11 'Game of Thrones' Stars Who Have Inspired Us, Because Their Influence Goes Beyond Westeros
It's easy to look up to the stars of Game of Thrones for their outstanding physically and emotionally impressive performances on the popular HBO series. Off-camera, many of the actors involved with GoT are also involved in important real-life causes. They are using their influence, time, and money to "be the change," as if we couldn't be impressed by them enough. And there are quite a few Game of Thrones stars who have inspired us.
Whether it's fighting for the rights of the disenfranchised or bringing attention to lesser covered issues, or simply being true to themselves despite what it seems the world may want, these GoT stars prove they've got what it takes to be an inspiration to everyone. Sure, the series may be super dramatic, but in real life, these celebs are giving back to their communities and making moves that'll impress even the non-Game of Thrones fan, because they can totally make a difference beyond Westeros — and that's exactly what they are doing.
So if you are — like me — already star-struck by the incredible cast of Game of Thrones, prepare to be even more star-struck by their inspirational and awesome contributions to this troubled world.
1. Gwendoline Christie
On GoT, Brienne of Tarth fights gender norms and hypocrisy on a daily basis. Meanwhile, her portrayer Christie has also been an advocate for the dismantling of gender stereotypes. The actor recently became the face behind Vivienne Westwood's "Unisex" campaign. Christie told Vanity Fair, "It is so relevant for Vivienne Westwood to re-assert their activist mind-set and create a collection that takes us beyond our current gender stereotypes with beauty and intelligence.” Her willingness to choose campaigns that stay true to her ideals is so inspiring.
2. Peter Dinklage
Before he was an Emmy-winning actor, Dinklage lived in an apartment under the Williamsburg Bridge that "had no heat and shook when trains passed overhead; the oven was unusable, because it was filled with rats," he told The New York Times. While he could have probably gotten more commercial work playing elves, leprechauns, etc, and then might have been able to live in a nicer space, the actor refused to take such roles. He told the newspaper that, regardless of his stature, he should be cast just like any other actor and not stigmatized. His advocacy for a dwarf to "play the romantic lead and get the girl," shines brightly through his role choices.
3. Sophie Turner
The brutal Season 5 scene in which Sansa Stark's vicious forced partner Ramsay Bolton rapes his new bride on their wedding night was difficult for a lot of fans. The internet talked about for days. In light of the drama, Turner called out what she saw as hypocrisy said to The Wrap, " Why are people complaining about a TV show when it’s happening all over the world and people aren’t really speaking about it?" though she agreed it was a discussion that needed to be had. She continued to put her words into action by joining forces with Women For Women International, an organization that helps "women rebuild their lives after … all of the war crimes that happen against these women, all of the war crimes that happen against these women, one of them being rape and sexual assault.” She took an uncomfortable situation and made the best of it. Go Sophie!
4. Jason Momoa
Jason Momoa has a lot of feelings about the rights of native people and he is not afraid to let those feelings and opinions out. Momoa's Instagram is a goldmine of support for activism (as well as pics of his buff body), specifically those fighting the Dakota Access Pipeline. According to The Huffington Post, the actor also worked intently on a campaign in his native Hawaii to end construction of a $1.4 billion telescope on a remote spot atop Mauna Kea volcano, a spot that was sacred to native Hawaiians. He might be a star but that doesn't keep Momoa from forgetting his roots!
5. Maisie Williams
Maisie Williams has two of the dream jobs of my childhood: actor and dolphin ambassador. According to Big Story in 2016, Williams joined the crusade against capturing (for aquariums) and killing of dolphins in Taiji, Japan because "these animals travel the ocean. That's what they explore daily. No tank will be big enough. No tank will ever be deep enough, ever be exciting enough..." She joins Ric O'Barry, the dolphin trainer for the Flipper TV series who starred in the tell-all documentary, The Cove about the (often brutal) dolphin capture in Taiji and is also the mastermind behind protests of the mammals' treatment. Life goals right here. Maisie Williams is living my dream, guys.
6. Nikolaj Coster-Waldeau
Sure he plays a semi-villain on GoT, but in the real world, Coster-Waldeau plays a United Nations Goodwill Ambassador. He told the United Nations Development Programme that his "main mission as UNDP Goodwill Ambassador is to raise awareness and support for the Global Goals to end poverty, which cannot be achieved without empowering women."
7. Lena Headey
In 2016, GoT teamed up with the International Rescue Committee to launch the Rescue Has No Boundaries campaign, an endeavor to help refugees and families impacted by the world's worst humanitarian crises. Headey took it a step further by joining up with photographer Tara Todras-Whitehil to create an exhibition called "It Could Be Us." With this art, Headey told Vanity Fair that it tried to show, "this could be us. Who knows tomorrow, with the state of politics around the world, what will happen in the next few years?”
8. Iwan Rheon
Iwan Rheon's ambassadorship to his native Wales for the 2017 Year of Legends campaign is pretty powerful. The Cardiff-raised actor spoke fondly of his home turf saying, according to the Welsh Government, "our stories and characters are fascinating and become truly spellbinding when you visit the landscapes and places where these tales and stories are rooted – and you’re never far from a piece of history in Wales."
8. Emilia Clarke
This may come as a surprise to you, but there's a lot of nudity in Game of Thrones and it seems directly related to power. Shocking, I know. Emilia Clarke, a.k.a. Daenerys Stormborn Targaryen, provides the best comment on why that is and it's inspiring to hear her share her sentiments on the matter. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Clarke stated, "There are women depicted as sexual tools, women who have zero rights, women who are queens but only to a man, and then there are women who are literally unstoppable and as powerful as you can possibly imagine." The show is about power, regardless of gender and Clarke is the first to defend her show and nudity decisions.
9. Liam Cunningham
Like Lena Headey, Davos Seaworth actor Liam Cunningham seems to have been very inspired by the HBO show's work with refugees. According to Reuters, the Irish actor took the whole thing a step further by actually visiting one of the teen refugees he met in Jordan, Hussam Alheraky, who had relocated to Germany. While it's all well and good to visit a refugee site because your job suggests you do, it's even more touching to follow through. Cunningham's ability to see refugees as people just like anyone else is truly a behavior to copy.
10. Nathalie Emmanuel
Part of being inspirational is being able to talk about the sensitive issues that surround you with poise and knowledge. In a 2014 Salon interview, Emmanuel was questioned about the race issues surrounding a show in which many of the characters of color are former slaves and she handled it like a pro. She pointed out to the publication, "If you were not a rich white person you would have been a slave. History just shows us that, right? It is such a hard thing, but I feel like what’s so great about both [Missandei and Grey Worm] is that, yes, they were slaves, but they’re very good at what they do."
11. Kristian Nairn
Kristian Nairn may have only said one word during his time on GoT (Hodor FTW!), but in an interview with winteriscoming.net, he proved that no matter where or what he's doing, he stays true to himself. When the interviewer questioned Nairn about his popularity in the gay community he pointed out that, "when you talk about 'the gay community,' you are talking about MY community" and that, "I’ve never hidden my sexuality from anyone, my whole life in fact, and I’ve been waiting for someone to ask about it in an interview, [because] it’s not something you just blurt out." His desire to be honest and open, and speak his truth is some serious life inspo.