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As Daenerys Targaryen...

... 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):


( 63 comments — Leave a comment )
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Aug. 21st, 2009 12:42 pm (UTC)
To be perfectly honest, I am not crazy about her for Dany.
She's a very pretty young lady... but that's the problem. She looks like a young lady and not a young girl. I understand that you are aging Dany up a bit (from 13 to 15 is the rumor I heard), and that's understandable, and with the sexuality, obviously you had to have someone over 18 play her. But she does not look like a 15 year old. She looks like a 19-20 year old. Personally, I found one of the importances of Dany is her youth. That is an essential key element to her. There's such a mix of childhood innocence and raw power broiling underneath. Without that sense of childlike innocence and vunerability, the character looses so much.
Miss Merchant looks like she probably could have played Dany effectively at one point, but she simply doesn't look young enough to be convincing to me.
However, you are the author and if you are pleased with the casting choice then that is what matters. I will just wait and hope that she is able to bring this very important role to justice.
Aug. 23rd, 2009 05:18 pm (UTC)
Eh? Dany is 15 at the start of aGoT is she not (roughly the same age as Robb and Jon)? Aging her up to 18-looks-15 seems perfectly reasonable.
(no subject) - entomologist - Aug. 24th, 2009 07:15 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - childdoll - Aug. 24th, 2009 12:19 pm (UTC) - Expand
Aug. 21st, 2009 01:08 pm (UTC)
Fantastic choice IMHO. I think she has an interesting look that will go well with the Targ characteristics.
Aug. 21st, 2009 01:24 pm (UTC)
I saw her in the Tudors, and really liked her role, though she has only appeared a few moments at the end of Season Three.
This is such a great casting, I am glad for you!

PS: What are your mixed feelings about the Tudors? I feel very curious!
Aug. 21st, 2009 01:30 pm (UTC)
Oh my. Yes. She looks like she could fit Dany quite well. I look forward to seeing the pilot, once it's completed!
Aug. 21st, 2009 01:40 pm (UTC)
THE TUDORS (which I have VERY mixed feelings about, I confess)

You mean, like, it's beautiful and well acted and well written and historically useless :-)

At any rate, this seems like a good choice!
Aug. 21st, 2009 02:04 pm (UTC)
She's a great choice. I'm sure she'll be stunning in the role!

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.

Hmm...a Margaery among them, perhaps? Or a Jeyne Westerling? Or even a Roslin Frey? ;) I know you won't say, but I do like to guess. If they impressed you so much, hopefully they'll be available down the road!
Aug. 21st, 2009 02:30 pm (UTC)
This is exactly how Daenerys looks in my head. :) I think she's perfect!
Aug. 21st, 2009 02:55 pm (UTC)
i think she looks perfect. as soon as i saw the above photos of her in the black dress i thought of this art print...

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.
Aug. 21st, 2009 04:24 pm (UTC)
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.
Aug. 21st, 2009 04:26 pm (UTC)
Haven't seen her acting, but as far as looks go... she's PERFECT.
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.
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.
Aug. 21st, 2009 07:42 pm (UTC)
Aug. 21st, 2009 07:59 pm (UTC)
Sex scene
Cant wait! gigidy gigidy.
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George R.R. Martin
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