Like millions of others I am a huge fan of the HBO series “Game of Thrones” as well as its source material “A Song of Ice and Fire” by George R.R. Martin. As an avid reader and watch of the series I know that many of us share a love and passion for perhaps the most widely celebrated scene in all of Westeros;
The Battle at the Tower of Joy.
I don’t really have to explain why this particular scene is so favored by book readers and show watchers but for those not in the know the gist is basically a 7 on 3 cage match with swords.
I know. Badass.
The Battle at the Tower of Joy features two groups of combatants squaring off at the end of Robert’s Rebellion; Ned Stark and a coalition of lords from the North vs three members of King Aerys II’s Kingsguard; Ser Arthur Dayne, Ser Oswell Whent, and Lord Commander Gerold Hightower.
If nothing in the preceding paragraph made any sense then this post probably isn’t for you. However, if you just did a mental fist pump as you recalled, glowingly, the fever dreams of Ned Stark in book one then this is in your wheelhouse. So sit back, grab a flagon of ale and a capon pie, and read to see who should be at the ToJ.
Firstly, let’s take a look at the perfect casting for the Northmen; a collection of badassitude rarely seen this side of the Neck. The Magnificent Seven of Winterfell, if you will, should look something like this;
Eddard Stark – Sean Bean
HBO knocked this casting out of the park at the onset and I see no reason to change it up for the Tower of Joy. Sure, this is a 20ish Ned but you just need to slap some of that CGI youth on Bean a la Jeff Bridges in Tron (but better) and voila! Young Ned ready to lead his band of bannermen into battle.
Howland Reed – Viggo Mortensen
Perhaps the most anticipated character to have yet made a screen appearance, Howland Reed is the father of Jojen and Meera who were sent by their father to assist Bran on his journey to the Wall and beyond. It should be noted that both Jojen and his father have the “greensight” and it is very possible that Howland knew sending Jojen on this mission would lead to his death. That is exactly the kind of hard, complex character that Mortensen knocks out of the park (A History of Violence, Eastern Promises etc) and I don’t think Howland would be an exception. Toss in another dose of CGI youth coupled with Mortensen’s already impressive sword handling skills by virtue of Lord of the Rings and you have a match made in cinematic fantasy heaven.
Lord William Dustin – Angus Sampson
Now that we’ve made it beyond Howland and Ned we can really open up the field to the others in Ned’s rescue retinue, starting with Lord William Dustin. A big man with a big beard seems like just the role Angus Sampson can step into after his performance as Bear Gerhardt in Season 2 of ‘Fargo’. No reason for the actor not to sign on since it will only raise his profile while HBO gets another check plus on its casting scorecard.
Martyn Cassel – Tom Hardy
Not going to lie, this casting is purely for fan effect. I don’t think Hardy needs a cameo in GoT but I know the fans would love it and stepping in as Martyn Cassel would be, I think, an easy turn for Hardy and, if its only a few days of shooting, why not do it? Not a ton is known about Martyn Cassel in GoT lore other than he is the brother to Rodrik Cassel (sweet white sideburn beard from S1 GoT) and uncle to Jory Cassel (who’s eye eats a knife from the Kingslayer in S1). That means wide open casting and Hardy should be considered.
Ethan Glover – Shia Labeouf
Honestly, who hasn’t been enjoying Game of Thrones and not thought, “You know what this needs? SHIA”. Well, worry no longer friends because he’ll be stepping into the spotlight as Ethan Glover; former squire to Ned’s older brother Brandon Stark. Taking that detail of youth into account and The Beouf’s beard, seems like a natural fit and a solid amount of star power into a tertiary character. Nevermind the fact that Shia can act and has the physicality to be an asset to a scene that’s going to feature some kickass fighting.
Theo Wull – Dave Bautista
Who are we to impede the path of a WWE superstar’s transition from the squared circle? No one I say! Dave Bautista has trading in hoisting championship belts to cashing SAG checks and it looks like the entertainment industry is better off for it. After impressive turns as both Drax in Guardians of the Galaxy and henchman Nails (I made that up) in Spectre I think our hulk sized action star has earned his place in Ned’s cabal of warriors and Theo Wull is just the ticket. Big, mean, and a leading member of the North’s most powerful mountain clan, Theo is just the larger than life character that Bautista has shown he can play with the capacity for bashing skulls that the wrestler turned actor should revel in.
Mark Ryswell – Rufus Sewell
Rufus Sewell is one of those actors that I just don’t know how he’s not bigger. Every movie I’ve seen him in he does a good job and yet I’m sure most people have no idea who he is. Well, this is my way of correcting that oversight. It’s a small role but if you are one of the guys Ned trusts to bring on this mission that is all the shine you need. He’s got experience in the genre (Tristan and Isolde) and most recently can be seen flexing his acting chops in Amazon’s ‘Man in the High Castle’ as Obbergruppen (whatever sp? I guess) John Smith. Not only that but both the character and actor’s names end in Swell so, really, who else could you cast?
Now that the North team has been introduced its time to look at the opposition; The Kingsguard. Sworn to defend the king and his family tot he death, the ranks of the Kingsguard are drawn from the best warriors of Westeros and their actor equivalents should be no different. Without further ado lets take a look at who will be donning the white cloaks at the Tower of Joy.
Lord Commander Gerold Hightower “The White Bull” – Stephen Lang
You know, a lot of posts are about generating debate, seeing what others have to say after you’ve already spouted into the vastness of the internet your opinions. Well, let me say this about Stephen Lang as The White Bull Gerold Hightower; there is no other option and if you have one that differs you are wrong. This is the perfect casting. Many will remember Lang as the bad guy in Avatar who really, REALLY, hates trees and the hippies who hug them but my earliest memory of Lang is as the enigmatic George Pickett from TNT’s’Gettysburg’ way back in the 90s. That sort of intensity is exactly what the leader of the whitecloaks needs and, much like his character in Avatar, Hightower may know he’s on the wrong side but he has a job to do and loyalty to that trumps all else.
Ser Arthur Dayne “Sword of the Morning” – Henry Cavill
Quick! What is the fastest way to bolster your star power lineup? Get the guy who is currently playing Superman of course! Couple that with the fact that the part you are giving him is of the deadliest warrior and Westeros and how could you lose? Arthur Dayne is a legendary knight, even to his contemporaries (I mean, his nickname is The Sword of the Morning and the Valyrian sword he carries is called Dawn. Can’t get much more hardcore than that), and Cavill has the stature and ability to bring him to life effortlessly. With his work in the Tudors, the world of Game of Thrones shouldn’t be too far out of his comfort zone and his extensive stunt work should allow him to accomplish the battle at the Tower of Joy with a flourish since he’ll be expected to be one of the most dangerous combatants on the field.
Ser Oswell Whent – Karl Urban
Karl Urban is basically a more successful Rufus Sewell. Now, I know that seems kind of mean (because it is) but I mean it in a nice way. Both men are solid actors who just can’t break into that top tier realm but, for these roles, I don’t think there is anyone better out there. As much as that is true for Sewell I thin its doubly true for Karl Urban playing Oswell Whent. Not much is known about Ser Whent other than he has a bat as his sigil (there was real temptation to put Bale here just for that) but, seeing as he is keeping company with The While Bull and The Sword of the Morning, we can assume Oswell is just as formidable. Urban is comfortable in the genre and his past experiences mean he’s no stranger to swordplay on a big cinematic stage which can only help make the Battle at the Tower of Joy everything its cracked up to be.
So there you have it. The dream, star powered lineup that would be sure to make the Tower of Joy scene no just one celebrated by fans of Game of Thrones but one that will be replayed on Youtube for time immemorial. Now go get these deals inked HBO and FINISH THOSE GODDAMN BOOKS GRRM.