HBO has confirmed that actors Stephen Dillane and Carice van Houten have been added to the cast of the second season of Game of Thrones.
Stephen Dillane is a British actor best known internationally for playing Thomas Jefferson in the excellent HBO mini-series John Adams. His studied, intense but slightly cold performance earned him an Emmy nomination. He has also appeared in the movies King Arthur, The Hours and the Mel Gibson version of Hamlet.
Dillane is playing the role of Lord Stannis Baratheon. The younger brother of King Robert and the older brother of Lord Renly, Stannis a cold, battle-hardened martinet, known to be without humour or mercy. He always does the 'right' thing, no matter the cost. During Robert's Rebellion he held the Baratheon castle of Storm's End against siege for a full year, reduced to eating rats and a few cargo holds full of onions smuggled into the castle by the pirate Davos. During the Greyjoy Rebellion, Stannis' fleet caught the Greyjoy armada unprepared in the Fair Isle Straits and destroyed it in a pincer movement, allowing King Robert's forces to storm Pyke. Since Robert came to power, Stannis has served as Lord of Dragonstone, commanding the ancestral stronghold of the Targaryens out in Blackwater Bay.
At the end of the first season of Game of Thrones, Eddard Stark sent a message to Stannis informing him that his supposed nephew, Joffrey, was a bastard born of incest, and that he was the rightful heir to the Iron Throne. Stannis has since claimed the throne, but faces a battle against not just Joffrey and the Lannisters, but also his own younger brother Renly, who was also claimed the throne with the support of the extremely powerful House Tyrell.
Carice van Houten is a Dutch actress who has won three Golden Calf awards for various roles. In English-language cinema, she is best-known for her Melisandre-like turn in Black Death (appearing alongside Game of Thrones alums Sean Bean and Emun Elliott), as well as appearances in Repo Men and Valkyrie.
In Thrones van Houten is playing the role of Melisandre of Asshai, a priestess of the red god R'hllor, Lord of Light, who is obscure in Westeros. Melisandre has established herself on Dragonstone as an advisor to Stannis Baratheon and his family.