Beware: This article contains potential spoilers for Game of Thrones Season 6.
Earlier this year, rumors abounded that everyone's favorite headless but honorable Northman, Ned Stark, could be returning to Game of Thrones - although not as you remember him.
A casting call was posted by HBO which asked for a boy with dark brown hair, a narrow face, green eyes and a Northern accent. It was the belief at the time the role was for a flashback sequence featuring a young Ned Stark, something which has now been 'confirmed' by WatchersontheWall.com.
According to the Game of Thrones fan site, 13-year-old Sebastian Croft will be playing the child version of Sean Bean's iconic character. Croft has made a name for himself as a competent young theater actor, appearing in West End productions of Matilda and Les Miserables, although this would be his first major TB role.
However, this wasn't the only casting call for child actors made by HBO. In fact, young Ned could be joined by some younger iterations of other popular (and perhaps dead) characters. Here are the full casting calls below:
Boy Aged 12
Brown hair and blue eyes. This is a great part for a 12 year old boy. We need a Northern accent, very grounded and physical and who you can instantly see has great heart and soul. He has scenes where he has to spar with a wooden sword so physical skills are important.
A very good and memorable new part being introduced in this season.
Boy Aged 7
Aged 7 with dark brown hair, a narrow face and striking green eyes. Northern accent required. Athletic and charismatic. He has scenes where he has to spar with a wooden sword so physical skills are important.
A good new part for a sparky and talented young boy being introduced this season.
Large Boy (10 – 12)
Aged 10-12 but plays as younger – a clever boy who seems too large for his character’s age of 7-8 years old. An unusually big young boy – not fat – but remarkably tall and physically powerful for his age. We need characterful squat features.
This is a terrific part in this new season. It’s a complicated part with great acting demands. A one-off acting opportunity for a very smart and talented boy of an unusual physical type.
If we assume young Ned is the 'Boy Aged 7' (given Croft's eye color), then that raises some interesting questions for the remainder of the casting calls. The most popular theory is that the first 'Boy Aged 12' or perhaps even 'Large Boy (10 -12) could be Robert Baratheon, Ned's close friend and fellow squire to the Eyrie's Jon Arryn.
See the adult relationship between Ned and Robert in the scene below:
It would certainly be interesting to see the origin of their close friendship, while it could also provide the background for some potential revelations in Season 6 regarding certain other characters. Other theories suggest that Ned is in fact 'Boy Aged 12' while 'Boy Aged 7' could be Benjen Stark or maybe even Littlefinger.
'Large Boy' could also be Hodor pre-injury, with the role perhaps featuring his transformation into the Hodor we know today. That certainly would explain the casting calls stipulation that the it is a 'complicated part with great acting demands.'
It's also not clear if these flashbacks will simply feature as one scene - perhaps a season prologue - or if they will actually run throughout the series. So far, the only flashback Game of Thrones has seen was the prologue for Season 5 which featured a young Cersei. However, the casting calls seems to suggest these could be more important reoccurring roles.
I should add at this point that this has only been 'confirmed' by a fan site, and not anyone from HBO or Game of Thrones.