JJ Murphy, an actor who had recently signed on for a new role on smash HBO series, Game of Thrones, died Friday, Aug. 8. He was 86.
The Belfast Telegraph reported Monday, Aug. 11, that the Irish actor had collapsed and died, only four days after shooting his first scenes for the upcoming fifth season of Game of Thrones. Murphy was set to play Ser Denys Mallister, the oldest member of the Night's Watch; In George R.R. Martin's books, Mallister also upholds a 33-year long tenure as commander of the Shadow Tower at the Wall. Ser Mallister is best known as one of the next contenders for the role of Lord Commander of the Night's Watch.
According to the Telegraph, Murphy was expected to shoot more scenes, and his close friends said the actor was "excited" to be working on the massively popular fantasy production.
Game of Thrones producers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss released a statement regarding the actor's passing on Monday. "We will not be recasting J.J. Murphy," they told Us Weekly. "He was a lovely man, and the best Denys Mallister we could have hoped for. And now his watch is ended."
Murphy recently completed shooting the upcoming movie, Dracula Untold, in which he played a village elder. His other film credits include roles in 1999 Irish-American drama, Angela's Ashes, plus the movies Cal and Mickybo and Me.
Perhaps Murphy's most celebrated work, however, was onstage at Belfast's Lyric Theatre. The classically-trained theater star performed in productions alongside revered actors like Liam Neeson and another fellow Game of Thrones actor, Ciaran Hinds (Mance Rayder).
Murphy's agent Philip Young also released a statement regarding Murphy's death. "I have never encountered a man with more spirit, passion and love for his craft," Young said.
He is survived by his wife, Mary, and their children.