It is with a heavy heart that I report the passing of veteran Northern Ireland actor J.J. Murphy, just four days after filming his first scene for season 5 of Game of Thrones.
The eighty-six-year-old actor collapsed and died on Friday and tributes to him have been paid right across the theatre, TV and film industry. Although best known for his theatre work, Murphy had various film credits including Mickybo and Me, Cal, Angela's Ashes, and more recently was cast in big budget film Dracula Untold.
Mr Murphy had been cast at the end of last month as Ser Denys Mallister, the oldest member of the Night's Watch, for the forthcoming season of HBO's hit show and was due to shoot more scenes shortly.
As his career began, Murphy trained with the Ulster Group Theatre School in 1948 and worked for many years at the Lyric Theatre in Belfast where internationally renowned actors like Liam Neeson and Ciaran Hinds learned their craft alongside him
UPDATE: Game of Thrones creators D.B. Weiss and David Benioff told The Independent:
"We will not be recasting J.J. Murphy. He was a lovely man, and the best Denys Mallister we could have hoped for. And now his watch is ended."
Meanwhile, Murphy’s agent Philip Young told of his heartbreak on hearing the news that the “wonderful” actor had passed away.
“I have never encountered a man with more spirit, passion and love for his craft,” he said.
Our thoughts and condolences go out to the Murphy family at this difficult time.
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