NEW YORK • Peter Vaughan, a British character actor who often played rogues early in his career but was more familiar to recent audiences as a wise, blind mentor on the popular HBO fantasy series Game Of Thrones, died on Tuesday. He was 93.
His death was confirmed by the office of his agent, which did not say where he died.
Craggy-visaged and imposing, Vaughan was a regular in films and on British television for more than 50 years, long before taking the part of Maester Aemon Targaryen on Game Of Thrones, adapted from George R.R. Martin's novels.
As Maester Aemon, he forsakes his royal heritage, giving up the chance to rule the seven kingdoms of Westeros to serve in the Night's Watch, a group of warriors and criminals tasked with defending a colossal wall to protect lands to the south from invaders from the north.
Maester Aemon was a fatherly figure to Jon Snow, who becomes the Watch's leader and, unlike many in Martin's treacherous, violent world, Maester Aemon dies of old age in season five last year.
Vaughan also played a manipulative British spy in The Naked Runner (1967), with Frank Sinatra; one of the English villagers who harass Dustin Hoffman and Susan George in Sam Peckinpah's Straw Dogs (1971); and a bureaucrat in Terry Gilliam's dystopian satire Brazil (1985).
He played other elderly figures, including Anthony Hopkins' ailing father in James Ivory's film adaptation of Kazuo Ishiguro's The Remains Of The Day (1993) and a cantankerous old man in the farce Death At A Funeral (2007), which also featured his Thrones co-star Peter Dinklage.
He was born Peter Olm in Wem, Shropshire, England. He joined a repertory company at 16, but was drafted into the military in 1942.
He continued his stage acting career in England after the war and, during the 1950s, he met and married actress Billie Whitelaw, who became known for her work with playwright Samuel Beckett. They divorced in the 1960s.
On television, he appeared in several BBC mini-series based on Charles Dickens novels, including Oliver Twist (1962) and Bleak House (1985), and in an adaptation of Arthur Miller's The Crucible in 1980. He went on to appear in the 1996 film version of that play, which starred Winona Ryder and Daniel Day-Lewis.
He is survived by his wife, actress Lillias Walker, a son and two stepdaughters.
Vaughan, whose last credited television role was as Maester Aemon, said he was grateful that he had chosen a profession that allowed him to work well into old age.
"It's not the sort of career where you have to retire at a given age," he told Shropshire magazine in 2007. "I compare it to being a painter or a professional musician - as long as you're fit and healthy to carry on and the offers come in, you just keep going."