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That is the rightest you have ever been.

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I will co-sign anything that gets that guy cast in a major role in GoT.

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Billy Corazon said on July 26th, 2011 at 10:58 am

I actually always pictured the Red Viper as Oded Fehr, but I would also accept Naveen Andrews. Hmmm … Your dream casting meets my approval! Carry on.

And yes, in all seriousness, the Dornish characters totally need to be North African / Southern Mediterranean.

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Thanks for the article. I love the novels. I really like the HBO series so far. But the one thing that really burns me is casting almost all white people for the Dothrakis, when GRRM clearly wrote them as Mongols: black hair, copper skin, almond-shaped eyes. Look, I know they were shooting mostly in Scotland & Eastern Europe, & it’s hard to import a few hundred Asian actors to them, & I think Jason Momoa did a very good job, but everytime the Dothrakis showed up on-screen & they were almost all white with tans… Ugh! Still, I look forward to season 2.

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While I agree entirely with this post, I’m not really sure it actually needed to be written. I mean, every single site that covers this show has either Oded Fehr or Naveen Andrews as first and second on their casting list for Oberyn. Sites that delve further into Dornish casting have an almost exclusively Mediterrean/Arabian feel to them, so I’m fairly sure the show runners know what’s what.

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While I agree entirely with this post, I’m not really sure it actually needed to be written. I mean, every single site that covers this show has either Oded Fehr or Naveen Andrews as first and second on their casting list for Oberyn. Sites that delve further into Dornish casting have an almost exclusively Mediterrean/Arabian feel to them, so I’m fairly sure the show runners know what’s what.

And yet: Noah Ringer is Aang! In spite of hundreds of Avatar fancastings that didn’t have white people in them.

Never, ever underestimate Hollywood’s ability to decide that white people need more work.

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I think it’s a reasonable comparison to draw (the debacle of Shyamalan’s “Last Airbender” vs. the ongoing adaptation of A Song of Ice and Fire) so I won’t question whether or not it needs to be said. However, I think we have plenty of evidence to support that by and large, the producers of Game of Thrones have done a pretty good job with casting all the players involved so far.

As regards the Dothraki in the first season: it’s the first season of a show that’s clearly pretty costly to make, and HBO was taking a pretty big risk to start with. If the second season satisfies as well as the first (and with the casting of all the new roles I think they’re well on their way to do so) then there’ll certainly be more resources available for casting a wider net for properly casting the Dornish. Since they’re filming in Malta (and supposedly Croatia for S2) you’d think finding some good North African actors wouldn’t be that hard.

The real trick that I’m looking forward to is how they handle the Dorne narrative in the 4th/5th books. The last two books in the series are so widespread in terms of narrative that it’s really hard to figure out how they’re going to handle that many parallel narratives at once with only 10-13 episodes in a season.

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Yeah, this is something that concerns me too. I was a big booster for an Asian actress to play Melisandre (I’m OK with Carice Van Houten, of course; we’re never explicitly told that Asshai = Asia) and I had an angry moment when it looked like they were starting to cast the Qartheen as whiteys (it was a mistake on my part). But the ASoIaF books have a more diverse world than a lot of fantasy epics, even if the focus is still mostly on the white Europeans, and that’s actually part of the point, given the deconstructionist nature of the story. As mentioned above, the Dothraki are already a little dubious on the show (though “white people with tans” isn’t really fair–of the three most prominent Dothraki, Jason Momoa is Hawaiian, Amrita Acharia (Irri) is Indian, and I believe Elyes Gabel (Rakharo) is of mideastern descent).

But yes, it would be very nice if this show tried to broaden the diversity of fantasy epics. And yes, like most people, I think Naveen Andrews would make an awesome Red Viper. The only real problem there is that he’s a Special Guest Star for an episode or two rather than a recurring cast member.

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I think the skin color of the Dornish houses is going to differ largely from house to house. House Dayne is described as fair with purple eyes, Targaryen in nature, whereas Martell is more of the Arabic/Mediterranean described here.

I think casting should go along the lines of descriptions in the books as they stand, not just adding an ethnicity to add it. Now, in the case of characters whose physical appearance is not described in the book? I would certainly assume someone from Dorne is more darkly complected than someone from a different region in Westeros.

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totally agreed. great point. i was actually pondenring this kinda of thing this week, so i loved your post. 😀

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I agree with this! Thank you so much for posting! (And I agree with your casting choice)

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quirkygeekgirl said on July 26th, 2011 at 4:08 pm

I concur with the choice of Naveen Andrews so much but can I just add one other casting choice of the third book – Maggie Smith for Lady Olenna Tyrell – not really to do with your post but you did bring up dream casting choices.

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Samantha Joy said on July 26th, 2011 at 5:08 pm

the live-action adaptation of Avatar, where white kids were hired to play characters that were distinctly not-at-all-white

And yet: Noah Ringer is Aang! In spite of hundreds of Avatar fancastings

Nooooo! The Last Airbender, not Avatar.

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Please.

Jessica Walters IS Olenna Tyrell.

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Samantha Joy said on July 26th, 2011 at 6:50 pm

And I feel I should add that I know the full title of the film is Avatar: The Last Airbender. I just think that most folks *don’t* know that and that you’re risking bringing to mind James Cameron’s film instead.

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I too approve of this casting.

But oh, for Jessica Walters to have a part.

She’s Cersei in 20 years, and it’s perfect.

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One point, as someone who follows Martin’s blog on Livejournal.

Martin is, sadly, *not* THE Man for this. He does get to see casting tapes, but he doesn’t have much of a voice in the casting. He’s outright said he’s not the decision maker on that.

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I think the entire House Martel should be played by Eddie Murphy in a variety of hilarious prosthetic get-ups.

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I think that while the Martells will be an important part of casting non-white actors, the happening over the narrow sea with Dany will be far more important. It is there where the definite non-white cultures are located, after all.

Also, Dorne may as well be medieval Spain, before the Moors were kicked out by the catholic kings ( well, the last Moors, but let’s not get into a too detailed historic debate. :p ).

As for “how are they going to handle the spread-out narrative”, I think they will have to make two seasons per book beginning with book three and also mix up book four and five completely with each other.

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I thought that Braavos was going to be medieval Spain or Italy, considering Syrio’s casting (And the assassins). I forget who, but in the tournament chapters of the first book (That I’m reading~), there’s a distinctly black-skinned knight in there somewhere.

Also, with the backlash to Last Airbender and the cancellation of Akira, I’m pretty sure that the whitewashing is going to slow down a little bit.

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@Quixim: That’d be Jalabar Xho. Man, if they’d put him into the show the way Martin described him in the books, *then* you’d have about racist typecasting… ^^

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Oh, yeah, let’s get an English guy with Indian parents to play someone based on Persians or Arabs. Then we’ll go snort coke off some hookers, because we’re the laziest bastards in Hollywood.

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Quixim: I always took Braavos and the Free Cities to be like the Italian City-States while Dorne was the equivalent to medieval Spain (as Magnus suggested) or Sicily.

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Given that Braavos is a city of islands and canals, I’m pretty sure it’s the equivalent of Venice.

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People at the asoiaf.westeros.org forums have been proposing this for a while. Among the Season 2 characters (and beyond) who can still be played by actors of color (because we haven’t seen the rest of their family) are:
– the Dorne characters (I like Idris Elba as Arthur Dayne)
– Salador Saan
– Jaqen H’gar
– Qhorin Halfhand
– Mance Rayder
– A lot of the eastern continent characters like Strong Belwas

There had been suggestions, before casting leaks started coming out, that Bronn, Davos, Melisandre or Brienne could be non-white.

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You are 100% right.

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Chris: while reading the paragraph mentioning Avatar, I got very disappointed. You didn’t mention that godawful TV adaptation of Earthsea.

Let us recall, Earthsea is a beloved series of fantasy books in which 98% of the characters are non-white – and then Syfy turned it into a Whitefest with Whitey Mcwhitey as every character (with one exception – two if you count that chick from Smallville).

And everybody hated it.

Of course, Syfy had a budget of two bucks and most of the acting was shitty, so that may have been a factor. But most people were appalled that most of the characters were played by white actors, when the whole point of the books was that none (okay, almost none) of the characters were white.

I hope HBO will keep that debacle in mind when they start casting calls for season three.

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The most insulting thing about the casting decisions for Avatar is that they passed over perfectly good blue actors to hire white people and recolor them with CGI.

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Fantastic post. I’m optimistic about how this’ll play out, since HBO has been a bit better about acknowledging the existence of scary dark people than most corners of the entertainment industry. Here’s hoping.

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This is so weird. I posted on reddit this exact topic. After AFFC I actually started thinking of the Dornish people as Indian. I thought of this actor, who’s family is Indian, immediately for Oberyn Martel. To my surprise, more than half were opposed to the idea to the point to saying I was racist for wanting a more diverse cast in areas where it was natural to consider it.

http://www.reddit.com/r/gameofthrones/comments/isf6p/adding_diversity_to_a_game_of_thrones_spoilers/

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A pretty good idea, and by apparent coincidence it appears that in Season 2 the people of Qarth – described as ‘very pale’ in the books – are going to be played by actors of colour in Season 2, with actor Nonso Anozie having just been announced as playing Xaro Xhoan Daxos. So a timely article :-)

And I agree with the main thrust of the article. The Dornish are pretty much dark-skinned in the books (and I think GRRM even equates Dorne with Morocco and Caliphate Spain in interviews) and there should be no problems with them being played as such in the TV series.

Fun trivia: Naveen Andrews (Sayid from LOST) started his screen career in THE BUDDHA OF SUBURBIA, which required him to have a threesome with a character played by Donald Sumpter, who now plays Maester Luwin in THRONES.

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spacechampion said on August 3rd, 2011 at 7:07 pm

What you didn’t like Avatar: The Last Racebender?

Folks, it’s called racebending now, not whitewashing. The latter is so anti-paint, and we must not offend the painters!

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Good letter. Although I wonder about the actor pictured in the post – do you have a picture of him smiling? He looks kind of stone-faced and reserved, and Oberyn Martell really needs to be portrayed as immensely arrogant and sharp-tongued.

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You are not right at all. You are just a silly troll. Having a none white caracter just to have a none white caracter is just silly.

Melisandre is suppose to be a white skinned woman with red hair. So how does that fit Asian? Silly people.

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Ashstar said on May 4th, 2012 at 7:35 pm

Well Spaniard/Italians can have dark skinned as well. I am not one to make big deals out of stuff like that.

The thing with Asian nowadays, the trend is Asian women with White guy, and they ignore Asian men.

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