Northern Ireland Native J.J. Murphy, 86, Passed Away After Shooting His First Scenes As Ser Denys Mallister J.J. Murphy, who was among the most recent additions to the upcoming fifth season of Game of Thrones, has passed away just four days into filming. The veteran Northern Irish actor collapsed and died on Friday, Aug 8., having shot only a few scenes in his role as Ser Denys Mallister, the oldest member of the Night’s Watch and commander of the Shadow Tower.
According to the Belfast Telegraph, the 86-year-old had told friends of his excitement to be working on HBO’s hit show, which has mostly been shot in Northern Ireland. Producers have yet to confirm whether they plan to recast Murphy’s part.
The actor’s agent, Philip Young, confirmed Murphy’s death to the newspaper, stating “I have never encountered a man with more spirit, passion and love for his craft.”
Predominantly a theater actor performing in the Northern Irish scene for more than six decades, Murphy worked for years at Belfast’s Lyric Theater, training alongside names such as Liam Neeson and Ciaran Hinds, who would later become his co-star in Game of Thrones. He also starred in locally produced films such as Mickybo and Me, Cal and Angela’s Ashes, and will appear in Gary Shore’s upcoming vampire thriller, Dracula Untold, due for release this October.
Behind the scenes, Murphy was also a long-standing member of the actors’ trade union Equity.
“His passion for theater, for the welfare and betterment of actors and those who worked in the performing arts was always there. It was an integral part of the man,” said actress Maggie Cronin in a tribute on the Belfast Telegraph. J.J. Murphy is survived by his wife, Mary, and their children.