, The Winds of Winter, of which he says he has “hundreds of pages” completed.

“I reached a point where I try not to worry about issues like that,” Martin says regarding the show overtaking the books.

“I just get up every day and write the scene that’s in front of me, and go from one chapter to the next chapter, and eventually it’ll be done.”

He has also cancelled a number of appearances at conventions this year in a bid to complete the roughly 1,500-page book. “I’m doing less interviews, trying to cut back on things, and have more time to write,” he says.

But even with his renewed dedication to the book, he’s still up against an impossible deadline.

“Some days I have good days and write a lot of pages, and I have really bad days where I look at what I wrote last week and say, ‘this is all garbage’, and I rip it all out and start to revise it. This is nothing new, it’s the way I’ve been writing since I began this whole thing in 1991, and it’s produced books which people seem to like.”

Martin is being modest; people don’t just seem to like the books and the show, some love it and some have taken it to a whole other level.

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This season sees us enter the sun-kissed land of Dorne for the first time and the show’s creators picked Seville and other locations in Spain for filming.

A call went out for 5,000 extras — some 85,000 people turned up, some of whom had travelled thousands of kilometres and crossed continents in a bid to take part in the show.

What can we expect this year? Well (spoiler alert!), Dorne’s prince, Oberyn, was killed at King’s Landing and we will get to meet his sisters, the Sand Vipers, who are bent on revenge.

Bran will be living in the tree for the entire season and will not feature at all while Tyrion is out of the wine casket he escaped in after murdering his father Tywin on the toilet. Tyrion is set to make his way to the court of Daenarys. He might be small, but his ambition is huge.

We saw Arya leave The Hound for dead after his epic battle with Brienne and see her start a new life in a new land with a new purpose. Cersei (left) finally gets her heart’s desire — to be head of House Lannister, but she has met her scheming match in the woman who also wants to be queen, Margeary Tyrell.

Not content with marrying one of Cersei’s sons — Joffrey, who was poisoned on his wedding day — she is now vying for the affections of his little brother Tommen. The Wall and all its protectors will feature heavily as the White Walkers threaten all.

Theon is still tied to his cruel master Ramsey Bolton who has camped out in Winterfell and Reek is set for more troubles as his sister tries to think of ways to rescue her brother again (and perhaps harbours ambitions of her own).

And Littlefinger still has plans for Sansa as the heir to the throne of the north – and maybe beyond.

There are only 10 episodes, and with so much to cram in, and with the usual bodice ripping, bed hopping, and bloodlust, every second will be nailbiting. Sit back and buckle up!

Game of Thrones premieres on Sky Atlantic, Monday, April 13, at 9pm.

Related: Kit Harington has his sword at the ready for new Game of Thrones season

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