Some might argue that the only task possibly more difficult than uniting the Roman Empire under one supreme ruler is joining 90 different clans of Wildlings. Ciarán Hinds is no stranger to great conquests on HBO. Playing Julius Caesar in the critically-acclaimed Rome probably hasn’t hurt his brooding portrayal of the similar Mance Rayder. Caesar in Rome, and Mance in GOT are middle-aged warriors who’ve been put through the wringer for their reputations in battle.
During times of crisis the people demand a leader. When the Roman Republic was under attack it elected one man to make critical decisions. Julius Caesar was a triumphant general who early-on bested all of his enemies with his aggressive speed. Shock and awe when JC storms into town a few days earlier than you expected with thousands of loyal soldiers in tow. Mance Ryder beyond the Wall is also a big-name leader who arose out of necessity. The Free Folk don’t bend the knee, but when the White-Walkers start creeping out of the far north, the Wildlings join forces and head south to an ancient barrier. Mance is ready to “Light the biggest fire the North has ever seen!” Both Caesar and Rayder used psychological warfare to enhance their presence before a big battle. Both Pompey in Rome and Jon Snow at Castle Black quiver in their boots before Ciarán even shows his rugged face. He’s in our heads, and I think that’s something we should all appreciate.
Both Caesar and Mance break rules following their instincts. Mance is a brother of the Night’s Watch before he escapes to the Free Folk. He finds a new home among those he once pledged to fight off until his death in Black. Julius Caesar in Rome is marching his legions back from war abroad against the Germanic tribes. In contrast, Mance would probably be more like the barbarian-king who offers himself up to Julius Caesar and Mark Antony in the very first episode of Rome.
Ciarán proves he can do it all; the clean-shaven, epileptic emperor or the wildling, giant-tamer, and King-Beyond-the-Wall. Both characters are extremely passionate, prideful leaders who hold their subjects dearly in their hearts and minds. Under each complex mask Ciran has displayed the supreme poise you’d expect from the person calling the shots. That sexy accent works everywhere he goes. It’s so regal – and that nose; not my fault I became his subject – again. Leading certainly isn’t easy, but someone has to do it, and for that we thank Hinds for always keeping it gangster.
Now, all we can hope for is that Mance Rayder doesn’t get the ending Julius Caesar did. Who can forget Ciarán trying to cover himself up as he lay mutilated and dying. Of the many stabbing deaths we’ve witnessed on HBO, Ciarán’s Julius Caesar is certainly a memorable death scene to me. As for Ciarán as Mance, well, we’ll pray to GRRM for his safety each and every episode. We can’t forget Ned or the Stark words: “Winter is Coming”. It’s probably best for Ciarán and Mance to stay off George’s radar for now anyway. Caesar died in a way you’d think George wrote-up, but he doesn’t take credit for the Ides of March as with the Red and Purple Weddings.
What I loved about Rome is what I love so much about Game of Thrones. It’s brutal and infuriating like real-life. Heroes are born and die every single day. That’s represented in Rome and in Westeros. One false step, and the creaky bridge that was once civilization is now burning. The real Romans and the fantastical Westrosi both lived short, brutal lives, and bloody clashes settle arguments. Ciarán handles the pressure to win, and even defeat, with the grace you’d expect from a true king. The winter came for Caesar in spring, and now it has come for Mance, so recently captured by Stannis. Although, when it comes to Stannis, can you really tell him apart from the icy White-Walkers?
We wish Ciarán all the best as he gets ready to shoot the next season of Game of Thrones. In the meantime, Mance, watch your back and stay away from the hot-readhead priestess. Melisandre has a thing for guys who call themselves King and we know she birth a shadow baby whenever she’s got some blood and fire. It’s going to be a weird season on the Wall with the Night’s Watch and the Flaming Stag’s camp all sharing the same space. Stannis has his work cut out for him, handling Ciarán’s tricky Mance. So much is coming, but we’re excited to talk it all out with you. I’m Jason Paulino: read the books, people.