See what 27 'Game of Thrones' stars were doing before the show

Kim Renfro
·9 min read
Emilia Clarke Daenerys Targaryen Dany Getty Images HBO
Emilia Clarke in 2011, and as Daenerys Targaryen in "Game of Thrones" season eight. Getty Images and HBO

As a drama school student, Kit Harington landed the role of Albert in the National Theatre's adaptation of "War Horse," a role he reprised on the West End.

kit harrington
Harington in "War Horse" and in "Game of Thrones." Youtube/War Horse on Stage/HBO

Casting director Nina Gold first spotted Harington when he was starring in a 2009 London production of "War Horse." She brought him in for an audition, and the rest was history.

"I remember that he was quite tired, because he'd been doing eight shows a week in 'Warhorse' for a year," Gold told Insider in a 2017 interview. "Then he started doing the audition and playing Jon Snow and he was completely brilliant. I do recall the emotional impact of his audition and being blown away. Kit is a phenomenal actor."

Peter Dinklage made his film debut in 1995, but his breakout role came in 2003's "The Station Agent."

peter dinklage
Dinklage in "The Station Agent" and "Game of Thrones." Miramax Films/HBO

"The Station Agent" was directed by Tom McCarthy — the same man who directed the first version of the "Game of Thrones" pilot.

Dinklage also appeared in 2003's holiday movie "Elf."

Isaac Hempstead Wright made his film debut in "The Awakening" the same year he began playing Bran Stark.

isaac hempstead wright
Hempstead Wright in "The Awakening" and "Game of Thrones." StudioCanal UK/HBO

Hempstead Wright was just about 11 years old when he was cast as Bran Stark in "Game of Thrones." He had been acting in a small UK theater company when he was scouted for the HBO series.

Emilia Clarke's two professional onscreen roles before being cast as Daenerys Targaryen were on an episode of the British soap "Doctors" and Syfy's "Triassic Attack."

emilia clarke
Clarke in "Triassic Attack" and "Game of Thrones." Syfy/HBO

During a 2018 acceptance speech at the British Academy Britannia Awards, Clarke also said that her "biggest job" before the HBO series was "catering parties dressed as Snow White."

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau starred in numerous Danish films and TV shows before making his US debut as Gary Gordon in 2001's "Black Hawk Down."

nikolaj coster-waldau
Coster-Waldau in "Black Hawk Down" and "Game of Thrones." Columbia Pictures/HBO

His portrayal of Jaime Lannister has introduced the Danish actor to a wider audience.

Before playing Arya Stark, Maisie Williams had never acted professionally.

Arya Stark Game of Thrones season 1 pilot
Williams as Arya Stark on "Game of Thrones." HBO

Since then, the 24-year-old has added more credits to her name, including four episodes of "Doctor Who" and five feature films.

Sophie Turner also made her acting debut on "Game of Thrones," with the role of Sansa Stark.

sophie turner
Turner in "Game of Thrones" season one and in season five. HBO

Turner told the Hollywood Reporter that she got the role of the eldest Stark sister when a casting call reached her local middle school. She was taking acting as an elective class, and auditioned without even telling her parents.

Since then, Turner has appeared in a number of films, including "X-Men: Apocalypse."

Lena Headey made her feature film debut in "Waterland" in 1992, almost 20 years before the premiere of "Game of Thrones."

lena headey
Headey in "Waterland" and "Game of Thrones." Fine Line Features/HBO

She went on to appear in films such as "300," and portrayed Sarah Connor in Fox's "The Sarah Connor Chronicles" before landing the role of Cersei Lannister.

Jonathan Pryce plays the despised High Sparrow in "Game of Thrones," but his prolific career has taken him from the stage (he's the winner of two Tony Awards) to TV and film roles.

jonathan pryce
Pryce in "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest" and "Game of Thrones." Buena Vista Pictures/HBO

Pryce had roles in "Barbarians at the Gate," the "Pirates of the Caribbean" franchise, and "G.I. Joe" before starring in the HBO series.

Alfie Allen made his debut in 1998 with the TV movies "You Are Here" and "Elizabeth," but didn't act again until 2004's "Agent Cody Banks 2."

alfie allen
Allen in "Elizabeth" and "Game of Thrones." Gramercy Pictures/HBO

Allen didn't act again until 2004's "Agent Cody Banks 2," and then was cast in "Game of Thrones" in 2010.

Gemma Whelan appeared on stage and in a number of TV shows and films, including "The Wolfman," before she was cast as Yara Greyjoy.

gemma whelan
Whelan in "The Wolfman" and "Game of Thrones." Universal Pictures/HBO

Whelan is a comedian and professional dancer, and has since appeared in other TV hits like Netflix's "The End of the Fxxxing World."

Aiden Gillen starred in a number of roles before receiving critical acclaim for his role in the 1999 British series "Queer as Folk."

aiden gillen
Gillen in "Queer as Folk" and "Game of Thrones." Channel 4/HBO

Fans may also recognize the actor, who played Petyr Baelish (Littlefinger), from HBO's "The Wire."

Natalie Dormer made her film debut in 2005's "Casanova."

natalie dormer
Dormer in "Casanova" and "Game of Thrones." Buena Vista Pictures/HBO

The actress, who plays Margaery Tyrell, is also well-known for portraying Anne Boleyn in "The Tudors."

Liam Cunningham made his film debut in 1992 and has appeared in films such as "A Little Princess," "Dog Soldiers," and "Clash of the Titans."

Liam Cunningham A Little Princess Game of Thrones HBO
Cunningham in "A Little Princess" and "Game of Thrones." Warner Bros. and HBO

He starred as Ser Davos Seaworth in "Game of Thrones" from seasons two through eight.

Gwendoline Christie began her career on stage in 2006, and made her film debut as a shopper in 2009's "The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus."

gwendoline christie
Christie in "The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus" and "Game of Thrones." Sony Pictures Classics/HBO

Christie's portrayal as Brienne of Tarth on "Game of Thrones" was her first major role.

Kristofer Hivju acted in numerous Norwegian films and 2013's "After Earth" before he was known as Tormund Giantsbane in "Game of Thrones."

Kristofer Hivju
Hivju in "After Earth" and "Game of Thrones" Columbia Pictures/HBO

His career has continued to grow, and he's now part of other major franchises like the "Fast and Furious" films and "Justice League."

Though well-known for the "Resident Evil" films, Iain Glen made his acting debut in an episode of Scottish detective drama "Taggart."

iain glen
Glen in "Paris by Night" and "Game of Thrones." Virgin Films/HBO

His feature film debut was in 1988's "Paris by Night" (as seen above). Glen played Ser Jorah Mormont throughout all eight seasons of "Game of Thrones."

Carice van Houten's first notable role was in the TV film "Suzy Q."

carice van houten
Van Houten in "Suzy Q" and "Game of Thrones." Staccato Films/HBO

She went on to star in "Black Book," "Valkyrie," and "Repo Man" before being cast as Melisandre in "Game of Thrones." Van Houten also appeared in a number of Dutch films and TV series.

Michiel Huisman began his career in Dutch TV shows and films, even appearing alongside Carice van Houten in "Suzy Q" and "Black Book."

michiel huisman
Huisman in "Black Book" and "Game of Thrones." A-Film Distribution/HBO

Huisman's break in the US came with a starring role as Sonny in HBO's "Treme." He replaced Ed Skrein as Daario Naharis in season four of "Game of Thrones."

Rory McCann appeared in projects including the Scottish dramedy "The Book Group," "Alexander," and "Hot Fuzz" before his time on HBO's hit series.

Rory McCann
Rory McCann in "Hot Fuzz" and "Game of Thrones." Universal Pictures/HBO

McCann played Sandor Clegane, aka "The Hound", in "Game of Thrones."

Indira Varma made her film debut in 1996's "Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love."

indira varma
Varma in "Kama Sutra" and "Game of Thrones." Trimark Pictures

Her other credits include "Bride and Prejudice" and TV series "Luther." She played Ellaria Sand starting in the fourth season of "Game of Thrones."

Nathalie Emmanuel made her acting debut at the age of 10 in the West End production of "The Lion King."

nathalie emmanuel
Emmanuel on "Hollyoaks" and "Game of Thrones." Channel 4/HBO

Emmanuel went on to score her first on-screen role in the British soap "Hollyoaks." She's started on "Game of Thrones" in 2013 with the role of Missandei.

Iwan Rheon was 17 when he was cast in the Welsh-language soap "Pobol Y Cwm," but soon transitioned to the stage where he won an Olivier Award.

iwan rheon
Rheon in "Pobol Y Cwm" and "Game of Thrones." S4C/HBO

Rheon was cast as Moritz Stiefel in the London production of "Spring Awakening" and won an Olivier Award for his performance. Directly after that, he was cast in the TV series "Misfits," before becoming the loathsome villain Ramsay Bolton in "Game of Thrones."

Hannah Murray began her professional career in the British teen drama "Skins," along with a couple other "Game of Thrones" actors.

hannah murray
Murray on "Skins" and "Game of Thrones." E4/HBO

Murray played Gilly starting in season two of "Game of Thrones." Her former "Skins" costars, Jacob Anderson (Grey Worm) and Joe Dempsie (Gendry) also had roles in the HBO series.

Before playing Samwell Tarly on "Game of Thrones," John Bradley portrayed a cardinal on the historical TV drama "Borgia."

john bradley
Bradley in "Borgia" and "Game of Thrones." Sky (Italy)/HBO

Bradley's character Sam was one of the few characters who survived all eight seasons of "Game of Thrones."

Before playing King Robert Baratheon, actor Mark Addy was best known for movies like "The Full Monty" and "A Knight's Tale."

Mark Addy A Knight's Tale Game of Thrones
Addy in "A Knight's Tale" and "Game of Thrones." Sony Pictures and HBO

Addy also appeared in the 2010 movie "Robin Hood," and in the 1998 holiday film "Jack Frost."

Most fantasy fans know Sean Bean starred in "The Lord of the Rings" before "Game of Thrones," but he was also in movies "National Treasure" and "Troy."

Sean Bean National Treasure Game of Thrones
Sean Bean in "National Treasure" and "Game of Thrones." Buena Vista Pictures and HBO

Bean played Odysseus in 2004's "Troy," the screenplay for which was written by "Game of Thrones" coshowrunner David Benioff.

To learn more about how the "Game of Thrones" pilot first came about with Benioff and his cocreator D.B. Weiss, read our deep dive into the show's creation here.

Angelica Oswald contributed to a previous version of this article.

Read the original article on Insider