"Game of Thrones" fans, meet your King-Beyond-the-Wall.
After a long and lengthy search process, showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have finally cast Irish actor Ciarán Hinds as Mance Rayder. Entertainment Weekly announced the casting, and we couldn't be more thrilled about the news. While we always pictured Mance to be a bit younger, the "Rome" star has the look and the acting prowess to pull off the complicated Night's Watch deserter-turned-Wildling leader.
Mance will be one of the most integral new characters in the coming seasons of "Game of Thrones," and his relationship with Jon Snow adds some new dimensions to the bastard Stark child. As a character who was previously only discussed with disdain for abandoning his post at the Night's Watch, Rayder has major roles in both "A Storm of Swords" (seasons three and likely four of the HBO show) and "A Dance with Dragons" (likely seasons six or seven).
When we caught up with author George R.R. Martin at Comic-Con, he admitted that the show's team was having a difficult time finding the perfect Mance.
"Well, we're still looking for Mance Rayder," Martin revealed. "They're still holding auditions, so if there are any British actors out there who want a terrific part, Mance Rayder! Contact our casting director -- we need one. As of a couple days ago, they hadn't cast that part yet. We're still auditioning and talking to people."
Martin then confirmed that Mance will appear within the first few episodes of season three.
For you "Rome" fans out there, here's a fun fact: "Game of Thrones" also cast Tobias Menzies as Catelyn Stark's younger brother, Edmure Tully. While Edmure's path never crosses with Mance's, we do get a kick out of the fact that both Brutus and Caesar have been united again.
The third season of "Game of Thrones" is set to debut on March 31.
Are you as excited about the casting of Hinds as we are? Let us know in the comments section below or on Twitter!