Ed Sheeran had one of the most talked-about cameos in Game of Thrones, and though the reason wasn’t purely positive, the purpose of the appearance was good-natured. The singer/songwriter appeared in a season 7 episode of the HBO fantasy series based on the A Song of Ice and Fire novels by George R. R. Martin. Based on the show’s history of using musicians as guest stars, Sheeran’s presence wasn’t a complete surprise, but the cameo didn’t go as well as the singer had hoped. Luckily, the singer/songwriter has since been able to have a good sense of humor about the failed acting role, as Sheeran mocked his GOT cameo in Red Notice.
With appearances from Coldplay, Mastodon, and Bastille, the Ed Sheeran Game of Thrones cameo wasn’t the only one, but his role was a bit more prominent than the rest. Sheeran played the role of Eddie in Game of Thrones season 7, episode 1, “Dragonstone.” Eddie was a member of the Lannister army that Arya encountered when traveling through the Riverlands. While Sheeran’s character sang “Hands of Gold,” Arya joined them at the camp before sharing their distaste for King’s Landing.
The singer’s immense popularity at the time was a major factor in the Ed Sheeran Game of Thrones cameo, but it was also done as a treat for a cast member. During a South by Southwest panel from 2017, Game of Thrones creators D.B. Weiss and David Benioff confirmed Sheeran’s cameo came to be as a surprise for Maisie Williams, who played Arya. Since she was a major fan of the singer, Weiss and Benioff attempted to score the cameo for years, and it finally came to fruition for season 7. Rather than a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it appearance, Sheeran was given a speaking part, including an opportunity to sing a song. Of course, Williams had to be involved in the sequence to carry out the cameo considering she was the driving force behind the casting.
Despite only appearing in one episode of Game of Thrones, the fate of Sheeran’s character was revealed in the poorly received Game of Thrones season 8. Eddie and fellow members of the Lannister army were present for the Battle of Goldroad, in which Daenerys found victory with the help of Drogon. According to prostitutes hired by Bronn, Eddie survived but suffered serious burns, including the loss of his eyelids. It’s unclear if the legacy surrounding Sheeran’s cameo led to Eddie’s fate.
Unfortunately, Sheeran’s buzz-worthy Game of Thrones cameo didn’t go well. There was a consensus that the scene felt out of place and the singer’s acting wasn’t up to the level the fans were used to seeing. More than anything, the moment felt more like fan service than anything meant to move the plot along. All in all, Sheeran’s odd Game of Thrones cameo and song provided little to the show and might’ve even ended up being a hindrance to Game of Thrones as his role received harsh backlash. Criticism of the scene resulted in Sheeran deleting his Twitter account after constant harassment from those who mocked the cameo. Even actor Kristian Nairn, who plays Hodor in GoT, was deeply critical of the musician’s appearance. Truly, it’s never a good sign when cast members are wary of a particular celebrity cameo.
With House of the Dragon deep in its first season, Game of Thrones creators may be eager to add new celebrity cameos into the mix. Weiss and Benioff made a smart decision by keeping their celebrity appearances brief and primarily musicians, rather than big-name celebrities. That being said, the Game of Thrones spinoff series’ creators might be wary of another Sheeran-esque disaster. Game of Thrones at least added an interesting layer to the special appearance by explaining Eddie’s dire fate.
The Ed Sheeran Game of Thrones cameo gets an unfairly bad rap. Especially when one considers how many musicians the series featured. The show is no stranger to musicians as a whole. Kristian Nairn, who plays Hodor, is a long-time guitar player and DJ. Alfie Allen, who portrays Theon Greyjoy, is the brother of popular British pop singer Lily Allen. In addition, the Hold Steady version of the Westerosi song “The Bear and the Maiden Fair” appears in Game of Thrones season 3, episode 3, “The Walk of Punishment.” Either way, Ed Sheeran isn’t the only musician to make an appearance in the popular medieval fantasy series.
In various episodes throughout seasons 4 and 5, Joel Fry of the alt-pop band Animal Circus appeared as the recurring character Hizdahr zo Loraq. The character was previously a slaveholder in Mereen, and was briefly betrothed to Daenerys Targaryen. Coldplay’s drummer, Will Champion, shows up in the season 3 episode “The Rains of Castamere,” where he assists in playing the Westerosi song. The episode itself is infamously known as “the Red Wedding.” Dr. Feelgood’s Wilko Johnson is in various episodes of seasons 1 and 2 as the man who executed Ned Stark, Ser Illyn Payne. Michiel Huisman of the Dutch band Fontane also shows up in several episodes, but this time during seasons 4-6 as sellsword Daario Naharis. The entire band Mastodon appears in season 5’s “Hardhome” as wildlings. These Game of Thrones cameos are only a drop in the bucket, as members of bands like Of Monsters and Men, Raleigh Ritchie, Sigur Rós, and Snow Patrol also appear, among many others.
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