Game of Thrones actor JJ Murphy dies days after filming part
A veteran Northern Ireland actor has died just four days after filming his first scenes in the hugely successful TV series Game of Thrones.
Eighty-six-year-old JJ Murphy, who also had a role in the soon-to-be-released Dracula movie, collapsed and died on Friday and tributes to him have been paid right across the theatre, TV and film industry.
Mr Murphy had been cast at the end of last month as Ser Denys Mallister, the oldest member of the Night's Watch in the hit HBO series and was due to shoot more scenes shortly.
He had told friends he was excited to be working on the series which is currently shooting its fifth season in Northern Ireland.
It's not clear if American producers will now re-cast the part or order a rewrite of the scenes which Mr Murphy had been due to film.
The big budget Dracula Untold film which was shot in Northern Ireland also featured Mr Murphy playing the role of a village elder and he also had a part in the CBBC series The Sparticle Mystery.
His other film credits included Mickybo and Me, Cal and Angela's Ashes.
But he was probably best known as a theatre actor, having trained with the Ulster Group Theatre School in 1948.
He worked for many years at the Lyric Theatre in Belfast where internationally renowned actors like Liam Neeson and Ciaran Hinds learned their craft alongside him.
Mr Murphy was also a long standing member of Equity, the actors' trade union.
Actress Maggie Cronin, who was an Equity colleague, said of Mr Murphy: "His passion for theatre, 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."
Writer Damian Gorman, who worked with Mr Murphy, said: "He was a lovely man and a lovely actor."
Director Paula McFetridge from the award-winning Kabosh Theatre Company in Belfast tweeted that Mr Murphy's death was a sad loss. "He was a great actor and a gentleman."
Mr Murphy's agent Philip Young of the Independent Agency said he was heartbroken that the "wonderful" JJ Murphy had passed away. He said: "I have never encountered a man with more spirit, passion and love for his craft."
Mr Young said he had received a number of messages of sympathy from HBO executives and from Gary Shore, the director of Dracula Untold. It's understood that the funeral of Mr Murphy, who was a continuity announcer for UTV in the 1980s, will be held in Belfast on Wednesday. He leaves a widow Mary and a grown-up family.