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The Carnival Row Actress You Didn't Know Almost Starred In Game Of Thrones

When Amazon Prime Video's noir-tinged thriller "Carnival Row" debuted back in 2019, it took viewers on a fantastical mystery tour fronting mythical creatures, steampunk style, and classic Victorian drama. While critics largely failed to connect with the series' overarching narrative (per Rotten Tomatoes), many still marveled at the visual elegance and wildly original world-building. As evinced by its 87% Fresh audience score, it seems that viewers devoured every facet of the series' twisted tale about humans struggling to co-exist with mythic immigrants as a serial killer threatens to upend their tenuous peace.

At the center of the "Carnival Row" narrative are Philo (Orlando Bloom), the half-human, half-fae inspector tasked with finding the killer, and his former flame Vignette (Cara Delevingne), a faerie who survived the ravages of her homeland only to find new dangers, and unexpected allies, in the titular realm. That formidable duo is joined by an all-star cast of supporting players including Simon McBurney, Tamzin Merchant, Jared Harris, Alice Krige, and Indira Varma. And yes, one of those "Carnival Row" players very nearly had an iconic role on another hit fantasy series: "Game of Thrones." Here's which one.       

Tamzin Merchant was the original Khaleesi on Game of Thrones

Okay, some of you would rightfully be quick to point out Indira Varma made several appearances as Sand Snake matriarch Ellaria Sand on "Game of Thrones." But what you may not realize is that Varma's "Carnival Row" cast-mate Tamzin Merchant almost played the now-iconic role of Daenerys Targaryen on the hit series.

In fact, Merchant actually did play the role of Daenerys Targaryen on "Game of Thrones," though she only played the part in the series' original pilot episode. It has, of course, been well documented that the original "Game of Thrones" pilot was a bit of a mess (per Vanity Fair), with HBO opting to re-shoot the episode rather than send it to air. And yes, those reshoots required a fair bit of recasting, which included Emilia Clarke replacing Tamzin Merchant as the Mother of Dragons.

Thankfully, Merchant harbors no hard feelings towards "Game of Thrones" producers for going in another direction. And per her recent comments to Entertainment Weekly, she may actually be relieved about being re-cast, telling the publication, "what drives me is a compelling story and a compelling character. So for me, 'Game of Thrones' was never that." Merchant continued, "If I hadn't been released from my contract I think it would have taken me to a place far from the creative person that I am today." Merchant has obviously landed on her feet after that "Game of Thrones" recast. And it seems she's now found a fantasy story she's far more interested in telling.