'Game of Thrones' casts wild beauty Ygritte -- EXCLUSIVE


Image Credit: Getty Images

You know nothing about the casting of Ygritte! Until now: HBO is ready to unveil the final significant player added to the Game of Thrones second season cast.

Downton Abbey actress Rose Leslie has landed the key role of a Wildling woman that Jon Snow meets during during his adventures beyond the Wall. Ygritte is described as “strong-willed, witty, skilled in battle and survival in the wilderness. An unconventional beauty, skinny but strong with red hair (which the Wildlings consider ‘kissed by fire’).”

Leslie’s arc on Abbey wrapped at the end of its successful first season on PBS. She played Gwen, a maid who eventually snags her dream job as a secretary. It’s unclear whether she’ll return to the Emmy-winning series, which returns to PBS in January.

Leslie joins a rather huge season two cast for Thrones. The HBO drama also added a mercenary pirate, a lecherous Northerner and one of his pet wives, as well as a faceless assassin, Theon’s fierce sister, an heir to the Iron Throne and his sorceress, the Onion Knight a female wannabe knight and a proper princess.

Game of Thrones returns for 10 episodes in the spring.
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Comments (230 total) Add your comment
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  • Hope

    I was really worried they were going to cast someone super beautiful to play Ygritte, but this is just right. She’s supposed to be normal looking. I’m good with it.

    • jim

      she looks pretty beautiful to me

      • Al

        Pretty or no, we don’t need this people (Brits) on America TV

      • L6313

        Yeah! No Brits on US TV! We prefer Canadians! :P DUH!

      • ???

        It’s filmed in Britain/Europe. It’s filmed by a British company. What’s so difficult about that for you to understand, Al??? You constantly complain about this, and you are the only one who cares.

      • District 12

        Al you gotta get over it, there is no reason to complain about British casting

      • RyanK

        Seriously Al, what is your problem?

      • LMMacN


      • JonSnowTargarian

        Al is just trolling. Anyways I think the British accent is perfectly appropriate for historical fantasy based on the dark ages.

      • LMMacN

        I dunno, I think AI thinks he could understand Dothraki spoken by Jason Momoa better than the other actors playing Dothraki, because Momoa is American. ;)

      • nicole

        They have British actors because it is a British produced show. It is playing now on BBC in England. We are getting a second run of it on PBS. Much like the Masterpieces Mysteries.

      • Bouncy Castle, London

        Actually, it’s not shown on the BBC, but nevermind.

      • helly

        Al, i hope you know that the show is produced and filmed in GB, hiring american actors would be too frikin expensive and MOST IMPORTANT the show (and the books) are mainly based on the war of the roses. Now, if you can find a bunch of american actors who can do a good british accent and who are okay with not-so-high wages, you’re welcome to propose someone

      • Ana

        HBO is not a British production company. The show is being filmed all across Europe not just Great Britain. I don’t necessarily have a problem with them casting British actors, although it would be nice to see more Americans in roles. (I doubt money was a factor since it reportedly cost up to $100 million to produce just the first season.)

      • bill

        my sisters friend makes $50 an hour on the internet. She has been unemployed for 8 months but last month her check was $6200 just working on the internet for a few hours. Go here CashHar d.c om

      • CK1

        The Americans would have to have good British accents bc that’s appropriate for the show. Peter Dinklage has done a good job so far with his accent but he was also likely the best actor for the role. I prefer them casting the best actors possible. If Americans can travel to Europe for a casting call HBO will give them the role. I doubt an American company would be biased against Americans (oh wait a minute…)

      • Bob

        That girl is filthy ugly. Her accent is worse than fingernails on a black board. GoT has done a bang up job perpetuating the stereotype that British chicks are all ugly.

    • Jason

      I don’t know what the standards for beauty are on your planet but I think she’s almost too hot to be Ygritte(not that I’m complaining)

      • moontoadie

        I agree with Jason. This woman is too good looking to play Ygritte.. and where’s the gap between her front teeth? Maybe they’ll make-up it in.

      • err

        Er, what is wrong with you people?

      • @err

        It is dark and lonely in their parents’ basements.

      • thin

        They have this crazy thing called “makeup” that can be used to make people look like they fit into a given setting. I bet they use it for her when she’s on the show!

      • chase

        LOL!!! You guys must live in N. Dakota. She’s ok looking. But I think she will make a wonderful Ygritte.

    • Al

      My God an other Brit

      • julie

        Well since the characters have mostly british accents and just maybe her audition blew every one elses out of the water

      • Jamie

        Going to criticise the brits when the fan favorite character, Eddard Stark is played by one? And before you start spouting rubbish, yes I have read all 6 books….

      • Maz

        The Brits are the best, that is why the series is great!

      • Zed 0

        What does the fact that she’s Anglo have to do with anything? The question is whether or not she can act. Save your prejudice for an Orson Scott Card adaptation.

      • err

        Uh, Westeros is based in England, you illiterate Tea Party dimwit.

      • L6313

        NO! Not another Brit! Quick throw some crumpets at them! *idiot* :P

      • Ignore him

        He always complains about the fact that British people are cast in this. Apparently he had a bad batch of tea and crumpets at some point.

      • Abhijeet

        Ha ha ha! Its globalization.

      • Jerome

        As long as they dont cast any black people, I will be fine. I am just joking, making fun of AI comment.

      • RyanK

        Yeah, really Jerome. How about no jews or blacks either. And while we’re at it, how about no women. What is your problem Al? Go back under that rock you climbed out from.

      • Al

        @Jerome, I am not the racist one you are. I just say too much Brits on American TV, enough is enough. English is not my first language Spanish is, but i speak a better English than these Brits, people could understand me very well when i speak English but not the same thing you could say about these people from raining country.

      • Al

        @RyanK, are you telling us you understand when Brits speak English, come on.

      • sv

        lol, dumbest comment I’ve seen in awhile. Do you not understand this show? At all? Didn’t think so.

      • Lord MN

        AI, how ignorant are you? It’s like saying too many Spanish speakers in the southwest. The Brits speak English…. we speak American. If the only ‘English accent’ you understand is American, then that’s your personal idiotic problem (speaking oh which, have you gone anywhere else besides you BFE town? Didn’t think so…) ‘nuf said, yer an idiot’.

      • LMMacN

        AI, have you noticed the only two Americans are Dinklage and Momoa, and Drogo’s gone so now there’s only one? Or maybe you don’t count him because he’s a dwarf, even though he won an Emmy. You’re a knob.

      • Kestrel10

        Al, do you think they should have gotten from Brooklyn or south Philly? I think a Scottish accent will perfectly appropriate for Ygritte.

      • Erin

        Hey dips**t! Another is one word, not two. Loser.

      • Zed 0

        If you hate the Brits that much, then don’t watch it. Keep your tube tuned on Fox News (wait, Rupert Murdoch’s Australian… doh!)

      • Summer

        @Al- if you are going to criticize anyone look at yourself. It’s another not an other. Have someone teach you some grammar then come back to play with the adults in the room.

      • DL

        @Jamie – There are only five books so far…

      • Smeeg

        Yeah, those pesky Brits, they can’t speak English!

    • err

      Her accent would be perfect as well. Since she’s Scottish, she’ll get the wilding accent down perfect.

      • Samwell

        Are saying that the Scots are wildings?! That’s just WRONG… everyone knows that the wildings are Welsh!

      • Lord MN

        AI, how ignorant are you? It’s like saying to many spanish speakers in the southwest. The Brits speak English…. We speak American. ‘nuf said, yer an idiot’.

      • LMMacN

        The casting call for Ygritte did specify a “Scottish type”, though it seems the wildings, and even the Starks, are just sort of Celtic.

      • Bob

        @lord Well I live in the SW, and what Mexicans speak my be technically considered Spanish, it is no where near what is spoken in Spain. Just as whatever is coming out of this chicks mouth can hardly be considered English.

    • lisa g.

      Unconventional beauty….u got that right!

      • Erin

        Oh and I’m sure you are stunning.

      • lisa g.

        Irrelevant. I’m not on tv dearie.

      • Fiona

        @Lisa G: And you are probably not on TV because you’d never be attractive enough.

    • Wade N Ginger N Eastman Georgia

      Well I thought I recognized the face when I first glanced at it.I am not very familiar with the work of Rose Leslie,But I can say this mush she surely does have that look of fire in her eyes. But then again she is a red head and that can’t be anything but good,actually the word I meant was WONDERFUL cause I do love red heads,I am a red head myself. I have fallen for the opposite sex with red hair all of my life and it had proven to be true of the ole saying be careful of how you treat a red headed woman cause if you do them wrong it can and certainly will come back to bite you in the ass!!!Anyway I wish Miss Rose Leslie the very best of luck with her newest adventure on ” Game of Thrones”

    • eod

      yup! she’s definitely lucky. kissed by fire ‘n whatnot.

    • eod

      yup! she’s definitely lucky. kissed by fire ‘n whatnot.

    • BrooklynBrimstone

      Lucky girl! Kit Harrington is a stone cold fox….er…I mean, wolf! ;)

    • fireandice

      ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! We need British people because they are amazing actors, unlike the ones form Hollywood

  • Ms. Chanandler Bong

    This is interesting, even though I’ve cooled considerably towards GoT after reading the 1,000 page let down that is Dance with Dragons.

    • NexxusLive

      999 pages of crap, then something interesting on that last page. 6 years to write filler? I was so upset.

      • Michelle

        You’re not the only fan who was disappointed in ADWD, but I personally enjoyed the book immensely. There’s a lot of great moments in it (I especially loved everything that was going on in the North).

      • Ms. Chanandler Bong

        Yeah! There’s stuff going on, but NOTHING happens or it takes too many pages for even the small exciting things to happen.

      • Meg

        I was disappointed with ADWD. Too many viewpoint characters. And if I have to read the words “You know nothing” or “Where do wh*res go?” one more time, I might scream. GRRM needs to use a little restraint.

      • kate middleton

        Bummer! I am about 2/3 through Feast for Crows now. Bummed that yall think ADWD is a letdown.

      • Ms. Chanandler Bong

        @Kate Middleton, don’t be disappointed. As someone below mentions, the rest if the series should get better. I just hope it comes out sooner rather than later.

      • Snsetblaze

        I am new to the series although I have read a lot of sci-fi, horror and fantasy. I read all the books in 3 weeks. Couldn’t put them down. But I have to agree with the Griff/Young Griff comment. And while reading one book, I missed characters from another (i.e. I kept wanting to see Sansa and Littlefinger during the last book.) And more Ayra and Tyrion.

      • AB

        A little bit of Sansa goes a long way. I didn’t miss her at all in ADWD, glad we didn’t have to put up with her nonsense.
        I actually loved the book, can’t wait for the next one.

        Have to agree with the poster who said, if I read “you know nothing” one more time… that phrase is pretty annoying. I was glad when … well, let’s just say I was glad when I didn’t have to read that as often anymore.

      • ash

        Couldn’t agree more. Martin’s way of repeating a phrase ALL THE TIME is so effing annoying.

      • Almost scared

        A dance of dragons was a huge let down for me as well. I even like feast more. the only three chapters the stuck out were jamies, and the last jon and dany. the best thing i can say about it is that it reminded me of a clash of kings in that the book was a huge set up and i think winds of winter will be in league with a storm of swords as the series best.

      • DL

        I agree that ADWD was a letdown. I don’t have any clue how he’s going to end the series in two more books if things move along at this rate. I could have done away with many of the POV characters in that book, and the endless chapters of Tyrion in transit were pointless. Hope we don’t have to wait another five years for TWOW.

      • Mo

        I have to say I died inside a little when I heard that the one chapter from The Winds of Winter that Martin has previewed is about people traveling, because that was a big part of what was wrong with ADWD. Way too much travelogue. In the first three books, it seems to me, people just got where they needed to be. Then we got Brienne’s endless wandering in the fourth one, and this one had Tyrion, Quentyn and Victarion seemingly doing the same. Just get them there, George!

      • Ms. Chanandler Bong

        I don’t know how I feel about Sansa. I know she’s in with Littlefinger but I don’t feel like she gets it.

    • AC

      Everything that happened in Westeros was great, everything that happened accross the narrow sea was not good (outside of Griff/Young Griff)

      Decent book overall, not nearly as good as book 3. But a much better effort than book 4.

      • Nik E

        3 was awesome! I’m having a tough time making it through 4.

      • Ms. Chanandler Bong

        3 is the best one so 4 is total challenge to get through.

    • Maz

      I loved the book and begging for more!

    • Tugo

      Book 5 was excellent in my opinion, maybe it’s not as eventful as book 3, but people should understand that books 4 & 5 are the in between books. They are the aftermath of what happens in the first 3 books and also the set up for what’s about to come in book 6 & 7. I’m sure when the whole series is complete, books 4 & 5 will be a lot more appreciated. People just need to be more patient, this is a masterpiece in the works.

    • RyanK

      I loved ADWD. My favorite, aside from book 3.

      • Walter Sobchak

        Agreed. I like all of the books in the series, but the third through fifth are my favorite. I thought AFFC and ADWD were the most interesting. Page-turning action is fine, but I appreciated how they slowed down to take a look at the devastation.

    • JS

      Yup… All those years of waiting and hoping for better than Feast, and we get this crap that goes nowhere. These may be setup books, but really, PLOT still needs to happen that’s more than aimless meandering. (Harry Potter 6, anyone?) What happened to the page-turners that were the first three books?

    • Herba

      imo first 500 pages are like book 4 then last 500 pages are like book 3. its a question of opinion. It stills blow out of the water pretty much any other fantasy books out there…

  • Bellona

    That’s brilliant! That absolutely makes up for her not being in the second season of Downton.

    • dancerindc

      I’ll miss her on Downton for sure, but happy she’s got new work. Too bad they couldn’t post a better picture here though!

  • Sarah

    Awesome awesome news. I was starting to worry they’d cut Ygritte from Season 2. But Rose is going to be a great Ygritte. She was so fantastic in Downton Abbey.

    • Al

      Why not cast an American.

      • Alec

        Because it’s filmed largely in Ireland, and the cast are all supposed to have British accents? American actors suck at British accents, and it makes sense to cast local talent.

      • Andy

        I think we got your point… “blah blah hate brits blah blah hate foreigners blah blah etc” (repeat ad nauseum). You’re a real winner; back under your rock sir, back under your rock.

      • err

        Westeros is based on the British Isles. Have you never even glanced at a map in your life?

      • Samwell

        Because Americans are ugly and have bad accents.

      • CK1

        Peter Dinklage is American. And Johnny Depp and Mike Myers do pretty good British accents.

    • mags

      Rose was perfect as Gwen in Downton Abbey. I was hoping that they would find a way to bring her back in the 2nd season, but that hasn’t happened. At least she’s getting another good role.

  • charlotte

    She does have just the right look for Ygritte. I loved Downton Abbey, although her character was a lot different than Ygritte.

    • TR

      That’s why they call it acting. :)

    • err

      Yeah, I’m sure she’ll be dressed as a maid for the series. Seriously, look up makeup on the intarwabz

      • @err

        Try reading Charlotte’s posting again. She says Rose Leslie has the right look for Ygritte.

      • charlotte

        Before you automatically criticize people, maybe you should brush up on your reading skills. I do think she has the right look. “Character” is a lot more than hair and makeup. I was speaking about how the character of Gwen in Downton Abbey is a lot different than Ygritte. She plays kind of a doormouse in the series, which is the opposite of Ygritte. So we really don’t know how she’ll embody Ygritte based on that performance other than she knows how to act.

  • Dessy

    Fantastic! We’ve gotten Jon’s girl!
    10 epsiodes…. that is not enough.

    • Merry Bear

      I would have paid *them* to be Ygritte, and considered it a privilege.

  • Melissa in CA

    I’m about halfway through reading Clash of Kings, so I don’t know who she is yet.

    • kate middleton

      She shows up right at the end. Will likely be much more present in Season 3.

    • JS

      Cherish the moment while you can–you may regret meeting her! Ygritte is one of those polarizing characters who annoys many readers. She’s like a ginger parrot repeating the same phrase over and over.

      • ash

        Yeah Ygritte can be rather annoying. But I have to say the most annoying character IMO is Shae. Oh how i hate her guts! So I was pleasantly surprised at how different she is on the show. Much more likeable.

      • stina

        Annoying but a lucky biatch! I would pay to play her too…Jon Snow–yes please!

      • Steph

        I liked her:(

  • Barbarossa

    Where are the Reeds?

    • charlotte

      Yes, I’m officially nervous that they’ve haven’t been cast. Even westeros.org said “Ygritte is one of the last major roles to be officially announced, we believe.” Not a good sign.

    • Bones

      They’re a small part, but they’re so significant to Bran’s storyline. They can’t be cut – simply can’t! But I can’t help but feel worried as well and wonder over the other options…

    • Rose Tyler

      Perhaps Bran and the Reeds story won’t appear until season 3. Clearly not every season will follow the exact path of the books quite like they did in season one. They’ve already said they’re expanding Rob’s love story. Some storylines will have to be pushed back to make room.

      • charlotte

        How can they push Bran’s storyline back to season 3 when it is inextricably linked to Theon’s?

      • kate middleton

        We don’t hear from Theon at all in Book 3, so they could possibly push it back. Especially since they’ve said they intend to split Book 3 into 2 seasons.

        I’ve also heard that the casting can come really late for some parts because of the way they do the filming. There’s still slight hope for the Reeds in S2.

      • Rose Tyler

        On the show, the character of Theon needs to be explored more before his seige of Winterfell. His reasons need to be explored. Therefore I think most of Theon’s storyline this season will revolve around the Iron Islands and his relationship with his sister and father.

      • sara

        god i don’t care about Robb’s love story… ugh, and doesn’t Theon’s story with Bran (and the Reeds) link with Robb’s “love story?” Give us the Reeds!!!!!!!!

      • Ms. Chanandler Bong

        Seriously, it wasn’t a love story!

    • Abhijeet

      Ya man ! Meera and Jojen.

    • LMMacN


      • CK1

        They haven’t even so much as mentioned Howland Reed so there’s a good chance that they’re cutting out the Reeds entirely. Perhaps the Reed’s will just morph into Osha and Bran and Rickon will travel north together.

  • charlotte

    We probably won’t see her until around the end of season 2. She has a much larger roll in the third book.

  • Bones

    At first I was unsure, but the more I look at her, the more she’s growing on me. AHH! I can’t wait for Season Two!

    “You know nothing Jon Snow!” Har!

  • Barry

    Only 10 episodes? That sucks!

  • sv

    Ah! I love the look of her. Looking forward to seeing her on screen.

    Cannot wait to truly hear “You know nothing, Jon Snow”.

    • M.

      ….and the you’ll hear it A LOT.

  • ks

    Good News! She seems perfect

  • Joanne

    a lecherous “wildling,” not a Northerner. Completely different.

    • charlotte

      The “Wildings” or “Free Folk” would probably disagree. They want to disown him too.

      • Alice

        not really, Maybe Mance because he couldn’t bend him to his will, but the rest don’t seem much bothered by him.

    • err

      Almost all the Wildlings are northerners, and they worship the Old Gods. The wildlings actually look upon the “northerners” as southerners. Food for thought…

      • Amy

        In the book the Northerners always refer to those up to and below the wall. Beyond the wall they refer to themselves as Free Folk, not Northerners. I’d think referring to themselves as “Northerners” would be like kneeling down to the rules of the kingdom they’ve refused.

  • Butch

    Has anyone else started to wonder…if they are churning out a season (one book) of this series every 9-12 months…they are going to come to the end of the books before Martin is done writing them. It’s not like the guy is very prolific at writing these things, on the contrary, he seems to be a whirlwind of Comic-Con conventions, book signings, putting together anthologies, writing short stories, and making TV shows…everything but finishing this series. I think he’d better sit down and get cracking…this last book took him what…six or seven years to write? HBO might end up writing the end for him, whether he likes it or not.

    • Michelle

      Martin in working with them on the show and he’s given them an outline and ideas of where the character arcs are going, so if in the (hopefully) unlikely event the show catches up with him, the producers will know what direction to take the show in.

      • Erin

        I asked specifically at a book signing if he was (to use his own words) gardening or architecting his way to the end, and the answer was both. He knows the end, but not all the details in how he gets there.

    • Jerry

      It’s not going to be one book a season. Book three will have to be spread out over two if they are keeping them at 10 episodes each (even though some of book three sounds like it will make it into season 2).

      And I have a feeling the writers will have their hands full with Feast for Crows and Dance with Dragons. Something tells me we’re looking at 2-3 seasons for those, and the books spliced together so that major characters aren’t missing for an entire year.

      But yes, Martin needs to finish this. He’s stated already he isn’t working on the next one until next year. Ugh.

      • clint

        Book three will be part of this season to give jaime lannister a bigger role so book three will be in this season and I would imagine all of next season. Still if he don’t start writing faster the show will catch up and then die out in a few years

      • err

        Actually no, the writers (D&D) have confirmed that season 2 will be primarily book 2, with only parts of book 3. Book 3 is so huge that seasons 3 and 4 will be devoted to it. It needs THREE seasons to be completely adapted.

      • kate middleton

        They’ve said that they’ll split Book 3 into two seasons of the show, with the first season (Season 3) likely ending at the RW. And yeah, they’ll definitely need to jumble up Books 4 and 5.

        You think GRRM will have Book 6 ready to go by 2020? Sadly, I’m kinda serious.

      • Snsetblaze

        Well a few things from book 2 did make it into season one.

        I’m wondering if they are casting minor characters like Gendry, Robert’s other son that Stannis has, Littlefinger’s crew, Marilion the singer, Stannis’ wife and daughter, some more of the watch members, etc.

      • ash

        Isn’t Chris from Skins (UK) playing Gendry? I recall Ned meeting him. And he was with Arya in the last episode.

      • sara

        @clint: i was worried about this too, since Jaime barely appears in book 2, but they might write a couple of original scenes with him that doesn’t appear in book 2. and move some book 3 stuff to season 2 for him.

        @kate middleton: RW would be an awesome season-ender (or ep-9 like Baelor in S1), but I don’t know if there’s enough “stuff” before RW to fill a 10-episode arc, unless D&D decides to either delay Bran/Reeds’ storyline or advance Dany’s storyline to season 3.

        @ash: yes Gendry was in season 1, so unless they’re recasting him for no reason… it’s also unlikely they’ll cast Edric Storm, since he wasn’t really in book 2.

      • kate middleton

        Sara – I agree with you. ASOS is really back-loaded and if they split it into 2 seasons for the book, then Season 4 would be crazy good. But they’d definitely need to beef up the Season 3 stuff – I guess they’d add more Greyjoy scenes and expand the Stannis stuff more. Will be interesting to see what they do!

      • Mal

        GRRM stated on his blog that he had 4 chapters for book 6 back in 2010 so he may have more in the bag than he is letting on.Given that GRRM in in his early 60’s he would need to get a move on, if he takes his usual 6 or 7 yrs a book then he will be in his mid seventies before he finishes the series.

    • julie

      they may do it like they did for trueblood, take the books and mix it up a little, unfortunately, I think they mixed that show up a bit too much.

      • kate middleton

        True that. Thankfully, the GoT source material is much stronger than True Blood’s, as it contains the POV of multiple characters and such intense storylines. And I say that as a fan of Sookie Stackhouse books (at least up to Book 7, then they seriously started stinking).

    • Abhijeet


    • kate middleton

      Butch – I read an interview with GRRM where he mentioned that and said he had to make use of his 5 year head start or so. And since they’ll split some of the books into multiple seasons, I think that helps him. But still, time to get cracking.

      I guess it all depends on HBO too – renewal isn’t a given (although I think Season 2 will do even better in the ratings than Season 1). So, it’s definitely possible HBO may shorten things up in some way. Either way, I hope GRRM makes good use of his time.

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