I’m watching the third season of “Game of Thrones” at the moment, and as always (I like the series), I’m having a ton of fun seeing my favorite moments from some of the best fantasy novels ever written acted out by truly wonderful performers. Diana Rigg is a total treat as Olenna Tyrrell and Ciaran Hinds is exactly as good as you’d hope playing Mance Rayder. As ever, the writing elucidates some of the more delicate features of the writing–it became clear to me, for example, that Tywin Lannister’s refusal to give Tyrion his birthright breaks the “rules” of the world. I’d never thought of that, but it shows better how the books work and why.
In performance terms, however, the most interesting thing about this show–far more than the appearance of the occasional ringer–is how many truly awesome actors are getting the chance to do what can’t help but be the work of their careers. I mean, Peter Dinklage? Conleth Hill? Gwendoline Christie? When will there be another three roles for a little person, a babyfaced guy with a little extra weight on him, and a totally unconventional looking 6’6″ blonde woman? Never, that’s when. Oh, they might each get a featured part here or a hero’s-best-friend bit there, but Varys, Brienne and Tyrion might be the three best characters in the series. Hell, Samwell Tarly has a full-blown hero’s journey ahead of him and it’s specified in the books that he’s morbidly obese. Martin’s a brilliant writer in many respects, but this one gets mentioned less often than it should: his unadulterated affection for the weird, the ugly, and the pathetic within a world that shows none of those people the slightest mercy has made for some of the best roles in the history of television acting.