What Ian McShane's Casting Reveals About 'Game of Thrones' Season 6 

But who might he be playing? Here come our best guesses. 


Game of Thrones has been as evasive as Jaqen H’ghar about its forthcoming sixth season. (A man will not tell us anything about these mysterious off-the-books episodes.) Naturally, the world is speculating unhingedly. Poor Kit Harington has become a combination of Where’s Waldo, Carmen Sandiago, and the Kardashians: OMG, he went to this event, and you’ll never guess how he wore his hair!

Speculation sure helps the summer go by. But we now have two actual, concrete pieces of information: The show will run for at least eight seasons and a possible prequel, and Ian McShane has been cast in a role. A highly acclaimed actor who has worked in TV, film, and stage, according to IMDB, his trademark is “frequently plays cold-eyed, calculating villains,” which sounds about right. Check out his deviousness here:

This might not seem like much to go on, but we can still make more headway than Brienne did staring at a candle for eight episodes. McShane will reportedly play a “small but key” role. Based on our complex algorithm involving his screen history and GoT’s character roster, here are the three most likely roles he’ll play and what they mean for the season (and yes, for the fate of Jon Snow):

1. Randyll Tarly

Yep, that’s Sam’s dad. The one who was so ashamed of his son that he exiled him to the Night’s Watch. The elder Tarley is known for his fighting skills and general dickery. We have yet to meet him on the show, but in the books, he’s encountered Brienne and King’s Landing, and a casting call indicates that he could pop up in either of those storylines. Check out McShane giving a sinister monologue here:

Book quote time: As an example of said dickery, not only does he reject his scholarly son, but he also says this to Brienne.

The gods made men to fight, and women to bear children. A woman’s war is in the birthing bed.

2. Euron Greyjoy

Theon’s extended family and the Iron Islands will be to Season 6 what Dorne and the Sand Snakes were to Season 5: A new land, new characters, and new opportunities to hopefully not have painfully awful characterization this time around. Book quote time (context for non-readers: Balon, Aeron, and Euron are brothers):

Balon was mad, Aeron is madder, and Euron is the maddest of them all.

Euron Greyjoy is ruthless and cunning and has a black beard and black hair. That sounds an awful lot like another part McShane has played…

3. Arthur Dayne

This possibility is the most intriguing, as Dayne’s presence points to the exploration of Jon’s parentage, and, by extension, his mortality — why, after all, would you finally reveal a character’s background only after he kicked the bucket?

Dayne is Rhaegar Targareyen’s best friend. If he had a secret son with Lyanna Stark, Dayne would know. He’s more noble than McShane’s usual parts, but maybe McShane is looking to mix things up. He has, after all, flirted with going against type, like when he appeared in Andy Samber’s Hot Rod:

Book quote time:

All knights must bleed, Jaime. Blood is the seal of our devotion

David Benioff and D.B. Weiss could also be fucking with us, and he could be “dispensable knight #2” who dies in the opening scene of Season 6. But if their much buzzed about unprecedented absence from Comic Con is anything to go on, hopefully they’re hard at work and cursing us for pouncing on every possible spoiler. We’ll apologize for that when you apologize for Jon, gentlemen.

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