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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.

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!

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.
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.

(For the rest of the interview, check our Features page!)

Bryan Cogman to write Magic: The Gathering Feature

Big news for Bryan Cogman, story editor of Game of Thrones and writer of such episodes as “Kissed by Fire” and “The Laws of Gods and Men”. According to Deadline Hollywood, Cogman will be writing the Magic: The Gathering film—the first in a potential franchise of movies—for 20th Century Fox and Hasbro with Simon Kinberg (of X-Men: First Class and X-Men: Days of Future Past, among other works) producing.

Congratulations, Bryan!

(Oh, and before anyone worries that this scripting work will pull him away from Game of Thrones, never fear—Cogman’s participation is confirmed at least through season 5!)

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!)

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!)

Interview with Christie and 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.

Read the rest of the interview at the Feature page!

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:

Game of Thrones Gets 2 Year Renewal

In an impressive turn, HBO has skipped the usual “Lets wait 2-3 weeks” to announce renewal following news that Game of Thrones smashed ratings expectations in its debut this yea.

And even more impressively, HBO has confirmed what everyone pretty much knows: this show is good to go for at least 2 years, with season 5 and 6 now locked in place. This follows recent news prior to the premiere that executive producers David Benioff and Dan Weiss had renewed their contracts with HBO for two more seasons.

The full press release can be found below

Benioff and Weiss in Vanity Fair

A lengthy interview with executive producers David Benioff and Dan Weiss—the longest I think I’ve ever seen—covers a huge range of topics, from the origins of their acquaintance to their current work on the unannounced season 5 (it’s happening, no need to wait for HBO to make it official). It’s insightful. Here’s an excerpt related to working from the template of a published series, and having the author on hand:

I read an interview with John Irving where he said he always knows the ending when he starts a book and he makes a beeline for it. I guess it helps center your brain.

Dan Weiss: It helps lend a sense of constructedness. Martin Amis always talked about the control tower. He talked about the reason he didn’t like William S. Burroughs—who I actually liked a fair bit once upon a time—but Amis didn’t like William S. Burroughs because he would read his books and feel like there was no one in the control tower. One of the things that made Breaking Bad so powerful, for me, was I’d never felt that somebody was more on the job, in the control tower, than on that show. Everything little thing I was seeing was there for a reason and would come back into play in some surprising but retroactively inevitable way, shape, or form.
It’s an advantage to have the books. Even if you stray from them, you have a blueprint. You don’t have to bend to the will of the fans, if they are screaming for something to happen. You’ve got George R. R. Martin.
David Benioff: Well, it’s a little complicated, because we have the five books, but then we don’t have anything beyond that, because he’s still working. It’s sort of an unusual position in terms of adaptation because, you know, we’re catching up. It’ll be interesting to see what happens. And we’ve talked to George. The lucky part is that George works with us and he’s a producer on the show. Last year we went out to Santa Fe for a week to sit down with him and just talk through where things are going, because we don’t know if we are going to catch up, and where exactly that would be. As you were saying before, if you know the ending, then you can lay the groundwork for it. And so we want to know how everything ends. We want to be able to set things up. So we sat just down with him and literally went through every character and said, “So what’s the destination for Daenerys? And Arya?”
Did you feel like he knew? Or was he figuring it out?
Dan Weiss: In some case he had very definite ideas, and in other cases he had left those story lines more open, for the time being.

There’s more to be found over at Vanity Fair, including a fascinating bit discussing the influence of Anthony Mann, Roman Polanski, Akira Kurosawa, and Andrei Tarkovsky on the visual style of Game of Thrones; getting to watch an original, well-preserved 35mm print of Ran would indeed be something special.

Interview with Rory McCann and Maisie Williams

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.

To read the rest of the interview, visit our Features!

Benioff, Weiss On Board for 2 More Years

James Hibberd scores another exclusive, revealing that David Benioff and Dan Weiss have renewed their contracts with HBO, setting them on course to run the show through a prospective sixth season. As Hibberd puts it:

“Though HBO has not yet officially renewed the show for a fifth year, Thrones is the premium cable network’s most-watched series (averaging 14.3 million viewers last season across all the network’s platforms) and is second only to The Sopranos as its most popular show of all time. Recently the producers told EW they suspect Thrones will conclude after seven seasons.”

So, just to emphasize, a two year contract renewal is not a guarantee of a sixth season… but at this point it seems that, short of some catastrophe happening to HBO or the production, a sixth season is all but assured.

And then Weiss and Benioff will be up for contract renegotations again… and so, too, will a number of actors, we suspect, as six year option contracts are pretty normal in TV.