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The biggest new Game of Thrones role is going to…

Ciarán Hinds!

The Rome actor has been cast as Wildling leader Mance Rayder, the King Beyond the Wall. Rayder has united the disparate clans of the Far North behind a single mission: To attack The Wall. He’s been frequently referenced (though unseen) in the HBO hit fantasy drama’s first two seasons. In the second season finale, undercover Night’s Watchman Jon Snow (Kit Harington) was being taken to meet Rayder.

The casting caps months — years, really — of online speculation about who would play Rayder. For awhile, Hinds’ Rome co-star James Purefoy received some fan votes, though he’s booked on Fox’s The Following.

For Hinds, the casting is a sort of homecoming — he was born in Belfast, where the show’s primary production is based (Thrones S3 is also shooting in Croatia, Iceland and Morocco). He’s appeared in films such as Munich, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and John Carter. But TV fans know him best from Rome, where he was a very imposing Julius Caesar. He recently also had an arc on USA’s Political Animals.

The news marks the second actor to join Thrones‘ third season from Rome. Tobias Menzies (who played Brutus) was recently cast as Edmure Tully, the younger brother of Catelyn Stark, who has has become Lord of Riverrun in the wake of his father’s death.

For those who missed the rest of the season three cast additions, those are here.

Game of Thrones returns March 31.

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Game of Thrones

HBO's epic fantasy drama based on George R.R. Martin's novel series A Song of Ice and Fire.

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