The National • The Rains of Castamere
Reader, you may or may not be aware that one half of raven + crow studio—and thus this blog—is pretty damn nerdy. And not in a tongue-in-cheek, ironic trucker’s hat kinda way. I’m talkin’ full-on, computer-game-loving, fantasy-book-reading, Star-Trek-adoring (Next Generation, obvs),  went-to-a-gaming-conference-in-Jersey-just-last-year nerdy. For the sake of argument, let’s say it’s me, Reader.

So, after reading all five books of the series so far, needless to say, I was pretty stoked to learn that HBO had bought the rights to produce a TV adaptation of A Song of Fire and Ice, now better known as Game of Thrones. Even more exciting—writers, David Benioff + D. B. Weiss consulted super-nerd author, George RR Martin, in the show’s creation and worked hand-in-nerdy-hand with Martin to ensure the series was true to the much-loved books. Even MORE exciting—Katie, it turns out, totally loves the show. High-five, nerd self.

But even with Katie’s hard-to-win approval, the show still reeks of un-cool, with nerd-mainstays like dragons, monstrous wolves, giants, and unfathomably deep, hard-to-track lore rooted in the original books. So picture my shock this past weekend when the second-to-last episode of the season ended with a slow fade and the deep, growling voice of National frontman, Matt Berninger, creeping up over the end titles as a slow, brooding song begins to swell beneath his words.

Those guys aren’t nerds! It’s like that time Daniel played D+D with all the geeks of Freaks and Geeks and saved the day as Carlos the Dwarf! Huzzah—COOL KID LEGITIMACY! And, to top it all off, said song isn’t just some deep album track or a random b-side—it’s a straight up SONG FROM THE BOOKS, “The Rains of Castamere,” written to commemorate Tywin Lannister total effing up House Reyne, who rose up against House Lannister (told you—total nerd). Welcome to the dark side, Berninger. Next thing you know, you’ll be sporting a cloak and holding up a Staff of Crooning +4 at your live shows.

To commemorate this monumental cool-meets-nerd moment, we’re not only bringing you the National’s version of “The Rains of Castamere,” we’re also bringing fans of the show our rendition of “Before They Were on Game of Thrones”—a brief series of videos showing surprising and oft-embarrassing clips of the GoT crowd before they were fantasy toughs. Sure, most of us know that Peter Dinklage was an indie film star and had his moment in Elf before the show, and most Wire fans probably realize by now that Irish actor Aidan Gillen (Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish on GoT) played Baltimore Mayor Tommy Carcetti on that gritty crime drama and contender for Best Show ever. But did you know that Joffrey was in a Batman movie? Or that Khal Drogo was on Baywatch? Or that the hound was in a commercial for…I don’t know. Kilts? I’m not quite sure. Check it out—

“Joffrey Baratheon”—Jack Gleeson

Yes, the process of finding humorous or enlightening material on an actor or actress is somewhat hampered by a short career when dealing with child actors, which makes it all that much more awesome that, in the clip we found for the much-hated King Joffrey (played by Jack Gleeson), the already famed victim of vindictive slapping gets a straight-up palm to the face from this not-so-nice security dude in Batman Begins. If you’re not up on the face-slapping reference, you should also be sure to check this out. Oh, Tyrion.

“Cersei Lannister”—Lena Headey

Moving on to Joffrey’s conniving mother, Cersei, it turns out that, in addition to being featured alongside the original Office‘s Tim in an arty short by the Guard Brothers, Headey also starred as Sarah Connor in The Terminator TV series, The Sarah Connor Chronicles, which anyone who saw that show would likely know. …so I’m guessing it’s news to everyone. Truth be told, ever since I listened to a commentary Headey did for Game of Thrones, I’ve had a bit of a celebrity crush on her. Turns out she’s hilarious AND she curses like a super-charming British sailor—both pluses in my book.

“Khal Drogo”—Jason Momoa

Another shocker—Jason Momoa, Conan star and the actor who portrayed the barbaric horse lord, Khal Drogo, doesn’t ONLY play sword-wielding, muscle-bound, bloodthirsty warriors. Just mostly. Before both those roles, he ALSO played a muscle-bound…um…lifeguard on Baywatch Hawaii. Yes, that was evidently a show.

“Robert Baratheon”—Mark Addy

And how about Ned Stark’s old chum from the days of the Usurper’s Rebellion, jolly old King Robert? How about starring alongside Mr. Stephen Baldwin as…well, see for yourself. CERSEIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII!!!

“Sandor Clegane, AKA The Hound”—Rory McCann

I almost don’t know what to say about this one—the fearsome, emotionally and physically scarred Sandor Clegane…strutting down a snowy lane in a plaid skirt and making googly eyes at women in this Scott’s Porage Oats commercial. Wow. Just wow.

“Bronn”—Jerome Flynn

Now we enter the musical portion of our piece. Know the nimble, sword-slinging tough who serves as protector of Tyrion Lannister after a vicious dual at the Eyrie? Turns out the actor who plays said swordsman—Jerome Flynn—was one-half of the Simon-Cowell-created brit-pop duo, Robson + Jerome, who had three no. 1 singles in the 90’s.

“Osha”—Natalia Tena

Flynn isn’t the only musician among the cast though. You may know actress Natalia Tena—who plays Osha, the captured wildling and Stark companion—from her work in About a Boy and various Harry Potter movies, but did you know she fronts a pretty good UK ‘gypsy-step’ band, Molotov Jukebox, and has some mean chops on the accordion. Who knew‽ Other musical Throners of note—Roger Allam, who played wealthy merchant and matchmaker Illyrio Mopatis in season 1 played Inspector Javert in the original London production of Les Misérables and executioner Ilyn Payne, played by Wilko Johnson played guitar and sang for the British pub rock band, Dr. Feelgood.

“Theon Greyjoy”—Alfie Allen

And what greater flattery is there than having a song written about you? Oh. Unless you’re Alfie Allen and your sister is Lily Allen and she just wrote a song about how all you do is smoke weed and watch TV all day. No joke.
Oh little brother please refrain from doing that
I’m trying to help you out so can you stop being a twat?
It’s time that you and I sat down and had a little chat
And look me in the eyes take off that stupid fitted cap 

“Tyrion Lannister”—Peter Dinklage

Like many, we’ve been Dinklage fans for a while (have you seen The Station Agent? You should). And yes, yes, he was awesome in Elf, both Death at a Funerals, and a million other roles, seemingly. But did you also know that, way before all that, back in 1995, he played the voice of the Wake-Up Guy on Seinfeld? No, I think you did not.

“Eddard Stark”—Sean Bean

Finally, not only can you see actor Sean Bean—noble patriarch Eddard “Ned” Stark Game of Thrones—(cue Katie’s wistful “Ned Stark”) die 21 one times in this popular YouTube clip that covers everything from The Lord of the Rings to Patriot Games, you can also see him at what looks to be age 12 in a 1987 episode of Jim Henson’s Storyteller, one of my all-time favorites shows as a kid.

Man. I could do this all day. Still need more? Then check out Daenerys Targaryen playing a teen being stalked by her dad (gross), the Kingslayer pushing vegetables to Danes, and young Arya Stark dancing the waterdance for real. In, like, middle school. And if you do want to see what Matt Berninger would look like in Game of Thrones…pretty much just check out any scene with Jorah Mormont (Iain Glen). Hand him an open bottle of wine and he’s pretty much good to go on acting as a stand-in for the National frontman.

Note: Songs posted to this site are kept online for a limited period of time out of fairness to the artists and, you know, our server. So if this is now an older post, the links may well be dead. Buy music!