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J.J. Murphy Passes Away (Updated)

According to the Belfast Telegraph, veteran Northern Irish actor J.J. Murphy passed away mere days after filming his first scene for season 5 of Game of Thrones. Heretofore an unpublicized member of the cast, the Telegraph reports that Murphy was cast in the role of Ser Denys Mallister, a senior man of the Night’s Watch who in the novels was the commander of the Shadow Tower and a leading candidate to succeed Lord Commander Mormont. The Telegraph notes he was due to film more scenes, and speculates as to whether the role will be removed from the show or if another actor will be cast to fill it.

Murphy, 86 years old at the time of his death, had decades of theatre experience. According to the Telegraph, he was best known for his work at the Lyric Theatre in Belfast, where actors such as Liam Neeson and Ciaran Hinds cut their teeth and learned their craft alongside him. Our condolences to his friends and family.

UPDATE: HBO’s publicity twitter has released the following statement from David Benioff and Dan Weiss:

We will not be recasting J.J. Murphy. He was a lovely man, and the best Denys Mallister we could have hoped for. And now his watch is ended.
LFCC Diary: Interviews from London

Thanks to the intrepid Marino Santirso, Westeros.org is happy to present his diary from the London Film and Comic Convention. Over the coming days, we’ll be posting interviews with a number of Game of Thrones actors that were present at the convention, and as always they’re quite the charming bunch. Marino has provided an introduction to the diary—and himself—here... and as it happens, we’ve also posted the very first interview as well with actor Finn Jones, who plays the famous Knight of Flowers, Ser Loras Tyrell. Finn was actually one of the first actors we ourselves interviewed way back during the first season, and we’re pleased to say he’s as exuberant as always!

You can read Finn’s interview here. As the week progresses, we’ll add further interviews with the likes of Gethin Anthony (Renly Baratheon), Kate Dickie (Lysa Arryn), Daniel Portman (Podrick Payne), and Kristian Nairn (HODOR) !

Pre-order Season 4 of Game of Thrones

HBO’s just sent out a release noting that today, the season 4 boxed set of Game of Thrones can now be pre-ordered (US Bluray, US DVD, UK Bluray, UK DVD). Here’s the full release concerning the contents, and the differences between the DVD and Bluray editions:

The global cultural phenomenon Game of Thrones returns for its fourth season on Blu-ray and DVD from HBO Home Entertainment on 16th February 2015 and is loaded with exclusive bonus content, including extensive guides and illustrated histories.

This hit HBO series has broken ratings records and topped The Sopranos℠ to become the most popular show in the network’s history. Season four continues this winning streak with 19 Emmy® Awards nominations including Outstanding Drama Series, Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series (Peter Dinklage) and Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series (Lena Headey).

Each year, Game of Thrones continues to be one of the best-selling TV programmes available on Blu-ray and DVD, and Game of Thrones: The Complete Fourth Season is packed with even more exclusive bonus content including roundtable discussions, on-set interviews, audio commentaries, and brand new animated histories giving fans hours of extensive, never-before-seen material.

In Season 4, while the Lannisters’ hold on the Iron Throne remains intact, new and ongoing threats from the south, north and east threaten to tip the scales. As Stannis Baratheon and Daenerys Targaryen continue to grow their respective armies, the arrival of the Lannister-loathing “Red Viper of Dorne” poses a more immediate danger. In the north, the depleted Night’s Watch seems overmatched against the advances of Mance Rayder’s army of wildlings, which in turn is being trailed by an even more formidable foe: the undead White Walkers.

GRRM Not Writing for Season 5

Well, this is an interesting revelation at EW’s interview with yesterday’s panelists. When asked if he’s writing for season 5, George admits that he is not, in fact, doing so. This will be the first time that the show has not had a GRRM-penned episode. Martin cites his work on The Winds of Winter as the primary reason. You can find the full interview below (the question, and Martin’s response, starts at the 1:10 mark):

Casting News from San Diego

The panel’s over, and the big news out of it is that HBO revealed a number of the new cast members via a casting video, seen below (keep reading for HBO’s press release, and a bonus season 4 blooper reel!):

Dark Horse Reveals New Game of Thrones Figure

San Diego Comic Con is in full swing, and today will see the now-traditional Game of Thrones panel featuring a bevy of cast and crew, including GRRM himself, all hosted by Craig Ferguson (if only Geoff Peterson could co-host…!) But there’s a lot more going on at the convention that’s Game of Thrones related as the biggest comic and media convention in the U.S. gets rolling. A number of licensed creators, including Funko, Insight, and more are also present… and so, too, is Dark Horse.

Among the SDCC exclusive premieres taking place from Dark Horse—including a Lannister shield plaque and Bolton map marker (more abou those later), they’re unveiling a new deluxe figure, this time depicting (the late) Tywin Lannister looking as stern and aristocratic as ever. Here’s what Dark Horse has to say about the release:

Tywin Lannister has ruthlessly schemed his way into power in the HBO adaptation of Game of Thrones, and he has not stopped there. Using a behind-the-scenes campaign of intimidation and guile, he has also secured a place in the upcoming group of detailed collectable Game of Thrones figures produced by Dark Horse Comics.

“We just couldn’t say ‘no’ to Tywin,” Dark Horse product development head David Scroggy remarked, “It didn’t seem like a smart idea to deny him.”

Exclusively revealed on social media by HBO on Preview Night of San Diego Comic-Con, the figure prototype is featured at the Dark Horse booth’s upcoming products display.

The Tywin Lannister figure joins on ongoing series of non-articulated deluxe figures of characters from the popular series. Debuting in January 2014, the ongoing range will continue through 2015.

The Tywin Lannister figure measures approximately 8” tall on his base. It will be packaged in a full-color window-box package.

Scheduled on-sale date is March 11, 2015, which will make the figure available in-store just ahead of the new season premiere of Game of Thrones.

A litlte bird tells us that Tywin is just the first in a new series of deluxe figures from Dark Horse, but more on that in weeks to come.

If you’re at SDCC, make sure to drop by Dark Horse’s booth, #2615, and get a closer look at the Tywin figure and everything else they have on display!

 

Season 5 Directors Revealed

Now that filming is soon to commence later this month, EW—as always!—gets the scoop on just who’s directing each episode of season 5. Some interesting new names in this one, and some interesting details:

Episodes 501 and 502: Michael Slovis
Episodes 503 and 504: Mark Mylod
Episodes 505 and 506: Jeremy Podeswa
Episodes 507 and 508: Miguel Sapochnik
Episodes 509 and 510: David Nutter

As James Hibberd points out, David Benioff and Dan Weiss aren’t taking up director duties as they have with the last few seasons, and other than Nutter every one of the directors is brand new to the series…

Well, sort of. Jeremy Podeswa was set to direct  at least one episode of season 2—almost certainly “Blackwater”—when a family situation forced him to drop out. His taking the middle set of episodes may be indicative that there’s some sort of big turn—potentially something action-heavy—taking place in those episodes, given not only the fact that he had been pegged to direct the action-heavy “Blackwater” but has also directed episodes of HBO’s The Pacific, including (with David Nutter) the episode “Iwo Jima” about the Battle of Iwo Jima.

Also of note is the way that every director is directing two episode, contiguous blocks. That may provide some advantages for the scheduling of filming.

Game of Thrones Leads Emmy Field

The Primetime Emmys have announced their nominations for this year’s award, and the ever.popular Game of Thrones leads the field with a total of 20 nominations in 19 categories, including a number in the “major” categories: Best Drama, Supporting Actor (Peter Dinklage), Supporting Actress (Lena Headey), Guest Actress (Diana Rigg), Writing, and Direction (Neil Marshall for Watchers on the Wall). Other nominations are Casting in a Drama, two entries in the Cinematography category (for Anette Haellmigk, who acted as director of photography for a six of last season’s episodes, as well as Jonathan Freeman, also responsible for several episodes), Costuming, Hairstyling, Interactive Program (for HBO’s use of Instagram and Facebook), Makeup, Music Composition, Prosthetic Makeup, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Stunt Coordination, Art Direction, and Visual Effects.

It’s a tough field in the major categories, especially with Breaking Bad‘s final season under consideration, and performances by its supporting cast in Aaron Paul and Anna Gunn, while a HBO sister program True Detective has Cary Fukunaga’s direction and Nic Pizzolatto’s writing to contend with as well. Still, as they say, it’s an honor to be nominated. The Emmy awards will be handed out on August 25th.

Discussing Season 4

Our final video for season 4 became our longest ever, needing to be split up into three parts to keep it managable. Linda and I cover the season from start to finish, reviewing both the best and worst moments, as well as speculating regarding how they’ll bring about the adaptation of the novels to season 5. There’s some spoilers along the way—some of them drawn from information about the show’s adaptation choices, specifically, and some just drawing from the novels—so beware if you’re sensitive to either!

You’ll find the videos below:

HBO Confirms Filming in Sevilla

Yesterday, remarks from James Costos—former HBO executive and now US Ambassador to Spain—were taken out of context (note: in Spanish) suggesting that the ambassador was formally announcing that HBO had settled on Spain as a shooting location; in fact, in full the comments merely said what was already widely known, that Spain’s Andalusian region was in the running as a shooting location. The hysteria in the news media in Spain, and social media, led this to transform into some sort of official announcement.

However, this morning HBO has gone ahead and confirmed wide speculation that an actual announcement was imminent. The key point of the press release:

HBO is pleased to confirm that a portion of season five of GAME OF THRONES will be shot on several natural locations in the Province of Sevilla.  Specifics on the locations will be announced closer to the time of production.

The rest of the press release can be found below:

GRRM Cameo on Funny or Die Skit

When he was last in LA, we learned that George R.R. Martin was filming something for comedy website Funny or Die, but details were sparse.

Well, now that video has been released—the newest segment of the running “Gay of Thrones” sketch—and GRRM’s appearance is a hilarious homage to nothing less than The Princess Bride:

Didn’t see that coming—brilliant!

Discussing the Children

As we’ve done for the previous episodes this season, Linda and I have filmed a video of our discussing the episode, focusing on various aspects including providing insights into the history and background of various details, as well as our views on various aspects of the episode. We’ve placed the video in our episode guide, but you can find it below:

For those of you in the UK, you can also see our appearance in the final Thronecast episode of the season—as well as Iwan Rheon (aka Ramsay) and Natalia Tena (Osha) with her band Molotov Jukebox—over at Sky’s website.

The Children Episode Guide

The preliminary parts of our episode guide for “The Children”, the season finale of Game of Thrones, are now up. Besides the analysis and the book-to-screen breakdown, we’ve linked the post-episode videos HBO has released.

Unfortunately, the recap may be somewhat delayed this time around due to other commitments! And we’ll see if we can manage to get the video discussion/review out as well.

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.