With the season 7 premiere coming July 16, Game of Thrones dominates the current pop culture consciousness. What you may not know is that some of the stars of HBO’s hit fantasy series can be found in some truly superb films you may have missed. Here are 14 Certified Fresh theatrical gems starring the GoT cast.
Peter Dinklage (Tyrion Lannister)
Film: The Station Agent (2003, 95%), writer-director Thomas McCarthy’s drama about a withdrawn man whose life is upended when his employer and only friend passes away, willing him an abandoned train depot whose promise of solitude quickly fades in the arrival of a motley crew of neighbors (including Patricia Clarkson, Bobby Cannavale, and Michelle Williams) whose well-meaning impositions help him rediscover parts of himself he didn’t know he had.
Lena Headey (Cersei Lannister)
Film: Dredd (2012, 78%), the 2012 sci-fi action film that finally gave long-suffering fans of the Judge Dredd comics an opportunity to see a screen adaptation that did right by their justice-dispensing dystopian anti-hero. Directed by Pete Travis from a screenplay by writer-producer Alex Garland, Dredd enthusiastically tapped into the violence of the books, wiping out memories of its misbegotten, Stallone-led 1995 predecessor just as effectively as its protagonist (played here by Karl Urban) eradicated evildoers.
Kit Harington (Jon Snow)
Film: Testament of Youth (2015, 83%), based on the 1933 memoir of the same name by Vera Brittain (Alicia Vikander), recounts her time treating soldiers during World War I while aspiring to attend college at Oxford.
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Jaime Lannister)
Film: Headhunters (2012, 92%), a taut Norwegian thriller about a (cough) headhunter (Aksel Hennie) whose lavish lifestyle is subsidized by his propensity for stealing expensive objects from his clients. As tends to be the case in movies like this, the plot happens to catch our antihero at a crossroads — specifically, immediately prior to his ill-fated decision to rip off a client with a particular set of skills.
Aiden Gillen (Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish)
Film: Calvary (2014, 89%), John Michael McDonagh’s piercing drama about an Irish priest named Father James (Brendan Gleeson) who gets a jolt in the confessional booth when the parishioner on the other side of the screen unburdens his past of sexual abuse at the hands of another priest — and declares his intention to kill Father James the following Sunday in order to make a point to the church.
Charles Dance (Tywin Lannister)
Film: The Imitation Game (2014, 90%), director Morten Tyldum’s follow-up to Headhunters starred Benedict Cumberbatch as mathematician, cryptanalyst, and war hero Alan Turing, responsible for cracking the previously unbreakable codes of Germany’s Enigma machine, thereby helping turn the tide of World War II. The film was nominated for eight Academy Awards and won Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay for Graham Moore.
Natalie Dormer (Margaery Tyrell)
Film: Rush (2013, 89%), from director Ron Howard and writer Peter Morgan, tells the tale of the Formula 1 rivalry between English playboy James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and his uptight Austrian opponent Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl). Despite its flashy talent and favorable critical reception, the film’s box office disappointed.
David Bradley (Walder Frey) and Rory McCann (Sandor Clegane)
Film: Hot Fuzz (2007, 91%), the second installment in Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg, and Nick Frost’s “Cornetto trilogy” and a caustic British satire of American buddy cop movies in which a brilliantly effective officer (Pegg) is transferred by jealous co-workers against his will to a sleepy country town where he finds himself bored out of his mind — and saddled with a thoroughly incompetent partner (Frost) — until he begins to suspect that the village’s cheerful exterior is a façade for something far more sinister.
Michiel Huisman (Daario Naharis)
Film: Wild (2014, 90%), based on Cheryl Strayed’s 2012 memoir Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, stars Reese Witherspoon as Strayed, who hit the road after her mother’s death and the failure of her marriage. She covers over a thousand miles in her journey to find herself.
Stephen Dillane (Stannis Baratheon)
Film: Nine Lives (2005, 75%), Colombian filmmaker Rodrigo García’s foray into the genre Roger Ebert dubbed “hyperlink cinema” — films made up of short, intertwined vignettes that, in this case, looked at the lives of nine women in some sort of crisis. Using a large ensemble cast performing single-take scenes, García explored his characters’ responses to all manner of emotional duress, from imprisonment and abuse to illness and death.
Ciarán Hinds (Mance Rayder)
Film: Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day (2008, 77%), a 2008 rom-com from director Bharat Nalluri (working from a David Magee/Simon Beaufoy screenplay adapted from Winifred Watson’s 1938 novel) that follows the gently scandalous misadventures of a dowdy London governess who copes with her sudden unemployment by stealing a former co-worker’s assignment to manage the social affairs of an American starlet.
Sibel Kekilli (Shae)
Film: Head-On (2005, 90%), writer-director Fatih Akın’s highly acclaimed drama about the unlikely love that blossoms between a pair of psychiatric patients who meet after suicide attempts and decide to get married. Believe it or not, things get even grimmer from there.
Diana Rigg (Olenna Tyrell)
Film: The Painted Veil (2006, 74%), director John Curran’s adaptation of W. Somerset Maugham’s 1925 novel about the torrid affair between a shallow London socialite (Naomi Watts) and a politician (Liev Schreiber) following her ill-advised marriage to a bacteriologist (Edward Norton) — and the unlikely reconciliation they enjoy after he forces her to decamp to a cholera-stricken remote village in order to avoid the shame of divorce.
Jonathan Pryce (High Sparrow)
Film: Brazil (1985, 98%), writer-director Terry Gilliam’s dystopian comedy about the increasingly dire plight of worker drone Sam Lowry, whose unrewarding government job tasks him with trying to sort out and smooth over the death of an innocent man — and reveals his destiny in the form of a mysterious woman (Kim Greist) who’s been haunting his dreams.