'Game of Thrones' casts sorceress Melisandre and Stannis Baratheon -- EXCLUSIVE

Carice-van-Houten

Image Credit: Getty Images

Huge Game of Thrones casting news! Producers have filled the two biggest new roles of the show’s second season — a mysterious sorceress and a powerful contender for the Iron Throne.

These two major roles are paired together in the story: Melisandre is powerful woman who counsels the late King Robert’s eldest younger brother, Stannis Baratheon, in his quest to claim the Iron Throne. She’s described as a seductive force possessing prophetic powers who’s willing to impose her religion on the world by any means necessary. Stannis, meanwhile, believes himself to be the Iron Throne’s rightful heir and is described as humorless and authoritative, with a strict moral code (his younger brother Renly, who also wants to be king, memorably described Stannis in the first season as having “the personality of a lobster”). But Stannis is gradually succumbing to the power of his newfound religion.

Melisandre will be played by Carice van Houten, a Dutch stage and film actress. She’s appeared in the movies Valkyrie and Repo Men. I think you’ll agree she looks just about perfect for Melisandre.

And Stannis will be played by…

stephen-dillane

Image Credit: Geraint Lewis/Rex/Rex USA

British actor Stephen Dillane, best known to U.S. audiences by playing Thomas Jefferson in HBO’s John Adams.

Houten and Dillane join two previously revealed Thrones season 2 cast members. Click here to see who was cast for Margaery Tyrell and here for Brienne.

UPDATE: ‘Camelot’ vet joins ‘Game of Thrones’ as Davos

The news comes as Thrones producers and cast prepare to invade Comic-Con this week. EW will report the show’s first San Diego panel, which will include George R.R. Martin as moderator.

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Read more:
EW interview: George R.R. Martin talks ‘A Dance With Dragons’ and HBO’s ‘Game of Thrones’

Comments (277 total) Add your comment
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  • Sheldon

    Stannis is Robert’s younger brother, a few years younger. Renly is the baby of the family.

    • darthwilson

      No stannis is his older brother

      • Ned123

        Sheldon is correct. Stannis is the middle child

      • Tom

        No he is younger…

      • Jon

        False. Robert is older than Stannis by a year and Renly is something like 15 years younger than Stannis.

      • Chris

        Stannis is younger, the article clearly states “the late King Robert’s eldest younger brother, Stannis Baratheon”. Middle child.

      • Lauri

        NO. Stannis is the oldest of Robert’s younger brothers (but still younger than Robert.) Robert was the oldest, followed by Stannis, followed by Renly. Explain to me how Stannis is older than Robert but it was ROBERT who sat on the Iron Throne and Stannis is only his heir? You seem to be confused. Maybe you need to rewatch Season 1 to get it straight.

      • Rich

        @Laurie: Robert sits on the Iron Throne because it was his rebellion that unseated Arys Targaryan. There is nothing about his blood line or age that gives him rights over Stannis, only that his claim wasn’t challenged when he won the battles (but as mentioned, Robert is older than Stannis)

      • JCF

        Let me pile on here. Stannis is the middle brother between Robert and Renly.

      • Jon

        @Rich And why do you think it was Robert’s rebellion? Because the Baratheons are closely related to the Targaryens, and it was chosen that their house would be the one to take the throne away from Aerys II. If Stannis had been older, he would have led the rebellion. Instead, he held Storm’s End in Robert’s absence, defending it from a Tyrell siege.

      • Tim

        Hey guys, there are books, read them. It becomes pretty obvious what the answer is if you read. The more you know.

      • dlauthor

        Lauri — not disputing that Stannis is younger, but Robert became king primarily because it was his rebellion that overthrew Aerys, not because of any kind of inheritance. Even if he’d had an elder brother, he wouldn’t gave given the throne to him. So while you’re right, your reasoning is flawed.

      • Mei

        Robert lead the rebellion because the Targaryens killed his fiance, who was Eddard Starks sister.
        Read the books.
        Robert is older than Stannis, and Stannis is older then Renly.

      • Adam

        @Rich….read the books. No one “chose” Robert to unseat Aerys; Robert instigated the rebellion when his beloved, Lyanna Stark, was allegedly kidnapped by Rhaegar Targaryen, in response to that event. It was Robert’s rebellion from the start. That said, Robert was still the eldest Baratheon, followed by Stannis, and then by Renly.

      • AB

        Mei and Adam are 100% right. You all are forgetting Lyanna Stark’s role in motivating Robert to overthrow the Targaryens.
        Stannis is the middle child, too – it’s clearly stated more than once, that Renly is the much younger brother of both brothers.

      • Jem

        As a matter of fact, the Baratheons do have some legitimate claim to the Iron Throne beyond the outcome of the war. They are offshoots of the Targaryens, from one of Aegon’s bastard brothers.

      • Rita

        I was about to say the same thing..

      • Psychotron

        Robert is the oldest! I’ll bet a Million dollars to anyone who says different.

      • Let’s Figh About It

        Stannis is the oldest.

      • MK

        Who’s on first?

      • DarthBek

        Just a minor point to these arguments — Yes, it was Robert’s Rebellion, but he took the throne because he had the best claim to it, through a marriage in the past between a Baratheon and a Targaryen. That’s why Ned’s not King. Stannis, if he were the older brother, would have the better claim and they would have made him king.

        Robert is definitely the eldest of the brothers. Which was the point in the beginning.

      • Strange

        Renly, from book 2 “What claim did my brother Robert ever have to the Iron Throne?” ..”Oh there was talk of the blood ties between Baratheon and Targaryen, of weddings a hundred eyars past, of second sons and elder daughters. No one but the maesters care about any of it. Robert won his throne with his warhammer”

      • Ghost

        Rhaegar didn’t kill Lyanna… he either ran away with her or he kidnapped her.

      • ClydeM

        @Darth:
        “it was Robert’s Rebellion, but he took the throne because he had the best claim to it… That’s why Ned’s not King.”

        Ned’s not king because Ned didn’t want to be king. Robert is king because he took the throne by force. The “claim” was pretense to justify it after the fact. Even Renly said as much.

      • Anya

        A Song of Ice and Fire Wiki states: “However, Lord Eddard Stark, King Robert’s Hand, finds out Robert’s children are illegitimate, and that the throne should therefore fall to the SECOND of the three Baratheon brothers, Stannis.” Stannis is younger than Robert, but older than the other brothers.

    • Al

      What is wrong with this people casting all Brits.

      We dont need this people from raining country in our TVs

      • DannyDirewolf

        Carice van Houten is Dutch, not British. I’m sure all Europeans are the same to you Americans…

      • John Foley

        You are practically illiterate.

      • Jay

        Wow. I really hope you not from the U.S. If you are, you are embarrassing your fellow Americans. -_-

      • Lauri

        For someone who whom English is CLEARLY not your first language, you got nerve saying this crap. Shut it.

      • Dreddly

        you sir, are an idiot, and as previously posted, are an embarrassment to your fellow countrymen

        good day

      • Tim

        Please tell me this person is trolling us. I don’t want the pain in my heart of knowing I share a country with such a vacuous moron.

      • Ned’s Ghost

        Thanks for lumping all of us together, Danny. Way to take the high road and not insult EVERYONE over here.

      • Larry

        Thank you, Al, for making the rest of us look like idiots. Try not to speak.

      • James

        “…in our TVs”..Yeah,you’re brilliant at English language obviously.
        Language that’s European,btw..

      • Al

        @Lauri, yes i am American like you but English is not my language, my language is Spanish soon will be America official language, you like it or not.

        the problem is not what language i speak, the problem is i am not ok with American casting too much Brits, it getting boring.

        i dont want them on my TV

      • Kendra C

        Then the answer is simple; don’t watch this show.

        It’s a joint production between HBO and BBC. Deal with it.

      • Al

        @James, you know Brits dont speak good English do you, we need subt to understand what they are saying.

        so dont tell me my English is worst than the Brits, as we all know they cant speak clean English without translation

      • Al

        @Kendra C, it is not, it HBO production alone, and dont tell me what to watch on my TV.

        GoT is one of my most love show, the problem is simple i am not ok with all this Brits taking America TVs, i dont know why you all are ok with that.

      • AB

        Al, if you don’t like it, don’t watch. The show is cast with primarily European actors because it’s a joint production with the BBC. And I’m sure the actors are doing a fine job – so why discriminate? Why not just enjoy the show?
        You embarass yourself when you comment as you do, and embarass the rest of us non-Europeans. Please be quiet.

      • charlotte

        Anytime something is posted about Game of Thrones, this poster says the same thing. I think she/he/it is just a troll.

      • AB

        And Al, maybe YOU need subtitles, but those of us who appreciate quality tv and quality acting and can actually understand proper English don’t. We don’t mind “all these Brits” on our televisions (sorry, I just couldn’t bring myself to directly quote your poor English). We’re “Ok with it.” You seem to have a racial issue. How sad for you.

      • bababoosh

        Peter Dinklage (Tyrion) is an American, he just has a really good British accent.

      • Ned’s Ghost

        Al, you can always hold out for that impressive Telemundo production of Game of Thrones. Then you won’t have to worry about ANY pesky Brits. Or probably even Americans at that point.

        Good grief, dude.

      • Asha Greyjoy

        Guys. Guys.
        Take it easy. Al likely hasn’t read the books.
        He doesn’t know that Westeros is analogous to Europe.
        He also somehow thinks Spanish will be the official language of the United States. Considering English is spoken by the majority of the population and isn’t our official language (we don’t have one).

      • Stuart Anderton

        It’s not a BBC co-production; I think BSkyB may be involved as they screen it here.

      • Al

        @Asha Greyjoy, where did i say English is official language, i said Spanish soon will be you like it or not.

        i don’t like read book, i only like show

      • Elara

        @Al

        What Asha meant was that your theory that Spanish will become the official language is a silly theory. Currently the majority of the country speaks English, yet it isn’t the official language either. America doesn’t have an official language and it never will. THAT is her point.

      • Brian Bleers

        Who cares where the actors are from? Honestly all I care about is that these books are represented well on tv. The books are amazing and as long as the actors do the story justice I’m happy. I’m tired of jumping on threads and readin my fellow americans bashing brits and vice versa. Don’t be so ignorant.

      • bev

        To Al~~It is obvious by your poor English that it was not your 1st language. However, if you find the British accent boring, then don’t watch the shows. I, for one< find the Spanish accent boring so I don't watch Hispanic TV

      • herba

        I cant find it but I read somewhere they have to pick up actors from a poll of actors in some kind of union or association that is mainly compose of euro actors. But I am not sure since I cant find the article again.

      • GStark

        They film it at studios in Belfast, Ireland- and they get a large price cut if they hire a certain number of Northern Irish actors. Irish actors = lower cost to make the show = smaller chance HBO will pull the plug before it’s done.

      • Bob

        James, you know Brits dont speak good English do you, we need subt to understand what they are saying.
        so dont tell me my English is worst than the Brits, as we all know they cant speak clean English without translation

        Where is England again? I believe it my be in Britain. Where does English come from again? Who was that guy again….. Shakespeare or somebody.

        What a ridiculous statement to make.

      • codswallop

        because they can act! unlike most Americans that have the same facial expression no matter what due to a overload of facial botox!!!

      • Lolita

        Al,
        como veo que no sabes escribir inglés, te escribo en Español. Eres un idióta!

        translation:
        Since I see that you can’t write english, I write to you in spanish. You are an idiot!!!

      • Bob

        You know that thing called the Internet? Full of some useful information.

        Production company(s):

        HBO,
        Created By,
        Management 360

      • Bryan

        Lolita,
        Thank you and Gracias!

        Al,
        The English is the most spoken language in the world. Enhancing communication skills in English would be beneficial.

      • Nick

        Wow, your are quit retarded and racist for a spanish american. And no, spanish will not be the national language soon, sorry my friend. It will never happen.

      • You’re an idiot

        You’re an idiot. It only takes three words to really respond to this guy. The rest of you were trolled hard.

      • Emma

        Al@i don’t like read book, i only like show

        Unfortunately Al, you give the impression that you do not read at all. And if you plan to stay and succeed int the US, some fundamental education is recommended, particularly in English.

      • Daenerys

        Hmmm… one reason why most people are British (which I have no problem with, I have a lot of family in Europe and visit often) is because THE SHOW IS FILMED IN EUROPE!!!!!!!!! Also, a point. Peter Dinklage, Emmy Award Winner for Tyrion Lannister, is from New Jersey. As are many other actors. And, secondly, not all of Europe or Britain is rainy. That’s like saying all of Florida is sunny or all of New Jersey is like the Jersey shore. Honestly, I’m kind of ashamed to be an American right now. And they’re right. You really do sound like a jerk when you talk like that.

        -Fire and Blood-

    • Let’s Figh About It

      Stannis is Robert’s cousin, not brother. Duh.

      • Rae

        I thought he was the cousin of his sister’s half nephew’s brother in law???

      • Know It All

        No he isn’t. Not arguing, that’s a fact. They are brothers. Its in the books. Deal with it.

      • Rae

        @Know It All….I think it was kind of a joke, man.

      • herba

        obvious troll…

  • aleksa

    They both look the part.

    • xxc

      mhm, exactly how I pictured them. the casting on this show has been genius so far.

      • greg

        I dont agree with all the casting, Illryo Mopatis is supposed to be a great big fat bastard, the actor who they casr was not even close, but other than that, spot on..Hodor was supposed to have a beard!

      • CrazyAl

        i think most of the casting has been fine, but i though Mark Addy for King Robert wasnt that great

        I think Mark Addy is a fantastic actor, but he doesnt really fit the physical description of Robert

        Robert was supposed to be a massive man (and not just his gut) 6’6” and build like a tank, that just happened to be older and out of shape. Mark Addy doesnt look like he was ever built like a tank, Robert was supposed to be almost as large as Sandor Clegane

      • Becky

        Greg — From what I understand (and I could be remembering it wrong), Illyrio was initially to be played by someone else (Ian McNiece), and I think he fit the part physically more than the current actor does.

      • Blahman

        @Greg They had a different person play Illyro in the original pilot, Ian McNiece, from Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls. When HBO approved of the pilot, he had to be recast due to scheduling conflicts.

      • herba

        @greg They don’t have to cast actors that look exactly has describe in the book. Woud be impossible. Also expect all the “noseless” people to actually have a nose in the series. And I would bet that a certain person who get slash in the face will keep is nose intact. At some point, those things are just make up money pits we don’t need.

    • Benlinus

      Let me start out by saying I believe that Stephen Dillane is a very talented actor, but he has no business playing Stannis.
      I’m reading the second book now and I am pretty damn sure Stephen Dillane does not fit the physical description of Stannis. After watching John Adams again recently I’m certain this actor does not have the demeanor or presence to play Stannis at all. This was a terrible casting decision.

      • Benlinus

        Further more I imagined some one like James Purefoy, or Ian Mcshane landing that Role. As I said before Stephen Dillane is a fantastic actor, but he/we would better served playing another character.

      • @Benlinus

        That’s kind of the point of Stannis — he has no real “demeanor” other than being extremely grim, hard and serious. That’s part of his problem: He can’t get anyone inspired to follow him.

      • CrazyAl

        you cant say he doesnt have the demeanor to play Stannis based on his portrayal of Thomas Jefferson. hes an actor, hes supposed to act like his character, he played Thomas Jefferson to have the demeanor of Thomas Jefferson, he can play Stannis to have the demeanor of Stannis (assuming, of course, that hes good enough, and i think hes very talented)

        he was also in Spy Game and King Arthur, he was good in both of them and no doubt he will play Stannis very well

        although, i do agree that James Purefoy would have made a great Stannis as well, especially considering he actually looks youger than Mark Addy, where Stephen Dillane does not

      • Jake

        Ian McShane??? Are you serious? Isn’t he around 70?

        No offense, but I’m glad your not the casting director.

      • chase

        nah, James Purefoy is to handsome (AND I’M NOT GAY)

      • Rae

        I have to agree, James Purefoy is too attractive to play Stannis. He is actually too good looking to play Davos, too. If they are going to cast him in a part…I think Mance would be most fitting.

      • Rob

        Stannis is not good-looking. Renly is the hot one. If we have Stannis coming out of the gate being way better looking than Renly, we have a HUGE problem. : / James Purefoy would NOT work for Stannis.

        He’s a big no for Davos too. Davos looks, not bad, but common, and certainly not that handsome. He is a better fit for Davos though than Stannis.

      • Ghost

        Stannis was supposed to look older than Robert even though he was younger so the age isn’t a problem.

      • Jen

        HBO and Mr. Martin: please cast James Purefoy in this series, he’s fabulous, it is known!

  • Mya Stone

    They both look almost exactly as I imagined. (Minus the smile from Stannis and the lack of bright red hair on Melisandre. :))

    • Eric

      Check her in stills of the Black Death.

    • old john

      At first glance I thought it was Katey Sagal.

  • João Amaral

    Stephen Dillane is awesome. but i don’t really see this actress as Melisandre. Meh, maybe is because i always saw Tricia Helfer as Melisandre and would be perfect. But if this actress does a good job i’m ok with it.

    • fiddy

      Carice van Houten would be great for the part, she has the acting chops for the role (Black Book) and played a sorceress for her role in Black Death (also starring Sean Bean). Maybe watch some of her stuff before commenting?

    • ks

      Tricia may be good, but Carice fits the charecter much better in my mind. I love her acting

  • David K

    He did not say he was his older brother. He said he is the eldest younger brother.

    • Pattenicus

      It appears to have been corrected…

  • Catherine

    Man, one of these years I am going to make it to Comic-Con and meet some of these amazing people that are there every year!!

    • Linda p

      Good luck getting into comic-con. I went 4 years ago and made the mistake of not buying tickets for the next year while I was there. Impossible to get tickets now.

    • E-geek

      @ Linda p- not impossible at all. I went to Comic Con for the first time this year, the only problem I had with tickets was the crappy website Comic Con set up to buy them. Watch the website and buy tickets as soon as they are on sale, that’s what we did and had no problem
      @Catherine- the GoT panel at SDCC was AWESOME! Especially since George RR Martin moderated the panel

  • Rob

    Davos is as big if not bigger than these two roles. He also gives us back that pureness we lost when Ned died.

    • Strepsi

      WHo do you like for Davos?
      My picks in order:
      – David Thewliss
      – Kenneth Branagh
      – Martin Henderson

      • João Amaral

        Sean Pertwee

      • João Amaral

        James Purefoy

      • Charlene Tilton

        Charlene Tilton.

      • Kelsey

        There’s a Starz Camelot actor cast who hasn’t been announced yet. I’m betting/hoping that it’s Purefoy for Davos. There’s lots of small-ish casting left, but Davos is the last MAJOR character that hasn’t been announced yet.

      • Strepsi

        I kind of think that James Purefoy would be great as the OTHER major character not yet cast… the mysteriously awesome Bravosi

        JAQEN H’GHAR !

        Other good actors for Jaqen H’ghar:
        – Colm Feore
        – Jackie Earle Haley

      • Rae

        Oohh….Strepsi, I like the way you think!!

      • aleksa

        I like the idea of Colm Feore as Jaqen.

      • Rae

        I didn’t even think about Colm Feore. He definitely has my vote for Jaqen. I think Kenneth Branagh is too pretty to be Davos, but David Thewliss is perfect.

      • Jette

        ME: Sumo Deadlift 155#CF: 95# Sumos & 1 pood KB. 4:35I rlealy scaled it down because I have an Army PT test on Saturday and I am still sore from Monday’s workout.

  • dany

    i think it’s just poor phrasing on the writer’s part. he should have phrased it “Stannis is the eldest of Robert’s younger brothers”.

    Also, a little part of me hoping Christopher Eccleston would be Stannis feels very sad.

    • Ken

      Actually, since there were only two younger brothers it should have been phrased: “Stannis is the elder of Robert’s younger brothers.” HTH

    • Season

      The Christopher Eccleston thing kinda saddens me as well.

  • Michelle

    Not the Mel I pictured but I’ll reserve judgment until I see her. Dillane will be an excellent Stannis!

  • Strepsi

    Looks like the casting of this show will continue to be pitch perfect. He will have the British gravitas for humorless Stannis, and as for her — stick a red cloak flapping on that picture and she could look perfect. I hope they do give her flame colored hair and red eyes!

  • Zoe

    Awesome news! Dillane was so freaking hot as Thomas Jefferson in the JA miniseries. So happy to see him again on my screen!

    • eric

      That is probably the first time in history that Thomas Jefferson has been referred to as “hot”

      • bababoosh

        I bet Sally Hemings called him hot once or twice.

      • Angel

        Beautiful review! I love the books and the shows (my WP is dadcieted to them, as you can see by my username), though my faves are veeery different. I love the Lannisters, especially Cersei, who is deeply flawed but ultimately a very human portrayal of the way highborn women are expected to live in Westeros, and despise the Starks. Why should I cheer for a man too honorable to save his kingdom with an underhanded trick (Eddard)?Awesome site, love your posts. Come visit!

  • Josh K

    Stannis is definately the older brother of the late King Robert.

    • Seth

      Stannis is the middle. Robert is the eldest, then Stannis, then Renly.

      • Erin

        Stannis is the eldest of the Baratheon brothers, go actually read the book. it’s said over and over.

      • Adam Whitehead

        “Stannis is the eldest of the Baratheon brothers, go actually read the book. it’s said over and over.”

        Indeed it is. From A CLASH OF KINGS:

        Renly: “You served Robert, why not me?”

        Stannis: “Robert was my elder brother, you are the younger.”

        Renly: “Younger, bolder and far more comely.”

        So that’s that.

      • @Erin

        I have read the books. Stannis is Robert’s YOUNGER brother, and Renly is the youngest of the three of them. Robert, Stannis, Renly, in that order.
        Before he became king, Robert was still the Lord of Storm’s End, which he only would’ve been if he was the oldest. After Robert’s Rebellion, Robert gave Storm’s End to Renly and Dragonstone (the old Targaryen seat) to Stannis. Stannis was furious because he was older and he should’ve had Storm’s End before Renly.
        So, um, yes I have actually read the books. Have YOU?

      • Tim

        Adam, I’m not sure if you are trolling Erin or equally retarded, as sarcasm doesn’t show up in text very well. Here’s to hoping that you’re trolling.

      • Really?

        I feel like I’ve stumbled into a version of “who’s on first.”

      • eod

        erin is correct. i have read the books. stannis is the oldest, the throne went to robert because it was his rebellion when rhaegar kidnapped ned’s sister lyanna. robert went to get her back. he then even slighted stannis by gifting storm’s end to renly, when by rights it should have gone to stannis. no one likes stannis.

    • Lauri

      You are definitely wrong. This has been covered ad-nauseum. If you’re confused read the books again or rewatch Season 1. Sons of Baratheon (in order of age): Robert, Stannis, Renly.

      • eod

        all the nonsense got me. stannis is middle. it says it in the appendices of all the books. urgh

  • tana

    stannis is actually robert’s older brother.

    • Seth

      No, Stannis is the middle. Robert is the eldest, then Stannis, then Renly.

      • Joe

        I am on book 5 of the series. It goes Robert, Stannis, then Renly. In the book Stannis is said to look older than his years so that may be the confusion.

    • Adam Whitehead

      See my quote above. Stannis is Robert’s younger brother by a year.

  • Seth

    Nobody said he was Robert’s “older brother.” The article says that he is his “eldest younger brother.” Read the article.

    • Strepsi

      EW changed it after the comments. EW “crowdsources” its editing ;)

      • Oussama

        Pretty much eitvyehrng is already closed on Wednesday as well. Have you seen the story on KDKA about people saving parking spaces with chairs? As if it’s something new.

    • @Seth

      I’m thinking the article was originally incorrect and EDITED.

  • steve

    Always pictured stannis as the big brooding type like robert, but I can definitely see how dellanie could be perfect fit for the role especially considering hbos penchant for recycling actors from previous shows they aired. Now I’m very curious to see who they pick for davos- the onion knight he is one of my favorites

    • Tim

      I figured he would be more imposing as well. I thought the Gerard Butler rumor (which was completely far fetched) would have suited Stannis far better, although James Purefoy would have been a great substitute for Mr. 300.

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