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spikebrennan

Opportunities to cast non-white actors

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There have been a number of earlier discussions on this board and the casting board about the possibility of casting non-white actors for certain roles (including roles where such a casting choice would depart from GRRM's description of the character in the novels, but where the physical description of that character is seen as irrelevant to the plot).

For example, before most of the casting choices for the first season were revealed, many had speculated that Bronn might be played by a black or non-white actor.

What are some other possibilities (for roles that have not yet been officially cast)?

- Davos

- Melisandre

- Salador Saan

- Craster

- the Dorne characters (I had suggested this at one point: see - here, but most of the people who responded thought I was nuts)

- Brienne

- Across-the-Narrow-Sea characters such as Grey Worm or Strong Belwas

- The Kindly Man

- Jaqen

- Vargo Hoat

- The Kettleblacks

- Maester Cressen

- Quorin Halfhand

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Dorne, based on the descriptions, I would expect to see brown actors (although that could mean Hispanic, Arabic, Indo-Pakistani, etc - they all have a skin tone close enough to what I picture in my head). Other than that, it would most likely be the non-Westerosi characters - Melisandre, Jaqen, Sallador Saan. I wouldn't be at all surprised if they give the city of Qarth a Chinese look.

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I am all for not sticking to absolutely strict descriptions in the book, honestly. If it's not important to the character, it's not important to me. Like Syrio didn't need to be bald, and he isn't. Osha didn't need to be old, and she isn't. I think they have cast a lot of non-white actors as Dothraki. All of those on your list are up for grabs, in my opinion, although I do hope for Robert Carlyle as Davos. Brienne will also probably be white, just based on her Westeros lineage (although it's not vital).

Visually, if they can diversify even a bit it might be a good thing for non-readers. I don't think they need to change anything, but if they did I'd understand and be fine with it.

I use the example of Morgan Freeman in The Shawshank Redemption. The character was white in the book. The line where he says "I'm Irish" in the film is right out of the text. It worked because of the irony, and the rest of it didn't matter that he was black.

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Well, Dothraki are "Asians", people from Summer islands are black and those from Dorne are dark-skinned caucasians... Which unfortunaly means that except of Sphinx we have not much chances to see many non-whites in westerosi sociaty without it being pretty nonsensical like in most of other fantasy stories, really. And Melissandre is dark religious zealot who wants to convert West to eastern fanatical monotheism so I suspect in tv logic she´ll be white as snow (pun intended).

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There have been a number of earlier discussions on this board and the casting board about the possibility of casting non-white actors for certain roles (including roles where such a casting choice would depart from GRRM's description of the character in the novels, but where the physical description of that character is seen as irrelevant to the plot).

I'd be in favor of it, at least for people of dubious or non-Westrosi origin (so not Brienne... she's from the heart of Westeros, so it'd be out fo place considering previous casts...), but I don't think it's particularly likely because so much of the casting has been local talent. And while the UK does have some diversity, people of non-white races (particularly actors of non-white races) are relatively rare.

I guess they could just say for a particular role "actor can be of any race between ages X and Y" and they should get a good number of nonwhite actors auditioning. I would prefer they pick the best audition rather than going for a particular race for a particular part.

The Dornish should explicitly have a middle-eastern look. They are not descended from the Andals like everyone else so it totally works.

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- the Dorne characters (I had suggested this at one point: see - here, but most of the people who responded thought I was nuts)

Non-white for Dorne/Rhoynar makes perfect sense. But dark-skinned African does not. Sarella/Alleras is of both bloods and the difference between them is marked and important.

It had been Lazy Leo who dubbed Alleras “the Sphinx.” A sphinx is a bit of

this, a bit of that: a human face, the body of a lion, the wings of a hawk.

Alleras was the same: his father was a Dornishman, his mother a black-skinned

Summer Islander. His own skin was dark as teak. And like the green marble

sphinxes that flanked the Citadel’s main gate, Alleras had eyes of onyx.

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Pretty much any commoner, including most of Jon's sworn brothers. I know some have been cast already, but Grenn, Pypar, Qhorin Halfhand... any of them could have been born in one of Westeros' port cities and have any sort of ancestry.

We know Orton Merryweather married a foreigner, and there's no indication that there is any institutional prejudice against such relationships. I'd imagine there are a number of non-white court ladies, with mixed-race sons and daughters. Especially in Dorne and the Stormlands.

And while the UK does have some diversity, people of non-white races (particularly actors of non-white races) are relatively rare.

There are quite a lot I think. So many that we export them to America (Idris Elba, Archie Panjabi, Parminder Nagra, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Naveen Andrews etc).

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And while the UK does have some diversity, people of non-white races (particularly actors of non-white races) are relatively rare.

Actually, London is among the most ethnically diverse cities in the world. Members of all those countless Commonwealth nations/former colonies tend to immigrate there from all over the world for work opportunities. It draws people from around the globe in much the same way as New York.

There are quite a lot I think. So many that we export them to America (Idris Elba, Archie Panjabi, Parminder Nagra, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Naveen Andrews etc).

Don't forget Chiwitel Ejiofor, one of my very favorite actors currently working - he played The Operative in "Firefly," and was amazing in such other movies as "Dirty Pretty Things," "Children of Men," and "Red Belt." Actually, I would love to see either him or Idris Elba in a role like Quorin Halfhand.

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meh, I don't think we need to be obsessed with diversity being inherently a good thing. It's not a big deal, but may as well keep casting of Westerosi characters the same races as in book canon ie for non-Dorne Westerosi, white. It would be a shame if they decide to cast all Dornish characters as of a single (non-white) race - Tyrion mentions three kinds of Dornishmen and it would be cool to see a range of ethnicities represented when the Dornish party comes to court.

Non-westeros characters could be of other races if that will help the plot; ideally I'd want them to have a reason to do that that wasn't just to increase racial diversity of the characters though.

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Depends, both on the character and the actor. If there are a variety of ethnicities in King's Landing and Pentos, that'd make sense. But when it comes to changing the race of a character? If they're Westerosi, it wouldn't make sense. The Andals and First Men were fair-skinned. Dorne has more wiggle room, but the way they're described, none are black. More southern Mediterranean/Middle-eastern.

Qhorin Halfhand, however, could be one of those to get a race-change. The name itself seems foreign to Westerosi culture. So were they to cast a black actor as him, I don't see the issue. Long as he was a good one.

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It's not just a matter of being multicultural for its own sake. It can help the audience tell the characters apart.

Season 1 already has a very large cast, many of whose members are going to normally be depicted as scruffy, bearded white guys in armor. In a hypothetical Season 2, there's going to be even more characters for the audience to keep track of.

If some of these characters look distinctly different than others (and a diverse casting pool could assist in this), this could make it less likely for the audience to confuse one guy with another.

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It will all depend on where HBO films following seasons. If they film in Morocco then it is likely that Dorne or some of the places Dany visits will look more Arabic. If they film in Malta then those places will look more Maltese. :)

But yes, they can easily throw in individual characters of different ethnic origins when possible (excluding the main families obviously). And even with the Martells they must be somewhat careful because the Martells did marry into the Targaryen family.

meh, I don't think we need to be obsessed with diversity being inherently a good thing. It's not a big deal, but may as well keep casting of Westerosi characters the same races as in book canon ie for non-Dorne Westerosi, white.

Well no point been obsessed but there is no reason why they can't change the ethnic origin of some characters if they find good actors.

And expecting 3 different kinds of Dornish people would be cool but not very likely (although it could happen if they want to have an in-joke). We'll never spend enough time in Dorne (probably) to really appreciate such distinctions.

ideally I'd want them to have a reason to do that that wasn't just to increase racial diversity of the characters though.

A reason? Nothing wrong with racial diversity as a reason, as long as it doesn't raise logic issue. Or its convenient because of where they are filming. Almost any reason is fine to me. As you say, its no big deal.

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I had suggested a few Asian actress (the actress could be Asian British) in the Melisandre casting thread,with the logic that she's from far to the East near the Jade Sea... Made me think Asian, but with red hair and eyes. Strangely, I got some push back- since she's a "bad" character, and it would be considered a stereotype. Personally, I don't think of Mel as bad, rather grey like most of the characters (Jaime anyone?).

But we can all agree, talent is paramount.

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I do hope that they make Melisandre or anyone from Asshai or places near there as Asain. It would make the world seem bigger and more mysterious. For Dorne I think Arab and/or Spanish would be suitable.

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I had suggested a few Asian actress (the actress could be Asian British) in the Melisandre casting thread,with the logic that she's from far to the East near the Jade Sea... Made me think Asian, but with red hair and eyes. Strangely, I got some push back- since she's a "bad" character, and it would be considered a stereotype. Personally, I don't think of Mel as bad, rather grey like most of the characters (Jaime anyone?).

I can kind of see where people are coming from. But as you say, Mel's motives are ambiguous, so it seems fine to me if she was Asian. (Or anywhere really. Any option should be ok).

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I would not recommend having Mel's race be hugely distinct from Westerosi people, purely because of the common "non-whites all have magic powers" trope.

Apart from that, I agree with the majority of posters. There is little reason for excluding anyone from a role on grounds of race. There is no evidence of strong racial predudice and travel is certainly possible.

I remember that the Unsullied were highlighted as being extremely racially diverse.

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I would not recommend having Mel's race be hugely distinct from Westerosi people, purely because of the common "non-whites all have magic powers" trope.

Well. Depends how they do the Undying I suppose. There are a few "magic" people in aCoK. Jaqen been another. And Jojen. Magic does make more of an impression in aCoK.

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The Myrish are described as 'olive-skinned', which is a term vague enough to cover Spanish, North African, Persian, Semitic, North Indian, and Indonesian people amongst others. So they have licence to be creative when casting Thoros and Taena Merryweather. I imagine Areo Hotah looks similar.

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