It’s a shame that the current season of “Game of Thrones” is not eligible at the upcoming Emmys as it is the equal of the preceding six seasons. All of its elements –dialogue, action sequences, sets and costumes — match the same high standard that has won the fantasy series a record 38 Emmys.
Surprisingly, only two of those trophies were for acting and both were won by the same featured performer: Peter Dinklage who is riveting in his role of Tyrion Lannister. Six others have contended: Kit Harington also in supporting actor, supporting actresses Emilia Clarke, Lena Headey and Maisie WIlliams, and guest stars Diana Rigg and Max Von Sydow.
This may seem like a lot of recognition from the actors branch of the TV academy until you consider just how big the cast is, with so many turning in great performances week after week. Below, I single out the five most underrated members of the cast with prominent parts. If you believe that another performer is more deserving of the spotlight, jump into our comments section to hash it out.
Nikolai Coster-Waldau (Ser Jaime Lannister)
Jaime Lannister, known as the Kingslayer for killing the Mad King, is brother (and lover) to Queen Cersei and father to all three of her children. He was taken captive by Robb Stark before being released by Catelyn, who hoped to earn her captive daughters back from Jaime’s brother, Tyrion. Jaime lost his sword hand after attempting to bribe his captor Locke and has since re-joined the Kingsguard as Lord Commander. He is currently Cersei’s closest companion and is trying to sway the lords of Westeros, including Randyl Tarly, to the Lannister cause. Coster-Waldau makes much of this role. He first played Jaime with an attractive arrogance before becoming a desolate captive who all but gives up. He has returned to the the old Jaime, albeit one with a new-found morality. aime is not fully on board with Cersei and her plans and its going to be interesting to watch Coster-Waldau show his character’s internal struggle.
Liam Cunningham (Ser Davos Seaworth)
Cunningham plays Ser Davos Seaworth, a smuggler-turned-knight who saves Stannis Baratheon’s army during Robert’s rebellion. Davos became Stannis’ closest advisor and hand of the king and now serves as principal advisor to the King in the North, Jon Snow. Cunningham is consistently given some of the show’s best lines and speeches, which certainly helps his performance stand out. The Irishman, who uses a pitch-perfect Newcastle accent, plays Davos with humor, intelligence and a wisdom fitting to the character. The season finale of season six, where Davos confronts Melisandre after she killed Sheeran, showcases the actor’s abilities. His pure rage and passion make for a great scene; his quivering lips and quavering shouts are heart-breaking.
Iain Glenn (Ser Jorah Mormont)
Exiled knight Ser Jorah Mormont fled the Seven Kingdoms after selling poachers to slave traders. He joins Daenarys Targaryen as her closest confidante before being exiled again by the Queen for betraying her. He earns his way back to her, however, after contracting Grey Scale and confessed his love for her last season. Glenn, who also shone in “Downton Abbey,” delivers yet again. He conveys his character’s restrained yet obvious love for Daenarys. The scene where she banishes him is horrible to watch – his desperate whisper of ‘Khaleesi’ and flaring nostrils making us wish she saw sense and forgave the man most committed to her. When he finally makes it back to her and she commands him to find a cure, our hearts burst for Jorah. This season, the clearly broken-in and decaying Jorah, suffering from Grey Scale, is horrid to watch as Sam slices away the infected flesh.
Michelle Fairley (Catelyn Stark)
Catelyn Stark was wife to Ned and mother to Robb, Sansa, Arya, Bran and Rickon. She aided Robb when he became King in the North and later released the captive Jaime Lannister in the hopes of winning her daughters back. She was murdered along with her son Robb at the Red Wedding.
The scene when Jaime Lannister is recaptured and Lord Karstark tries to kill him was a showcase for the actress as she moved from showing her character’s desperation to anger and then guile. Of all the scenes in which characters are killed, her performance at the Red Wedding made hers the most memorable.
Stephen Dillane (Stannis Baratheon)
Stannis Baratheon was the rightful heir to the Iron Throne after his older brother Robert passed away. He was one of the five in the War of the Five Kings, after younger brother Renly rebelled and Joffrey, born of incest, retains the throne. Stannis takes up with Melisandre and the Lord of the Light and commits atrocities in the hopes of earning what is rightfully is – even burning his own daughter at the stake. Stannis died at Brienne’s hand after losing the Battle of Winterfell to the Boltons. Stannis is a very reserved man, barely showing any emotion, but Dillane breathes a harsh brutality and uncaring coldness into the character. The actor delivers his lines with a languor that is so telling.