Game of Thrones: Features

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On Season 5 Casting

With a number of fellow fans asking us to discuss the casting news from San Diego Comic-con, Linda and I have gone ahead and recorded a brand new Youtube video discussing just that. Note that it contains some spoilers for A Feast for Crows, and minor spoilers for A Dance with Dragons:

For more of our videos, see our Youtube channel. And yes, we’re planning at least a couple of more videos—we say as much in the video—but if there’s any other topics people are keen on hearing our thoughts on, do say in the comments!

Season 4 Interview: Isaac Hempstead-Wright & Thomas Brodie-Sangster

Concluding our interviews from February, I had the chance to meet and talk with Isaac Hempstead-Wright—the adorable Bran Stark, who I had last met years ago during the first season filming—and Thomas Brodie-Sangster whose portrayal of Jojen Reed has been a study in maturity and understated performance.

When Isaac saw me, his genuine pleasure at meeting again reminded me of the cheerful, enthusiastic child I’d met years earlier. He’s grown up in a lot of ways—I remarked that Kristian Nairn has mentioned how glad he is that he hasn’t had to carry Isaac on his back any longer thanks to that!—and he (and Thomas) both gave some very thoughtful answers to the questions posed.

Interview

So, what can you say of any visions you have this season?

Isaac: Over the series, we’ve seen Bran explore his mystical elements more and more. By season 3, with the arrival of Jojen, he definitely starts to understand it better and what this higher calling is. Season 4 continues this, and aiming at the pinnacle—at this supernatural force desperately pulling Bran towards it.

In the books, Jojen knows the date of his death and what happens to him. Is this something present in the show?

Thomas: I believe he doesn’t think the future is set, as such, but he gets senses and feelings. He just knows something, but without knowing it in its entirety. It’s a general feeling that he can’t really change and just has to accept. He’s aware of his own mortality, but this makes him calmer, more upstanding, clearer. Everyone dies, of course, but knowing when or where—or both—must ... Well, I wouldn’t want to know, but Jojen is quite cool about it. He’s accepting of it. That helps him have clarity.
Season 4 Interview: Sibel Kekilli

This past February, I had the opportunity to interview a number of actors in London. One of the ones I was most eager to meet—because she had been rather difficult to get an interview with previously!—was Sibel Kekilli, who plays Shae. Although given the early date of the interview it was difficult to approach anything discussing her big turn this season, it was a good chance to catch up with the actress.

An award-winner in her native Germany for her powerful work in films such as Head-On and When We Leave, Kekilli proves to be a very enthusiastic interview subject—a lot of exclaimations, a lot of smiles, and not a little laughter.

Interview

What was it like, when you first got involved in Game of Thrones?

It was my first significant work in English, and for HBO as well. The first season, when I was auditioning in June 2010, we started filming not long after that. People didn’t know how long the show would last, that it may not even go to a second season, that I may just have a few episodes to do. So I was, okay, I liked the character, and I didn’t know where the journey goes so that’s interesting. I was very naive, I thought perhaps I’d die in the second season.
But then it got a second season, and I said, “Oh, I don’t want to die! I want to be on it as long as I can!” I was so proud to be part of this big show.
Season 4 Interview: Carice van Houten & Liam Cunningham

Continuing our interview series—this is the first of several we’ll release in the run up to the final episode of season 4—I had the pleasure of speaking to Liam Cunningham (who I’d interviewed back in Season 2) and Carice van Houten (brand new interview subject!) regarding season 4. Both were charming, as expected, and had great fun talking back and forth as they answered questions regarding their fondest memories, their weirdest scenes, and more.

Interview

Carice, we know Liam prefers to learn the story through the scripts and was advised by the producers that he didn’t need to read the books. Do you feel the same about it?

Carice:  Same here, really. I’d like to know as little as possible because I’m such a big fan. When you’re in the zone and watching the show and then you see yourself… it can take you out of the story, so I’m watching the show just as many fans do and would rather not know too much.

How would you describe the journeys of your character?

Carice:  Where they’re going, I can’t tell you. But we’re learning more about their backgrounds, and we’re slowly revealing more and more. Melisandre is pretty complex… in a Dinsey world, you would call her evil, but in the modern, real world—and I think this is a modern story—it’s more complex than that, she’s not “just” evil. She’s not born evil, her methods may not be traditional but in her mind she’s not evil. She’s doing things for the greater good.
Even the wicked stepmother in the fairy tales doesn’t act out of malice alone. She’s jealous, and she doesn’t know how to deal with her jealousy. That’s the way to play characters like that: they justify the deeds to themselves. It doesn’t mean that they’re good.
Season 4 Interview: Aidan Gillen

One of the actors who has been most elusive among the regular cast has been Aidan Gillen. We’ve hoped to interview him for a number of years, but could never make it work… until, that is, earlier this year when I traveled to London to take part in a round of interviews with Gillen, as well as a number of actors.

I recall back when the show was announced that all sorts of names flew about for various roles, but Gillen’s name was easily the most common fan suggestion for Petyr Baelish. Those suggestions were largely based on his role as Carcetti in HBO’s groundbreaking The Wire, I suspect, but I admit at the time I hadn’t gotten past the show’s first season so didn’t know him from there. But we here at Westeros.org also latched onto the name when it was suggested, because of his charming, fearless, devilish performance as Stuart Russel T. Davies’s Queer as Folk.

With many notable roles under his belt, in film, television, and theater, the Dublin-born actor proves a very knowledgeable, extremely thoughtful interview subject. He takes his time with all his responses, thinking them through. And, as you’ll see, he’s more familiar than most of the actors with the source material….

Interview

Without being too spoilery, what sort of character does Littlefinger takes this season?

Literally a journey. At the end of season 3, I got a ship and sailed off. So I go to the Eyrie, and I don’t think that’s a secret. In terms of character development, what’s starting to happen is that I’m taking my surrogate parental responsibilities a bit more seriously, taking Sansa under my wings a bit and making sure Robin Arryn is okay. That’s mainly it.
The Eyrie’s a big destination. Robin needs guidance—he’s only 10 years old—and there’s an interesting dynamic with Sansa as well.

How much do you know about what lies ahead for your character? You’ve read the books, I know, but do you know what lies beyond that?

I know as much as anyone whose read the books, or we’re about to. Anything after that… I don’t know, really.
Season 4 Interview: Bryan Cogman

With Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Bryan Cogman’s been the member of the Game of Thrones production we’ve had most opportunities to interview, and as always it’s been a pleasure as we range around various behind-the-scenes aspects of the production, as well as some in-depth discussion of Bryan’s work as a writer for this season in regards to “Oathkeeper” and “The Laws of Gods and Men”>.  See below for the full interview, as we discuss filming in Iceland, the growth of the scale of the production since the early days, who Bryan’s idol is, and more!

Interview

All right, welcome back to what’s turning into an annual chat, Bryan. I think Nikolaj’s the only person we’ve interviewed as often at this point.

I’ll beat his record, dammit! Thinks he’s so special…

Hah. As I recall, this season included your first trip to Iceland for filming—usually none of your material was shot there, is that right?

Trying to think… ah, there was one bit from “Kissed By Fire”—the encounter with Jon and Orell just before he and Ygritte go into the cave.  That was Iceland.  But, then again, D&D wrote most of that bit…  And, of course, the interior of the cave was a soundstage in Belfast.  So, yeah!  Got to do Iceland.  Funnily enough, though, apart from one scene, all the season four Iceland stuff features in D&D’s episodes.  But I had the huge honor of being the sole writer covering the Iceland unit this year (apart from the Tormund/Styr scene in 401—D&D flew in to direct that).
The one scene shot in Iceland from my episodes is the dragon popping out of that gorge. But, then again, I wasn’t on set for that!  I was with Michelle on the other unit shooting the Arya/Hound water dancing scene. That location with all the waterfalls is maybe the most beautiful place I’ve ever been. Iceland just looks like another world.  The landscapes, they’re just a bit different, a bit fantastical, so it fit what we’re doing perfectly.

Iceland really looks stunning. This time around the shooting was in the summer. Lots of sunlight, relatively warm weather?

Season 4 Interview: Gwendoline Christie & Nikolaj Coster-Waldau

Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to interview a number of actors in London. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau has been our most frequently interviewed actor, I believe—he’s always been quite game to talk to us!—but they’ve always been just with him. This time around, Gwendoline Christie joined him, and I finally got to see at first hand what the show is like as the two actors spark off one another, sending zingers one another’s way with much laughter. And sometimes the zingers aren’t just directed at one another, as you’ll see below ...

Interview

Nikolaj, since we spoke last year we’ve seen that your character has become more human and likable. Do you feel that progression continues this season?

Nikolaj: I think that the key here is that—what’s great about is that a show like this has so much time to learn more about the characters. There’s no question that at the beginning you knew nothing about Jaime Lannister, you just saw his actions, but you didn’t know why he acted like he did. Now we’ve learned a lot more, and a lot of things has happened. When we meet him at the start of this season, it’s a few weeks since he’s returned and he’s now Lord Commander of the Kingsguard. The whole Lannister family is there, and Jaime deals with his father’s expectations, with Cersei—and that’s of course quite complicated—and his brother is also in a very tight spot and he needs Jaime to help him. He has Joffrey, his nephew/son, who’s being a bit of pain… and of course he has to deal with Brienne, who keeps reminding him of this promise he made. And of course he lost his hand, which is quite a bit of a problem.
It defined him in his own eyes, and in the eyes of the world as well. He puts on a very brave face, if you will… Perhaps I shouldn’t give anything more away. Obviously, it’s very important him that people respect him, and even fear him in a pure physical way. It’s important that people believe he’s dangerous. But whether or not he still is, that’s another question.
As to whether he’s more vulnerable… yes, of course, he’s definitely changed quite a bit. He’s for the first time met someone outside of the family whom he thinks he can trust and respect. He’s not quite aware of that when we start this season, but it’s there. There’s a scene from the first season, where Tywin tells him he wants Jaime to become the man he was always meant to be. ... and maybe this season is about that; not necessarily the man Tywin wants him to be, but the man he wants to be.
Season 4 Impressions

In past seasons of Game of Thrones, we’ve posted impressions based on the screeners we received from HBO. This year, we’ve decided to change things up a bit, however, by turning to our Youtube channel to discuss some very early thoughts—not a review, thoughts!—on the first three episodes of the upcoming fourth season. You can find that video below:

Season 4 Interview: Maisie Williams & Rory McCann

Last month, I had the opportunity to sit down with a number of the actors involved in Game of Thrones, to talk about the journey so far, and perhaps to draw out a few hints about what’s to come. First up in this interview series—leading up to and into the next season—I had the pleasure to talk with Maisie Williams (Arya Stark) and Rory McCann (Sandor Clegane), the latter of whom I’ve never had the pleasure of interviewing before. We have a chance to talk the joys of Vine, the pleasures of Iceland, and how their characters get along as season 4 commences.

Interview

Maisie, many people have mentioned you as a very impressive actress. Do you have any method you use, or have you just picked things up since you started the show?

Maisie: When all this started and I was cast as Arya, it was sort of because I “was” Arya and that kind of thing. When you’re that age, you’re not really acting, I guess, so you try to find someone who is similar to the role. Since then, I’ve worked with some fantastic actors and actresses, and I’ve learned so much from them. I’ve watched and learned how people make it more natural. At the beginning, I wasn’t too worried about what I was doing, and I try to keep to that because it worked then, and I hope it works now.

How does it feel not to get to act with Sophie?

Maisie: I still see Sophie all the time when we’re filming. We crossover a lot this season, actually, as we were filming at the same time a lot of the time. It was really great to see her at the hotel and things. I was in New York recently and she was shooting a film there, and we both went to a fashion show together. We still do loads of great things. She’s doing fantastically, and we get on so well. It’s great to also have that escape of hanging out together, because most of the scenes we do on the show are really, really intense so it’s nice to just go home and make stupid vine videos and things like that.
Power Games: An Exhibit

That Game of Thrones is a global phenomenon is without a doubt. It appears in scores of foreign markets, has events around the world where actors are eagerly sought after as guests, and the fan base reaches to some of the remotest places in the world. So it’s no surprise that the exhibitions of the show’s props and costumes have ranged widely, across both hemispheres. Usually, these have been specifically tied to promoting the TV show, but in at least one case they have been used for quite a different purpose: educational. At Stockholm’s Royal Armory, Sweden’s oldest museum and part of the royal palace complex (which happens to be one of the largest royal palaces still in use as a royal residence), a new exhibition titled Power Games (Maktspel) was launched last week exploring depictions of power in television and cinema. Set alongside costumes and artifacts from Sweden’s 16th century were costumes from the films Elizabeth and Elizabeth: The Golden Age as well as Game of Thrones.

Linda and I were invited by the armory to take part, and so off to beautiful Stockholm we went! Given early admittance, we had the Iron Throne to ourselves for awhile. Besides the opportunity to take a shot on the Iron Throne, the exhibit features a terrific array of costumes. The gowns from Elizabeth are, suffice it to say, truly amazing… but a major part of the focus is on Game of Thrones, and with the help of HBO Nordic the museum delivers. Eleven costumes from show, as well as props, make their appearance, beginning with a look at one of Cersei’s gowns and Joffrey’s outfits.

Reviewing Season 3


Season 3 Interview: Bryan Cogman

It’s always a pleasure to interview writer and story editor Bryan Cogman, who has so far written an episode of each season, including what are amounting to two of our personal favorites of the series: “What is Dead May Never Die” and his season three episode, “Kissed by Fire”.

Below, I talk with Bryan about the episode, the introduction of new characters, his proudest moments, and much more. It’s a lengthy one but, we hope, a good one. Enjoy!

Interview

All right, thanks so much for taking the time, first off!

“Of course.”

Now, often episodes seem to have their titles decided at the last minute—George’s episode went through a couple of different names before it was settled. Was “Kissed by Fire” always the title you preferred for your episode?

“Yeah, this one found its title earlier than my previous two.  I think I hit upon it as we were shooting the Beric/Hound duel.  While it’s not always easy or possible to have one unifying theme in an episode, I realized this one most certainly had a unifying element or image, if you will. Of course there’s the line of dialogue it came from, but you have the fiery sword, the fire imagery in the Selyse scenes, the wildfire and “burn them all” of Jaime’s monologue, etc…”
“And it’s always fun to give the episode titles that excite or are familiar to the fan base—I’ve done with all my episodes so far. I think Season Three has a lot of those.”
Season 3 Interview: Rose Leslie

Continuing our interview series, next up is actress Rose Leslie, who had a memorable turn as Ygritte last season.

In this interview, she gives some hints about things to come, discusses just how often Kit Harington smiles, and much more. I note one place where she laughs… but truth be told, she laughs often and was clearly enjoying herself immensely at being involved in a project like Game of Thrones.

Interview

What can you tell us about season 3?

“I think it’s going to be very exciting. There’s lots of twists and turns this season. We’ll see our characters tested and pushed to the extremes.”

Why is Ygritte interested in Jon Snow? What piques her interest?

“She’s never come across someone like Jon Snow in her life. He’s not so rough and ready in the way that the wildling men are. And the fact that he takes himself so seriously means that she enjoys aggravating and teasing him the way she does.”
Season 3 Interview: Iain Glen

Continuing our series of interviews, this time it’s Iain Glen on board. Playing Jorah Mormont, he may be rather (a lot) different from the character in the novels, but the dignity and gravity he brings to his performance is a terrific counter-point to Daenerys Targaryen’s youthful energy and determination. In the below interview, we touch on topics such as his luck in filming locations, his views on the violence in the show, and just how Jorah feels about Daenerys.

Interview

How is this season for Jorah and Dany this season?

“I think it’s really about building our power base, about whether Daenerys is going to become a real power. Last season we almost starved to death and then we survived. So with the growth of the dragons, and the conquering of various people on the way… I suppose I should say that there’s always been this sense about Dany that she’s on her way toward the top, and you really see this movement in season 3. We’re on our way.”
Early Impressions on Season 3

Last week, we received the first four episodes of season 3 of Game of Thrones to review, courtesy of HBO. While our individual episode reviews and coverage will be held until the corresponding episodes air, it has become something of a tradition to share our general impressions of those early episodes. We did it for the first season, and we did it for the second season, so it seemed only right to do it again. The process of discussing even vague impressions will probably reveal some semi-spoilers, so reading on isn’t going to be a good idea if you prefer to stay unspoiled!

But lets just give a general summing up first, and get into the nitty gritty after: these four episodes are on the whole quite good; not perfect, but they may well be the strongest first four episodes as a whole for the series to date (certainly, they’re stronger as a unit than last season’s first four, though none of them are as good as “What is Dead May Never Die”). Some of our biggest fears going into this season seem, so far, to be unfounded. But there are some issues, such as the fact that a number of the anticipated new characters are rather underwhelming when they finally hit the screen and that there are one or two (largely invented) storylines that don’t really feel like they’re gelling for us.  Still, each subsequent episode goes from strength to strength, each one better than the last. So why do we feel cautiously optimistic? We recall that last season, too, the third and fourth episodes impressed us the most and left us pretty excited about what was to come… and then the cracks started to show and real problems developed that led to some major disappointments. Four episodes in a show like this is not enough to really gauge how the rest of the season will be, especially in terms of how well they’ll translate what’s in the novels to the screen.

Now, on to some more specifics.