Game of Thrones is over this year, and with that comes a certain level of freedom for the actors who have been on the show for almost a decade. The show has transformed the lives of every actor who has been on it, with the main leads now bona fide A-listers who have guaranteed long careers in Hollywood or any other industry they want to venture in. The show’s enormous popularity has meant the actors’ terms and conditions for being on Game of Thrones has evolved over the years, and these can range from simple to rather crazy.
When we speak of “crazy rules”, we don’t necessarily mean they’re bad. It means that the rules might feel either crazy amazing, or crazy to fathom. After all, this is a show set in the past with both realistic elements and dragons to boot; so you know the only thing to expect is the unexpected, even if in the real-world. Now that we’re bidding farewell to the cast, their roles have become more apparent. With each interview they’ve been giving in this final year, more things have come to light about how things have worked behind-the-scenes.
And as every Game of Thrones fan is crazy about the show, they’ve transferred this excitement over to the cast members, whose jobs feel like a dream to the viewer. With that in mind, you’ll definitely be curious to what rules need to be followed by actors over the time they’ve been on Game of Thrones, and here are 25 of such rules.
25 They Can Only Tell Non-Fans About The Show's Spoilers
Strictly speaking, even non-fans shouldn’t be given out spoilers, but this isn’t a hard and fast rule if the spoilers are given to very few close and personal people and if they aren’t fans. We got the best example of this when Kit Harrington revealed in an episode of The Graham Norton Show that he told his close friend everything about how the series ends.
Kit was safe from the showrunners’ ire, since his friend had no clue about the show and found Game of Thrones very boring to watch through. Of course, if he’d told a fan the ending, then Kit would’ve been in trouble.
24 They Can’t Tell Any Other Actor About The Show's Spoilers
You’d think that every actor knows about the other’s show simply because they’re all part of some circle, but this isn’t the case. In the same episode of The Graham Norton Show, Chris Hemsworth joked he’d give away Avengers: Endgame spoilers if Kit told him the end of Game of Thrones, but the latter wasn’t fazed.
Giving away spoilers to even the biggest actors out there is prohibited. The show’s cast can only discuss the happenings of the story with those who are performing with them; you could be the greatest actor in Hollywood, but you still won’t be getting any spoilers.
23 They Can Ask For Profits Additional To Their Contract
This isn’t a bad point at all, but it’s crazy to think that, despite the enormous amounts of money the actors on the show make for their performances, they also have options to enjoy profits additional to their contracts.
The top five actors on the show were making an eye-popping £2 million per episode as of Season 7! And this didn’t include the options for additional income. As far as contracts go, the Game of Thrones stars certainly have it made.
22 Peter Dinklage Has To Get Top Billing
Peter Dinklage’s Tyrion Lannister isn’t the main character on the show (no one is, actually), but as far as cast billings are concerned, Peter takes the top spot. No matter how much more important any other cast member’s story might be, Peter Dinklage will still eclipse them in billing.
This isn’t a shot at any actor’s importance on the show, but just a general rule. Peter wasn’t even the original top-billed actor, either. It was Sean Bean who got this honor, before his character was taken out. Since Peter is the most recognizable actor, it makes sense he gets the top spot.
21 They Have To Do Scenes They're Not Comfortable With
If you’re being paid millions worth of money for singular episodes, then you’d better believe the show is going to make you do stuff you’re not comfortable with. Obviously, the showrunners don’t make the actors do anything illegal, but they do push the boundaries of what's comfortable.
The fact that Lena Headey and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau have to act as siblings and be involved together in storyline is something that’s heavily cringe-worthy, but they do have to act it out. The same way, a lot of the love scenes or pain-inducing scenes are hard to play out, and yet the job is still done.
20 They Can’t Act With Actors Not In The Same Storyline
It doesn’t matter how close two actors are, as long as their storylines keep them apart, they won’t be sharing the screen. It’s crazy to realize many actors never were in the same scenes together seeing as there’s just so much ground to cover.
Kit Harrington and Emilia Clarke were supposed to be the best of friends the whole time the show was on, but they only got to work together much later in Season 7. The actors had stated years before their interest to work together, but were ultimately at the mercy of the script to make it possible.
19 They Have To Sign Long-Term Deals
Despite the large numbers of characters perishing on the show, there have still been a core group of actors who have remained with Game of Thrones throughout its run. These actors’ contracts are always negotiated years in advance.
This also means these actors need to put in the commitment for their parts, and once the contracts are signed, they are in it for the long haul, which lasts for a few years before the contracts are supposed to be renewed.
18 They Can Be Fired At Any Time
Of course, what these actors are also communicated in their contracts is that the timeline of their stay on the show is contingent upon their characters surviving. Even the biggest of names have seen their ends on the show, which has signaled their departure.
For instance, Sean Bean was easily a huge name to be featured on the show, and the promotional campaign was dominated by Bean’s likeness to cash in on his star power; however, he was let go after the first season itself. The actors have to agree their time on the show is up when the showrunners want it.
17 They Can’t Give Away Even Minor Spoilers
This is a continuation of the earlier point, and one that makes it clear that even minor spoilers aren’t acceptable. Kit Harrington telling his friend the ending might have been the exception, as the show was coming to a close anyway. But over the years, the cast has been made to keep quiet anything that’s happening.
Even minor spoilers that might be given away for fun are unacceptable, whose consequences might be severe. In the lead-up to Season 6, Kit Harrington didn’t even reveal if he’d filmed Jon Snow as a corpse, let alone him being resurrected.
16 Have To Promote The Show
When it comes to show promotion, there has never been anything like Game of Thrones. Wide-level promotion is known for franchises like Harry Potter or the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but Game of Thrones easily reaches those levels – something unprecedented for TV.
The show’s cast has to partake in these events in order to hype up the upcoming season. This means being part of press junkets, events like the Comic Con, and every other event organized to build up interest for the latest season.
15 Have To Do Exposing Scenes If It's Under Contract
Game of Thrones’ initial fame was because it had a whole lot of skin-revealing scenes. It was after people realized there was a story to be told along with these scenes that the show exploded in popularity.
For the actors, there’s no way around these kinds of scenes if it is under their contract. We’ve seen big-time actors like Emilia Clark, and supporting actors like Nathalie Emmanuel, bare it all in their scenes; this extends to the male cast as well. If their contract states they’ll need to expose skin, then you can be sure it’s going to show up.
14 They Need A Contractual Clause Not To Do Exposing Scenes
On the other hand, doing exposure scenes isn’t a complete requirement. We’ve seen HBO make exceptions for actors like Sarah Jessica Parker in Sex and the City, or Allison Williams in Girls, and they had a clause that allowed them not to do such scenes, and Game of Thrones is along the same vein.
The infamous shaming scene of Cersei Lannister made it appear as if the actress herself was the figure you saw onscreen; however, the actress kept her clothing during filming – the body you saw in the episode was someone else’s. If the actors have a clause in their contract, then they don’t have to go through with such scenes.
13 They Have To Wear Any Costume Given
On the opposite side of exposing scenes is the fact that the actors have to be authentic with the wardrobe for the time the show is set. This means they have to be clad in heavy fur, which isn’t nearly as cool as it looks onscreen.
For whatever scene the clothing is appropriate, the actors have to contend with the wardrobe since it’s supposed to be authentic. If that means being covered in layers of clothes, then it’s time to start packing them on.
12 Have To Shoot In Cold Conditions
You can’t have locations like the icy North and not have the actors shoot in cold conditions, and with the budget Game of Thrones has, the show easily can afford to take the actors to these locations. However, this means the actors themselves need to adapt to these conditions.
They’ve been quite vocal in interviews about the potentially harsh conditions they have to shoot in (although the developers ensure everything is done safely), which means shooting the show is no picnic, not when they have to do multiple takes in such cold weather.
11 They Can Only Be Nominated For Best Supporting Actor At Major Awards
Since the show is an ensemble piece, no one can claim to be the leading actor on it. This also means, despite there being a core group of actors on the show, everyone will need to be nominated in the Best Supporting Actor category.
Some awards deviate here, but as far as major awards like the Primetime Emmys and Golden Globes go, the actors will always be nominated as Supporting roles. This is why Peter Dinklage, who’s won the most awards by far, has only ever won in the supporting category even though he’s top-billed.
10 They Have To Come Back For Re-Shoots
It’s one thing to shoot scenes in icy conditions when the schedule is on, but the actors also need to report on duty when it’s time for re-shoots, which means gearing up for cold weather once again out of the blue.
Re-shoots are understood to always take place, but these aren’t part of the main schedule for shooting; therefore, it comes into conflict with what the actors might be shooting elsewhere. But there’s no escaping these re-shoots if the time calls for it.
9 Need To Accept Long Hiatuses
Going on hiatus means the actor is essentially on their own until the show comes back. So, their schedule might be open all of a sudden without anything else to fill it.
This can be inconvenient, as the actors have to relinquish any acting opportunities while they’re shooting Game of Thrones, only to be sent into hiatus. Should an actor be enjoying their hiatus instead, they’ll need to accept being harked back into filming for the show once the long hiatus is over.
8 They Can’t Talk In Detail About The Original Pilot
Most people don’t know this, but the Pilot you saw of Game of Thrones is a complete U-turn over what the original Pilot had been. That’s right, there had been an altogether different Pilot filmed, before it was deemed to be too low in quality and was re-shot.
The actors have mentioned how bad the original Pilot was, but they’ve never gone in length about it. The idea is that by going in detail about their earlier failures, it’ll take away from the quality storytelling they’re now known for. Maybe once the show’s over we’ll know more about this.
7 They Can Be Recast At Any Time
Unless the actor is one who is iconic to show – such as Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister – the show can take liberties in recasting characters. The actors playing these characters have no choice but to agree being let go and watching someone else play the role.
The easiest example is for the character of Gregor Clegane, or “The Mountain”, who’s been played by not one, not two, but three actors so far! If the show decides to keep on recasting until they find someone to settle on, then that’s their wish to do so.
6 Musicians Can Appear As Extras, But Never Main Roles
With the show becoming so enormously popular, the showrunners figured they’d go all out with garnering notoriety for themselves, and we’ve seen many celebrities appear in small roles. Musicians in particular seem to be cast the most out of these lot, with examples ranging from Ed Sheeran to Will Champion.
However, while these musicians are more than welcome to guest star in episodes, they can’t go all-out and become the main stars. Perhaps the showrunners realize these are still musicians and not trained actors, as their roles are always minor.
5 They Have To Shoot The Same Scenes As Many Times The Director Wants
The directors on the show really get their money’s worth with the actors, since the actors are supposed to contend with however long the day’s shoot is. This means they are required to shoot the same scene over and again if that’s what the director wants.
A famous example is the scene where Lyanna Mormont does her grimace; this required as many as 60 takes. The actress needed to repeat the face up until the director was convinced the necessary emotion was being conveyed onscreen.
4 Have To Film Fake Scenes To Throw Off Potential Leaks
As the show is so ridiculously popular, the showrunners have come up with equally ridiculous techniques to throw off paparazzi who try to pry in for exclusive information. This involves filming multiple fake scenes in order to obscure the idea behind what’s being shot.
Kit Harrington revealed on Jummy Kimmel Live! that he shot three fake scenes for Game of Thrones’ seventh season, and this was done so that the show’s secrets would be secured. It might be seen needless and excessive by the actors, but such is the price for fame.
3 Lena Headey And Jerome Flynn Won’t Share Scenes Together And The Cast Has To Accept It
Speaking of things being ridiculous, one thing that even the showrunners can’t control are the bad relations between Lena Headey and Jerome Flynn, both of who had a horrible breakup that resulted in them refusing to even be in the other’s company.
This has meant all of their scenes have been shot separately and efforts have been made to keep them apart. The actors who share scenes with them can’t do anything about it; even if it is inconvenient to shoot with one actor, then wait until the other actor has arrived to film separately with them.
2 Have To Accept Internal Politics Or Lose Their Job
We’re all aware of how office politics work, and when things go extremely hairy, people can even be laid off. This is what happened to Ed Skrein as well, who was replaced after Season 3. We covered actors being replaced or fired at any point, and both of these were invoked with Skrien, whose replacement has been Michael Huisman.
Unlike things that are stated in contracts, Skrien has maintained that leaving the show was never his decision and internal politics were the reason why he was let go. He’s never been clear what the politics were, but looks like the cast just has to accept it.
1 They Have To Face Backlash If They’re Vocal About Disliking Material
This is essentially an unspoken rule, but a rule that is ingrained in every cast member; actors who haven’t followed through have faced the ire of the public. Disliking the material given to them should generally be kept quiet, as it otherwise results in significant backlash.
Kit Harrington claimed he hated being objectified because of his role as Jon Snow, and when he made this known, he was met with a wave of criticism online; he eventually had to apologize. The same went for Emilia Clarke, who was criticized for disliking the number of exposing scenes she had to do on the show.