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…

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