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The Real Reason Jonathan Pryce Agreed To Join Game Of Thrones

From 2011 to 2019, HBO's "Game of Thrones" ran for eight seasons to enormous viewership and critical acclaim. A sprawling fantasy series about the ongoing war between rival houses seeking to control the land of Westeros, the adaptation of George R.R. Martin's novels was regularly watched by millions around the globe. Despite the final season of "Game of Thrones" being derided by fans, the show set new standards for television and the fantasy genre with its macabre plot twists, epic battle sequences, and compelling characters.

In a cast rife with A-list stars and emerging talents, one of the most distinguished actors involved was Jonathan Pryce, who portrayed the High Sparrow in Seasons 5 and 6. A pious leader of a religious sect, the Sparrow is sought out by Queen Cersei Lannister to suppress the rival House Tyrell. Pryce embodied the character with the zeal he's brought to acclaimed movies like "Brazil" and "Pirates of the Caribbean."

As a venerated character actor, it seems inevitable that Pryce would be involved with a series as acclaimed as "Game of Thrones," so it may come as a surprise to some that Pryce was initially hesitant to join the then-most popular show on television. He was far from the only one, as there were many other actors who turned down roles on "Game of Thrones." For Pryce, it came down to one factor that convinced him to join later on.

Pryce was compelled by his character

According to an interview with BBC Radio 4, Jonathan Pryce was asked to join the cast from the very beginning. However, the show initially turned him off. "I'd said no ... all I did was flip through and look at the names, look on these strange names, strange dialogue," said Pryce. "And I thought, 'Oh, it's not for me.'" It was the High Sparrow's duplicitous, powerful nature that ultimately changed his mind. Not to mention, how important the character is to the story when he arrives. "He comes into the story [when] everyone's well established, the goodies and the baddies," Pryce said. The actor said he was also intrigued by the character's similarity to Pope Francis, being a religious figure who fashions himself a humble man while also wielding great power.

It's fortunate that Pryce changed his mind. His ability to imbue the High Sparrow with both charisma and malice made him one of the best characters in the show, despite only being on it for two seasons. His character embodies the calculated lust for power that drives the bulk of the show's story — a lust that, like many other characters in "Game of Thrones," ultimately leads him to a grisly fate.