As you might know, the return of Bran Stark to the upcoming season of G Game of Thrones promises a few visions of the past (namely a certain Tower where not a lot of Joy happened). Also, the fact that the show will now run for eight seasons now gives a little bit more wiggle room in the schedule for flashback sequences.
In celebration, I decided to spend (waste) a little time fancasting some of the key players from Robert's Rebellion for such scenes or even for a prequel film. Since HBO Now is now a thing, I would not be surprised if we see a few spinoff movies to bump up traffic to their new site. Honestly, it's how I would milk that cash cow.
Here goes nothing!
Jon Arryn, Robert Baratheon, and Ned Stark would undoubtedly be the heroes (or anti-heroes as the case may be) of any prequel venture. The relationship between these three is integral to explaining Robert's Rebellion. If this relationship isn't believable, then the entire storyline falls apart.
As the mentor of the future King of Westeros and Lord of Winterfell, Jon Arryn has to be a strong man with a calming influence. He must strike a balance between the hot-tempered Robert and the rational Ned. Who better to do this than Gary Oldman? He has a strong enough presence that you can see him uniting the North, the Stormlands, and the Riverlands against the Targaryens, but is gentle enough to let Robert drive the Seven Kingdoms to ruin. Besides, after Harry Potter and Batman, he must be itching to jump on another franchise.
Although Jamie Bell doesn't look much like Sean Bean, he has the acting chops to pick up the mantle of Ned Stark. Out of the three, Ned loses the most in this war. His father, his older brother, his sister, and (if the rumors are true) his lover Ashara Dayne are all dead by the time he seats his best friend on the throne. The terrific losses that Ned endures during this conflict will give a sense of humanity to the project. Jamie Bell has the gravitas and the emotional maturity to make Ned's unlikely trajectory work. He brings a level of versatility to the table that makes him easily moldable. Between Fantastic Four, King Kong, Jumper, and Snowpiercer, Bell is no stranger to odd fantasy worlds and could fit right in in Westeros.
My choice for Robert Baratheon may seem a little unorthodox, but Francois Arnaud's work on The Borgias makes me feel that he would make a terrific Robert. The Baratheon heir has an appetite for war and women which were both (conveniently) vices of Cesare Borgia. I am unsure if his portrayal of Robert would be as convincing when it comes to his ability to inspire loyalty, but overall, it wouldn't be too far of a stretch to jump from Borgia to Baratheon.
The Love Triangle
So three crucial casting choices for a Robert's Rebellion sequence are Rhaegar, Elia, and Lyanna. Rhaegar has to be strong and have a magnetic quality that makes him beloved by all, but still soulful and artistic. Elia must be beautifully tragic with her poor health. Last but not least, Lyanna needs to be the kind of girl to lose a kingdom for (did I mention spoilers?).
For Prince Rhaegar, I would choose a less well-known actor named Aaron Tveit. You might have seen him as the rebel-rousing Enjolras in the movie adaptation of the musical Les Miserables. I was also lucky enough to see him as Gabe in Next to Normal. He is the perfect blend of athletic and artistic that is needed to portray a "Renaissance Man" like Rhaegar. Also, he sings pretty.
I went with a more obvious choice for Lyanna. Jessica Brown Findlay is best known as the youngest Crawley daughter from Downton Abbey. She has the perfect look for the Harrenhall tourney Queen of Love and Beauty and the spunk to play a mystery knight (conjecture, I know). I could easily see her rebelling against her betrothal to the haughty Robert. Also, if a certain R + L = J theory is true, then Kit Harrington's luscious locks would make perfect sense with Findlay's genetics.
Christian Serratos is the embodiment of "Dornish" beauty. The native Californian has a variety of popular roles under her belt between the Twilight Saga and The Walking Dead. The tragic role of Elia Martell would be a cinch for her and, even if they don't choose to flesh out the character with more details than we've seen in canon, Serratos would undoubtedly bring a complexity to the character that fans might not expect.
Can't you just feel the tension?
Do I actually have to explain the reasoning behind casting Liam Neeson as Lord Rickard Stark? He's got the look, he's got the Northern accent, he's got experience with swords and it's a wonder he hasn't already been on the show!
Sam Claflin has the haughtiness and the pretty-boy factor to pull off Brandon Stark perfectly. He would be the ideal foil to Jamie Bell's Ned. A little dark hair dye and we're in business. I even considered putting him down for Robert, but Claflin could bring a tender element that would be wasted on Robert. If they chose to show the duel between Brandon and Littlefinger for Catelyn's hand, Claflin would excell in the grey area of protecting his rights without actually hurting young Petyr. If not, well, watching the scene in the throne room of King's Landing would still be heartbreaking.
As far as Benjen goes, his involvement would be minimal at most. A relative unknown would be fine.
Wow. GRRM interwove a lot of love triangles into this.
Steven Waddington just makes sense to me as Lord Hoster Tully. He is no stranger to period pieces and has a diverse body of work. Lord Hoster is the key to the Riverlands and since two of the three heroes marry into his family, he is a significant player in the Rebellion. Even with little screen time, he will leave an undeniable impression. Waddington could also make a great Blackfish, but since the TV show did not feature him D & D would probably cut that character.
Saoirse Ronan as Catelyn because duh. She has the emotional maturity to juggle the sudden switch from Brandon to Ned as well as Catelyn's contradictory maternal instincts towards Jon Snow and her own children from day one. Also, Saoirse Ronan could pull of being one of the greatest beauties of her time.
I'm not the biggest fan of Taissa Farmiga (I thought she was rather blah in American Horror Story), but I think she would make a great Lysa. Her childishness would contrast wonderfully with Saoirse Ronan's Catelyn and would set the stage for Lysa's descent into paranoia. Not to mention, Farmiga's baby face would make Lysa's wedding to Jon Arryn uncomfortable to watch (and we know how much HBO loves that).
Most of our canon descriptions of the "Mad" King make Aerys seem ancient, however, he and his sister wife Rhaella were only in their late thirties at the time of Rhaegar's Rebellion.
Paul Bettany would be the ideal casting for Aerys if he's not too busy with the MCU. He commits fully to every project he works on and makes such strong choices that would flesh out the crazed ruler of Westeros and drive the entire story forward. Can't you just see Bettany facing off with Neeson? Nicking himself on the throne as he screams for his pyromancers? GAH, I'm creeped out and entertained just thinking about it.
I think Billie Piper is a force to be reckoned with and would make a well-rounded Rhaella. Just as Aerys is necessary to understanding why the Targaryen dynasty was removed, Rhaella is necessary to show how the Targaryens endured. I like to think that Rhaegar and Daenerys lean more towards their mother while the bitter Viserys mirrored their father. Watching Rhaella try to shield Rhaegar, Viserys, Elia, Rhaenys, and Aegon from her husband's wrath while being unable to save herself should be heartbreaking to viewers. Although Queen Rhaella would probably not get much screen time, she is a vital piece of the puzzle.
The Lannisters were probably the toughest for me to figure out.
Although Charles Dance could conceivably reprise his role as Tywin Lannister, I think it would be safe to say that the makeup team would have their work cut out for them trying to make Dance look forty-one again. Mark Strong is a solid replacement though. He just looks like a warrior lord and he proves time and time again that he can play cold and calculating without batting an eye.
We may not see her in anything but flashback sequences (the character dies ten years before these events while giving birth to Tyrion), but Lara Pulver would slay as Joanna Lannister. She is sexy as well as terrifying. I hate to think about the amount of bleach it would take to make her Lannister blond though.
To say that I struggled with Jaime would be an understatement. Lucas Till is on the picture above and I feel like it would be a great opportunity for him to expand his horizons, but I also feel that someone like Ed Speelers would be a safer bet. Part of the problem with the Lannister twins is that they have to clearly be younger than Ned and Robert and yet will require an emotional maturity that is hard to gauge in actors who have mainly played "kiddie roles" in the past. Speelers could play younger since I picked actors for Ned and Robert who are much older. I hesitantly lean towards Till for age reasons so I included him in the picture. If you have any better ideas, feel free to speak up in the comments below and help a sister out.
Chloe Grace Moretz would kick ass as Cersei (do you see what I did there?) She's young, smart as a whip, and can deliver Cersei in all of her manipulative glory.
This is just a catch-all spot for some other important characters that need to be involved. This is GRRM we're talking about here. There is no end to the list of players in this game.
Kodi-Smit-McPhee has an otherworldly look about him. Although it would take a sprinkle of movie magic to make him appear shorter on-screen (because LOTR didn't influence this story enough), the Let Me In actor would make a great Howland Reed. It would be very interesting to watch him with Jamie Bell since the two have such strong energies.
Whatever your feelings about Ned and his faithfulness to his marriage, he and Lady Ashara Dayne clearly had enough going on between them to spark some persistent rumors. Olivia Cooke is a strong actress and is on the upswing after her work in Bates Motel and Me and Earl and the Dying Girl.
Sam Heughan of Outlander fame already has the swordsmanship and the chops to play the "Sword of the Morning". Now all the world needs is for this to actually happen.
He hasn't had a lot of strong roles since Merlin, but Nathaniel Parker would make a great hero knight. Thematically, the "White Bull" needs to be everything the Jaime isn't as the Lord Commander of the Kingsguard. He must have a strong moral compass, an unwavering sense of loyalty, an untarnished reputation, and a legendary group of fighters around him. Parker could deliver all of those and more.