A cast member on the hit HBO fantasy series “Game of Thrones” has died. The Belfast Telegraph reports that actor J.J. Murphy, a Belfast native, died Friday at 86 — just days after he began work in his new role on the series.
“The 86-year-old was cast to portray Ser Denys Mallister, the oldest member of the Night’s Watch military order, and began filming scenes last week. He died on Friday at his home,” the story reports.
The Arts Council of Northern Ireland issued a statement confirming Murphy’s death, saying: “The Arts Council of Northern Ireland has learned with regret of the death of veteran Northern Ireland’s actor, JJ Murphy, who died suddenly on Friday 8th August, aged 86.”
Murphy’s film credits included “Cal” (1984), “Angela’s Ashes” (1999) and “Mickybo and Me” (2004). He also has a role in the upcoming movie “Dracula Untold.”
He had just filmed his first few scenes for “Game of Thrones” before his death late last week. The series is shooting in Northern Ireland.
The Belfast publication adds: “JJ Murphy is perhaps more familiar to Northern Ireland audiences through his wide range of stage work, including Sam Cree’s ‘Don’t Tell the Wife’ (1967) at the Belfast Arts Theatre, Martin Lynch’s Lyric Theatre production of ‘Dockers’ (1981), and Tinderbox Theatre Company’s production of ‘Convictions’ (2000), a site-specific work at Crumlin Road, Courthouse, Belfast.”
He trained with the Ulster Group Theatre and worked for many years at the Lyric Theatre in Belfast, where he helped mentor a younger generation of local actors including Ciaran Hinds and Liam Neeson.
The statement from the Arts Council adds: “His concern for his fellow actors was well-known. A longstanding member of Equity (trade union), he was a spirited and redoubtable advocate for improving the pay, conditions and career opportunities of actors in Northern Ireland.”