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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.
Watchers on the Wall Episode Guide

The first parts of our episode guide for “The Watchers on the Wall” are now live, including our analysis of the episode (TL;DR: it’s really, really good) and our book-to-screen breakdown. We’ll see if we can get the recap done in the next hours. Also included in the guide are the videos HBO has posted up, including a 2 minute piece focusing on the fight scene. Look at the opening of that one, folks, and you’ll see a lot of why we were so baffled by the duel in “The Mountain and the Viper”.

Neil Marshall delivers, and so do the writers, the production, and more. However, after the cut, a very brief commentary on a controversy that seems to be rearing its head on the forums and online—one that I hope is just a tempest in a tea cup…

The Mountain and the Viper Episode Guide

We’ve worked overtime on this one, and are pleased to note that we have our review and detailed recap available at the episode guide for “The Mountain and the Viper”. Usually we have the book-to-screen up at the same time as well, but trying to squeeze out the recap (it’s a long one) took too much time; we’ll tackle that tomorrow, for those eagerly awaiting it.

We hope to record our video discussion tomorrow, but in the interim,  we welcome viewers to drop by the A Song of Ice and Fire forum and its Game of Thrones discussion pages. A great deal of discussion going on in the community, with a lot of useful insights!

Interviewing 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.

(For the rest of the interview, head over to the Features page!)

Mockingbird Episode Guide

Our episode guide for “Mockingbird” is now updated with the first of our content: the book-to-scene breakdown and our review analyzing various scenes, as well as a number of HBO’s post-episode videos (including an interesting one from GRRM discussing Littlefinger’s feelings towards Sansa). Besides that, HBO has placed the trailer for episode 8 on-line, which we’ve placed over in the episode guide for “The Mountain and the Viper”. Remember, that episode won’t be airing until two weeks from now, as the show takes a break for Memorial Day (replacing it in its time slot is the HBO original movie, The Normal Heart, starring Mark Ruffalo and Julia Roberts; heard some good things about this harrowing look at the early days of the AIDS crisis in New York City, so it’s worth checking out).

We hope to get our detailed recap of the episode posted tomorrow evening, but for those who want to discuss the episode, rate it, and more, the A Song of Ice and Fire forum is full of like-minded individuals, so give it a try!

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?

(Click here for the rest of the interview in our Features section!)

Laws of Gods and Men Episode Guide

Our analysis and book-to-screen breakdown for “The Laws of Gods and Men” are now live at the episode guide.  As with last week’s episode, this week’s recap will have to wait—hopefully we’ll have it up tomorrow, or Tuesday at the latest.

Besides our material, HBO has released three post-episode videos which are linked in the Extras section of the guide.

Reviewing the First of His Name

The episode’s done, and our episode guide for “First of His Name” has gone live with our initial analysis of the episode, as well as our book-to-screen breakdown and a number of HBO’s post-episode videos. Our own video—as well as our exhaustive recap—will have to wait until tomorrow this time around, as neither of us can stay up much longer out here!

But to tide you over, there’s always the forum, and HBO has also released the preview to the next episode, which you can find at the guide for “The Laws of Gods and Men”.

Headey, Coster-Waldau on Sept Scene

More than a week has passed since “Breaker of Chains” aired to some controversy, all thanks to the sept scene between siblings Cersei and Jaime, a dark moment between them made grotesque by the presence of their dead son’s body in the scene. Outrage was exceptional on many sides as a general opinion formed that what was depicted was a rape scene with Jaime forcing his sister. Matters were thrown into some confusion by certain remarks from director Alex Graves and actor Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, compounded by a very brief remark from executive producer David Benioff in the Inside the Episode featurette which were construed by some as being contradictory.

This week, however, a pair of new interviews with the actors involved in the scene sheds some further light on what they had intended to achieve. Speaking with Sweden’s Expressen newspaper, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau expanded (Google Translate version) on his earlier remarks, speaking forthrightly but with a clear acknowledgment that what viewers took from it was in many cases different from what he, Lena Headey, the director, and the executive producers had intended. Two brief excerpts:

New Series High

Last night’s episode, “Oathkeeper”, now takes its place as the highest-rated episode of the series to date, with a tremendous 6.9 rating according to HBO, as reported by EW’s James Hibberd. The premiere and the third episode each tied for the previous highest mark, of 6.6 million viewers, so that’s approximately a 5% increase. Hibberd also adds that across three viewings, the episode reached the 8.4 million mark viewing it on the day.

Oathkeeper Episode Guide

Our episode guide for “Oathkeeper” has been partially completed now, thanks to a mad scrabble of post-episode work. The most time-consuming part, the full recap, shall take awhile longer. HBO has also kindly released a number of post-episode videos, which you can find in our Extras section, while our own video discussion will be up some time tomorrow. It looks like there’ll be a lot to discuss.

HBO has also released the trailer for episode five, which you can find at our “First of His Name” guide.

Breaker of Chains Episode Guide

Our episode guide for Breaker of Chains is now live! Featuring the usual detailed recap, review, and book-to-screen breakdown, we cover all the bases.

One note, though: Youtube’s taking abnormally long to process our video (which was more in-depth than our previous episode-focused videos, in a try at a new format), so it’s not available at the moment. Apologies about that! We’ll try to include as soon as possible… which may be after we wake up, as it’s rather late here and I don’t think we’ll be staying up much longer.

The Lion and the Rose Guide

Another episode of Game of Thrones draws to an end, and we have a full recap, review, and book-to-screen breakdown—plus a bonus video—available over at the “The Lion and the Rose” episode guide!  And if that’s not enough for you? The A Song of Ice and Fire forum is already filled with discussion, so why not join the conversation?

Game of Thrones Smashes Ratings Record

EW has the scoop as always: last night’s premiere airing of “Two Swords”  reached the 6.6 million mark, and with repeat airings moved up to 8.2 million. That’s an amazing feat, a rise of over 20% from last year’s 6th episode.

Quite the climb for the show, and it seems quite likely that it could well continue to climb as it proceeds this year.

Two Swords Recap and Analysis

The first episode is done, and our guide to “Two Swords” is now online, with a detailed recap, some thoughts on the qualities of the episode, and a look at the adaptation from the perspective of translating the book to the screens. Still a bit sparse on images from this season—apologies for that, something we hope to correct soon!

Besides our own review, there’s a great deal of discussion over at the A Song of Ice and Fire forum, which we highly recommend for fans (there’s sections for those who have not read the novels at all, but be vigilant about not peeking too much at other threads).