One of the most amazing things about Game of Thrones is that almost everyone there brings their A-game in the acting department. All too often, genre shows borrow from the Shatner School of Acting and bring the ham and cheese. Since everyone is so amazing, the competition is fierce for the title of The Best Performer. Who wins THIS Game of Thrones? Here’s a surprise: It’s NOT Peter Dinklage.
First let’s start with an honorable mention.
Kristian Naim HODOR!
If measured by a per word delivery style, Hodor is the best.
Good But Not Great Performances
25 Carice Van Houton Melisandre
She’s kind of a one note character, so Van Houton doesn’t have much to work with. But she hits that note admirably.
24 Jason Momoa Drogo
In this role, his physical presence did most of the acting. I’m sure he’ll get more to work with in Aquaman.
23 Sophie Turner Sansa
I’m not sure if it is the character or the actress that leaves me iffy on this performance. She’s gotten better so it might be the growth of the character OR the growth of the actress. I am so confused…
22 Emilia Clarke Daenerys
Kind of low? I’m not sure Emilia Clarke is that good of an actress. I’m very aware she’s acting when I watch her scenes. She’s more Star Trek than Harry Potter.
21 Rory McCann Hound
A small part, but he brought a flavor to it every time. Had he been more prominent in the series, he’d either be higher…or have outstayed his welcome…
20 Kit Harrington Jon Snow
I like Kit Harrington when I see him on talk shows. I love the character Jon Snow. But Harrington doesn’t strike me as a very good actor.
19 Indira Varma Ellaria
I like Indria Varma as an actress and she goes above and beyond in this role. As Ellaria, she is a confident and dangerous player. She shows great range, differing radically from her work in Rome.
18 Mark Addy Robert
Mark Addy chews the scenery as Robert Baratheon, but it is a performance that would only work in the first season. He’d clash with the upgraded talent of the last few years.
17 Conleth Hill Varys
The spider has a subtle performance that borders between cheeky and terrifying. He threads the needle perfectly.
16 Natalie Dormer Margery
There is something about Natalie Dormer herself that allows Margery to be both charming and conniving at the same time. Margery is NOT as big a character in the books as the show and the very reason Margery was developed further was because Natalie Dormer is that damn good.
15 Jerome Flynn Bronn
Tyrion’s hired hand provides a great commoner’s POV on the Game of Thrones that the nobles are all playing. His answer is usually to put a sharp sword into someone’s gullet rather than whisper a secret in their ear.
14 Gwendoline Christie Brienne
Brienne is pretty much one of the only truly noble characters after the untimely death of Ned Stark. Christie plays her as an idealist without making the character seem totally naive.
13 Charles Dance Tywin
One of the first deviations the show took from the novels was to make Tywin the master of the keep where Arya was serving as a boy. It was a great move because it wasn’t a critical change to make it Tywin and it gave a brilliant actor more screen time.
12 Liam Cunningham Davos
Like Bronn, Davos comes at the GoT from a less lofty station. He, however, rises much higher becoming hand of the king in Stannis’ camp. Cunningham has such a quiet gravitas that you believe he is a man that would rise so far.
11 Nikolaj Coster-Waldau Jamie
No character has evolved as much as Jamie Lannister in the show. In the first season, he was a cartoonish villain who smirked as he tossed kids out of windows. But Coster-Waldau really took the changes provided by the show’s excellent writers and developed a character who is trying to figure out what kind of man he should be.
10 Pedro Pascal Oberyn
A one season wonder. Pedro Pascal owned every minute he was on screen. As the brother of a murdered sister, he blends charm with grief to create one of the show’s most memorable characters.
9 Maisie Williams Arya
Maisie is great actress. Arya is a great character. A match made in heaven. Bonus points for how cool Williams is on social media.
8 Jack Gleeson Joffrey
He seems like a nice guy, but Gleeson will forever be branded as the most sadistic little punk that caused Jenny to cheer at a young boy’s death. This performance went JUST up to the edge of cartoonish but stopped short at terrifying.
7 Iain Glen Jorah
He’s sooooooooo in love with her that his ever look is brooding. Glen brings a world weariness to Jorah that only Khalesi can cure.
6 Sean Bean Ned
Sean Bean was the star of the show. He was going to be around to keep things moving toward the show’s climax. This is Sean Bean, so he had to face death in his own series. Didn’t even make the finale of season one!
The Cream of the Crop Performances
5 Lena Headley Cersei
She’s evil. She’s conniving. But she loves her family and that makes her interesting. She loves her brother a little too much though…
4 Aidan Gillen Petyr
I loved Gillen in The Wire. He was the ultimate politician. I didn’t think he could be more Machiavellian. Then came Littlefinger!
3 Diana Rigg Olenna
You can see where Margery gets her A-game. Grandma can play. I didn’t even remember her from the books. This was a great addition to the series and Rigg nailed it.
2 Peter Dinklage Tyrion
What? Not number 1? Shocking I know! Don’t take this as a slight. Dinklage is amazing. The book gives him a great character and Dinklage takes it to the next level. The series hinges on his excellence.
1 Stephen Dillane Stannis
What? Stannis? He’s the lame character that has no personality, you say? That’s right. And that’s why Stephen Dillane’s performance is so amazing. He takes a dud and makes him a pacing Tiger. I get Stannis’s motivation with Dillane (who played a polar opposite Thomas Jefferson in HBO’s John Adams) in a way even multiple 1000 page books couldn’t convey. Excellent in every moment.