As Winterfell prepared for the arrival of the Night King’s army of the dead, a familiar face was among the weary Northerners on this Sunday’s episode of HBO’s “Game of Thrones.”
Waiting in line to get a hot meal from Ser Davos Seaworth, played by Liam Cunningham, was former Central Intelligence Agency deputy director and current Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr partner David S. Cohen.
A perk of working for CIA is world travel. Apparently that sometimes extends to other realms…
— CIA (@CIA) April 22, 2019
“A perk of working for CIA is world travel. Apparently that sometimes extends to other realms… ‘Little birds,’ be on the lookout for a former deputy director of ours wandering through #Westeros in tonight’s episode of #GameOfThrones.”
Cohen’s cameo came about through his brother-in-law and “Game of Thrones” co-creator David Benioff.
Cohen and his family were visiting Benioff over Thanksgiving in 2017 in Belfast, where the final season of the show was being filmed, he said. Cohen and his niece asked if they could be in the show and the pair then ventured out to Winterfell castle, located about an hour north of the city.
“We went out there and got our costumes and makeup and hair all done—and then spent six hours freezing because it was really cold,” Cohen said. “Winter had really come to Northern Ireland.”
Cohen said he didn’t know much about what else occurred in the episode outside of his scene.
“All we knew is that we were peasants from the countryside being conscripted into the army to fight against the White Walkers, and we were hungry and not so keen on fighting, but they gave us a bowl of gruel and sent us off to get our weapons,” Cohen said.
And the former second highest-ranking official in the CIA didn’t have any spoilers to share about the much-anticipated ending of the series—except one.
“I can say with certainty that I do not end up on the Iron Throne,” he joked.
After two years as deputy CIA director under the Obama administration, Cohen rejoined Wilmer in late 2017 as a partner in its regulatory and government affairs and litigation departments.
He had first joined the firm in 2001, after serving for two years in the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s General Counsel’s Office and eventually becoming acting deputy general counsel there at the beginning of the Bush administration.
In 2009, he left the firm and returned to the Treasury Department as assistant secretary for terrorist financing before becoming the under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence in 2011.