Early this week, a rumor spread that UFC fighter Conor McGregor would be joining the cast of HBO's "Game of Thrones." While many outlets reported on the rumor after it originated in the Belfast Telegraph's Sunday Life section, it was attributed to an anonymous source. Gossip Cop, for one, flat-out called the rumor untrue.
A day after the first rumor spread, fan site Watchers on the Wall reported that McGregor would play a pirate traveling with Euron Greyjoy (on a ship famously crewed by mutes, so the fighter would have no lines to memorize).
Contacted by CNET, HBO declined to comment.
True or not, the rumor got us thinking about a few of our dream cast members for the fantasy hit, which has just two seasons remaining. Here are six actors we'd like to see bundle up and head to Westeros, where winter is always coming.
1. Maggie Smith: The Dowager Countess meets the Queen of Thorns
Maggie Smith lit up every "Downton Abbey" scene she was in with her sharp wit, and she'd fit right in palling around with Dame Diana Rigg as Olenna Tyrell. Tyrell, known as the Queen of Thorns for her barbed remarks, has some family losses to avenge, and Smith's Dowager Countess has seen enough heartbreak and loss in her time to know how not only to recover, but to get revenge.
2. Arnold Schwarzenegger: Let them fight
Look, sometimes we just want to see the big guys fight. Is that so wrong? That's why we have "Transformers" and "Pacific Rim" movies, right? That's why the Conor McGregor rumor is so tantalizing -- he once sparred with Gregor Clegane, aka The Mountain (actor Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson). So bring in The Governator and let him do the same. Sure, he's almost 70, but we still like his odds.
3. Michael K. Williams: Omar's comin' to King's Landing
Michael K. Williams sent Baltimoreans fleeing when he stalked the streets of "The Wire" as Omar Little. His famous facial scar would be in good company in "Game of Thrones," where Tyrion sports a nasty facial scar himself, Jaime's lost a hand and Theon's missing, uh, other things. We dream of a Williams-bests-Cersei battle where the actor gets to recite his famous "Wire" line once again: "When you come at the king, you best not miss."
4. Ewan McGregor: Obi-Wan is their only hope
Conor isn't the only McGregor who'd be a perfect casting choice for "Game of Thrones." Ewan McGregor already has significant experience wielding a sword of sorts thanks to his role as Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi in the Star Wars prequels: "The Phantom Menace," "Attack of the Clones" and "Revenge of the Sith." If he's already considered a fighting legend with a lightsaber in a galaxy far, far away, imagine how great Ewan could be battling his way through Westeros.
5. Angela Lansbury: Thrones, She Wrote
In September, 90-year-old screen veteran Angela Lansbury, who's best known as author and detective Jessica Fletcher in the hit TV series "Murder, She Wrote," was rumored to be cast in the new season of "Game of Thrones." Sadly, the news turned out to be fiction. While it would have been great to see the actress featured in the series as royalty, it would have been even more thrilling if Lansbury suited up in armor and got some time on the battlefield.
6. Benedict Cumberbatch: Stranger things have happened
British actor Benedict Cumberbatch is the kind of actor who can make us believe in him as detective Sherlock Holmes, code breaker Alan Turing, the Star Trek terrorist Khan and most recently, Marvel's superhero sorcerer Doctor Strange. He's even played a very convincing dragon Smaug in "The Hobbit," which makes Cumberbatch especially qualified to be cast in "Game of Thrones." If that's not enough, Cumberbatch has had plenty of sword-fighting scenes while dressed in armor as Richard III in the BBC TV series "The Hollow Crown."