'Game of Thrones' Season 5 actor J.J. Murphy dies: EPs issue statement about casting

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Veteran Irish actor J.J. Murphy passed away on Aug. 8. He was 86.

Murphy's death came four days after he filmed the first of his scenes for "Game of Thrones" Season 5. He had been cast to play Denys Mallister, an old member of the Night's Watch who, in the books, was a possible replacement of Jeor Mormont as Lord Commander. According to the Belfast Telegraph, Murphy was thrilled to be filming scenes for the show in Northern Ireland.

Though Murphy didn't complete his "Game of Thrones" scenes, showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss say they won't be finding a replacement for Denys Mallister. "We will not be recasting J.J. Murphy," the executive producers say in a statement. "He was a lovely man, and the best Denys Mallister we could have hoped for. And now his watch is ended."

After graduating from Ulster Group Theatre School in 1948, Murphy worked for many years at Belfast's Lyric Theatre alongside actors like Liam Neeson and his "Game of Thrones" peer Ciaran Hinds. During Murphy's 30-year-long film career, he also had roles in "Angela's Ashes," "Mickybo and Me" and the upcoming Dracula film "Dracula Untold."

Philip Young, Murphy's agent from the Independent Agency, tells the Belfast Telegraph, "I have never encountered a man with more spirit, passion and love for his craft."
Photo/Video credit: Independent Agency Belfast/Fantasy Flight Games