Since it debuted on HBO in 2011, Game of Thrones has become a worldwide phenomenon. And that’s thanks, in no small part, to its exceptional ensemble of actors. From supporting characters that routinely steal scenes to the top-billed stars that have become household names, the men and women in the GoT cast have helped even the most fantastical elements of George R. R. Martin‘s world feel real.
Numerous members of the cast, including Kit Harington, Emilia Clarke, and Maisie Williams, have been nominated for prominent awards. And indeed, each of these actors has done tremendous work in bringing their characters to life. But in many cases, the actors that consistently make Game of Thrones a must-watch have been overlooked. Here are the 10 best actors on Game of Thrones.
10. Diana Rigg
They call her the Queen of Thorns. And given her prickly disposition and her darker tendencies, it’s easy to see why. Lady Olenna Tyrell first entered the fray on Game of Thrones in Season 3, when she moved to King’s Landing to help her granddaughter prepare to marry King Joffrey. From her very first scene, it was clear that she had a strong personality, a keen intellect, and an uncanny talent for politics.
Diana Rigg has managed to make Lady Olenna one of the most memorable players on Game of Thrones. And she’s done so with fairly limited screen time in comparison to her co-stars. Rigg plays the matriarch with a mixture of charm and no-nonsense maneuvering. She’s revealed the more sinister aspects of her character’s personality with an understated elegance. In one moment, Olenna could be retelling an amusing story from her adolescence. In the next, she could be informing her granddaughter that she killed her new husband. And Rigg makes the moment, and the subtle but wildly important change of subject, feel both natural and effortless.