One of the key characters in the Game of Thrones mythology is one we have yet to meet – Rhaegar Targaryen. Rhaegar died in battle, killed by the hand of Robert Baratheon. This happened off-screen in Game of Thrones lore and led to Robert Baratheon claiming the throne as King of Westeros.
Being that we’ve now seen Lyanna Stark by way of flashback in last season’s finale, unlocking some of the secrets hidden within the Game of Thrones narrative, it seems highly likely we’ll get to meet Rhaegar this season too.
Who is Rhaegar Targaryen?
Rhaegar, of course, was the eldest son of the Mad King Aerys Targaryen, and heir to the crown. He was also older brother to both Daenerys and Viserys, who was killed off in Season 1. Remember when Khal Drogo gave the middle Targaryen child the golden crown he desired? Brutal way to go. He was vile, though, and clearly deserved it.
Rhaegar is also (probably) Jon Snow’s father. It was revealed at the end of Season 6 that Jon Snow isn’t, in fact, the product of an illicit affair between Ned Stark and some mysterious woman. Such is the story he’s been peddling.
In a flashback, we were told that Ned’s sister, Lyanna, who died during childbirth, is Jon’s mother and that Ned agreed to cover existence of the child up for her. She whispered something in his ear during the flashback scene set in the Tower of Joy. The secret she revealed was presumably the name of the father, thought to be Rhaegar.
The series confirmed Rhaegar’s paternity in a graph released by HBO ahead of the Season 7 premiere.
It Gets More Complicated
Lyanna was betrothed to Robert Baratheon – a union arranged by her father – and she feared that Robert would kill her newborn son if he discovered the child’s real father.
Robert’s story of events was that Lyanna was kidnapped by Rhaegar. This suggests that Jon is the product of a rape – but will we discover that the union between Rhaegar, who was married, and Lyanna, engaged to Robert Baratheon, was more of an elopement than an abduction?
And could Rhaegar have secretly married Lyanna? Targaryen kings have been known to be polygamous. If so, it would legitimize Jon Snow and give him a greater claim to the throne than his aunt Daenerys.
There’s certainly more to learn about these events – and Season 7 should give us answers. This also begs the question of who might play Rhaegar should he make an appearance.
Who Could Play Rhaegar?
There are a couple of frontrunners. One corner of the internet seems to think it might be a British actor called Wilf Scolding. Redditor Twerk4Christ wrote, “Last year in late September, Lyanna’s actress Aisling Franciosi started following him on twitter. He followed her back, and he also started following the Game of Thrones twitter account and Liam Cunningham.”
Given that Game of Thrones has previous for casting unknowns, this guy could be onto something. The Reddit user points out that Scolding fits George RR Martin’s description of Rhaegar in that he’s tall, blond and the right age.
The other strong possibility gaining traction is Devin Oliver, vocalist with US rock band I See Stars.
Game of Thrones also has a penchant for casting musicians in certain roles. Most recently, Ed Sheeran had a cameo in which he sang a song.
What lends this feasibility is two things. Firstly, Rhaegar’s singing ability has been referenced in the series, which could mean that should we see him, we’ll witness his vocal skills. It would make total sense, then, to cast a professional singer in the role.
Secondly, Oliver posted this on Instagram:
Yes, it’s possibly just a joke but there’s no smoke without fire, right?
Whether we’ll see Rhaegar Targaryen in the flesh remains to be seen – and as for who’ll play him? We’ll have to wait and see as Season 7 unfolds.