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Why Ser Steffon Darklyn From House Of The Dragon Looks So Familiar

For fans of "Game of Thrones," one of the greatest pleasures is exploring the deep and rich world that George R.R. Martin has created. With a show like "Game of Thrones," even background characters with few or no lines still have elaborate backstories. These may not affect the main plot, but they make the show feel more lived-in and real all the same.

The spinoff series "House of the Dragon" continued that trend. Set 200 years before the events of the original series, "House of the Dragon" follows Princess Rhanerya Targaryen (Emma D'Arcy) as she navigates a succession crisis following the death of her father King Viserys I (Paddy Considine). This kicks off a civil war known as the "Dance of the Dragons," which begins at the end of Season 1. As Rhanerya's allies coalesce around her, they rally around a black banner, giving their faction its name. Several high-ranking members of the Westeros political scene join the blacks, including many members of the King's Guard, the elite unit of knights sworn to protect the sovereign. 

One of them is Ser Steffon Darklyn. Although Ser Darklyn isn't a major character during Season 1 of "House of the Dragon," he's got a suitably weighty backstory, too. House Darklyn previously opposed Rhanery's ancestor Aegon the Conqueror when he invaded Westeros, then became one of the first houses to bend the knee to him (per Yahoo). Ser Darklyn is played by Anthony Flanagan. Here's where you may know him from.

Anthony Flanagan played Kenny Archer on Cracker

"Cracker" was an ITV series about Dr. Edward "Fitz" Fitzgerald, played by Robbie Coltrane (aka Hagrid from the Harry Potter films), a foul-mouthed, hard-drinking larger-than-life psychologist tasked with profiling Manchester's worst criminals. After the original three series, "Cracker" also got two standalone TV movies that continued Fitz's story. In 2006, Anthony Flanagan landed a plumb role in the second of those two films as Kenny Archer, Fitz's main adversary.

That's not to say Kenny Archer is a villain. The character is a former soldier turned policeman who's struggling with PTSD he acquired while serving in Northern Ireland. When George W. Bush announces the War on Terror following the September 11th terrorist attacks, the public seems to forget about Northern Ireland, and Archer feels alienated. Spiraling, he begins killing every American he can find. 

While the film received overall mixed reviews, many reviewers singled out Flanagan's performance as a highlight. The Guardian described Flanagan's performance as "a convincing portrayal of a man tormented by his experiences, a violent killer we are forced to confront and understand, however uncomfortable that may be."

Anthony Flanagan played Orin Scannell on Dr. Who (2007)

One year after his impressive turn on "Cracker," Flanagan again landed a major role on a beloved British TV series: "Doctor Who." He appeared in the Series 3 episode titled "42," which aired in May 2007. "Doctor Who" fanatics obviously already know this, but this coincided with the tenure of the Tenth Doctor, who was played by David Tennant.

The episode finds The Doctor and his companion Martha (Freema Agyeman) responding to a distress signal sent by the SS Pentalion, a 42nd century cargo ship that's hurtling towards a sun called Torajii. They arrive just 42 minutes before impact–hence the title. Complicating matters further, Torajii is actually sentient and can possess members of the crew, compelling them to vaporize each other. In the episode, Anthony Flanagan played Orin Scannell. He's one of the handful of crew members of the Pentalion who doesn't get possessed and killed by Torajii, and he helps the Doctor and Martha save the ship from its fate.

Anthony Flanagan played Thurman on the Crown

In the fourth episode of the first season of the Netflix series "The Crown," "Act of God," Queen Elizabeth II (Claire Foy) faces one of the first big challenges of her reign. As a non-ruling sovereign, Elizabeth always has to weigh her responsibility to her people against the risk of overstepping her boundaries. In "Act of God," a natural disaster forces Elizabeth to confront the possibility that her aging prime minister, Winston Churchill (John Lithgow) might be unfit for the job. The episode concerns a massive smog outbreak that overwhelms London and threatens lives. It's quickly determined that England's industrial activity is contributing to the extreme weather. Yet Churchill's government hasn't done enough to curb that activity, all in the hopes of making the economy appear stronger.

Flanagan plays a small but important role in the story. His character, Mr. Thurman, is a government employee who turns whistleblower after he discovers an internal report about the oncoming smog. Thurman ultimately takes the report to opposition leader Clement Atlee (Simon Chandler), who uses it to force Churchill into action. During their meeting, Thurman delivers a memorable line about the Churchill administration: "This is not a government, Mr. Atlee. This is a collection of hesitant, frightened old men unable to unseat a tyrannical, delusional even older one."

Anthony Flanagan played John Morfin in The Terror

The first season of the AMC anthology series "The Terror" was an adaptation of Dan Simmons' 2007 novel of the same name. Set in 1845, it follows the ill-fated crews of the HMS Terror and HMS Erebus, two polar exploration vessels tasked with finding a hypothetical Northwest Passage that would allow shorter travel between Europe and Asia (and which we now know is blocked with polar ice). Sure enough, a series of disasters befall the ill-fated sailors, from mutiny to magical polar bears.

Anthony Flanagan had a smaller supporting role on the series, playing John Morfin. Morfin is a rank-and-file sailor onboard the Erebus, tasked with handling the dirtier jobs, like dragging a lifeboat across a frozen landscape in order to find a specific pile of rocks used to store messages for future expeditions. In the end, Morfin succumbs to lead poisoning, which is actually a much gentler demise than those of most of his crew mates. A story like "The Terror" needs to keep bumping off crew members to build suspense, and Flanagan performs the job ably. 

Anthony Flanagan played Dr. Reynolds in Stardust

In 2020, Anthony Flanagan popped up once again in the Gabriel Range-directed musical biopic "Stardust." The story follows a young David Bowie (Johnny Flynn) as he embarks on his first tour of the United States in 1971, alongside his publicist Ron Oberman (Marc Maron), which ultimately leads to the creation of his Ziggy Stardust alter ego.

One of the film's major subplots is Bowie's relationship with his older half-brother Terry Burns (Derek Morgan). In real life, Jones suffered from schizophrenia and committed suicide in 1985. During the film, a grief-stricken Bowie is forced to bring his brother to a mental institution. There, Dr. Reynolds, played by Flanagan, diagnoses Terry with the illness. This obviously has profound implications for Bowie, and the film even suggests that Terry's illness led Bowie to experiment with performing music under different personas. This is disputed, but it's not the first time a biopic took some liberties with the truth (per Roger Ebert).

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Anthony Flanagan played Thomas Kneedling in Around the World in 80 Days

Fifteen years after Anthony Flanagan and David Tennant appeared together in "Doctor Who," the British duo teamed up once again in "Around the World in 80 Days," the BBC adaptation of Jules Verne's 1873 novel of the same name. Tennant played Phileas Fogg, the lively adventurer who accepts a bet with his rival Nyle Bellamy (Peter Sullivan) to travel around the world in the aforementioned 80 days, along with his journalist friend Fix (Leonie Benesch) and his valet Passepartout (Ibrahim Koma).

Flanagan played Thomas Kneedling, a private detective hired by Bellamy to undermine Fogg's expedition so that he'll lose the bet. Kneedling follows Fogg and company around the world and sabotages them at every turn. For example, at one point he strands Fogg and company on an island near Japan and allows the rest of the exploring community to believe they're dead.