In its eight seasons on the air, the cast of Game of Thrones have become some of the biggest stars in the world.
Game of Thrones returned on Sunday with the season premiere of its final installment. The show has dominated the world of TV for the better part of a decade, and in that time its sprawling cast of characters have become familiar faces for fans.
More recently, the actors themselves have become pop cultural icons. The performers who bring Game of Thrones to life were largely unknown before the show began -- with a few exceptions -- and today they are celebrities of the highest order. Fans flock to any appearance, interview or social media outlet where they can hear the people of Westeros speak.
It can be hard to keep track of a cast this huge, across so many seasons and disparate storylines. At times, Game of Thrones has seemed to contain various shows, with plots playing out in different kingdoms that did not effect each other for years at a time.
That is changing as the show nears its epic conclusion. Not only has Daenerys Targaryen finally sailed her enormous retinue to Westeros, she has joined with Jon Snow and his people in the north. Many other are flocking there as well, and soon they will all stand together in the War for the Dawn.
Here is a look at the stars of Game of Thrones Season 8.
Peter Dinklage - Tyrion Lannister
Peter Dinklage took top billing on the Seasoson 8 premiere of Game of Thrones. The American actor may have been one of the most recognizable faces to audiences in the U.S.
Dinklage is known for appearances in movies like Elf, The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian and The Station Agent. A New Jersey native, Dinklage studied acting at Bennington College and then pursued an acting career in New York City.prevnext
Emilia Clarke - Daenerys Targaryen
Emilia Clarke is one of the inarguable stars of the show as Daenerys Tagaryen, Mother of Dragons and Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea. Clarke hails from London and had just two small on-screen roles before she was cast on Game of Thrones at the age of 22.
Just recently fans have learned about Clarke's health issues early on in the show. She suffered two aneurysms in the show's early years. Clarke wrote about her experiences in The New Yorker, and fans were floored by her story.prevnext
Kit Harington - Jon Snow
Kit Harington also broke out with his role on Game of Thrones. The actor was 22 when he was cast as the brooding bastard of Winterfell, and fresh off of a role on London's acclaimed West End.
Harington married his on-screen love interest Rose Leslie in 2018. Since reaching the heights of fame on the fantasy series, he has taken other major roles including starring in Gunpowder for the BBC, which he also wrote and executive produced. The miniseries is on HBO, along with Harington's sports mockumentary 7 Days in Hell.prevnext
Lena Headey - Cersei Lannister
Lena Headey plays Cersei Lannister, the current queen of Westeros. Headey had some major roles before the show, including films like The Jungle Book, 300: Rise of an Empire and Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. She has also worked extensively on video games.
Headey and Dinklage were friends before they were cast together on Game of Thrones. According to a report by Complex U.K., Dinklage suggested Headey to the producers of the show as a great fit for the character of Cersei.prevnext
Sophie Turner - Sansa Stark
Sophie Turner was just 15 when she was cast as Sansa Stark, the elder daughter of Winterfell. She has since become an international star, with a starring role in the X-Men film franchise as Jean Grey.
Turner became engaged to Joe Jonas in 2017 after having dated for a year. In the lead-up to Season 8 fans got a more clear idea of Turner as an individual with things like her viral appearance chugging wine on a jumbotron.prevnext
Maisie Williams - Arya Stark
Meanwhile, the younger Stark daughter is played by Maisie Williams. Williams and Turner forged a close friendship working on the show, where they grew up together over the years. Williams, too, has become a huge star in her years on the show, and is set to join Turner in the X-Men universe in The New Mutants, which has been trapped in post-production for years now.
Williams is known for being brash snarky in interviews, especially when it comes to Game of Thrones. Shortly before the Season 8 premiere, she performed an April Fool's prank with Jimmy Fallon where she pretended to leak a huge spoiler for the season.prevnext
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau - Jaime Lannister
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau plays Jaime Lannister, Cersei's twin brother and one the show's most complex figures.
In reality, Coster-Waldau is an acclaimed producer and screenwriter as well as an actor, with many lauded performances over the years. Outside of Game of Thrones, U.S. audiences may know Coster-Waldau from films like Black Hawk Down in 2001.prevnext
John Bradley - Samwell Tarly0comments
Finally, another star who made his name on Game of Thrones is John Bradley, who plays Jon Snow's best friend Samwell Tarly. Bradley has famously said that he felt woefully unprepared for the success of his first big TV role. In behind the scenes featurettes, he remarked that he had done three hours of camera testing at Loreto College, and his fourth hour on camera was his first day on Game of Thrones.
Bradley has picked up more prominent roles since breaking out on the show, including the 2018 film Patient Zero, where he worked with former Game of Thrones star Natalie Dormer.prev