Think about how many times every day that you hear mention of “Game of Thrones,” see a billboard or ad for the hit HBO series, or come across people talking about it. Now, imagine if those three words reminded you of your ultimate missed opportunity.
For the actors below, “Game of Thrones” will likely always represent one of their bigger regrets. After turning down the show for scheduling difficulties, competing projects or simply more money, they’ve gone on to watch it make huge stars out of folks like Kit Harington, Emilia Clarke and Natalie Dormer. Check out their explanations below — and feel free to imagine how different Westeros would be with these fine actors in the mix.
The veteran star of everything from “Super Troopers” to the “X-Men” films, the Scottish actor undoubtedly would have fit in perfectly in Westeros. But according to a new interview with U.K. site Vodzilla, he passed on the HBO series because of money — and now that he’s a fan, he kicks himself every time he tunes in. “Well, stupidly, I turned it down in the early days because they didn’t pay enough money,” he says. “Now they have more money. And I was silly. I was silly, it was silly, because I’m a complete addict now.”
Watching his former “Deadwood” co-star Ian McShane’s recent one episode, scene-stealing stint, Cox admits that he still holds out hope of getting on the show. “But I don’t know what I could play. Maybe I could do –- I mean, I just watched my friend Ian McShane, and I thought, ‘Ooh, Ian’s in it’, so I settled down to watch him. And I thought, ‘Ian did that?’ and immediately I thought, ‘God, they must have paid him well’, because I know Ian!”
As the show was launching, the “X-Files” star reportedly was offered a key role — but turned it down because of scheduling conflicts. “My 18-year-old cannot believe that I would turn down ‘Game Of Thrones’ or ‘Downton [Abbey]’ — things she loves to watch,” the actress said in a 2013 interview with The Daily Mail, admitting that she turned down the PBS hit show as well. Speculation has long held that Anderson was targeted to play either Cersei or Melisandre on “Thrones.”
The beefy star of “Punisher: War Zone” and the “Thor” films revealed last year that he was offered a role as “Game of Thrones” was being developed as a series — and later approached a second time but declined again because he was afraid he’d already ruined the experience for himself.
“I was offered [a role]. I also saw them before they even started, very early on,” he explained. “I was offered a 4-6 month stint. [The show] was just too far down the line for me. Having already been seen at the beginning, I would rather have been involved in the growth of a show, even though everyone gets bumped off left, right and center.”
The star of “The Wire” had an inside track at HBO when “Thrones” was just getting started, so it’s no surprise that he was offered the role of Mance, leader of the Wildlings. Nearly reuniting with his “Wire” co-star Aidan “Littlefinger” Gillen, he instead passed. “I was offered something on ‘Game Of Thrones’ and unfortunately, I hadn’t seen it,” he later told the Huffington Post. “[Later], my nephew and his father said, ‘Gosh, ‘Game Of Thrones’ is the only great show on!’ And I felt terrible, because I’d just turned them down.”