Over the weekend, Emmy-winner Ian McShane went from Deadwood to Westeros, and from Al Swearengen to…someone else.
McShane has been cast in Game of Thrones forthcoming sixth season, as Entertainment Weekly first reported on Saturday—since then, the actor’s secret role has been the subject of much speculation. Surprisingly enough, that speculation appears to have actually clarified matters: McShane, known best for depicting the foul-mouthed and formidable antihero Swearengen on HBO’s Deadwood, appears likely to play one of two Thrones characters.
Thrones fan site Watchers on the Wall reported on the show’s Season Six casting breakdown in May, which revealed some crucial information on the forthcoming season’s new characters. The casting calls include two crucial parts that both seem to fit with what little we know about McShane’s role: EW’s sources say that McShane has “a relatively small amount of screen-time during the season, yet his character is of key importance.”
So, Exhibit A:
Readers of George R.R. Martin’s novels will easily recognize this pirate as Euron “Crow’s Eye” Greyjoy, the villainous uncle of Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen). Fans of McShane, especially his work on Deadwood, will easily recognize that the actor is a perfect fit for a “cunning, ruthless,” “dangerous-looking man.”
And Exhibit B:
This description also smacks of a character who, up until this point, has been all but a non-factor in the show, but is far more important in Martin’s novels: Randyll Tarly, the cruel, capable father of Samwell Tarly (John Bradley). Again, this role would make sense for McShane, who has a well-established ability to present as stern, “severe and intimidating.”
Whomever McShane ends up playing, it appears his impact on Game of Thrones will be a powerful one. The show’s 10-episode sixth season is currently in production and expected to air in spring of 2016, as per Variety. All we can do until then is wait out the winter and rub rumors together to warm ourselves.