‘Game of Thrones’: Charles Dance Actually Skinned a Deer On-Screen

Despite being a genuinely fantastical show, Game of Thrones didn’t let the actors fake everything. The show, which was noted for its graphic sex and violence on the screen, knew how to make the show’s events seem real enough to be believable. Sometimes, however, the events on-screen might be even more realistic than even die-hard fans realized. Charles Dance, who played Tywin Lannister, explained just how real the show would often get. 

Charles Dance smiling in front of a black background
Charles Dance | Jeff Kravitz/Getty Images

Who is Charles Dance?

Dance has been around show business for nearly fifty years. He began his screen acting career with roles in several BBC productions, be they show or television films. While he wasn’t a household name, his face was recognizable thanks to his work’s sheer scope. For several decades, Dance played an eclectic range of roles across nearly every genre. 

Whether they were adaptations of classic books, retellings of true-life events, or original series, Dance showed his range as a busy, working actor. However, when he wasn’t working in front of the screen, he made a living as a go-to documentary narrator thanks to the smooth tones of his voice, according to IMDb. His most significant break came in 2005, in which Dance played Mr. Tulkinghorn in an Emmy-nominated role. 

In 2011, however, Dance became involved in one of the most successful television franchises in history. As the patriarch of the Lannister family, Tywin perfectly conveyed the evil of his character. This evil eventually became too much for the characters, and in 2015 audiences were shocked to find Tywin dead at the hands of his own son. 

Since leaving Game of Thrones, Dance has received steady work in films, both big and small. Still getting regular television work, he is arguably busier than he ever was at a younger age. Perhaps this explains his commitment to the roles he takes. 

Dance gets personal 

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Dance spoke to Esquire about his long career in 2016. Fresh off his departure from the series that brought him overseas to a bigger audience, Dance talked about his mindset as an actor. Dance spoke about his desire to take on roles that allow him to stretch his range. However, as his name got bigger, he found a fondness for playing villains. Dance explained why that was:

“I think I started off playing romantic characters before being cast as more authorative scary characters,” he told the magazine. “I hope they don’t reflect my actual personality, because I’d like to think I’m not like that in real life. But they’re a lot of fun to play, so I don’t mind.”

Perhaps, this explains why he took a fondness toward his role in Game of Thrones. However, for a show known for its on-screen violence, fans might be shocked to found out how real that violence was at times. 

Dance skins a deer

Game of Thrones was known for its top-notch, cinematic special effects on a week-to-week basis. However, sometimes these effects were no effects at all. One particular effect showed the lengths that the show would go for realism, and Dance was happy to oblige. 

“I learned how to skin a deer. I skinned a deer quite well actually,” Dance said (per Esquire). “They came to me one day and said “Charles, are you a vegetarian?” I said ‘No, of course not.’ So they got this butcher chap to show me how to skin a whole deer and then I did it, and I did it well … I think. I was hoping for a nice haunch of venison from it, but they didn’t even let me keep a hoof!”

Game of Thrones is off the air, but Dance continues getting consistent work on television and in movies. His dedication to his craft has not gone unnoticed, and he brings that same intensity to every role he plays. Whether he gets another role of that caliber remains to be seen. However, whenever someone brings Dance into a cast, they know that they are getting a dedicated actor who isn’t afraid to get dirty for a good performance.