Who did Wilko Johnson play in Game of Thrones season 1 and 2?

Eve Edwards November 23, 2022
Who did Wilko Johnson play in Game of Thrones season 1 and 2?
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Dr Feelgood musician and Game of Thrones actor Wilko Johnson has passed away.

“Wilko Johnson has died. He passed away at home on Monday 21st November. Thank you for respecting the family’s privacy at this very sad time,” a statement from Johnson’s team reads. Johnson, 75, had battled pancreatic cancer over the past decade. However, no cause of death was confirmed.

In light of Wilko Johnson’s passing, fans and friends have fondly remembered highlights from his career, including a part in HBO’s hit series, Game of Thrones.

WARNING: Game of Thrones spoilers to be discussed throughout this piece

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Who did Wilko Johnson play in Game of Thrones?

Late musician and actor Wilko Johnson starred as Ser Ilyn Payne in the first two seasons of Game of Thrones. Ser Ilyn Payne was a mute knight and best known as the King’s Justice, being the royal executioner. Ser Ilyn plays a crucial role in the GoT season 1 finale. The ending scene sees Wilko Johnson’s character execute Lord Eddard Stark (Sean Bean) on King Joffrey Baratheon’s (Jack Gleeson) orders.

This action ultimately places Ser Ilyn Payne on Arya Stark’s (Maisie Williams) kill list. And we all know the fate that awaits anyone placed on Arya’s list…

What happened to Wilko Johnson’s character?

While Ser Ilyn Payne remained a fixture atop Arya’s kill list, Wilko Johnson gradually disappeared from the show. ScreenRant reported last fall that Johnson’s health issues resulted in Payne being gradually phased out of Game of Thrones. This was as Johnson’s pancreatic cancer diagnosis in 2013 was terminal and he was given just 10 months to live, as per Daily Mail’s report. Johnson, however, overcame this terminal diagnosis.

The last time we see Johnson as Ser Ilyn Payne is in “Blackwater,” season 2 episode 9. He does, however, make a small appearance in Bran’s vision in “Blood of My Blood,” season 6 episode 6.

Payne’s fate in the series remains unknown, although there is speculation that Ser Ilyn Payne may have died during Daenerys’s destruction of the Red Keep. Payne is mentioned by name for the last time by Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) in “The Children,” season 4 episode 10.

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Wilko speaks on joining the Game of Thrones cast

In an interview from seven years ago, Wilko Johnson touched on joining the Game of Thrones cast.

“I don’t know where it came from. I got this invitation to go to London and audition – I’d never done any acting – they described it as for an American TV series. Looking at the title and hearing this, I thought it was going to be something like Xena the Princess Warrior. I thought, ‘I’ll do that, I’ll probably get a leather jacket out of it’. When I got there, I was the only one. I think they’d obviously picked me, they just wanted to check me out,” Johnson explained.

Johnson told NME after he recovered from pancreatic cancer in 2014: “I’d certainly love to go back to Game Of Thrones. It was so much fun, and my character is still alive, so it’s certainly possible.”

Game of Thrones fans pay tribute to Wilko Johnson

Although Wilko Johnson may be best known as the lead guitarist of Dr Feelgood, his impact has certainly been felt on the Game of Thrones fandom.

As news of Wilko Johnson’s death breaks, some GoT fans have taken to Twitter to pay homage to Johnson and his role as Ser Ilyn Payne. “Didn’t know of him for his music but rather his imposing portrayal of Game of Thrones’ Ser Ilyn Payne, the Royal Executioner,” one Twitter user wrote in tribute.

“RIP Wilko Johnson, guitar beast – and to those who saw him in Game Of Thrones, an unforgettable Ser Illyn Payne,” another wrote.

Our thoughts are with Wilko Johnson’s family and friends during this difficult time.

Photo by Awakening/Getty Images
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Eve spends her days writing about everything culture-related. From celebrity news to music, film and television, Eve covers all bases. When she’s not writing you can find her making music or mastering the art of homemade pasta.