Imagine: You’ve got a job on one of the biggest shows on TV. It’s one of the highlights of your professional life, and the show’s ratings ensure that it’s not going away anytime soon. Sounds great, right? Well, there’s one problem: The show is Game of Thrones.
Stars on the cutthroat HBO fantasy series know that the show is serious about its “no one is safe” policy. This is the show that killed off Sean Bloody Bean in season one, and things only got more shocking from there. After five seasons, fans and actors alike know that death is the only certain thing on this show, but at least one actor thought he had a little more time, and he wasn’t very happy to find out – in a very unceremonious way – that he was about to be put to the sword.
That actor is Ian McElhinney, who played Barristan Selmy – the banished Knight of the Kingsguard who left Westeros to join forces with Daenerys Targaryen in the East – until he was stabbed to death by the Sons of the Harpy midway through this year’s fifth season. Speaking at MCM London Comic-Con over the weekend, McElhinney revealed that, as a fan of the books on which the show is based, he felt he knew that his character would be sticking around at least a little while longer, but Season 5 was a season of many departures from the source material for the show, and his time was cut short. Finding out you’re out of a job is bad enough, but apparently McElhinney didn’t actually know he was being killed off until he looked at the shooting schedule and noticed how few scenes he had.
“As soon as I got the schedule I thought ‘there’s something not here’ because I thought I’d be doing more scenes, in fact I was doing less. So immediately I thought 'they must be writing me out’.”
McElhinney said he felt “miffed” that his character was gone, not just because he thought he had more time, but because he would’ve appreciated at least a little heads-up from Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss.
“If I’m honest, I was a bit disapointed by that. I felt I should have known, it wouldn’t have made any difference but I felt that as a matter of just courtesy, I should have known.
"I was disappointed because I had enjoyed playing the part and I was looking forward to getting more meat in the part and I had to dared to presume that I would at least go into season six.
"I obviously shouldn’t have dared to presume. So be it. The deed is done and I’m on to other things and that’s that. But I do miss it. I would have happily stayed on.”
Game of Thrones: The show with a bloodlust that extends even to the cast.