Game Of Thrones season five, which commences shooting in two shakes of a direwolf’s tail and takes inspiration from the most recent two books in George R.R. Martin's A Song Of Ice And Fire, will offer fresh opportunities to enjoy some of our favourite actors on screen before they’re inevitably torn apart by dogs, strangled with each others’ gizards or incinerated by a dragon. Life expectancy in Westeros being what it is, regular batches of new recruits are needed. Class of July 2014 doesn’t disappoint. Its blend of old favourites, fresh-faced up-and-comers and total newbies looks set to further enrich the byzantine schemes of the Seven Kingdoms, as Empire’s cast blow-by-blow reveals...
Warning: contains mild season four spoilers.
What you know him from: The Welsh actor is a RADA alumnus (class of ’71) and veteran thesp who's still best-known and loved for his befuddled Everyman, Sam Lowry, in Terry Gilliam’s Brazil. He’s played good guys (Pirates Of The Carribean), bad guys (Tomorrow Never Dies’s stealth-boating media mogul, Elliot Carver), both at the same (G.I. Joe: Retaliation), and Gustav Mahler (Bride Of The Wind), whose levels of villainy depend on how little you enjoyed learning the piano. Pryce was also terrific as pioneering shellshock doctor William Rivers in Gillies MacKinnon's underseen Pat Barker adaptation, Regeneration, and as Al Pacino’s diffident patsy in Glengarry Glen Ross.
Game Of Thrones role: He’s playing the new High Septon of the Faith Of The Seven. Aside from taking charge of all septing in the area, Pryce’s character is a populist zealot of peasant stock who’ll be a power player in the sea port of King’s Landing.
What you know her from: Now a 24 year-old mum, the former Whale Rider is a seasoned actress with a string of credits to add to that Oscar nod, including lead roles in 2006’s The Navitity Story for Bethlehelmer Catherine Hardwicke and Outback canine drama Red Dog. She’s previously reunited with Whale Rider director Niki Caro for The Vintner's Luck, a lusty tale of viticulture and heaving bosoms memorably described by The Hollywood Reporter as “an overblown work of amazing silliness”, and appeared briefly in Revenge Of The Sith as Naboo royalty.
Game Of Thrones role: Castle-Hughes is part Maori, part Aussie, a bit English and now entirely Dornish as Obara Sand. She’s the oldest of Oberyn Martell’s eight illegitimate daughters by an Oldtown prostitute. Obara is described as being “sturdily built” and of “no particular beauty” in the books, but we’re saying she was cast more for her combative nature and fighting skills.
What you know her from: The 21 year-old Surrey-born actress will be most familiar to fans of Spirit Warriors, CBeebies’ kinda Last Airbender-at-teatime which she joined as a teenager and had her wushuing her way into living rooms nationwide. All growed up, she’s currently playing a trainee barrister in Silk for BBC1 alongside fellow Throner Natalie Dormer.
Game Of Thrones role: Henwick will be Nymeria ‘Nym’ Sand, another of Oberyn Martell’s illegitimate daughters and half-sister to Castle-Hughes’ Obara. She’s thus one of the so-called Sand Snakes, the offspring of the Red Viper who are the closest Westeros comes to Kill Bill’s Deadly Viper Assassination Squad.
What you know her from: Californian-born but of Italian extraction through her dad, Rosabell Laurenti Sellers has already travelled far and wide doing the whole acting thing. Game Of Thrones, though, is by far her biggest English-language gig. She did pop up as Rachel Weisz’s daughter in 2010 human trafficking drama The Whistleblower, but it was her role in hit comedy Buongiorno Papa that prompted director Edoardo Leo to predict great things for her. “You’ll see”, he confidentally asserted, “Hollywood is going to snap her up and take her away from us.” He got that right.
Game Of Thrones role: The 18 year-old’s substantial fanbase (the Sellerys?) will be praying she bucks the trend of death and maiming as Tyene Sand, another of the Sand Snakes (we’re going to need a collective noun soon). Her butter-wouldn’t-melt looks belie a scheming nature and a sideline in toxicology. She’s going to need both.
What you know him from: With a name like Toby Sebastian, you might expect a character from Brideshead Revisited – probably impossibly handsome, well-versed in Shelley and partial to a picnic – and, sure enough, the actor does hail from Oxford. The similarity ends there though, because Sebastian’s first love is music (he’s a gifted flamenco guitarist and has a record deal with A&M Records, donchaknow) and he’s putting that skill to good use as a musician alongside Hailee Steinfeld in the pun-alicious Barely Lethal. Also, to the best of our knowledge, he’s never converted to Roman Catholicism and moved to Venice.
Game Of Thrones role: Sebastian will play Trystane Martell, Prince Doran’s scion and third in line to Dorne’s throne. The southern realm, politically and geographically remote from Westeros’s power struggles, will have its moment in the sun in season five, and Trystane will be an important pawn in those games.
What you know him from: Eight bells, it’s Pirates Of The Caribbean’s zombie pirate Gunner back in zombie-threatened climes. He also starred in Doom alongside The Rock as Sergeant Roark ‘Destroyer’ Gannon – the chaingun carrying Mac of proceedings –whose badass nickname was no protection against being brutally deathed by a Hell Knight. You may also have spotted him amid the glitz of Moulin Rouge! and the slightly less salubrious surrounds of Dredd.
Game Of Thrones role: Oparei plays Areo Hotah, the captain of Doran Martell’s palace guard. Hailing from the northern city of Novros, he’s overcome the culture shock of Dornish life to pose a formidable, axe-wielding bulwark against its enemies – and its frenemies. His Pirates Of The Caribbean weapons were listed as including “sword, pistol, axe, cat o’ nine tails and dagger”. Presumably with the foes he’ll be facing in GoT season five, he’ll be popping down to Dorne’s World Of Weapons megastore for a few more.
What you know him from: The actor is Bradford-raised (he owes that excellent name to his Italian parents) and has an IMDb page filled with supporting roles for British directors, including Danny Boyle (Millions), Armando Iannucci (In The Loop) and Bruce Robinson (The Rum Diary). He was first spotted by Michael ‘Winterbottom is coming’ Winterbottom’s casting director Wendy Brazington, securing roles in Wonderland and 24 Hour Party People as a result.
Game Of Thrones role: The Yorkshireman plays Yezzan zo Qaggaz, a human trafficker who should probably sit down with Michael Winterbottom’s In This World and think about his choice of profession. Hailing from the badlands of Essos – specifically the Slaver’s Bay town of Yunkai – he’s unlikely to be too conscience-stricken about that and is likely to be more concerned with the pee smell he has emanating from that nasty disease he contracting while slaving. His mood won’t be helped by the new ban on his trade imposed by Daenerys Targaryen.
What you know him from: Alongside Jonathan Pryce, Siddig is the highest-profile addition to the Game Of Thrones roster. He is, of course, a 24 alumnus in which he joined the illustrious ranks of those to have crossed Jack Bauer and not lived to tell the tale, but he’s also built a solid TV fanbase through his work on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine as Starfleet med man Dr. Julian Bashir and, to a lesser extent, Atlantis and Primeval. Movie-wise, he was a standout in Syriana, playing an enlightened Arab prince trying to wrestle his country into the 21st century, and as Saladin's true-life chancellor in Kingdom Of Heaven.
Game Of Thrones role: As Doran Martell, Prince of Dorne, Siddig will have a major part to play in season five. Expect the deaths of you-know-who and you-also-know-who (if you don’t know who, we’re not going to tell you) to fester like a White Walker’s mouldy undies for this cautious but brooding character. His gout will be a concern.
What you know her from: Still a relative newcomer, Tiger Free had a small but significant role in Rufus Norris’s social drama Broken. She played the sweary middle daughter of Rory Kinnear’s thuggish dad who unwittingly sets in chain a violent event (good prep for Game Of Thrones, there). She also played violent psychopath inquisitive schoolgirl Bunty Glossop in Morse prequel Endeavour, and a tramp-befriending girl in Declan 'Alpha Papa' Lowney's Mr. Stink (pictured). She should get on with Yezzan zo Qaggaz, then.
Game Of Thrones role: She’s replacing Aimee Richardson as the gutsy but increasingly put-upon Myrcella Baratheon, eldest daughter to Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey). In another of the Queen’s elaborate gambits, she was sent to marry Doran’s son Trystane Martell (Toby Sebastian) in Dorne. The plan was designed to sure up the alliance between the houses of House Martell and Lannister, but may just have gone horribly awry. Time will tell where this leaves the sparky young princess.