Belfast actor dies after 'Game of Thrones' debut

Actor J.J. Murphy was cast to portray Ser Denys Mallister in HBO's Game of Thrones and started filming scenes last week. He died Friday at his home at 86.
Actor J.J. Murphy was cast to portray Ser Denys Mallister in HBO's Game of Thrones and started filming scenes last week. He died Friday at his home at 86. Courtesy of Independent Agency

Authorities say Belfast actor J.J. Murphy has died days after starting his new role on the HBO series "Game of Thrones."

No cause of death was given for the 86-year-old, who worked for decades on the Belfast stage. Murphy was cast to portray Ser Denys Mallister, the oldest member of the Night's Watch military order, and started filming scenes last week. He died Friday at his home.

The agency representing Murphy posted this note to its Facebook page:

I am heartbroken to pass on the news that the wonderful JJ Murphy passed away this morning. I had the pleasure and honour to be his Agent for the last 18 months and have never encountered a man with more spirit, passion and love for his craft. Working right until the end, this week he shot his first scenes on Game of Thrones, sadly they will be his last. Giving any young man a run for his money. Ladies and Gentleman, a round of applause please for Jimmy.

Several people commenting on that post remembered Murphy as a "fine man, a gentleman and a professional," a "[l]ovely man; lovely actor" and a "man full of generosity and integrity."

The agency also collected several responses on its Twitter feed.

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HBO declined to say whether Murphy's role will be recast or if planned scenes involving Mallister will be rewritten. Much of "Game of Thrones" is filmed in Northern Ireland and local actors feature prominently in the cast.

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland praised Murphy as a mentor to younger Belfast actors, including Liam Neeson.

Murphy's Belfast funeral is scheduled for Wednesday.

This story has been updated.

With contributions by KPCC staff

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