Many men and women have fallen on HBO’s Game of Thrones over the course of the show’s five-season run, but for some actors, learning a character’s death is imminent hits a little harder. Such is the case with Ian McElhinney, who played Ser Barristan Selmy on the show. After finding out he was being killed off via his shooting schedule for Season 5, McElhinney grappled with a few different feelings. Here’s what he had to say in a recent interview:
If I’m honest, I was a bit disappointed 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 6.
The actor spoke out during a recent press conference, according to Express, also noting that he was “miffed” when he found out he was being killed off. But it truthfully looks as if there are two reasons he feels that way. First and foremost, it looks like he found out through his schedule for filming Season 5, rather than via an official sitdown or phone call like a lot of characters on other shows get. Secondly, considering Ser Barristan Selmy has a way different trajectory in the books, getting killed off so quickly on the show was probably a major shock/letdown.
We’re going to briefly get into book spoilers in this paragraph, so if you haven’t read George R.R. Martin’s novels, go ahead and pop down. A lot of what played out on the small screen was true to Ser Barristan’s story in the novels. He did join Dany after being dismissed from Joffrey’s Kingsguard. He also become a trusted advisor to her and began training soldiers as the head of Dany’s own guard. However, in the books he is never cornered by those who opposed the Targaryen's rule, getting killed in the process. Instead, he continued to advise and work with Daenerys as the situation gets worse and the Yunkai set up an attack on Meereen.
McElhinney’s downfall may have been reading the A Song of Ice And Fire Series. The Game of Thrones producers have been clear about discouraging the actors and actresses from reading the books, presumably because the story arcs of even some of the major players—not to mention supporting characters—have totally changed. Other GOT actor Iain Glen had this to say about character trajectories on the show:
The writers themselves, David [Benioff] and Dan [Weiss], they didn’t particularly want actors coming to the scripts from the book, always suggesting what the book did and how it was different – I could see the glazed look in their eyes when that happened. They were quite happy for us to move forward and treat them as screenplays with no history.
Still, it has to suck to be killed off of any show and it has to be even worse if you are on a popular, high-profile series like Game of Thrones, so we feel where McElhinney is coming from.
Game of Thrones will continue moving forward, without Ser Barristan, in 2016. Here’s what we know about Season 6.