How far these Game of Thrones actors got in school

Some of the actors on Game of Thrones were done with school long before the show came along, though a number of the younger stars had to perform a juggling act over the years, balancing the demands of the beloved HBO series with those of their education. Game of Thrones grew into a genuine cultural phenomenon over the course of eight seasons, but, back when HBO first started working on an adaptation of George R.R. Martin's epic series of novels, nobody had any idea just how big it would become. That meant that the parents of the kids being cast in the show faced some tough decisions — allow their children to regularly miss school so they could film the series or deny them a chance at stardom.

Some of those parents decided to pull their kids out of school altogether, while others didn't need to. And believe it or not, one huge Game of Thrones actor had been repeatedly kicked out of school for bad behavior. The majority of them were model students, however. But who was expelled and who excelled? Read on to find out.

Maisie Williams left school at 14

Actress Maisie Williams was just 12 years old when she was cast as Arya Stark, meaning she was legally required to remain in school for another four years. When British kids turn 16, they typically take their end-of-school exams (known as the GCSEs) and many then go off into the big wide world to work, but Williams couldn't wait that long. With the blessing of her mother, the budding star hired some private tutors and ditched mainstream school at age 14 to concentrate on her acting full time, meaning she has zero educational qualifications. "I have no qualifications to my name and won't have for a while," she told the Daily Mailnoting, "There is more than one route into your dream job."

It wasn't just Williams, who was the youngest of four kids born to middle class parents in Bristol, who took a chance on the whole acting thing — her mother, Hilary, quit her job as a university course administrator in order to become her daughter's personal assistant. According to Hilary, pulling her daughter out of school to concentrate fully on Game of Thrones was totally the right decision. "When I see her on the red carpet, she handles it really well and that's a good set of skills to have in life," she said. "If she needs to go back and do GCSEs she can, and will also have the money to get tutors to help her to do it."

Drama wasn't Sophie Turner's best class

Sophie Turner's parents also had to make some tough decisions when their daughter was cast as Sansa Stark in Game of Thrones. All child actors needed chaperones on set, and Turner's mother wanted to do it personally. She left her position as a nursery-school teacher and for the first three years of the show she accompanied Turner to the set, though she made sure that the actress carried on with her education while not filming.

Pre-Game of Thrones, Turner was offered a place at the prestigious Royal Ballet School, but she turned it down because she wanted to be a professional actress. "I've always had my business head on, it's never been just a hobby," she told The Telegraph. "I knew it would have to be drama or ballet, and I chose drama." She wound up attending The King's High School for Girls instead, and it was her drama teacher who got her interested in Game of Thrones.

"I began acting professionally at the age of 13 following a successful audition at school with Nina Gold," she said. "Her team were searching for an actor who had not attended stage school to play the part of Sansa Stark. Their search brought them to King's High School and I attended an audition with other King's High girls." Turner continued her studies via tutors, earning nine GCSEs, though she only actually managed a B-grade in drama. "I don't know how that happened," she said.

Isaac Hempstead Wright was forced to drop out of university

Isaac Hempstead Wright was just 10 when he played Bran Stark in the Game of Thrones pilot, and he's been part of the series ever since. Well, for the most part. The British actor took a year off in 2015 for narrative reasons, and he took another year off in 2017 so he could attend university. He was already a top student (according to The Telegraphhe scored A-grades in Maths, Further Maths, and Chemistry while attending the "selective co-ed school" Queen Elizabeth Grammar), but continuing his studies at university was a little tricky.

By this point, Wright's face was known to Game of Thrones fans everywhere, and Birmingham University (where he studied Maths and Music) was apparently full of them. "I ended up being assigned a campus police officer, it was all quite surreal," he told The Telegraph (via London's Evening Standard). "My university address got published in the press, which meant that every time I walked out of my halls pretty much I would have to do a selfie with someone. That's the last thing you want at nine in the morning when you're trying to go to a maths lecture."

The constant attention quickly became too much for the young actor, who was forced to drop out after just eight weeks. He plans to return to higher education after Game of Thrones, however, having developed an interest in neuroscience. "Intense, but it's fun," he told GQ.

Kit Harington was an 'excellent student'

Kit Harington's Jon Snow became one of the most well-known and popular Game of Thrones characters over the course of eight epic seasons. The man behind the smolder fell in love with acting while he was still a student at Chantry School in Martley, as he explained to Worcester News"I was very lucky with acting," Harington said. "It worked out for me and all the right things happened at the right time. The first step was at Chantry with Sue [Rickman, drama teacher]. I owe a huge debt."

From Chantry, Harington moved on to Worcester Sixth Form College, where he was an "excellent student who was keen, enthusiastic and interested in everything he was involved with," Head of English Paul Morris said. "Kit played a prominent role in several college productions, one of which was Into the Woods where he demonstrated fantastic singing as well as acting skills and gave a memorable and committed performance."

After leaving college (where he studied history at A-Level), Harington headed for the capital. "I moved away when I was 18, from Worcester Sixth Form to drama school in London," he said. The actor graduated from the famous Central School of Speech and Drama and became a star, though he still goes back to his Worcester college to pass on advice to acting hopefuls from time to time. He's also been known to show up at the local university to drop in on drama classes.

Emilia Clarke struggled to fit in

Unlike many of her Game of Thrones colleagues, Emilia Clarke didn't come from money. In a candid piece she penned for The New Yorker, the actress revealed that she's where she is today because of the sacrifices her mom and dad (the latter of whom sadly passed away after battling cancer) made. "We weren't wealthy, but my brother and I went to private schools," she said. "Our parents, who wanted everything for us, struggled to keep up with the fees."

She started out at the "idyllic, orderly, and sweet" Squirrel School in Oxford, but things got a little harder when she followed her brother to the private boarding school St. Edward's. "It was a fancy school, and we weren't that fancy," she told Rolling Stone"People were good at hockey and wanted to be lawyers. I just wanted to be everyone's friend." She noted, "It was painful — I was on the outskirts, peeping in, going, 'You guys look fun. Can I come join?'"

After leaving Teddies, as it's affectionately known, Clarke applied to "a bajillion schools" in the UK, but was rejected by all the top drama institutions. She was finally offered a place at Drama Centre London when another suffered a her broken leg, but she was far from the teacher's favorite. In the end, this worked to her advantage. "If you're a favorite at school, you're f***ed for life," she said. "You come out and you're like, 'Hey, where's my golden egg?'"

Alfie Allen was expelled from nearly every school he went to

He was living in the shadow of his pop star sister and famous father when he was cast in Game of Thrones, but nowadays Alfie Allen is more recognizable than them both. His character Theon Greyjoy had plenty of ups and downs (mainly downs) over the course of his story arc, finally making amends with the Starks after his shocking betrayal of the family that raised him. Prior to his redemption, Theon was captured and tortured by Ramsay Bolton, who turned him into a timid and reserved person — the complete opposite of Allen in real life.

The actor was apparently expelled from most schools he ever went to. He told the Independent that he wasn't your typical naughty kid, but his dislike of authority figures would always land him in trouble. His blunt rudeness, combined with his attention-deficit disorder, meant that he never lasted long at new schools. "I did have a problem at school concentrating on anything for more than 10 seconds," he said. "I was one of the first kids in the UK to go on Ritalin and my mum hated it and I hated it."

Allen is one of the least-educated Game of Thrones cast members, but he has no regrets about not staying in school. "My advice to any teenager would be don't try too hard, just get on with it," he told the Evening Standard. "That's what I did. Have fun, enjoy life."

Jason Momoa had the perfect education

Everyone knows who Jason Momoa is nowadays thanks to the hugely successful Aquaman. Prior to becoming a superhero, however, the actor was best-known for playing Khal Drogo in Game of Thrones. The wild Dothraki chieftain became a fan favorite after Daenerys managed to tame him, and, even though the warrior met his end in the first season, his influence on the Mother of Dragons remained all the way to the end.

He didn't know it at the time, but Momoa's education gave him the perfect knowledge base for both of these parts. The Hawaii-born actor was raised in Iowa, where he attended Norwalk High School (the same school as Superman Returns star Brandon Routh). After high school, Momoa majored in marine biology. According to PopSugar, he transferred to Colorado State University and started learning about wild animals in general. "I was actually going to school for marine biology and then I switched over to wildlife biology," he told the Chicago Tribune. "I went to school out in Colorado. I was living out in Fort Collins."

Momoa didn't stick it out in Colorado, though. He decided to return home to reconnect with his father, which turned out to be the right move. After attending a few auditions purely to "meet some hot women," he was offered a part in Baywatch. "It kind of changed my whole life," he said, though he refers to the show as "the B-word" today.

Rose Leslie turned to acting when school didn't go to plan

Rose Leslie played Jon Snow's wildling lover Ygritte on Game of Thrones from 2012 to 2014, and she got to stay with Kit Harington after her character's death. The two actors fell for each other in real life, tying the knot at a ceremony in Scotland, Leslie's home country, in 2018. According to The Press and Journal, Leslie's first school was in Rayne, but her wealthy parents sent her to an English boarding school when she was older. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it), she didn't exactly excel with traditional subjects at Millfield.

"I couldn't get into university to study drama because my A-Levels were so bad, so I decided drama school was the next step," she told InStyle (via Hello!). "I think my family were kind of taken by surprise — they were like, 'Oh this isn't just a phase.'" She wound up scoring a place at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, though she couldn't have done it without the help of her drama teacher.

"After I was 18 and my A-Levels, my fabulous drama teacher — Mr [Alex] Boyd-Williams — helped me choose and hone my monologues to apply to LAMDA drama school," Leslie told Monrowe. "Helena from A Midsummer Night's Dream was my classic, and my modern, which was powerful, and rather harrowing, and very dark — but then, I'm kind of drawn to that — was from a Mike Bartlett play."

Joe Dempsie didn't go to a traditional drama school

Joe Dempsie was born in Liverpool but raised in nearby Nottingham, where he attended West Bridgford School. The school wasn't known for churning out actors, but, luckily for Dempsie, he lived near The Television Workshop. According to him, the local workshop has "developed a reputation almost as good as any drama school" in the area. "I joined that when I was 13 so I was doing it the same time as school, two nights a week," he told Vice. "You had to audition to get in but once you were in it was free to go; it was fully subsidised, the ethos being that it wasn't restrictive in terms of your social background or anything, because you know, drama club is something that only a certain type of kid has access to."

Dempsie completed his A-Levels at West Bridgford and later worked at a local cinema. His dream of making a living as an actor came true when he won the part of Chris Miles in the now-iconic teen drama Skins. This show put him on the path to Westeros, though Dempsie's first Game of Thrones audition wasn't actually for the role of Gendry. "I auditioned for Jon Snow eventually, pretty much every actor of a certain age went for it," he told NME"My audition for Gendry is the worst I'd ever done; after every scene there was silence and they said they were worried nobody would understand me."