Game of Thrones is known for great performances. But who gives the best of the best?
With Game of Thrones final season upon us we’re taking a look back at the series as a whole. Today we’re looking at the five best performances on the series thus far. These actors and actresses have made us love and love to hate these characters, and their performance will be remembered for years after the series has ended.
- Sean Bean as Ned Stark
He may have only been in 9 of the 67 episodes thus far, but the performance of Sean Bean is the reason this show was a success, even after his character was killed off. Bean gave one of the best performances of his career as Ned Stark, and we honestly felt he was a genuinely good person who believed in honor and doing what was right. His role and performance are why we understand the motivation behind the Stark family seven seasons in. If we didn’t see how Ned was a truly good person in that first season, then the character arcs for every remaining Stark family member would fall flat. The dedication the North has to the Stark family would also fall flat. There are so many elements of the show that only work if Ned Stark is a character that you can love and that stays with you forever. The fact that Sean Bean was able to give that level of a performance should not go unrecognized.
- Maisie Williams as Arya Stark
Arya Stark has had one of the most interesting character arcs throughout all of Game of Thrones. We see her having rejected the idea of pretty dresses and marrying a lord or king at a young age, then watch as her father is beheaded and she vows vengeance. This character was destined to become someone dangerous and someone we wanted to see succeed. She is a character who could, in a sense, be a voice for the audience as we yearn for vengeance for the characters we loved and lost. Williams has played this character perfectly, showing the growth of this young girl into the toughest woman and one of the toughest characters period on the show. She’s done an amazing job at making us love and feel for Arya, sit on the edge of our seats as she gets within an inch of danger, and cheer as she kills numerous bad guys. She’s a treasure, and her career post Game of Thrones is sure to be amazing.
- Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as Jaime Lannister
Jaime Lannister is one of the worst people in all of Westeros. He has killed good men and women. He killed his king, whom he swore to protect at all costs. He has helped Cersei Lannister achieve terrible things. He is in an incestuous relationship with Cersei and fathered three bastard children from said relationship. He is the cause of numerous deaths throughout Westeros, even when not on the battlefield. He even raped Cersei next to the corpse of their son Joffrey within the Sept in King’s Landing. And somehow, some way, there are moments where we yearn to see him try to redeem himself. There are moments where we learn that not everything he’s done has been an evil action. There are some things that can never be forgiven. But at his core, Jaime is not the horrible man he seems to be when standing at Cersei’s side. He’s someone who yearns to be better, and we want to see him be a better person and fight the good fight. None of that would be possible without the talents of Coster-Waldau. He often gets overshadowed by the other Lannister siblings, but his performance is without a doubt one of the things that makes this show so amazing.
- Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister
Dinklage has won three Emmy Awards, one Golden Globe, and numerous other awards and nominations for his role as Tyrion. His performance is the type that will not only be praised for generations to come, but will also be studied by actors and actresses for as long as there are actors and actresses. He can instantly make us laugh, make us cry, make us angry, or make us cheer with the snap of his fingers. He is able to add complexity to Tyrion with every single line he delivers. We see that Tyrion is worth so much more than his family gives him credit for, and in all reality, he is the best Lannister in every way possible. Tyrion is also quite possibly the best person in every way on Game of Thrones. He never tries to do anything truly bad or seriously harm anyone for his own gain. When he does kill, it’s out of passion or to survive. Tyrion is one of the best characters on the show, and all of that solely rests on the shoulders of Dinklage.
- Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister
Cersei Lannister is quite possibly the worst person in all of Westeros. There’s been some stiff competition with The Mountain, The High Sparrow, Ramsay, and Roose Bolton, but Cersei definitely takes the top spot. Her actions are the reason why nearly every single bad thing has happened in Westeros. She has been pulling every string and hatching every scheme since day one. All of it has been part of her plans to gain power over the Seven Kingdoms, and even if she was fine with control the lands through her children, it’s no surprise that the series should face its final run of episodes with her in the Iron Throne. That is where she belongs for now, as she has played this game and played it well. Along the way, we have seen glimpses of her humanity, usually when caring for her children. And it can be hard at times to tell if she’s genuine, but that’s the best part of Cersei. Every time she does or says anything, you know that she’s planning four steps ahead of everyone else in the room. Tyrion may be filled with wit and intelligence, but it’s honestly Cersei who is the best planner in the family. And it’s Cersei who truly learned the most from Tywin. The Seven Kingdoms have risen and fallen in different ways because of what she has done. It all rests on her and everything that she wants and her successes and failures. All of it is played out perfectly by Headey. She is able to give slight eyebrow raises and intense glares that make you see that Cersei is planning. There are tiny ticks in her performance that show exactly who Cersei is — nothing overtly noticeable, but things which are carefully constructed and balanced. All are done in a way where when you look back at every little detail and moment of her performance, you see the complexity of it. This isn’t some phoned-in performance of an evil queen; this is a careful and calculating villain who is up there with the best villains of TV and film. Cersei will be remembered as one of the greatest villains ever to appear on screen, and that is because Lena Headey is one of the most talented actresses on the entire planet.