Yup, the rumours were true: he was in it, and that was never going to end well. Though now that I’ve seen it, I think it could have been much much worse. Fortunately, he wasn’t on for long; unfortunately, the whole scene looked as if it had been dreamt up just to have him there.
Now, I’ve time for Ed Sheeran as a musician. But being a talented musician is not the same as being a half-decent actor, and I think the lad sort of proved that. And what was with the other blokes he was sharing a rat around the camp fire with? They couldn’t act either! Were they his band or something, or were they just dialing it back a bit so he wouldn’t look quite so wooden?
Naturally, this less-than-stellar appearance has set Twitter alight: the fans wish it hadn’t happened; the directors are defending it.
Sheeran’s acting talent, and whether the scene went anywhere or not, are not really the issue here. The problem is with cameo appearances in general.
for me, a cameo is where a person comes on screen and plays himself. That’s it. All those appearances by famous people in comedy shows (and I can only think of Charlie Sheen playing a submarine officer in Friends) are not cameos; they’re just really famous actors showing up where you don’t really expect them to.
A cameo is entirely different. Think of shows like Extras, where Ricky Gervais has a raft of famous luvvies appearing as bizarre versions of themselves. Here’s the scene with the marvellous Patrick Stewart, playing himself.
Ronnie Corbett, playing himself, snorting drugs in the Baftas toilet:
See those, are cameos.
What happened in Game Of Thrones was a musician playing a character, and regardless of how good he was, it was never going to work. You see, the thing that Games of Thrones does better than anything else is Sense of Place: while you’re watching it, you’re right there with them; slogging through forests, fighting for Winterfell, being tortured in Kings Landing, travelling through deserts with the Mother of Dragons… But when the directors decided to drop your man Sheeran into the mix, they took a cleaver to the Sense of Place and butchered it like a guest at the Red Wedding. For the few moments that Ed was on screen, I forgot all about Arya Stark’s bloody quest for revenge, and instead wondered if this year’s Glastonbury should have closed with a little more punch (actually, it was fine).
None of this was Sheeran’s fault, though he seems to be landing a lot of stick for it; it’s the people in charge who should be made to take the Walk of Shame. It was a bad decision; I hope it doesn’t happen again.