Game of Thrones: News

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David Bradley as Walder Frey?

That’s where GRRM’s clues seem to be pointing that way, as a number of fans have been commenting on the web and Twitter. David Bradley, presently best known for his role as Argus Filch in the Harry Potter films, fits the clues to a tee. Born in 1942, the actor was part of Laurence Olivier’s National Theatre (hence the Olivier name check), played Cohen the Barbarian in one of the Pratchett adaptions (Cohen being a parody of Conan the Barbarian, presently being played by Jason Momoa, aka Khal Drogo), was in Nicholas Nickleby (Dickens), Vanity Fair (Thackeray), and been in an adaption of The Canterbury Tales (Chaucer).

It’s an interesting choice, in that the actor is about twenty years younger than Lord Walder is in A Game of Thrones, but his acting credentials can’t be denied, including a 1991 Olivier Award for his portrayal of the Fool in King Lear with the Royal National Theatre. Below is a clip featuring him in a similar role, as Henry VIII’s fool, Will Somers, in The Tudors:

As an extra note, in the comments to his post, GRRM notes that Castle Black’s one-armed blacksmith, Donal Noye, is not appearing (at least not in the first season). I’ve heard that Tyrion Lannister will be getting much of his role in the first novel (don’t worry, he’s not losing an arm!)

The Late Lord Frey

New clues have appeared on George R.R. Martins’s “Not a Blog”, and it seems clear they’re for a role that’s been much speculated: Lord Walder Frey. The clue is as follows:

Olivier as Big Daddy? Well, no, but sort of. Dunk found him annoying. Harry had dealings with him, Jason with a namesake. He’s done Dickens, Shakespeare, Thackeray, Chaucer, and Pratchett, and might have run into our dog as well.
The Weaponry of Game of Thrones

This is one I’ve been asking for for awhile, and boy, am I happy to see it. HBO’s Making Game of Thrones has posted a brand new Artisans video, this one featuring weaponsmaster Tommy Dunne as he discusses—and shows—a number of weapons made for the series. Among them, one can see Ser Gregor Clegane’s greatsword standing next to Eddard Stark’s Ice, Ser Waymar Royce’s amber-encrusted sword, and more:

Look particularly closely at the weapons behind Dunne at the opening. There’s one balde that looks as if it has ring guards on it, and it’s quite slender and long… is that Arya’s sword, Needle? I am suspicious!

Edited: My speculation is confirmed by a little bird—it is, indeed, Needle.

Natalia Tena Filming Once More

Natalia Tena, cast in the role of the wildling spearwife Osha after wowing the producers with her audition, is off to Belfast to film more scenes for HBO’s Game of Thrones. This news comes via the official Twitter account for Molotov Jukebox, the band which Tena is lead vocalist for. You can watch their latest video for their song “Laid to Rest”, with a saucy performance from Tena, right here:

Tena has also resumed her supporting role of Tonks in the latest installment of the Harry Potter saga, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1.

Bryan Cogman Discusses Malta

Although filming in Malta has already wrapped, the latest “Dispatches from the Seven Kingdoms” post by Bryan Cogman is from nearer the start of shooting. He discusses an important showdown in Episode V that features some impressive swordsmanship. The walled medieval town of Mdina serves as the locale for a number of King’s Landing exterior shots, and is one of many locations to be used by the production on Malta and the neighboring island of Gozo.

One notable part is his description of what the various directors were doing at that time. While we already have the precise breakdown of which director is directing which episode, getting a sense of when the blocks were overlapping at various stages is interesting:

I’ll be here for about three weeks for the first block - Episodes III through VIII (Brian Kirk and Dan Minahan directing).  Filming on Episodes I & II continues in Belfast (Tim Van Patten at the helm) and Alan Taylor has begun prep on Episodes IX and X.  Needless to say, it’s a lot to keep straight.

It’s amusing that he’s re-read A Clash of Kings five times so far (as of that post)—quite a lot of cramming involved in his role as the keeper of the mythos.

Making Game of Thrones: A Sharp Dagger

HBO’s Making Game of Thrones site has a new photo up from the set:

Click through to see our discussion of just what we’re seeing, but lets just say it’s an important dagger, and an equally important book on which it lies…

They also ask fans to share their views as to what other props they’d like to see. Here’s Westeros.org’s list:

  • Dragon egg (one or all three)
  • A dragon skull
  • Notable weapons (Longclaw, Needle, an arakh, a dragonbone bow)
  • Notable armor (the Hound’s helm, Gendry’s helm, Loras Tyrell’s armor)
  • The Iron Throne
  • The heart tree at Winterfell
EW’s Print Edition

Entertainment Weekly‘s print edition has hit the stands today (with this fetching series of covers that should be hard to miss), and inside it contains a bit more information (rather spoilerish, but so it goes) and several new photos from their exclusive. Below, we’ll discuss the new pictures, using the captions EW provides with each image.

Mark Addy Wraps Filming

Mark Addy, playing King Robert Baratheon (featured in one of EW’s new photos), is profiled in the York Press for his part in a Kidstory fund-raising event. However, there’s quite a lot of Game of Thrones commentary to start with, with Addy noting that he had just completed his last day of filming and is soon looking for a new gig (at the Moot, I asked him when he was done filming, but with all the noise it seems he thought I was asking when filming in general would wrap.) He reiterates that the series will film into December (we’ve been told by production members and GRRM that December 18-19th is the planned wrap date), and that he’s been told it will start airing in April.

He provides some insight into his role as Robert. Here’s some choice quotes:

“They’re pretty good stories actually. It’s a bit like Tolkien, but with sex and violence…there’s something for everyone!
“Not so much the sex for me, but there’s a little bit of violence. He’s not your standard idea of what a king would be. He’s stuck in a loveless marriage and having to make decisions he doesn’t want to. He once wanted to sit on the throne but now it’s not the bed of roses he might have wished, as he’s surrounded by enemies everywhere – and he’s a bit of a grump, which is different from what I usually play.”
Amanda Peet on Game of Thrones

Description sparse on this, as it appears to be region blocked so only those in the U.S. (and possibly Canada) can get a look at it. In any case, here’s an amusing interview with actress Amanda Peet, who happens to be executive producer David Benioff’s wife, trying to explain what her husband’s latest project, HBO’s Game of Thrones, is about. Because it’s off-the-cuff and because Fallon is a joker, well, there’s a few amusing stumbles.

Starts at the 25 minute mark:

EW’s On Set Report

Following up the amazing gallery of stills from the production, Entertainment Weekly now has a new report by Jennifer Armstrong with some details. There’s a reference to a “pivotal scene” being moved from Catelyn’s bedchamber to a meeting place, which we suppose means they’ve moved her receiving a certain message to the scene corresponding to her first chapter. If true, this is a rather interesting change, immediately introducing the main mystery of the first several novels.

Also, Jason Momoa is apparently naked more often than he talks (hah) and there’s references made to unicorns (which do exist in the setting, but probably aren’t anything like you imagine!)

Here’s the opening paragraph, clearly describing the scene in the godswood. I actually saw the heart tree’s face in the prop room at Belfast, but it was in fact from the pilot and they had redone it for the reshoots:

HBO takes the task of bringing George R.R. Martin’s bestselling epic fantasy series, Game of Thrones, to the small screen quite seriously. Witness: Dozens of staffers sewing and embroidering Medieval-style dresses, hand-crafting chain mail, drying and aging fabric, and hammering armor. A crew member spending an hour meticulously skimming a lagoon before it could serve as the setting for a talk between Lord Eddard Stark (Sean Bean) and his wife, Catelyn (Michelle Fairley) — and this after set designers found the perfect tree in the middle of a Northern Ireland forest, painted it white, and dressed it with red leaves. In pouring rain. In ankle-deep mud.
Commenting EW’s Photos

An exclusive gallery of stills from HBO’s Game of Thrones, complete with short blurbs from the actors, has gone on-line. A fair warning for those followers who haven’t actually read the books, though: there are spoilers. EW’s newsstand edition will have more information (and possibly additional photos)!

Lets comment (and link) those ten images:

  • Night’s Watch Recruits: Here we see Kit Harington, John Bradley West as Samwell Tarly, and Josef Altin as Pypar in the courtyard of Castle Black. Now you, too, can see how muddy the grounds are! They’re dressed in a padded armor for sparring practice, as one can see other recruits going at it in the background.


  • Men-at-arms of the Vale: Though Mark Addy is quoted on the horse riding scenes, this particular one comes from the Vale of Arryn, as one can tell by the blue banners. These appear to be the same men-at-arms as seen here. The figure in the lead is Ser Vardis Egan, captain of Lord Arryn’s guard, who we’ve been told has been given some of the role of the Blackfish in discussing matters of the realm and the Vale when Catelyn first arrives. Played by Brendan McCormack, you’ll see more of him later in EW’s final still.


  • King Robert: Here we see Mark Addy at Winterfell, with a number of Stark guards behind him with the snarling direwolf of Winterfell on their shields. Their round shields, one notes, much as we’ve noted with the Valemen. A departure from the books, but a minor detail. Addy looks terrific in leather here. In the blurbs, he remarks on some early fan concerns that he’s best known for comedic roles, but having met him, I think fans are likely to be pleased with his depiction of this once-mighty king.


  • Queen Cersei: Can’t have the king without very well having the queen. Here’s the beautiful Lena Headey (of The Terminator: The Sarah Connors Chronicles fame) in costume, at what happens to be Winterfell’s Great Hall for the welcoming feast that the Starks throw for the royal party. That decorative piece in the background is quite impressive, I can say, having seen it up-close. as per the recent Artisan’s video, one can see that the Stark’s table is not so bounteous as that of King’s Landing (meat, meat, and more meat is the order of the day), and a lot more rustic. Cersei has quite a beautiful shawl, and light blue gown that we haven’t seen before.


  • Ser Jaime Lannister: The Kingslayer in the flesh. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau plays Queen Cersei’s twin, one of the greatest, handsomest, and reviled knights in the realm. Despite this infamy, he is a knight of King Robert’s Kingsguard (although EW gives away the fact that he’s not very good at it), and wears the Kingsguard armor which we’ve discussed before. One extra detail? We’re told that his armor is gilded in ways that that of the other Kingsguard isn’t, which should be apparent in scenes, as a nod to the quite different gilded suit of armor he wears in the novels (eschewing the Kingsguard’s traditional armor). He’s wearing his equally-infamous sword, with an ostentatiously gilded lion’s head pommel and a very graphic hilt wrapping that I’ve never seen the likes of before. I had a chance to speak with one of the lead armory smiths for the production, and a lot of time and thought has gone into producing weapons like this.


  • Lord Eddard Stark, Hand of the King: Here we have the incomparable Sean Bean as Lord Eddard at the small council’s chamber in King’s Landing, in a scene we suspect is the same as this teaser shot of what turns out to be a fairly tumultuous event in the novels. Julian Glover can be seen here as the aged Grand Maester Pycelle, one of the king’s councillors. For the uber-fans out there, you can just glimpse a part of his chain through the decorative carving of the king’s chair to the right.


  • Jon Snow and Bran Stark: Lord Eddard’s bastard son watches his young half-brother Bran Stark (played by Isaac Hempstead-Wright at archery practice. This was possibly taken at Castle Ward, where a good deal of filming of Winterfell exterior scenes have been filmed.


  • Daenerys Targaryen: A terrific profile photo of Emilia Clarke as the young Targaryen princess Daenerys, who is now also khaleesi of a barbaric Dothraki tribe after her wedding to Khal Drogo (played by Jason Momoa). Here we get a great look at the rough materials that the Dothraki wear, as we’ve seen before. The Targaryens are “the kingsblood, the old blood of Valyria, the blood of the dragon,” and so are marked both by an almost inhuman beauty, with purple eyes and silver-gold hair.


  • Tyrion and Mord: Here we have Peter Dinklage as the Imp, Tyrion Lannister. The dwarf brother of Queen Cersei and Ser Jaime, he gets caught up in the webs of intrigue that develop through the series. Behind him is the gaoler (as it’s spelled in the books) at the Eyrie in the Vale of Arryn, Mord, played by Ciaran Bermingham. I can say that George and Parris were both very impressed with Ciaran in this role, having nothing but good to say. I’ve stood in the sky cell set—it’s a long, long way down… in the series, in any case!


  • The Eyrie: And at last, I think the very watchful can figure out that here we’re in the High Hall of the Eyrie in the Vale of Arryn ... and it’s not a narrow, rectangular hall, but rather a great circular chamber. We marvelled at it as we were there, as it looks quite terrific. Besides Dinklage is Michele Fairley in the role of Catelyn Stark. A better shot of her can be found here. The armor of the Vale guardsmen is rather nice, but it’s Ser Vardis’s armor that really stands out here. It’s a full suit of plate armor, much as Ser Vardis is actually described as wearing, although McCormack is rather younger than the novel’s original version of the character, and his armor certainly looks amazing with these hammered bumps or pyramids (referencing the mountainous Vale?) all over it. It’s an exceptional example of the armorer’s craft.

We’ve been told that these images are exclusive to EW for the time being, but we should expect high-res versions at HBO.com in the future.

For the Cinephiles

A tweet from Jonathan Chang, Digital Media Coordinator as HBO’s Studio West, mentioned some interesting details regarding HBO’s Game of Thrones.

While tweeting back and forth, he offered this interesting detail for those who really want technical details on the production: the production is being shot digitally, using something like nine on-location Arri Alexa cameras. This is a change from the original pilot filming, where we reported that ARRICAM Lite and Arriflex 235 cameras were in use. As Chang noted (and as we’ve previously reported), much of the pilot has been reshot using this new system. Looking around, it seems like the Arri Alexa system went into production in late 2009. The Alexa is described as a system aimed at competing with the RED ONE system, shooting greater than 1080p resolution and aimed squarely at major theatrical and television productions.

By way of comparison, HBO’s Boardwalk Empire—with its first episode directed by executive producer Martin Scorsese—uses 35mm film with Panaflex cameras.

New Game of Thrones Tidbits

Some various tidbits from around the web:

  • As of the 12th, filming in Malta seems to have wrapped, given this tweet indicating that much of the cast and crew had departed.

  • GRRM has confirmed that the planned wrap date of filming is December 18th. Which is what I heard while in Belfast, but didn’t feel free to say. This means that we’re just a little over a month away to seeing the last scene filmed for the season!

  • Reports from the Days of Ice and Fire, some of them touching on the HBO production, can be found at the So Spake Martin collection, and more have been shared over at Winter is Coming. Some notable details: we can confirm George told us that his cameo—shot in Morocco (IIRC, it was in the manse scene where Daenerys meets Drogo, not the wedding as others have been reporting)—was cut with all the rest of the Morocco footage, and has not been reshot; we can also confirm that the cast is huge, the biggest HBO has ever done ... and very possibly the biggest ever assembled for a regular hour-long series in the U.S. (bigger than Boardwalk Empire‘s 200 speaking parts? Yes.); don’t expect huge battle scenes ala Peter Jackson’s LotR (David Benioff mentioned much the same to a group of reporters I was tagging along with at Magheramorne), but do expect what they do show to be very well done (and not so light as Rome‘s first episode); and much more.

  • Actor David Scott revealed via tweet that he played the role of Lord Beric Dondarrion in recent filming. It’s a small role this time around, but who knows what future seasons will bring.

For those wondering where the rest of my Belfast set visit reports have gotten to, there’s been a bit of a delay. This is, however, a potentially very cool delay, as it involves whether I might in fact be able to share some photos from my visit. But naturally, this takes time to get sorted out, so ... they’ll start up again as soon as things are worked out. Keep an eye out. :)

Gallery Updated

Our gallery has been updated with 34 new screencaps from three of the four Artisans behind the scenes videos released via HBO’s Making Game of Thrones website. We have added our commentary when we have something substantive to remark in, such as how certain costuming choices reflect Martin’s descriptions, details of heraldic depictions, or how architectural elements can be placed to specific historical architectural styles.

We hope to add the fourth of the Artisan’s video shortly.

The Cuisine of Game of Thrones

Set decorator Richard Roberts provides a look into a particular sort of cuisine: prop cuisine, sometimes real food, often not. This new video at Making Game of Thrones is particularly rich in visual details, featuring images from the feasting tent at the tourney grounds outside King’s Landing, the Red Keep, Winterfell, and Castle Black. Having had a chance to visit the Castle Black set two weeks past, I have to say these shots of the mess hall and the courtyard outside capture spot-on the flavor of the locale. Particularly noteworthy for us is the description of King’s Landing as being towards a Mediterranean climate and cuisine, which while not strictly in keeping with the novels is certainly not very far off the mark. We’ll just imagine that couscous dish is a Dornish speciality that someone at court has a liking for (paging Ser Aron Santagar…)

For those interested in a look at food as described in the novels, check out this section of our Concordance, a project of ours that attempts to catalog every factual thematic detail revealed in the published books and stories so far.