With the world still reeling from the final episode of Game of Thrones (You can read all about it here), it’s nearly impossible to imagine anyone but Emilia Clark, Sophie Turner, and Maise Williams as our female leads. In fact, the parts of Westerosi players — Jon Snow, Catelyn Stark, and Loras Tyrell included — were almost nabbed by different actors, meaning that the blueprint of the critically acclaimed series as we know could've been drastically different. Below, we take a look back at all the actors who could’ve very well been a part of the battle for the Iron Throne.
1. Sam Claffin
You may remember Claflin from his performance as Will Traynor in heartbreaking, romantic tragedy Me Before You where he starred with GOT’s very own Emilia Clarke. Claflin lost out of the roles of Jon Snow and Viserys Targaryen to Kit Harrington and Harry Lloyd respectively.
2. Elizabeth Olsen
Joining a slew of names who were almost cast for the role of Daenerys, The Avengers actress recounts the auditioning process for the critically acclaimed series as one that was particularly embarrassing. "When I first started working, I just auditioned for everything, because I like auditioning. I auditioned for Khaleesi. I forgot that," she told Vulture. "It was the most awkward audition I'd ever had." Why? At the time, the showrunners hadn't decided whether Daenerys would have a British or American accent, so they asked Olsen to use both.
"[I read the monologue from] after she just burned. And she's making this speech to thousands of people about how she's their queen. They didn't know if they wanted a British accent or not. So, you did it in both. It was terrible. Anytime someone says, 'Bad audition story.' That's one I remember."
3. Tamzin Merchant
It's hard to imagine anyone other than Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen on Game of Thrones, but as it turns out Tamzin Merchant was the first cast in the sought-after role. Merchant was originally cast in the unaired pilot however no official reason was credited for her departure by the producers.
4. Jamie Campbell Bower
Campbell Bower was the first cast as Waymar Royce in the unaired pilot. However, the Mortal Instruments actor will be returning to Westeros in an upcoming prequel ordered by the HBO. Stay tuned for more details!
5. Lily Allen
British singer Lily Allen revealed that she had been approached to appear in Game of Thrones however wasn’t a fan of what the role would encompass. The singer’s brother, Alfie Allen, has played Theon Greyjoy for four seasons on the hit HBO series. "I felt uncomfortable because I would have had to go on a horse and he would have touched me up and sh-t," Allen said. "Once they told me what was entailed, I said no thanks."
6. Sam Heughan
It’s safe to say that Sam Heughan didn’t have as much luck with his Game of Thrones audition as he did for Outlander. The actor told Vulture he auditioned for the roles of Renly Baratheon and Loras Tyrell seven separate times, however never got cast. "I auditioned for Game of Thrones seven times! Loads of times. I auditioned for Renly, Loras, some of the members of the Night's Watch. And I'd always get so close!"
7. Perdita Weeks
According to Weeks, she turned down the role of Roslin Frey to focus on a role in a horror film titled The Heretics. However, she told the Daily Mail in 2012 that when the mini-series was postponed due to issues with its n filming locations, she begged the producers for a second chance.
“I gave up a role on Game Of Thrones to take the [Heretics] part and even rang the producers to beg for it back once I’d heard the news about Romania, but it was too late,” she said, referencing Thrones‘ eventual casting of Alexandra Dowling for the part.
8. Gillian Anderson
Despite never having publicly addressed the rumours, GoT fans believed that Anderson was approached for the role of Cersei Lannister or Melisandre.
9. Izzy Meikle-Small
No one could ever contest Sophie Turner’s performance as Sansa Stark, however, Snow White and the Huntsman actress Izzy Meikle-Small was another top contender for the role. "I got to the final two to play Lady Sansa Sark," Meikle-Small told The Telegraph. "I was a bit sad, because the show's massive, but I'm not that unhappy because they all show a lot of flesh, don't they? I don't think my parents would be happy."
10. Jennifer Ehle
Actress Jennifer Ehle was cast the un-aired pilot, however, dropped out once the series was green-lit in order to spend time with her daughter. "My daughter was seven months old when we did the pilot. It was too soon for me to be working, emotionally and bonding-wise, but I needed to do it and I was also passionate about the books," she told The Daily Beast.
This article originally appeared on Marie Claire Australia