'Poldark's' Josh Whitehouse Heads to Westeros for 'Game of Thrones' Prequel

Demelza says: "Have Fun In Westeros!" (Photo: Courtesy of Mammoth Screen for BBC and MASTERPIECE)

It looks like Demelza is finished with the memory of Hugh Armitage for good, because actor Josh Whitehouse is officially leaving the world of Poldark (and the BBC) behind. It was announced this week he will be joining Naomi Watts as the first two significant actors of note to take roles in the upcoming prequel for HBO's Game of Thrones, entitled The Long Night.

The Long Night represents a new chapter in HBO's programming, as it is the first TV show spinoff of a successful series on the cable channel. Prior to this, when a show ended on HBO, that was it. Rome didn't get a spinoff called Gaul; The Sopranos didn't have a sequel called Meadow. Oz didn't make a prequel about how all their characters landed in jail. But Game of Thrones is different. It's the series that defines this current era of prestige fantasy television, and regularly gives HBO ratings of a magnitude never seen before. The network was so determined to make this work, they originally commissioned no less than five test scripts, one of which made it to the pilot filming stage. It is being written and directed by Jane Goldman of theKingsman movie franchise, along with original A Song of Ice & Fire author George R.R. Martin.

The good news is, much like the original series, HBO is looking to cast a mix of actors for The Long Night, both known and unknown, and much like the first series, they're drawing heavily on the BBC and ITV stables, as well as a few big screen names. Game of Thrones originally cast everyone from Sean Bean (Sharpe), Charles Dance (The Jewel In The Crown), and Rose Leslie (Downton Abbey). Watts was the first to be cast, as "a charismatic socialite hiding a dark secret." Now Whitehouse, fresh from Cornwall and Poldark, will be joining her.

(Photo: Courtesy of Mammoth Screen for BBC and MASTERPIECE)

According to Deadline, which broke the news:

HBO has set Josh Whitehouse to a lead role in HBO’s Game of Thrones prequel pilot from writer Jane Goldman and author/GOT co-executive producer George R.R. Martin that has Naomi Watts heading a fast-forming ensemble cast... The story line and roles are being kept close to the vest at HBO, which would not comment.

The Long Night will put the pre- in prequel in a major way, as its story is set ten thousand years before the events of the current show. Here's the synopsis:

Taking place thousands of years before the events of Game of Thrones, the series chronicles the world’s descent from the golden Age of Heroes into its darkest hour. And only one thing is for sure: From the horrifying secrets of Westeros’ history to the true origin of the white walkers, the mysteries of the East, to the Starks of legend… it’s not the story we think we know.

Not to worry, though, even though the show is set quite far back in time, both the Stark and the Lannister families trace their lineages back to this era. Therefore, there will be some familiar names, if not faces, present. Fans of the show also expect a body count to rival the original, so though Whitehouse and Watts are both set for significant roles, there's no telling how many episodes they will actually survive for. (Bean famously was the face on the side of the bus promoting the original series, and his character was dead before the first season ended.)

Game of Thrones' final season is expected to bow in the spring of 2019. The Long Night, if it makes it out of the pilot stage, should premiere sometime in 2020.