‘Game Of Thrones’ Crowns Its Mance Rayder

Ciarán Hinds has been cast as the King Beyond the Wall, Entertainment Weekly reports.

At long last, one of the biggest questions about the third season of “Game of Thrones” has been answered: Entertainment Weekly reports that veteran thespian Ciarán Hinds (“Political Animals,” “Rome”) has been cast as the King Beyond the Wall, Mance Rayder.

Without going into too much detail or spoiler territory, Rayder has already been referenced several times on the show and is the leader of the wildlings, hence the King Beyond the Wall title. Rayder plays a very important part in the story’s action, particularly the story line of Jon Snow (Kit Harington), whom we last saw being dragged away to meet Rayder at the end of season two.

The casting of the wildling king was one of the last major pieces needed to complete the pre-production puzzle ahead of the highly anticipated third season of HBO’s Emmy-nominated hit. Hinds certainly has the acting chops to handle the role: He is a celebrated Irish actor whose resume is filled with dramatic work, including several productions with the Royal Shakespeare Company and starring roles as powerful leading men in films and television. At 59, Hinds is a good deal older than the character as written and introduced by George R.R. Martin, which leaves plenty of room for creative interpretation. And thanks to his entertaining portrayal of flirtatious, good-old-boy former President Bud Hammond on USA’s “Political Animals,” we know he can do powerful, plus charming.

Reactions to the news on popular fan sites like Westeros.org and WinterIsComing.net have been almost universally positive, with most admitting that while Hinds was not the actor they initially pictured in the role given Martin’s description in the books, but that his impressive acting chops seal the deal.