Game of Thrones: News

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Conan Stevens Blogs From Belfast

There’s a terrific blog post from Conan Stevens (cast as Gregor Clegane, the Mountain that Rides) from Belfast, in which he recounts details such as his diet, his training regimen, and his run-ins with Jason Momoa (Khal Drogo) and Rory McCann (Sandor Clegane, the Hound) at the training center, as well as bumping into executive producers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss. He mentions that he’s started work on a short, brutal fight sequence he’ll be taking part in, the choreography being handled by stunt coordinator Buster Reeves and his team. 

Finally, after a question from us, he discusses seeing and trying on Gregor’s armor for the first time, and was very impressed by the work that was done. As he notes, having professionals making armor for you is a fair sight better than making it yourself (as he did when he was part of the SCA).

On Monday, he’ll be taking part in “intensive horse riding lessons” from a famous horse riding stunt team, and feels that with all this intense training and this film footage, he’ll be able to apply to be an accredited stuntman in his native Australia.

Location Shoots

We’re most of the way through the second week of filming on Game of Thrones, and excellent weather this week has allowed the production to finally start location shooting around Belfast. Word from Northern Ireland (via comments at Winter is Coming) is that the location shoot was in Ballymoney. This region is noted for its lovely, rural farmsteads and the picturesque river Bann. It’s easy to speculate that the rural area might be used to represent the royal progress as it approaches King’s Landing, or perhaps that the river will be used for a scene involving Arya, Sansa, Joffrey, and Mycah the butcher’s boy.

In other news, the Times of Malta has a report on film and television production on the island. Though primarily touting their landing a new Sinbad adventure program for Sky1, HBO’s Game of Thrones is mentioned in passing as a major television production, one of the largest to ever be carried out in Europe. Of particular note? The Malta shoot is said to be about six weeks long. We know the shoot is set to start sometime in September, which is also when Winterfell exterior scenes may be shot. This makes it seem even likelier that there will be some production overlap, and at a guess a single director will be responsible for all scenes shot in Malta.

Halligan’s Advice to Actors

Actor Derek Halligan, cast in the role of the Night’s Watch master-at-arms Ser Alliser Thorne, has a long career behind him. At the Creative Choices website, he shares some of his experiences and advice to his fellow actors. It’s noted that while he has many television and film credits to his name, he still prefers theatre.

The Mountain That Flies and Other Notes

Actor Conan Stevens, cast in the role of Gregor Clegane, has posted on his site that he is now flying to Belfast to begin preparations for his scenes. He writes that these include, “... armour fittings, swordtraining and horse riding lessons (it’s been a long time since I rode last) to do before my filming starts.” Given earlier reports, we’re guessing the Hand’s tourney may be scheduled for late August, giving Stevens two-three weeks of intensive training ahead of him.

In other news, a poster by the name of DrNick at Winter is Coming has stated that a friend who was involved in the pilot was asked if he’d be available to shoot in Malta sometime in September. It seems likely that there may be some overlap with Winterfell exterior shoots, which seem likely to also take place in September. However, it’s probable that Malta may be used only for the initial Daenaerys scenes and perhaps the final scenes, whereas the Dothraki sea sequences between will be filmed in Northern Ireland given all the horse-riding extras the production has picked up in Ireland.

Last but not least, today is a new day of filming, and unlike last month (which was very rainy and kept the first week’s shooting to the Paint Hall) we seem to have a cold but sunny outlook in Belfast. The photo is from Paul McAnearney, a member of the crew. If I’m not mistaken, the photo is taken in the vicinity of the Paint Hall, but if the weather holds we may well hear of location shoots finally beginning.

Clues for Grenn

George has posted a new set of clues for the role of Grenn (“aurochs stew”):

“You’re too dumb to make this soup the way they’re making it in Belfast. Start with Becky, Tom, and Boss. Take away two fathoms. Now you want the second course. In the dark the breaker of rocks seeks the living stone. But take away the fat guy with six wives, and the babe with the bumbershoot as well, that salty wench. Out, out. What’s left tastes good, but just remember, there is no gamecock in aurochs stew. IMDB? What’s that? I’m Dumb Boy? Won’t help you here, no way, no how.”

This clue attempts to obscure things by splitting up the actor’s name, but we believe we’ve solved it: Yorkshire-born actor Mark Stanley, who is/was a third year student at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. Becky, Tom, and Boss are Mark Twain characters. Breaker of Rocks was the African nickname given to Henry Morton Stanley. Take away the Twain (the measurement from which Samuel Clemens picked his penname), take away Henry and Morton (by removing Henry VIII and the Morton Umbrella Girl), and you’re left with Mark Stanley. Another person of the same name happens to be a baseball player for the Univesity of South Carolina, whose team is named the Gamecocks.

ETA: GRRM confirms that Mark Stanley has been cast as Grenn.

As to IMDB being no help? The actor Mark Stanley has no apparent TV or film credits, and so does not appear in IMDB.

Charles Dance Cast as Tywin Lannister

The last really major casting announcement has been made, thanks to Maureen Ryan at the Chicago Tribune: British actor Charles Dance has been cast as Tywin Lannister, Lord of Casterly Rock and patriarch of the Lannister family. Though his character appears late in the series, his presence is felt throughout the series. He is a Machiavellian figure, commanding, ambitious, and powerful.

Charles Dance was a fan favorite from early on, thanks to his performance in the BBC’s Bleak House and other productions. But Westeros.org can exclusively reveal that a source close to the production told us months ago that he was already a favorite of the executive producers, who had had an opportunity to meet with him (or so we’re told) as he was filming Your Highness in the Paint Hall in Belfast just before Game of Thrones began production there. We’re not sure why it took quite so long for negotiations to sort out, but suffice it to say, now it’s signed, sealed, and delivered.

Below, is an interview with Dance about his role in Sky’s Going Postal, an adaption from Terry Prachett’s Discworld oeuvre.

And here is Dance in his famous role of the unfeeling, grasping lawyer Tulkinghorn in Bleak House:

Dance recently appeared in actor James Franco’s short film, The Clerk’s Tale, which was promoted online with some high res stills that feature the actor in his role as a suit salesman.

Winterfell in September

A tweet from an individual involved in the production reveals that HBO’s production plans seem to have scenes set in Winterfell waiting until September to start rolling, and they’ll last through the rest of the shoot it seems. We wonder if this might mean that the pilot reshoots—at least those parts set in and around the North—will be waiting until then?

Three Actresses Confirmed

After a second round of clues, all three roles GRRM shared clues for have been discovered: Amrita Acharia as Irri, Roxanne McKee as Doreah, and Sibel Kekilli as Shae. We’ll discuss each below.

BSkyB to Broadcast Game of Thrones in UK

Via the Guardian, we learn that Rupert Murdoch’s BskyB has bought exclusive U.K. broadcasting rights to HBO’s programming, including their archives and all forthcoming programming. According to the report, this is a 5 year agreement worth £150 million.

We can note that HBO has confirmed to us some weeks ago that the early word that the BBC was likely to co-fund Game of Thrones never came to fruition. This seems to settle the matter fully, as there were many question marks on the state of the BBC’s involvement given no mention of them in official press material.

Thanks to paddyolaughlin for the head’s up.

New Clues & Pycelle Recast

The bad news: for medical reasons, Roy Dotrice has had to leave the production of Game of Thrones, which is very unfortunate. The good news is that he just needs 3-4 months of treatment and he’ll be fine. Our best wishes to Mr. Dotrice, and our hope that—as GRRM says—they’ll find a place for him in the production!

In his place, thespian Julian Glover—an old friend of Dotrice’s from the Royal Shakespeare Company, and an actor with a long, long list of credits stretching back 50 years—has been cast in the role.

And we’ve a new set of clues, a confusing set, but they seem to regard the actresses cast as Doreah and either Irri or Jhiqui (“big brother’s gift”, with GRRM clarifying in comments that his clue is for three roles only) and Shae (“sellsword’s gift”).

 

Learn Dothraki

The Dothraki language created by David J. Peterson, a member of the Language Creation Society, now has a dedicated fan site. Learn Dothraki (who can be found on Twitter) is the brain child of Richard Littauer and Sebastian Wolff, the latter of which is the orignal founder of the very popular Learn Na’vi website for fans of the Na’vi language in the movie Avatar.

Littauer has already contacted Peterson to discuss some points of the Dothraki language, and is sharing what he learns via a fan wiki and the very first (unofficial) dictionary (PDF file). To add to the usefulness for learning the language, Littauer’s gone a step further and actually begun to create Youtube videos to discuss the finer points of the language. The inaugural video is embedded below:

GRRM on the Adaption

Over at “Not a Blog”, George R.R. Martin has added a couple of comments in reply to fan queries about HBO’s adaption of his work.

First, in response to a question about the change of Robert Arryn’s name to Robin Arryn, he writes about how he deliberately broke traditional convention by having characters with similar or even the same names, and cites the historical fact that in Europe many of the noble families would simply reuse the same few names (he specifically notes all the Edwards and Henrys in England, and how heirs named Arthur or Eustace never managed to survive).

Then in another response to a remark about how much involvement he has in the production compared to other authors who sell the adaption rights to their works, George cites that his previous Hollywood experience certainly proves helpful in his being involved in a meaningful basis. On top of that, he notes that many SF/F authors don’t make much money from their books, so are just happy to have someone interested in the rights and willing to cut a check. His personal preference, however, is to meet the would-be producers and see what they have to say, rather than just accepting an offer without deliberation.

Economic Boon for Northern Ireland

The latest economic article in the Belfast Telegraph on the film and television industry in Northern Ireland reveals that HBO’s Game of Thrones is a definite boon to the economy, along with the other productions Northern Ireland Screen has brought to the region. Previously, NI Screen estimated that a single season of Game of Thrones would bring £20 million into the local economy.

Compare this figure to the total of the gain to the economy in the 2009-2010 year, in which the highlights were the pilot for Game of Thrones and the film Your Highness. Northern Ireland Screen’s £3.9 million investment in bringing productions to Northern Ireland is said to have returned approximately £22 million pounds, a 5.5:1 ratio. If the £20 million estimate holds out, Game of Thrones alone will nearly equal the economic impact of all 2009-2010 productions together.

One other figure from the article? It’s said that HBO’s network (including their foreign channels) will bring Game of Thrones to 35 million viewers worldwide. With broadcast rights still being sold to third party channels, that figure is doubtless going to be rather higher.

Interpretative Fashion

Back in March, the Well Educated Pony blog wrote a terrific post interpreting what sort of modern fashions that various characters in HBO’s Game of Thrones might wear, if they were placed in modern dress. Well, now she’s back with a follow-up, covering a number of characters she didn’t deal with the first time around. This includes Littlefinger, Sansa, and the rather curious case of Lysa Arryn (whom has been cast as rather less zaftig than the character as described in the books).

A great, fun read. But… when are we going to see what sort of fashions Lord Renly Baratheon or Ser Loras Tyrell would wear… ?

Production Blocks

It was recently noted by an extra, known as Rimshot, working on the production that the show was preparing to film a three-episode production block. This has led to a good deal of confusion as to just what that means, but thankfully Adam Whitehead, U.K.-based book blogger, steps in to explain this over at the A Song of Ice and Fire Forum. Here’s the key paragraph:

“The block system sees several episodes combined into one solid block of filming and production lasting many weeks, maybe a month to two months. This block will involve the same behind-the-scenes personnel, and will be designed to maximise efficiency and minimize costs, so episodes set in the same location, using the same guest or recurring actors and so on will be combined, regardless of the actual transmission order of the episodes. Most notably, the same director will be assigned to the entire block. The block will be prepped, read-through, go through pre-production and budget meetings and then filmed and put through post in one long process. Usually whilst one block is filming, the next director will be stepping up and prepping the next block so the actors go from filming one block to the next (sometimes with a short break between them).”

Do check the rest of his post, as Adam compares to the more usual American network production method, and details how Doctor Who has used the production block method.