Why One Actor Turned Down Game Of Thrones

game of thrones titan of braavos

Game of Thrones is one of the hottest shows on television, and it's managed to attract some big names in showbiz to tackle roles over the six seasons that have aired so far. Scottish actor Brian Cox has been in just about everything over the years, but when he was offered a character early in the run of Game of Thrones, he passed it up for what must have felt like a very good reason at the time: the salary just wasn't enough to tempt him to the world of Westeros. Cox has come out and, to be expected, admitted now that he shouldn't have passed on the part.

Well, stupidly, I turned it down in the early days because they didn't pay enough money. Now they have more money. And I was silly. I was silly, it was silly, because I'm a complete addict now. But I don't know what I could play. Maybe I could do - I mean, I just watched my friend Ian McShane, and I thought, 'Ooh, Ian's in it', so I settled down to watch him. And I thought, 'Ian did that?' and immediately I thought, 'God, they must have paid him well', because I know Ian!

It's hard not to feel a little bit bad for Brian Cox after he revealed to Vodzilla why he passed on Game of Thrones. If the part he was offered was a character in Season 1, he would have had no way to know that Thrones would become such a smash hit. A show that combines complicated political maneuvering with magic and mythical beasts isn't exactly a guaranteed success. For all Cox knew, he would have been agreeing to a small fee for a bizarre show that would end up going nowhere.

Obviously, Game of Thrones didn't end up going nowhere, and showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss definitely had a big budget to play with in Season 6. The sixth season was the most expensive to date for HBO, with each episode costing an average of $10 million for a total of around $100 million. If Brian Cox had signed on for Thrones earlier in the series (and if his character was still alive in Season 6), a chunk of that $100 million could have been his. Oops?

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Interestingly, Brian Cox's pal and Deadwood co-star Ian McShane was able to come on Game of Thrones in Season 6 for a one-and-done appearance as an ill-fated religious leader in the Riverlands. Even if McShane cost an exorbitant fee, the show would only have had to pay him for the single episode (and whatever residuals). Perhaps Brian Cox can still turn up in a similar one-off role in the future; something tells me he's not willing to go through the White Walker makeup process, but surely there will be other parts that he could potentially fill.

Of course, Brian Cox hasn't been sitting idly by while Game of Thrones gets bigger and bigger. The last couple of years alone have seen him take part in projects ranging from The Slap miniseries on NBC to the big screen venture Pixels to the feature Forsaken with Kiefer Sutherland. He's a busy guy, and at least he's able to enjoy Game of Thrones as a fan if nothing more. And we'll all be enjoying it when it returns for Season 7 next year.

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. CinemaBlend's resident expert and interviewer for One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and a variety of other primetime television. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).