Game of Thrones fans can be found everywhere, even in Westeros.
So why not get cast members’ opinions on a matter of importance: Who are their favorite characters?
A survey of 17 regulars from HBO’s hit drama revealed intriguing choices, including plenty of votes for supporting characters who don’t get the biggest spotlight. Even Thoros of Myr (Paul Kaye), who appeared in just seven episodes before his return in Sunday’s Season 7 premiere, got a shout-out.
Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) led the way with three mentions, although it’s unclear whether actors were motivated by a desire to avoid her notorious kill list.
Two characters who have undergone roller-coaster transformations — Sandor “The Hound” Clegane, who went from pillaging to meditating before returning to fight, and Theon Greyjoy, recovering from his psychological torture as alter ego Reek — got two mentions.
Here’s a sampling of the actors’ choices and reasoning, as told to USA TODAY:
Alfie Allen’s portrayal of Theon/Reek gets the support of Kit Harington, who plays King in the North Jon Snow.
“I love Alfie’s portrayal. I think that’s one of the most interesting characters in the whole piece,” he says. “The journey that character goes on is incredible, and I think the season coming up for him is amazing.”
Gwendoline Christie, who plays the warrior Brienne of Tarth, admires Rory McCann’s ability to convey different sides of The Hound. “He’s capable of such brutality to the extent that it’s quite hilarious … but it’s those moments where he displays empathy that are most shocking, and really resonate.”
As an actor, Richard Dormer (Beric Dondarrion) recognizes a major challenge McCann faces.
“It’s hard to act through a prosthetic, and Rory has this real humanity” that comes through, Dormer says. The Hound “is very funny, very sad and terrifying.”
Actors appreciate morally complicated characters, but they enjoy the out-and-out baddies, too.
“I really love Cersei” Lannister, says Nathalie Emmanuel, who plays Dany’s aide, Missandei. “I know she’s evil, but I think Lena (Headey) does such an amazing job of playing her. She manages to make you hate her but feel for her all at the same time. I love that conflict.”
A few actors applauded their co-stars’ ability to lighten things up in grim Westeros.
Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) “is a favorite of mine because he does inject (a) well-needed sense of humor into the otherwise bleak and quite cruel world of Westeros,” says Isaac Hempstead Wright, who plays Three Eyed Raven Bran Stark.
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau offers simple but enthusiastic praise of Bronn (Jerome Flynn), the battlefield comrade of Coster-Waldau’s Jaime Lannister: “He’s got all the best lines in the show.”
And considering the mountain of dead bodies piling up on Thrones, it’s only fitting that Liam Cunningham, who plays Davos Seaworth, offers a post-mortem tribute to bathroom crossbow victim Tywin Lannister.
“I loved Tywin. I was so sad when he went,” he says. “I’ve been a huge fan of (Charles Dance) forever. He’s a fantastic actor. I loved the idea of (children) Cersei, Tyrion and Jaime, they turn into children when Tywin shows up. I really love that power he had over them.”