PHOTOS Game of Thrones cast cleans up for 2011 Monte Carlo Television festival

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau Emilia Clarke, Sean Bean and Mark Addy from Game of Thrones

Even if you discount the fact that I am a dude and as such have a weakness for swords, dragons and sexy maidens I still feel confident in making the claim that HBO’s Game of Thrones, based on the popular George R. R. Martin series of fantasy novels A Song of Ice and Fire, is the best new drama series of 2011.

In addition to the Hollywood film studio quality production (resulting in a medieval visual feast of fantastical landscapes, monumentally elaborate Lord of the Ringsian structures, and an utterly believable and diverse range of characters that includes sparkling knights, earthy peasants, tribal warriors, kings, queens and dwarf princes) the series is backed by an elaborate and wonderfully crafted script and period acting done so well that even the harshest of critics are forced to bite their tongues.

HBO seems well aware of what they have in Game of Thrones and are actively promoting what will surely become one of the network’s many artistic crown jewels that includes other series such as The Sopranos and The Wire. As part of that promotional blitz some of the cast were in attendance at the 2011 Monte Carlo Television festival, where the show premiered on June 8.

Game of Thrones actors Mark Addy, Sean Bean, Emilia Clarke and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau

In “stark” contrast to their characters in the series, actors Mark Addy, Sean Bean, Emilia Clarke and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (seen above left to right) were 100% 21st century at the premiere June 8 as well as the official Game of Thrones photocall held on June 9th. (For reference, the group shot above was taken from the photocall and the photo at the top of the post was from the premiere.)

One of the biggest and most striking differences was actress Emilia Clarke, who plays the platinum blond dragon-blooded Dothraki Khaleesi Daenerys Targaryen. Clarke not only abandoned her blond locks but also her tribal garb in favor of her naturally brunette hair and a whimsical outfit that included a white skirt and sleeveless orange top:

Emilia Clarke of Game of Thrones at the 2011 Monte Carlo Television Festival

As far as “cleaning up” though, few could compare to Mark Addy, who transformed from the bearded alcoholic ruffian King Robert Baratheon into looking like the slightly overweight effeminate lead in a network sitcom:

Mark Addy from Game of Thrones at the 2011 Monte Carlo Television Festival

The only one of the four present who seemed less dignified in Monte Carlo than on the small screen was Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, who plays the impossibly over-dignified (but still soap-opera sleazy) Ser Jaime Lannister on the show:

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau who plays Ser Jaime Lannister on Game of Thrones

Nikolaj opted to swap out his majestic helm and sword for an almost humorous Vaudeville chic look that included a small-brimmed straw hat, jeans and footwear that looked strikingly similar to a pair of bowling shoes.

Lead actor Sean Bean made the trans-dimensional time warping transition with aplomb as his honorable, reluctant-to-be-king badass good guy Eddard “Ned” Stark of Winterfell became the charming, stubbled offspring of Matt Damon and Daniel Craig:

Game of Thrones Lord Ned Stark actor Sean Bean

(Actually this photo upset me the most because it left my embarrassing Ned Stark man crush completely intact. Damn you Lord of Winterfell! May your winter be long and your home be north of The Wall!)

Here are some more photos from the Monte Carlo Television Festival (including the ones above as well as some Game of Thrones promotional shots of the actors in character) – just click on the thumbnails for larger images!