Game of Thrones fans have been eagerly awaiting news of casting for season 4. Indira Varma, best known for her work in Rome and Torchwood, is joining Dornish House Martell.
As fans of the books know, we have yet to see any members onscreen of House Martell, located in the southern part of the kingdom in Dorne. House Martell was last mentioned in passing in season 2. Tyrion Lanister sent his niece, Myrcella Baratheon to House Martell for protection, and to ensure House Martell’s loyalty during the war.
It is the only remaining major house of Westeros that has not yet been given significant air time.
According to EW, Indira Varma plays the seductive and manipulative Ellaria Sand. She is the favored paramour of Prince Oberyn Martell. Together they have four children who are part of the Sand Snakes, a name given to the prince’s many bastard daughters.
Earlier this year, it was announced that Chilean actor Pedro Pascal would be playing Prince Oberyn Martell, also known as The Red Viper. His casting caused some controversy among long-time fans who felt he did not look ethnic enough to play the part. In the books, House Martell is in an arid climate and its people have olive-toned skin.
Author George R. R. Martin addressed the issue on his blog stating:
I do know that David and Dan and HBO do favor having a racially and ethnically diverse cast on the series…As for the Dornishmen, well, though by and large I reject one to one analogies, I’ve always pictured the “salty Dornish” as being more Mediterranean than African in appearance; Greek, Spanish, Italian, Portugese, etc. Dark hair and eyes, olive skin. Pedro Pascal is Chilean…When and if the show introduces Prince Oberyn’s daughters, the Sand Snakes, I expect we will see the same diversity as in the books, ranging from Tyene (blond and blue-eyed) to Sarella (light brown skin, as her mother was a Summer Islander).
The only other bit of casting for season 4 that has slipped out involves Mark Gatiss. His role has not yet been announced, but it is unlikely that he would be a member of House Martell given his Celtic heritage.