Thanks to Game of Thrones, actor Iwan Rheon has become almost indelibly intertwined with the character he plays—the sadistic Ramsay Bolton.
Over the last few seasons, Ramsay has tortured Theon Greyjoy into near-oblivion and raped and tortured Sansa Stark after forcing her into marriage. His character is so loathsome that when The Atlantic asked readers to vote on “the actual worst character on television” he won over Hannibal’s cannibalistic sociopath Hannibal Lecter and, perhaps even more shocking, he was more loathed than Game of Thrones’ despicable boy king, Joffrey Baratheon.
But things could have been very different in Westeros for Rheon. In recent articles in both the New York Times and Interview it was revealed that Rheon originally auditioned to play someone else entirely—Jon Snow. As any Game of Thrones fan can attest, Rheon didn’t get the job. Instead, the role went to Kit Harington, who has become the living embodiment of the “dead” Jon Snow, the supposedly felled Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch and the son of Ned Stark, fallen Lord of Winterfell. “It could’ve been so different,” Rheon told Interview. “I’d be dead now!”
While Rheon may not have gotten the part, he did make a lasting impression during his audition. When it came time to cast the show’s most malevolent character, the producers called him up to join the show in season three. It’s nearly impossible to imagine anyone but Harington in the role, now, and Rheon seems to agree. “I think they made the right choice,” he told Interview. “It would’ve been a very different Jon Snow if I’d played him.” As a silver lining, on Game of Thrones Ramsay has managed to outlive Jon Snow, meaning Rheon still has work, while Harington is on the job market.