A Porn Star, an Elf and Two Crooners: The Startling Past Lives of HBO Stars

Like many great HBO shows, the current hit Game of Thrones features a varied and evolving ensemble, packed with compelling characters.

One character who has become more important in the ongoing second season is Shae, the prostitute friend of Tyrion Lannister portayed by Turkish German actress Sibel Kekilli.

Kekilli is a highly respected actress in Germany, and has bagged two Lolas (the German equivalent of the Oscars) for her film work in that country.

But in a huge scandal that exploded in 2004, just as Kekilli was rising to fame, it was revealed that she previously made twelve hardcore porno movies under the name Dilara!

I may or may not have viewed one of these films strictly in the name of research, and suffice it to say, it was not tame by any stretch.

In other words, Kekilli’s convincing performance as a sex worker in Game of Thrones isn’t much of a stretch for this experienced actress. And it’s the latest triumph in a career that’s quickly turning her porn past into not much more than a footnote…

Although her parents apparently excommunicated her when they found out about her dirty doings, I think “Dilara” Kekilli’s backstory is actually kinda cool. I think every HBO show should have an actor with porn experience on it (James Deen would be perfect for Girls).

Besides, she’s not the only HBO star with a surprising past life.

For some time nowMajor Beans and I have been tracking the amusing and bizarre careers that HBO actors had BEFORE they headlined shows like Game of Thrones, Extras, and Flight of the Conchords. Here are the best finds we’ve uncovered.

This is probably the revelation that made me laugh the hardest.

Did you know that Ricky Gervais, creator of the original The Office along with HBO shows like Extras and Life’s Too Short, began his entertainment career in an 80s synthpop group called Seona Dancing?

Here’s an incredible video of Gervais performing live in a vividly belted white jumpsuit, making a game attempt at smoldering in New Romantic fashion.

Seona Dancing released two singles and pretty much flopped in the UK, so the group broke up and Gervais moved on to DJing and music managing, including serving as the manager of Suede early in their career. He finally wound up at XFM London, where he teamed up with Stephen Merchant, and with his help, launched the TV career that continues to this day.

But a funny thing happened with Seona Dancing’s single, “More to Lose,” in the meantime — an incredible tale uncovered by Allmusic. In 1985, a Filipino radio station, DWRT-FM, picked up the single and started playing it, and the song became a massive hit in the Phillipines!

DWRT-FM was extremely elusive about the identity of its new smash, which it called either “Medium” by Fade or “Fade” by Medium, depending on the day. DWRT even recorded its own station identification over the track so rival stations couldn’t play the song, and all the while it became a bigger and bigger cultural force. By the time the other stations figured it out (Shazam would have been helpful, but it wasn’t invented for another 25 years), “More to Lose” was a certified uberjam in Manila.

As Allmusic’s Michael Sutton explains:

In one part of the world, Seona Dancing’s “More to Lose” became an ’80s anthem as ubiquitous as Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes,” but with the eternal hipster cool of Joy Division’s “Love Will Tear Us Apart.” Its opening piano riff — conveying the sound of falling teardrops — became the soundtrack of countless high-school dances in Manila, Philippines during the ’80s and even beyond.

So there you have it. Before he gained fame as a master purveyor of cringe-inducing comedy, Ricky Gervais wrote and sang the one of the most essential 80s hits in Phillipine history.

Here’s the studio edition of “More to Lose,” along with a simply amazing 80s Gervais publicity photo.

And Ricky Gervais isn’t the only HBO star with a mildly embarrassing musical act in his past…

Game of Thrones features actor Jerome Flynn as Bronn, the amoral, conniving “sellsword” with a manner so base, you’d never expect that the real guy is part of one of Britain’s cheesiest musical combos.

Flynn spent several years as a leading actor on the long-running drama Soldier Soldier, and in one particular episode, he and castmate Robson Green were called upon to sing “Unchained Melody.” The viewers went apeshit and demanded the track for further listening (again, it’s unfortunate that the iTunes Store was not yet invented). Robson & Jerome were launched into a new career as cheese-pop crooners.

Here’s their soul-free performance of the Righteous Brothers classic on Top of the Pops:

Robson & Jerome have scored two #1 albums in the UK, covering such tracks as “What Becomes of the Brokenhearted,” “Up On the Roof,” and “Little Latin Lupe Lu.” A questionable taste level alert has been issued for the entirety of Knifecrime Island.

So the next time Bronn does something dastardly on G of T, just imagine him singing those incredibly dorky harmonies…

Let’s conclude with my favorite item.

Flight of the Conchords fans know Bret McKenzie as the slighter, non-bespectacled member of the dynamic duo of Kiwi comic-songsmiths. Since the show’s run ended, he won an Academy Award for writing the song “Man or Muppet” from the recent film The Muppets.

But before Bret McKenzie became famous for his songwriting skills, he gained worldwide renown for being a hot elf.

Back in 2001, Bret McKenzie was a little-known actor living in New Zealand, although the Conchords were starting to gain some traction in their native land and had appeared on TV a few times.

At that time, the production of the epic Lord of the Rings trilogy was basically taking over the country and tons of Kiwis played a part in the effort. McKenzie and his father Peter were no exception, with the elder McKenzie playing the role of elf-king Elendil in a flashback sequence, and Bret portraying a member of the Rivendell elven coterie in such scenes as The Council of Elrond.

This scene is known internets-wide for spawning the “One does not simply…” meme, but was also the birth of the legend of FIGWIT. 

As the story goes, LOTR superfan Iris Hadad was sitting at home watching The Fellowship of the Ring when the sight of one gorgeous elf took her breath away. It was right at the moment when Frodo steps forward to take the ring, selflessly sacrificing himself to the cause, and Hadad exclaimed, “Frodo is great — who is THAT?!!” at the sight of Bret McKenzie in full elven getup. The expression quickly became an acronym and as appreciation of this tasty elf spread throughout the many Tolkien websites and forums, the name Figwit was born. The website FigwitLives.net was created to document all things Figwit and a worldwide army of superfans sprang up.

In all seriousness, this is 100% true.

It’s especially funny because Bret McKenzie is on screen for all of a few seconds in this scene. Blink and you’ll miss Figwit.

Nevertheless, Figwit-love grew into a legitimate phenomenon, as demonstrated by this DOCUMENTARY on the subject! The best part is when the Conchords head to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and try to drum up support for their act on the street — one random woman couldn’t care less about the Conchords but stops dead in her tracks when she realizes she’s talking to the famous Figwit. (6:21 in the clip below)

 The Figwit phenomenon became so massive that McKenzie was brought back for The Two Towers and given a speaking role for the scene in which Arwen is headed for the Grey Havens and has a vision of her future kid with Viggo, who is so adorbs that she peaces out and heads back to her man despite the protestations of Figwit:

Great work, Figwit. Elrond gives you ONE MISSION and you blow it.

Since gaining worldwide fame as Figwit the elf, McKenzie has proven his talent in the fields of songwriting and acting, and now has an Oscar statuette on his mantel. That’s why it’s time for him to return to elven form in The Hobbit!

It’s true. Bret McKenzie will appear in his largest role yet in the LOTR universe, although this time, he will be playing the character Lindir, who apparently has a rap battle with Bilbo Baggins or something like that.

You’d better watch out, Bilbo…you don’t know what you’re dealing with.

Please inform ROTI immediately if you know of any additional crazy past fame of HBO stars, as our investigation is ongoing.

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About Alpine McGregor
Just like you, man. I got the shotgun, you got the briefcase. All in the game, though, right?

3 Responses to A Porn Star, an Elf and Two Crooners: The Startling Past Lives of HBO Stars

  1. DB says:

    This was illuminating…but Bronn is one of my favorite characters on GoT, and I fear you’ve ruined him for me. It looks like he features prominently in the next episode, so I hope I can get past this.

    • Sorry about that. The truth had to be revealed, whatever the cost.

  2. Ady Hall says:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PmGrT28D0NE&feature=youtube_gdata_player Our cover of Seona Dancing!

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