Game of Thrones actors who are gorgeous in real life

HBO's massive hit Game of Thrones is a cast of thousands (literally), and even if the characters have names, it's hard to keep track of everyone in the fantasy drama. The inhabitants of the mythical world author George R.R. Martin created (a tantalizing soap opera with dragons and zombies) live a miserable existence, so, you know, it's hard to look cute all the time unless you're royalty in King's Landing. That's not to say there aren't attractive people in the Seven Kingdoms. How's it going, Daenerys? How's life, Jon Snow? It's a shame what happened to you, Missandei. 

However, for the most part, wearing body armor while covered in dirt and blood doesn't really lend itself to premium selfie content, but you're in luck. We hereby bring you a closer look at some Game of Thrones actors who are gorgeous in real life. You're humming the theme song now, aren't you? It's fine. Don't fight it.

The Night King

Actor and stuntman Vladimír Furdík donned an ice crown and piercing blue contacts to play The Night King, the ultimate baddy from The North, in Season 6, replacing former actor Richard Brake. 

"I don't really know why they cast me. When we did season 5, I was the White Walker who fought Jon Snow [in "Hardhome"] — the first time Jon Snow killed a White Walker, that was me," Furdík told Entertainment Weekly. "After that, [showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss] asked if I'd play the Night King for seasons 6 through 8. I never asked why. Maybe they were happy with what I did in season 5."

He said not many fans recognize him without the makeup, but when they do, they have one question: "Can you please kill Jon Snow?" (Spoiler: Sorry, guys.) Furdík's Instagram page is full of behind-the-scenes photos and videos from Game of Thrones, as well as the occasional selfie. (Arya, how could you?)

Gilly

Gilly, portrayed by Hannah Murray, is a former Wildling who found love with the gentle Samwell Tarly after escaping a life of abuse at the hands of her psychotic father, Craster. Game of Thrones' horrible treatment of its female characters has been a controversial topic since the beginning, but thanks to Murray, a typical GoT sex scene was changed into one with more female empowerment. Telling Vulture it's the scene she's "most proud of," Murray reportedly contacted showrunners after reading the scripted version and had it changed. 

"Given the background that she comes from, the systematic abuse from her father, I really wanted that to be present — the fact that it was the first time we were seeing her experience loving sex as opposed to abusive sex," she said. "I had a lot of strong feelings about how I wanted that scene to go. They were really receptive to discussing those with me and really open to making sure we included all of those moments. I felt like I was able to contribute a layer to that scene that maybe wasn't there on the page."

Leaf

One of the mythical Children of the Forest, Leaf only appears in a few episodes of Game of Thrones, but she's responsible for one of the greatest moments of the show: creating The Night King. (It was for a good reason, guys!)

Kae Alexander, who went on to a role in Steven Spielberg's Ready Player One, spoke with The Stage about her experience on the HBO hit show. "Game of Thrones was quite tough. I would start at 1 am and no one really knew what I looked like. I would meet everyone in this different-colored, full body thing, and I thought that it was quite fun, it's like masking to the extreme," she said. "In that job I really learned about prosthetics and what they can do. It's much better than doing CGI because the reactions you get from Meera and Bran and stuff, they get to see that we're a different species."

Podrick Payne

Ah, Podrick Payne, the loyal squire who has a way with the ladies. Once in service of Tyrion Lannister and now Brienne of Tarth, Podrick has been a staple of the series and remains a fan favorite, but his role wasn't planned that way.

"Pod was just meant to be a 'we'll see what happens' kind of character," Daniel Portman, the character's real-life counterpart told Esquire in 2019. "It just kind of felt like there was something there, so they wanted to keep writing for me. That's a huge compliment to have writers say that, 'We just want you around because we write you and we think that what you bring to it is important.' That's very touching, very very touching." 

Portman believes Game of Thrones needs a character like Podrick for the audience to root for amidst all the brutality. "It's the innocence, it's the honesty and the sweetness in a world where there isn't a lot of that," he said. "There's a lot of Machiavellian tactics and underhandedness, and to have a guy who is none of those things and is just as honest to the core and selfless and loyal — people like when they see something good happening to him, you know?"

Ygritte

"You know nothing, Jon Snow." Not only was the flame-haired Wildling Ygritte a butt-kicking member of Mance Rayder's army, but she also uttered one of the most iconic lines in all of Game of Thrones. Her love affair with the true King of The Seven Kingdoms (yeah, we said it), spilled over into real life when actors Rose Leslie and Kit Harington got married in 2018.

We're not sure how this goes down in their household, but Harington's favorite scene in the show is his wife's death. "I liked her death. I know, it sounds bizarre," he told People. "I thought she nailed that. And it's the first time in Thrones that slow motion was used and I think it's a beautiful, cradling moment as this battle is raging in the background. It was one of those incredible shots."

Leslie is also a rabid fan of the show, and after her departure, she banned Harington from reading scripts around her. "I can read his facial expressions. I didn't want to know anything that was going on in his eyes or anything like that so I sent him packing," she told late night talk show host Seth Meyers.

The Waif

Probably one of the most hated characters on Game of Thrones, The Waif is the priest of The Many Faced-God and the ruthless assassin who tried to kill our beloved Arya Stark. How dare you, ma'am. Like most plot points in GoT, a ton of fan theories have emerged about The Waif's true identity that have yet to play out on the screen, but you never know with this show.

Although Faye Marsay enjoyed her time playing the cold-blooded killer, she didn't appreciate what happened after her character's death. "I got a lot of s*** after Game of Thrones but people were also really nice," she said at a press conference to promote her Black Mirror gig in 2016 (via Metro). "I've had people trying to figure out who I'm in a relationship with and all that s***." This reportedly prompted Marsay to quit social media, and she has no plans to jump back on anytime soon. "It's terrifying, social media, it terrifies me," she said. Strange words to hear from a character with such a special set of skills.

Jaqen H'ghar

If you looked up "calm, cool, and collected" in the dictionary, you'd see Jaqen H'ghar's picture. Which face you'd see is a different story. One of the Faceless Men of Braavos, H'ghar turned Arya Stark from a scared kid into a stone-cold killer. This line is seared into our brains: "All men must serve, Faceless Men most of all. A girl wants to serve herself. A girl must become no one."

In real life, the mysterious H'ghar is German actor Tom Wlaschiha, and according to Cosmopolitan, he's "really, really, really ridiculously good-looking." Besides the wig he wears on Game of Thrones, H'ghar is best known for carefully choosing his words. "His way of speaking, his mannerisms are strong, so as an actor a lot just happens naturally," he told TV Guide in 2019. "It was weird at the beginning. When I was sent my audition scene three years ago, I was like, 'What the hell is that?' But there's a very famous character in Germany that everybody knows, a literary character it's called Winnetou, an Indian chief… He speaks in third person, so that's what Jaqen reminded me of immediately."

Yara Greyjoy

Ironborn. That's all you need to know about the tough-as-nails Yara Greyjoy. A fierce warrior who commanded her own ship and army until her evil uncle Euron had plans of his own, Yara is the epitome of girl power. However, the actor who portrays her, Gemma Whelan, is tired of being asked about that. "I'm asked a lot what it's like to play such a strong female character, and I lament that I'm asked because in real life women are strong and every colour of the emotional spectrum," she told The Scotsman in 2019. "As are men, but Kit [Harington, aka Jon Snow] will never be asked what it's like to play such a strong male character. That would be ludicrous."

Having played the part since 2012, Whelan is reportedly glad the series wrapped because the costumes are as uncomfortable as they look. "I'll tell you the one thing I am very glad not to have to do again is run along a sandy beach in that costume because there is no delicate or dignified or bada** way you can do that," she told The Daily Telegraph (via the Daily Mail).

Sandor 'The Hound' Clegane

The perpetually grumpy and permanently scarred Sandor Clegane, also known as "The Hound," has enjoyed quite the character arc since his first appearance on Game of Thrones. Once the personal bodyguard of King Joffrey, The Hound left that position behind to become a fugitive — and Arya Stark's road trip buddy — and use his fierce fighting skills to defeat the army of the dead.

The Hound's relationship with Arya on-screen mirrors actors Rory McCann and Maisie Williams' relationship off-screen. "She's just such a good actress! Really clever, really bright, she knows everything … she's a real help to me, because I'm a bit goofy and a bit daft," he told Rolling Stone in 2014. "I forget where I am in the story and she knows my lines, my story, where we are, what's going on, the reason we're there. I get in trouble for pulling faces, and she keeps me in check. The great thing is, I don't think she realizes how good she is yet — so don't tell her."

Every GoT fan knows everyone names their sword, but has The Hound named his? "I don't name my sword. Only c*nts name their sword," he told HBO. We expect nothing less from a Clegane.

Brienne of Tarth

Or should we say Ser Brienne of Tarth, Knight of the Seven Kingdoms? We know you cried during that scene. We all did. Brave and noble, Brienne has become a feminist icon, and actress Gwendoline Christie, who stands an imposing 6'3", is grateful for such an empowering role and hopes she's just the start. 

"It means there's a shift in our culture and our way of thinking about how women are perceived," she told Harper's Bazaar in 2015. "People want to see a more diverse representation of women than the homogenized ones we've had so far." The character of Brienne isn't meant to be seen as "gorgeous" in the standard definition of that word, and she admitted to Rolling Stone that with all the "devastatingly beautiful actresses in the show," that "it can be tough to look like that." But playing the character changed on the hit TV series changed all that. "I am still a person with a sense of superficiality that I'm trying to challenge," she said. "I hope that it makes us examine exactly what 'unattractive' is. Perhaps it's not the conventions that we have or the blueprint in our minds. And if it makes people question for a minute what unattractive is, and the way in which we may respond as people to what we think unattractive is, then it's worthwhile."

Ser Gregor 'The Mountain' Clegane

Ser Gregor Clegane, notoriously known as "The Mountain" for his massive size and affection for barbaric violence and cruelty, has been played by Icelandic professional strongman Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson since season 4. The Mountain was turned into a silent zombie and personal bodyguard of Cersei Lannister the following season. Imposing and pure evil, Björnsson's portrayal of the brutal killer and brother of Sandor "The Hound" Clegane has turned an otherwise minor character into one that viewers love to hate.

When asked to give details about The Mountain's transformation into an undead monster with perpetually bloodshot eyes, Björnsson didn't give much away. "I'm something," he told Daily Beast. "I'm coming from death. Not much more I can really say on that." 

As expected, his favorite kill was the gruesome death of fan favorite, Oberyn Martell. "It was my first season. Everything about it — the training that went into it, the location, the people I shot with, the directors — I just loved shooting that scene," he said. We wouldn't be having this conversation if Oberyn had learned when to stop talking.