Michelle Fairley plays Catelyn Stark, born Catelyn Tully. Her father is Lord of Riverrun, her husband Ned Stark was Lord of Winterfell, and her son Robb is King in the North. (HBO; Kevin Winter / Getty Images)Link
In the hit HBO series "Game of Thrones," Emilia Clarke plays Daenerys Targaryen, an exiled princess and last remaining heir in a long line of kings and queens of Westeros. Dany is the widow of horselord Khal Drogo and is often called "the mother of dragons," for her three flying beasts. (HBO; Victoria Will / Associated Press).Link
Peter Dinklage plays Tyrion Lannister, often called "the imp." The youngest and perhaps most cunning of Lord Tywin Lannister's brood, Tyrion is younger brother to Queen Cersei and kingsguard knight Jaime. (HBO; Kevin Winter / Getty Images)Link
Lena Headey plays Cersei Lannister, queen regent and the widow of King Robert Baratheon, who won the Iron Throne by conquest. Cersei's twin brother Jaime is the true father of her children -- a secret she has kept through murder and treachery. (HBO; Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)Link
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau plays Jaime Lannister, Lord Tywin's eldest son and twin to Queen Cersei. Jaime is a knight in the kingsguard, but is often called "kingslayer" for murdering the mad king Aerys Targaryen. Jaime was taken hostage by Robb Stark's Northmen, but Catelyn Stark freed him to ransom her daughters. (HBO; Kevin Winter / AFP / Getty Images)Link
Gwendoline Christie plays Brienne of Tarth, whose sword skills and unusual strength and size set her apart from other young maids. Brienne swore an oath to Lady Catelyn Stark to deliver hostage Jaime Lannister to King's Landing in exchange for the safe return of Catelyn's daughters, Sansa and Arya. (HBO; Kevin Winter / Getty Images)Link
Kit Harington plays Jon Snow, the illegitimate son of Ned Stark, Lord of Winterfell. Jon is a brother of the Night's Watch, sworn to protect the realm from the dangers that lie beyond the Wall. (HBO; Tim Whitby / Getty Images)Link
Rose Leslie plays Ygritte, a wildling woman from beyond the Wall who sets her eye on Jon Snow after he fails to kill her in an attack on a camp of wildling scouts. (HBO; Kevin Winter / Getty Images)Link
Ciaran Hinds plays Mance Rayder, the "king beyond the Wall." Rayder was once a brother of the Night's Watch, but he broke his oath and deserted. Now, he leads an army of wildlings and giants. (HBO; Jennifer S. Altman / For The Times)Link
Richard Madden plays Robb Stark, the eldest trueborn son of Ned Stark, Lord of Winterfell. After the death of his father, Robb was crowned King in the North. The "Young Wolf" and his bannermen are warring against the Lannisters. (HBO; Matt Sayles / Associated Press)Link
Oona Chaplin plays Talisa Maegyr, a healer from Volantis and Robb Stark's wife. In marrying Talisa, Robb broke his agreement with Lord Walder Frey to marry one of his daughters in exchange for his support in the war. (HBO; Jason Merritt / AFP/ Getty Images)Link
Sophie Turner plays Sansa Stark, the eldest of Ned and Catelyn Stark's daughters and a hostage at King's Landing. Sansa was betrothed to Prince Joffrey, but was put aside after the Battle of Blackwater Bay. (HBO; Jason Merritt / Getty Images)Link
Maisie Williams plays Arya Stark, Sansa's sword-wielding little sister. Arya escaped King's Landing after her father was killed, disguising herself as a boy. She's been on the run ever since. (HBO; Jason Merritt / Getty Images)Link
Isaac Hempstead Wright plays Bran Stark, who lost the ability to walk after Jaime Lannister pushed him from a tower in Winterfell. Bran, whose family presumes he is dead, is making his way North after Theon Greyjoy sacked Winterfell. (HBO; Kevin Winter / Getty Images)Link
Carice van Houten plays Melisandre, the "red priestess." Melisandre's god is R'hllor, the Lord of Light, and she believes Stannis Baratheon is the subject of an ancient prophecy as well as King Robert Baratheon's true heir. (HBO; Jason Merritt / Getty Images)Link
Natalie Dormer plays Margaery Tyrell, a young lady from Highgarden betrothed to marry King Joffrey Baratheon, Cersei's eldest son, after the Tyrells came to the Lannisters' aid in the Battle of Blackwater Bay. Margaery is the widow of the self-styled King Renley Baratheon (King Robert's youngest brother). (HBO; Jason Merritt / Getty Images)Link
Aidan Gillen plays Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish, a childhood friend of Catelyn Tully and her sister. As the Master of Coin at King's Landing, scheming Littlefinger is on the king's small council. (HBO; Jason Merritt / Getty Images)Link
Alfie Allen plays Theon Greyjoy, the son of Lord Balon Greyjoy, who rules the Iron Islands. Theon grew up among Ned Stark's children as his ward, taken hostage after Balon's Rebellion was quelled. Though he was well treated by the Starks, he longed to rule the Iron Islands as his father's heir, and he ultimately betrayed Robb and sacked Winterfell to prove his mettle. (HBO; Jason Merritt / AFP/ Getty Images)Link
Sean Bean plays Eddard "Ned" Stark, the honest and honorable Lord of Winterfell. Ned left his Northern home for King's Landing after Robert Baratheon recruited him to be the Hand of the King. But after Robert died, Ned met an unfortunate end under the young King Joffrey. (HBO; Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)Link
Jason Momoa plays Khal Drogo, a Dothraki warlord and husband to Daenerys Targaryen. They grew to love each other, and Dany became pregnant with Drogo's son, prophesied to be a great leader. But Drogo and the unborn child died, and it was on Drogo's funeral pyre that Dany's dragons were hatched. (HBO; Kevin Winter / Getty Images)Link
“Game of Thrones” fans can return to Westeros on March 31, when the hit HBO series launches its third season. For those who can’t wait for more drama from Houses Stark, Lannister and Targaryen, we’ve assembled a look at some of the most intriguing characters and the actors who play them.
Based on the bestselling fantasy series “A Song of Ice and Fire” by George R.R. Martin, “Game of Thrones” is perhaps the most massive production on television, with some 30 main characters and a sprawling ensemble cast of more than 200.
Season 3 is primarily taken from the first half of “A Storm of Swords” — the third book in Martin’s saga.
“We’re splitting the third book into two seasons,” series co-creator David Benioff told Hero Complex. “But it doesn’t necessarily map along so neatly where if you split the book in half that’s where the season ends. We just tried to figure out where would be the best place to start each story line and conclude each story line. But that’s the idea — two seasons, one book.”
Benioff and co-creator D.B. Weiss said that reaching a third season was always their goal.
“There are so many traumatic and memorable events that occur in this book,” Weiss said. “We’ve always been hoping and praying we’d get this far. Then we finally got there, and it became an intimidating thing to get it all on-screen.”
An average of 10.4 million viewers tuned in last season — a huge success for HBO — and the show has racked up a number of critical honors as well.
“Game of Thrones” won a Hugo Award and was nominated for a Golden Globe for best television drama, with Peter Dinklage taking home a statuette for supporting actor in 2012. The show has won eight Emmy Awards and was nominated for 16 more.
Members of the award-winning cast and crew celebrated the show’s third season at a Hollywood premiere Tuesday, walking the red carpet in gowns and suits quite different from the period costumes and armor they don for each episode.
Click through the gallery above for a rundown of the main characters, and a glimpse of the actors when they’re not in plate and mail.
– Noelene Clark & Gina McIntyre | @LATHeroComplex
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