'Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring' (2001)
It’s impossible to imagine “Game of Thrones” anywhere else than on television - its scope and detail simply could not live anywhere else. But both before and during the show’s run, its incredible cast has done some spectacular, unique work in many other projects. As the series premieres its eighth and final season, take a look at some of the biggest and best roles various cast members of “Game of Thrones” have tackled in their careers that both carried them to the series and showcased their amazing versatility.
Sean Bean - Boromir, ‘Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring’ (2001)
Sean Bean has an unfortunate habit of playing characters that meet deadly fates (see his turn as Ned Stark for Exhibit A) but in the first “Lord of the Rings” film, he played the conflicted leader of the Fellowship of the Ring who makes a noble sacrifice so that Frodo and his fellow stewards can carry the One Ring to Mordor to destroy it.
David Bradley - Argus Filch, ‘Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone’ (2001)
Like many of the older “Game of Thrones” cast members, Bradley has a long and distinguished career. But before he was making life hell for the Starks, he played the dyspeptic Hogwarts caretaker Argus Filch, whose grouchy demeanor frequently put him at odds with students and even some of the instructors.
Thomas Brodie-Sangster - Newt, ‘The Maze Runner’ (2014)
Brodie-Sangster first gained fame playing the lovestruck son of Liam Neeson’s character in “Love Actually,” but it was his turn as the stalwart and resourceful Newt in the “Maze Runner” series that showcased his evolving maturity and his undeniable presence on screen.
Gwendoline Christie - Captain Phasma, ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens' (2015)
To be completely honest, few “Star Wars” characters have ever been paid off less satisfactorily than Captain Phasma. But Christie’s casting offered a real thrill for viewers -- finally, a bona fide female villain! -- and her irrepressible charisma shone through even from beneath the character’s chrome armor.
Emilia Clarke - Louisa Clark, ‘Me Before You’ (2016)
Like Daenerys Targaryen’s rise to power, Clarke’s ascent to stardom was slow and sometimes unpredictable. But in 2016, she proved that her appeal as an actor was not shackled to the power of dragons in this drama about a troubled young woman who helps a paralyzed banker regain his love for life -- and in so doing, rediscovers her own.
Liam Cunningham - Father Dominic Moran, 'Hunger' (2008)
Cunningham’s calming, pragmatic presence of “Game of Thrones” offers a welcome addition to any episode. But in one unforgettable scene in filmmaker Steve McQueen’s harrowing debut, he offers a brilliant and sensitive counterpoint to the perspective of Michael Fassbender’s Bobby Sands as the two engage in a passionate debate that forms the philosophical and emotional heart of the movie.
Peter Dinklage - Finbar McBride, ‘The Station Agent’ (2003)
Peter Dinklage has proven himself a skilled, capable actor in roles great and small so many times that his legacy, and career, feels virtually assured. But in this criminally underrated dramedy from 2003, he plays Fin, a shy, vulnerable lover of trains who unwittingly becomes part of a small New Jersey community after inheriting a train depot from his late boss.
Lena Headey - Madeline “Ma-Ma” Madrigal, 'Dredd' (2012)
Suffice it to say that playing not just strong but fierce characters is a challenge that’s comfortably in Headey’s wheelhouse. But in Pete Travis’ adaptation of the “Judge Dredd” comic book, she delivers an absolutely unforgettable turn as the ruthless drug lord who controls an entire tenement building and will stop at nothing to keep the title character from disrupting the thriving criminal empire within.
Jonathan Pryce - Sam Lowry, 'Brazil' (1985)
Jonathan Pryce has long held a reputation for being one of the most talented and versatile actors around. But he made his breakthrough almost 35 years ago in Terry Gilliam’s wild, dystopian adventure about an office drone whose daydreams about a mystery woman (Kim Greist) end up disrupting the totalitarian government and turn him into a fugitive.
Diana Rigg - Teresa Di Vicenzo, ‘On Her Majesty’s Secret Service’ (1969)
Long before appearing on “Game of Thrones,” Rigg had already achieved immortality as the star of another series, “The Avengers.” But she also helped transform one of the big screen’s most iconic characters, James Bond, into the emotionally fraught and complex character that he is today thank to her turn as the heiress who wins his heart in this action-packed and heartbreaking outlier from early in the franchise.
Indira Varma - Maya, 'Kama Sutra: A Tale Of Love' (1996)
As Ellaria Sand, Varma is the embodiment both of absolute dedication to her partner, and to unsparing vengeance. But in her first major role, Varma starred in this provocative adaptation of the ancient Indian text, playing a beautiful servant girl whose rivalry with her sometime friend and master augurs terrible consequences for both when the love and attention of a prince comes between them.