‘Game of Thrones’ actor J.J. Murphy dies, role won’t be recast

Aug. 11, 2014 | 1:22 p.m.
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Arya (Maisie Williams) and the Hound (Rory McCann) meet some unexpected travelers. (Helen Sloan/HBO)

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Meera (Ellie Kendrick), Bran (Isaac Hempstead Wright) and Hodor (Kristian Nairn) on their way to the sacred tree. (Helen Sloan/HBO)

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A scene from "The Watchers on the Wall," the ninth episode of Season 4 of HBO's "Game of Thrones." (Helen Sloan/HBO)

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A scene from "The Watchers on the Wall," the ninth episode of Season 4 of HBO's "Game of Thrones." (Helen Sloan/HBO)

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A scene from "The Watchers on the Wall," the ninth episode of Season 4 of HBO's "Game of Thrones." (Helen Sloan/HBO)

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Rose Leslie as Ygritte and Kit Harington as Jon Snow in HBO's "Game of Thrones." (Helen Sloan/HBO)

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Oberyn (Pedro Pascal) and the Mountain (Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson) in battle. (Macall B. Polay / HBO)

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Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) speaks harshly to her once-trusted adviser Jorah (Iain Glen) while Grey Worm (Jacob Anderson) looks on. (Helen Sloan / HBO)

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Roose Bolton (Michael McElhatton) rewards his bastard son Ramsay (Iwan Rheon). (Helen Sloan / HBO)

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Tywin Lannister (Charles Dance) sits on the Iron Throne as judge at Tyrion's trial. (Helen Sloan / HBO)

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Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) advises his brother (Peter Dinklage). (Helen Sloan / HBO)

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Tommen (Dean-Charles Chapman) is crowned king by the High Septon (Paul Bentley). (Helen Sloan / HBO)

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Arya (Maisie Williams) shows the Hound (Rory McCann) her sword-fighting moves. (Helen Sloan / HBO)

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The lead mutineer (Burn Gorman) threatens Bran's friends (Ellie Kendrick and Thomas Brodie-Sangster). (Helen Sloan / HBO)

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The Lannisters pay their respects to the fallen King Joffrey. With Lena Headey, Dean-Charles Chapman, Jack Gleeson and Charles Dance. (Helen Sloan / HBO)

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Littlefinger (Aidan Gillen) to the supposed rescue of Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner). (Helen Sloan / HBO)

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Littlefinger (Aidan Gillen) gives Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) a lesson on his power. (Helen Sloan / HBO)

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Natalie Dormer in Sunday's episode of "Game of Thrones," "The Lion and the Rose," written by George R.R. Martin.

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Natalie Dormer and Gwendoline Christie in a scene from "Game of Thrones." (Macall B. Polay / HBO)

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Jacob Anderson and Nathalie Emmanuel in a scene from "Game of Thrones." (Macall B. Polay / HBO)

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Michiel Huisman, Nathalie Emmanuel and Emilia Clarke in a scene from "Game of Thrones." (Macall B. Polay / HBO)

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Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Peter Dinklage in a scene from "Game of Thrones." (Neil Davidson / HBO)

Belfast-born actor J.J. Murphy died Aug. 8, just four days into filming his scenes for HBO’s fantasy epic “Game of Thrones.”

The actor, who was 86 years old, had been cast to play the eldest member of the Night’s Watch, Ser Denys Mallister.

Murphy was one of the new additions to the ensemble cast of the sprawling hit series adapted from George R.R. Martin’s “A Song of Fire and Ice” novels, which will return for its fifth season next year; show runners and executive producers D.B. Weiss and David Benioff will not be recasting the role.

“He was a lovely man, and the best Denys Mallister we could have hoped for. And now his watch is ended,” Weiss and Benioff said in a joint statement.

The veteran performer, who also had a role in the upcoming “Dracula Untold” alongside another “Game of Thrones” alum, actor Charles Dance, reportedly died at his Belfast home last Friday, prompting tributes from the TV, film and theater worlds.

Though Murphy was best-known in the U.S. for his role in the film version of Frank McCourt’s “Angela’s Ashes,” the wealth of his experience was on the stage. He worked for many years at the Lyric Theatre in Belfast alongside internationally recognized peers Liam Neeson and Ciaran Hinds.

His role in the big-budget “Dracula” film, due for release in October, wasn’t his first encounter with Bram Stoker’s creation. He played Van Helsing in a 1980 production of “The Death of Dracula” at the Lyric Theatre in Belfast.

Click through the gallery of images above for a look back at the fourth season of “Game of Thrones.”

– Margaret Wappler | @MargaretWappler

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