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As Daenerys Targaryen...

Spain
... we have the lovely and talented young British actress Tamzin Merchant.

I know my readers play the casting game. Well, confession time, so do I. Ever since I began A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE (way back in 1991, thought it wasn't until 1994 that I got writing in earnest), there was always a little part of me that would watch every television show and movie with one eye looking for actors and actresses who might work as my characters.

And so there I was, watching THE TUDORS (which I have VERY mixed feelings about, I confess), when Tamzin Merchant came on screen as the fifteen year old Katherine Howard, Henry VIII's fifth wife. I sat up at once, thinking, "Hmmm, she could be a good candidate for Dany."



Katheryn Howard, as all students of history know, ended with her head on the block, much like Henry VIII's second wife, Anne Boleyn. Which gave her something in common with Ned, hence that clue. And she was Henry's fifth wife, hence the "fourth is fifth" clue.

Dany is very difficult role. She starts out vulnerable and scared, but blooms on the Dothraki sea, and becomes a powerful leader by book's end. It's no secret that HBO's Dany will start out older than Dany does in the book; that was a change that had to be made, if we wanted to keep the sex scenes, and David and Dan and I were all agreed that the sex scenes were essential. Tamzin can play much younger than her actual age (as she does when playing Katheryn) and her sex scenes on THE TUDORS were as hot as anything I've ever seen on TV. In her readings, she showed Dany's other side as well, commanding and charismatic after Drogo's death. I think she'll be marvelous.



I believe I mentioned at worldcon that we were down to three finalists for Dany, which was true at the time. It was a hell of a hard choice, since the other two contenders were also great... so great, in fact, that I hope we can use both of them in other roles should the series last several seasons. (Yes, I know just the roles, and no, I won't tell you which ones, nor the names of the other two actresses. Sorry, not kosher). All three were smashing. But Tamzin was Dany.

(some of her earlier work, pre TUDORS):

Comments

( 66 comments — Leave a comment )
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esc_key
Aug. 21st, 2009 03:29 pm (UTC)
Oh wow. I posted Tamzin Merchant's name on Ran's board because I was shocked no one had mentioned her. I'm glad to find out you had the same thoughts as me, GRRM! I wasn't (at the time) familiar with the Tudors but I saw her in the KK "Pride and Prejudice" and thought she looked like Dany (see icon!), especially in the GoT scenes when she is young and vulnerable.
metalgoddessamb
Aug. 21st, 2009 04:24 pm (UTC)
Eh...
this is the one I am least convinced of...I watch the Tudors and she rubbed me the wrong way the second I saw her.
el_regrs
Aug. 21st, 2009 04:26 pm (UTC)
Haven't seen her acting, but as far as looks go... she's PERFECT.
the12judge
Aug. 21st, 2009 06:33 pm (UTC)
I'm sorry, I don't envision this girl when I think of Stormborn. I don't see how she's perfect for the role either, especially physically. Stormborn may be young but... still. Everyone else seems to fit what I envisioned, this one... not so much. But I'm not a casting expert though, so... oh well.
entomologist
Aug. 21st, 2009 07:17 pm (UTC)
Please feed her!
Tamzin looks pretty good in the videos I've seen from The Tudors, and in that first pic above, so maybe it's a trick of the light, but in the second pic, and the other ones I've seen from that photoshoot, she looks clinically underweight. That's not necessarily a bad thing for Dany in the pilot to be, but I hope as the first season (and Dany's pregnancy) progresses that she'll put on some weight -- both feminine curves and more muscle definition in her limbs. The latter would of course be a natural and inevitable effect of going from the closeted life she and Viserys have lived in exile, hardly ever leaving their patrons' mansions for fear of imaginary assassins, to the nomadic life of the Dothraki, spending the most of her waking hours on a moving horse (not to mention spending much of the time she's awake and not on the horse having sex with Drogo). I suspect that would be enough to silence most of the objections to her on the basis of looks, and it sounds as though, if her performance reflects her auditions, the objections on the basis of acting ability won't last very long.
kevin_007
Aug. 21st, 2009 07:42 pm (UTC)
Nice
PERFECT!
kevin_007
Aug. 21st, 2009 07:59 pm (UTC)
Sex scene
Cant wait! gigidy gigidy.
jpclemen
Aug. 21st, 2009 08:41 pm (UTC)
To be bald and 22....
I know we won't get there 'till the end of the first season, but I REALLY hope (PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE...) that she is shorn bald, eyebrows and all, for the pyre scene.

I realize how risky that would be for any young actress, but that scene should be among the most powerful in the entire series, and no one should have to be distracted by a stupid-looking bald wig that makes her look like an alien. Pay her whatever it takes to get her to do that (of course, I know, that's HBO's decision, not yours, George), but please--no visually distracting obvious pseudo-baldness.

Those of you who saw Mary McDonnell (Roslin) in BSG season 4 probably know exactly what I mean: she was supposed to be dying, and I'm thinking "wow, that's like 1" extra in diameter all over her head." throughout the scene.
darkmoonbay
Aug. 21st, 2009 08:43 pm (UTC)
hmmmm... i'm not sold. for me, jessica stam is dany.
stefaniew
Aug. 21st, 2009 10:26 pm (UTC)
Just PERFECT!!!
jpclemen
Aug. 21st, 2009 11:47 pm (UTC)
That Meereenese knot...
So any chance that having an actress to use as a muse will help you with that Meereenese knot? I know she's just gotten the role, but why not give her a reading assignment and use her as a consultant on how Dany would solve things? :-)
jonmolina
Aug. 22nd, 2009 04:18 am (UTC)
Damn
I gotta watch the Tudors....frankly, I don't see how this little string bean pale chick can pull off world-domineering-dragon-queen so we'll see. Pretty enough...Tudors here i come.
weltraummuell
Aug. 22nd, 2009 03:53 pm (UTC)
Re: Damn
Well, that's just what Dany was no? A string pale chick?
Have faith in Tamzin, she is a very talented person.
dscotton
Aug. 22nd, 2009 07:03 am (UTC)
Well, this one I'm not sold on. She doesn't look like my mental image of Dany, who I pictured as having a rounder face, younger, and prettier. But I haven't actually seen her act, so hopefully Tamzin will change my mind once I see the show.
infinite_hiatus
Aug. 22nd, 2009 08:29 am (UTC)
I always assumed that Dany would have to be older in the movie version than in the book version for that sex scene. I've never heard of this girl, but she looks the part even if she is a little older.
tenbrook
Aug. 22nd, 2009 06:52 pm (UTC)
Just wanted to say, GREAT choice on Dany. I've read a couple of "she's not beautiful enough" or "she looks too weird!" sorts of comments at other blogs (funny how we never get those on the MALE roles, but whatever) and I just wanted to voice my support.
stevewood
Aug. 22nd, 2009 08:07 pm (UTC)
She looks amazing! Her appearance alone says she's very petit but strong willed...it would be fun following her motherhood to dragons.
vittoriacolona
Aug. 22nd, 2009 11:56 pm (UTC)
Changed My Mind
When I originally saw pictures and announcement that Tamzin Merchant was cast as Dany (one of my favourite literary characters) I was absolutely livid! I said to myself this girl looks NOTHING like Dany (and some other stuff which I won't bother to post!). I then went on Youtube to look at some of her scenes from the Tudors still I wasn't convinced. I said to myself, this girl had better give the performance of her life in the pilot. Or I'm not watching the show. Sorry no way.

However upon looking at the uploaded video of her earlier performances, I can now see why she was cast in the role. Merchant shows that she has depth and range and she might pull it off. Is she the Dany in my head? No. But I am now willing to wait and see and give her the benefit of the doubt. I mean if Daniel Craig could win me over as Bond. Then perhaps Tamzin Merchant can do the same as Dany.


Thanks again guys for the video. It shows that you are not being entirely dissmissive of the concerns of some fans.
nerio8
Aug. 23rd, 2009 04:54 am (UTC)
youtube
I was pleased when I saw the pics of Tamzin Merchant and after I searched for some Tudors clips I became more convinced that she has the right look to play Dany. Dany is my favorite character and one of the main requirements I have always had in my mind is that the actress has to be petite...in my mind I always see her as a contradiction...small physically but powerful internally. Anyway here is a vid I saw on youtube (its a collage of her scenes in Tudor set to a music video)...I think she has the right look. You be the judge.

***WARNING LINK HAS BRIEF NUDITY****

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hClg_62--4E
mrt11679
Aug. 23rd, 2009 01:09 pm (UTC)
Dany
The problem with Dany is that I think a lot of us have this image of perfect beauty in our minds. No actress can match that Dany.

I think miss Merchant will do a wonderful job.
vittoriacolona
Aug. 24th, 2009 02:26 am (UTC)
Re: Dany
I never thought of Dany as being some raving beauty or drop dead gorgeous. But I do see her as striking and patrician. Merchant is more along the lines of the homely girl next door than anything else. Hopefully her performance will negate any misgivings.
davidhburton
Aug. 24th, 2009 12:02 am (UTC)
Yes!! Daenerysis is a character that really resonated with me, and I'm quite pleased to see Tamzin being cast in this role. Great choice!
paat
Aug. 24th, 2009 07:08 am (UTC)
She looks like a Milo Manara drawing come to life. She'll eventually need to put on some muscle and maybe tan for the role, but she looks perfect. I have a feel the doubters will be swayed.
vittoriacolona
Aug. 24th, 2009 09:56 pm (UTC)
I agree. A tan (to add some colour to her complexion) and ten or fifteen pounds of added muscle. Will vastly improve her looks by making her look more healthy (and confident).

Looking at the pictures of the actresses cast as Arya and Sansa, leads me to believe that the producers decided to take a chance and go more with an actress who can play Dany, even if she is less than ideal in the looks department.
(no subject) - starmarketrules - Aug. 25th, 2009 03:01 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - vittoriacolona - Aug. 28th, 2009 05:34 pm (UTC) - Expand
well - starmarketrules - Sep. 4th, 2009 12:45 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: well - vittoriacolona - Sep. 4th, 2009 02:58 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: well - starmarketrules - Sep. 5th, 2009 04:06 am (UTC) - Expand
entomologist
Aug. 24th, 2009 07:26 am (UTC)
Just watched My Family and other Animals -- I'm completely sold now. How does the BBC do it, anyway? I mean, obviously they have a stable of fantastic adult actors who came up through the Royal Shakespeare Company, but how do they consistently get such talented youngsters? It's something Hollywood rarely seems to manage. I'm still a little worried about her being underweight, though. She looks a LOT skinnier in both the publicity pics and the video I've seen from The Tudors than in MFaoA, where she was a lithe but healthy (and lovely) teenager -- I certainly couldn't count her ribs during any of the several scenes where she wore what passed for a two-piece bathing suit pre-World War II, the way I could when she stripped in The Tudors. However, if she has a problem in that regard I have no doubt the producers will be working with her to correct it.
saetter
Aug. 24th, 2009 02:40 pm (UTC)
Thanks for posting her demo reel.
starmarketrules
Aug. 25th, 2009 01:33 pm (UTC)
sarcasm
well george, maybe next time you'll post pictures as well as an appendix at the back of your books. it will leave no room for disappointment.
texdionis
Aug. 25th, 2009 07:46 pm (UTC)
She looks adorable, I have positive feelings for her portrait of Daenerys the Stormborn. Yesss
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