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86-year-old Belfast actor J.J. Murphy dies after starting new role on 'Game of Thrones'

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BELFAST, Northern Ireland - Authorities say Belfast actor J.J. Murphy has died days after starting his new role on the HBO series "Game of Thrones."

No cause of death was given for the 86-year-old, who worked for decades on the Belfast stage. Murphy was cast to portray Ser Denys Mallister, the oldest member of the Night's Watch military order, and started filming scenes last week. He died Friday at his home.

HBO declined to say whether Murphy's role will be recast or if planned scenes involving Mallister will be rewritten. Much of "Game of Thrones" is filmed in Northern Ireland and local actors feature prominently in the cast.

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland praised Murphy as a mentor to younger Belfast actors, including Liam Neeson.

Murphy's Belfast funeral is scheduled for Wednesday.

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