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Career Counselor: ‘Game of Thrones’

What comes after Jaime ❤ Cersei?

Ringer illustration/Paramount Pictures
Ringer illustration/Paramount Pictures

Another season of Game of Thrones has finished. The end — the end-end — is in sight. And that means the show’s collection of actors (stars, breakouts, more than one future That Guy) needs to start planning for whatever comes after Thrones. Conveniently, we have some suggestions.

Kit Harington (Jon Snow)

Big season for you, Kit, and it’s time for an even bigger offseason. Last offseason was “about” you, sure — but to no one’s gain: The “Is Jon dead?” question lingered (whose fault was that?) and left your career in a bit of an awkward spot. No country for ambiguously alive bastards, and so on. One year later, though, we know: You’re going to be a major part of the Thrones endgame. Congrats, fam. R + L = Just don’t blow this. Here’s some advice.

DON’T: Complain.

DO: Moody emo costume shit. I see a wide-open lane for you there. (And I mean wide open: Channing Tatum — Channing Tatum, Kit — has gotten a swords-and-sandals look this decade. And his face is made of Bluetooth.) Besides: you’re really good at it. There is just something about you having dirt on your face, and wielding a clunky-ass weapon that may or may not be taller than you, and pouting through ridiculous lines like, “This isn’t a battle. This is a massacre” (I watched Pompeii on a plane) that, for whatever reason, super-works. Also: Keep the man bun — and that isn’t friendly advice (we’re not friends). It’s an order. I’m sorry to have to tell you so bluntly, but that’s what this is for. Your man bun isn’t yours anymore. I know it feels like it is, but it’s not. Your man bun belongs to everyone now. It’s a public trust. And you have to leave it like that forever. Thanks!

Worst-Case Career Scenario: Richard Madden.

Best-Case: James McAvoy.

Maisie Williams (Arya Stark)

Strong season, and you finished strongest. Killed some people; didn’t kill some people; killed some people. Loved the arc, loved the work — and I think you’re in a perfect spot now to capitalize.

DON’T: Stress. You’re 19 and rich. Take a second and relax.

DO: Work the teenage assassin angle. It’s been done, kind of, but I still think there’s a market here — especially for your particular brand of justice. Let’s film a prestige pilot: You’ll play an assassin with a past; Kevin Costner will play your dad who is also Kevin Costner, the famous actor. Another option is that we do something Shark Tank–style: Aspiring score-settlers, pitching you live, about why you should kill their enemies — and then at the end you choose whether or not to accept each offer. I’ll have Legal work out the details. Honestly, we could do both.

Worst-Case Career Scenario: Emma Watson

Best-Case: Kristen Stewart

Michiel Huisman (Daario Naharis)

Game of Thrones has hatched dragon eggs, jacked plot from Face/Off, mentally time-traveled, theorized that birds are reliable, assumed that people still listen to the Hold Steady, introduced aesthetically coherent zombies, made incest seem compelling at worst, suffused books with cultural value, and BROUGHT MULTIPLE DUDES BACK TO LIFE — IN ONE CASE MULTIPLE TIMES — but on Sunday it finally strained credulity past its breaking point: It had someone dump Michiel Huisman. Not even trying to be one of those “What X gets wrong about Y” pedants, but honestly: What Game of Thrones gets wrong about dumping Michiel Huisman is that it happened. It’s just … not believable that someone would do it. Don’t get me wrong — I loved the finale a lot. But I’m feeling a little unmoored. Like, where do we go from here? What kind of absurdly fictive show is this? Anyway, Daario: goodbye.

Getty Images
Getty Images

DON’T: Do more TV. No shots at all at TV, Michiel; you’ve just put in your time. Between Game of Thrones’ Daario Naharis and Nashville’s Liam, the hot producer with an instinct for adventurous sounds and hooking up, and whatever you did on Orphan Black and whatever you did on Treme — you’ve taken the medium about as far as any one artist could. Of course, with Thrones now in your rearview, some ambitious network boss is going to offer you your own series. It’s inevitable: maybe a police drama where the cop solves crimes by being an incredible and generous lover. Or a hospital drama where the doctor cures disease by being an incredible and generous lover. Or a courtroom drama where the case seems unwinnable but then at the last second the jury hears about how the defense lawyer is an incredible and generous lover — and then suddenly it’s not so simple. I’m just spitballing, Michiel, but these are probably real shows you’ll get offered. Turn them down.

DO: Six words: Dutch Jesus and/or Dutch Wolverine.

Worst-Case Career Scenario: Michiel Huisman six months ago

Best-Case: Harrison Ford

Emilia Clarke (Daenerys Targaryen)

Yo, you’re doing GREAT — except for the movie about how if you’re quadriplegic you should kill yourself.

DON’T: Make any more movies about how if you’re quadriplegic you should kill yourself.

DO: Not make any more movies about how if you’re quadriplegic you should kill yourself.

Worst-Case Career Scenario: Michelle Dockery

Best-Case: Michelle Dockery

Peter Dinklage (Tyrion Lannister)

Quiet season, but I wouldn’t worry. If there’s a breakout Thrones star, Peter, you’re still probably it.

DO: Keep making movies with your most talented non–Benioff and Weiss collaborators: Melissa McCarthy and Martin McDonagh. McCarthy’s The Boss wasn’t great, but your instincts were right to do it. Don’t get off that train until your last Bridesmaids 2 check has cleared. As for McDonagh: You’re a step ahead of me. Stay there.

DON’T: Under any circumstances say yes to a Thrones spinoff. Nothing else in this entire article matters. Seriously, please don’t do this.

Worst-Case Career Scenario: David Hyde Pierce

Best-Case: Ben Mendelsohn

Natalie Dormer (Margaery Tyrell)

Tough beat on Sunday, Natalie, but think of it as a blessing in disguise. Your vibes were never meant for Westeros — and that’s not an insult. Everything about you is modern. Maybe even too modern: One wonders if your presence was simply cooler, and more … slyly ironic than was tenable for a show like Game of Thrones in its final act. Like I said, though: blessing in disguise. You’re one of the few non-#olds on Thrones whose presence ever felt star-like — and are you even a star? Bad question; we’ll table it. Either way, it’s to your full credit. Try to consider what you’ve accomplished these last few years. In one of the most tonally micromanaged universes in television history, you managed to fuck around and go Full Dormer. I don’t even know what that is; I just know that you did it. You’re dead now, but otherwise really well played.

DON’T: Go back to YA.

DO: Swim in the gutter.

Worst-Case Career Scenario: British Amanda Seyfried

Best-Case: British Michelle Rodriguez

Sophie Turner (Sansa Stark)

You booked X-Men: Apocalpyse back when you were firmly a supporting player; and you nailed it. (Easier said than done.) Now that the Thrones board has cleared, and you’re taking on a more central role, who even knows what parts will come your way? More than anyone on this list, you probably don’t need my advice. Still …

20th Century Fox
20th Century Fox

DON’T: Hang out with David O. Russell.

DO: What you’re doing.

Worst-Case Career Scenario: David O. Russell muse

Best-Case: Famke Janssen

Lena Headey/Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Cersei Lannister/Jaime Lannister)

Lena and — can I call you Nik? — Nik: I don’t like where this is going at all. I am pretty sure that one of you is going to end up knifing the other to death next season, and that’s (as we say in the West) not cool. Forget Ned and Catelyn; Sam and Gilly; Robb and what the fuck Robb, a lot of innocent people died because of you, I don’t even think you and whatshername loved each other, I think you might just be a dick and I’m not mad you died; Bran and Hodor; Tyrion and highlights — forget every one of them: You, Cersei and Jaime, are the OTP of Westeros. You are the North Star of modern love and the bonafide champions of a progressive lifestyle. It’s extremely romantic. But here’s the awful truth of it — and the question that your fate as a couple may force us to confront: If there isn’t hope out there in this (or any other) world for murderous and psychotic and actually occasionally rather tender, really, but also, again, pretty murderous, but also murder was the only option and I don’t know maybe it’s a wash hot siblings who just want to be left alone to helicopter-parent and rule the Seven Kingdoms and kiss each other on the lips in semi-private — then what hope is there at all? For any of us? I’m asking.

DON’T: Break up.

DO: Stick together. “Incest” “aside,” honestly, this can still work. It’s not complicated: The people have spoken — and the people want Cersei-❤-Jaime content. So let’s give it to them. Also do you ever notice how, for every dozen or so remakes that we seem to get in any year, almost none of them are romances? Well, what if we fixed that? And did so all while fulfilling America’s faintly whispered dying wish: that the Cersei and Jaime kissing machine continues apace. I’m thinking: Cersei and Jaime Fuck the Hits — like a covers album, but for romance films. “Cersei and Jaime in: Casablanca.” “Cersei and Jaime in: Ghost.” “Cersei and Jaime in: Titanic.” “Cersei and Jaime in: The Notebook.” “Cersei and Jaime in: The Before Trilogy.” “Cersei and Jaime in: Dirty Dancing.” “Cersei and Jaime in: Wall-E.” “Cersei and Jaime in: You’ve Got Mail.” People will watch it. We’ll promote the hell out of it. I wouldn’t even be above leaking a few “Are they dating IRL?” stories. I wouldn’t even be above leaking a few “Are they siblings IRL?” stories. It would be an entire industry — the fan service to end all fan service. We can build on this.

Love may not have a great record in Game of Thrones, but it’s undefeated in life.

Worst-Case Career Scenario: Diane Lane and Richard Gere

Best-Case: Julia Roberts and Richard Gere

Disclosure: HBO is an initial investor in The Ringer.