Wilko Johnson, musician and Ser Ilyn Payne in ‘Game of Thrones’, dies at 75

English musician and sporadic actor Wilko Johnson has died at the age of 75. The actor was best known to modern audiences for playing the role of royal executioner Ser Ilyn Payne in HBO’s fantasy drama ‘Game of Thrones’ but gained the limelight as a guitarist, singer, and songwriter in the pub rock/rhythm and blues band Dr. Feelgood, formed in 1971 in Canvey Island, Essex.

The official Twitter handle of Johnson updated his fans about the sad news. A tweet from the account, which also carried a pictue of the late musician and actor, read, “This is the announcement we never wanted to make, & we do so with a very heavy heart: Wilko Johnson has died. He passed away at home on Monday 21st November. Thank you for respecting the family’s privacy at this very sad time. RIP Wilko Johnson.”

Johnson’s role in ‘GoT’ was his acting debut. He was cast in the role after the casting director saw him in the music documentary ‘Oil City Confidential’. He told Echo News UK in 2011, “They said they wanted somebody really sinister who went around looking daggers at people before killing them. That made it easy. Looking daggers at people is what I do all the time, it’s like second nature to me.”

“It meant I didn’t have to learn any lines,” he joked. 

“On the first day, I had to look evilly at this girl. So I sort of boggled at her. Afterwards, the American director came up to me and said ‘Wilko, you don’t have to act scary. You are scary,’” he added.

Johnson played the role in seasons 1 and 2 of the popular series. It was Payne who beheaded Ned Stark in season 1.

Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page shared a tribute to Johnson on Twitter. He shared an image of Johnson and wrote, “I’m sad to hear today of the passing of Wilko Johnson, the Dr Feelgood guitarist and singer/songwriter. I saw Wilko perform at Koko in Camden in May 2013 and the atmosphere was electric. This show was originally billed as his farewell tour. But, thankfully, he continued performing and thrilling crowds until recently. I really admired him and we’ll all miss him. RIP Wilko.”