Game of Thrones has become an enormous hit since debuting on HBO in 2011, but the epic fantasy drama was almost a very different show. After the original pilot failed to impress, the series underwent major cast changes. There were also some instances in which the network wasn’t able to nab its top choice for certain roles. That’s right — believe it or not, several high-profile actors have admitted to declining an offer to star on the show in its early years, only to kick themselves for the decision later on.
Below, check out seven stars who have turned down roles on Game of Thrones.
1. Brian Cox
The actor admitted to turning down a Game of Thrones role early on in the series, reportedly because he wasn’t offered a high enough salary. Though Brian Cox didn’t reveal which role he’d been approached for, he confesses that he now regrets the decision, having become a fan of the series.
“Well, stupidly, I turned it down in the early days because they didn’t pay enough money [laughs]. Now they have more money. And I was silly. I was silly, it was silly, because I’m a complete addict now,” he told Vodzilla, also adding, “I don’t know what I could play. Maybe I could do – I mean, I just watched my friend Ian McShane, and I thought, ‘Ooh, Ian’s in it’, so I settled down to watch him. And I thought, ‘Ian did that?’ and immediately I thought, ‘God, they must have paid him well’, because I know Ian! [laughs]”
He went on to praise an episode of the HBO drama and also made sure to add that he’d be up for joining the series if the network is still interested. “I’m still waiting for the call for Game of Thrones and if they’ve got more decent money, I’ll be there!” he said.