If you’ll recall, a couple of weeks ago, Westeros.org put out the word that a focus group was in the offing related to the A Song of Ice and Fire series, having been selected by Schlessinger Associates—a leading market research company—as the best way to get the word out. What we couldn’t state publicly then, but we can now that it’s done, is that this was specifically commissioned by none other than HBO as part of their marketing research for Game of Thrones.
We’re still getting some reports in, but having now seen a very thorough post at “The Princess and the Warlock” blog, we thought we’d add some more details we’ve had. Among the questions asked of the men’s group was what would make a strong tag phrase for the series. “Winter is Coming” was agreed to be very strong, but a number of other iconic lines were mentioned, such as “The things I do for love,” “When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die,” and the Targaryen motto, “Fire and Blood” (other mottos, such as “Hear Me Roar”, were not felt to be particularly useful from a marketing perspective).
The topic of magic also came up in the discussion. Although the reporter did not recall the details of whether it was brought up by the focus group leader or by the group themselves, it was discussed as being an important facet of the setting. It was also noted to be markedly different from magic in other adapted works, such as Harry Potter—more low-key, leaving the setting “more realistic”.
Among the things focus group participants were asked to provide were examples of any paraphenalia they had related to the series, including things like copies of fan fiction. It was noted to us, however, that more than one participant noted that there’s relatively little fan fiction out of respect for George R.R. Martin’s wishes on the matter.
The Princess and the Warlock note a number of interesting details, the most notable of which were that more topics were covered by the women’s group, which led to some questions the men did not get asked. The question as to who the heroes and villains were were noteworthy, but the question about the most romantic character might well leave HBO scratching their head. What are they to make of the fact that the most romantic male character is the dead Prince of Dragonstone, Rhaegar Targaryen? Perhaps this will improve the odds of fans getting a glimpse of Rhaegar, Lyanna, and other noteworthies from Robert’s Rebellion… Certainly, the topic of flashbacks came up.
Many thanks to all the great fans who answered our call and also provided these reports (particularly Brude, whose collage made us learn just what the Defenestration of Prague was), and for naming Westeros and our friends over at Winter is Coming as favorite sites to get all the news there is to have regarding the series and show. Also a hat tip to the Westeros Sorting community on LiveJournal for helping to spread the word and show that LJ had a vibrant fan community as well.
Wired’s Geekdad blog has posted an in-depth interview with David J. Peterson regarding his development of the Dothraki language for HBO’s Game of Thrones. Quite a lot of excellent details, including Peterson comparing the sound of Dothraki to ” Arabic plus Spanish divided by two … squared,” giving the latest count of the dictionary (2,356 words, conservatively), and a new phrase to practice. It’s another fascinating look into the development process.
Who’s Joe, you may ask? An American residing in Northern Ireland, Joseph Campo is an independent actor, writer, and director who has set his sights on landing a role in HBO’s Game of Thrones. To drum up support, he’s taken to Youtube, where he’s created a channel where he’s posted several videos making his case with a substantial helping of humor. But humor aside, Campo is quite serious, and has already done some legwork, such as verifying that he should be eligible to join British Equity due to his current acting associations.
His latest video seems to hint that he’ll be preparing an audition video for the role of Mance Rayder, or perhaps some other wildling, but we’ll share his first video which brought him to the attention of Game of Thrones fanatics:
In an interview with Vanity Fair, HBO‘s president of programming Michael Lombardo discusses HBO’s past and present Emmy success, far and away the most nominated and award-winning cable network for the last number of years. In the course of the discussion, Lombardo brings up Game of Thrones, where he has the following to say:
“The fact that it was genre, i.e. a little bit of magic, in a world that is not in fact real was irrelevant to the storytelling. The human drama that I read in the page, the characters as scripted by David [Benioff] and Dan [Weiss]—I was hooked on the pilot after reading it, and I’ve done this enough now to know that doesn’t happen all the time and when it happens you need to pay attention to it. Because to have a great show, I got to tell you, what you have to start with is a great script. It was a great script.”
Thanks to Nymeria_WiC for bringing the interview to our attention.
Thanks to Zanthia2, we now have an image of the Castle Black film set at Magheramorne Quarry after filming has commenced there. As you can see, part of the quarry wall has been painted white, which fits reports we’ve had from extras. The picture was taken from a nearby island:
One detail that leaps to mind is the structure on the quarry tier immediately above the white-washed section of wall. It looks like an arch and a low wall around it. We’re not 100% sure, but we think this could explain word that actor Brendan McCormack was starting filming in the middle of this month. Could it be that McCormack, in the role of Ser Vardis Egan, will be shooting scenes set of the climb up to the Eyrie at the quarry? If so, that structure we see there could very well be one of the way castles, perhaps Snow or Sky.
Alternatively, the structure—if it does have anything at all to do with the production—might be used to show one of the gates and tunnels that lead through the Wall.
Thanks to Zanthia2for the photo, and Winter is Coming for the retweet.
George R.R. Martin has confirmed all four guesses that we’ve listed (with added Youtube videos featuring performances): Lalor Roddy as “Assassin”, Simon Lowe as “Wineseller”, Mark Lewis Jones as Shagga, and Clive Mantle as the Greatjon. He also adds a fifth name to the mix, Susie Kelley, cast in the role of innkeeper Masha Heddle.
He’s taking off for Australia and the Worldcon there on Monday, so does not expect he’ll be providing updates for when other roles—he lists Ser Ilyn Payne, Prince Tommen, Princess Myrcella, Rickon Stark, Mirri Maz Duur, “and more”—are cast and can be announced.
Conan Stevens has a terrific update on what he’s been doing, besides putting on more muscle (by his estimation, he’s gained 7kg—about 15 lbs.—since he arrived in Belfast). He identifies the riding trainers, The Devil’s Horsemen (who have an extremely long list of prior credits), and comments that his extra bulk has led to some alterations to his costume. He’s coy about the details of the costume, but his remark that, “Ser Gregor Clegane will be the centurion tank of Westeros,” and, ” the weight is spread over my entire body rather than having all that weight just hanging off my shoulders,” certainly suggests that he’s in a suit of plate armor, just as the character is described in the novels.
Other details of note? Just as was reported from the pilot film set, it seems a documentary crew is on hand preparing extras for DVD/Blu-Ray and (Stevens speculates) pre-airing promotion. The crew caught Stevens and Rory McCann, cast as Sandor Clegane, rehearsing their big fight scene. Conan wraps up by noting that since joining in the production, his career has been making great advances, with a number of productions showing interest in his involvement once he gets back to Thailand.
Below, you can find a video of The Devil’s Horsemen company performing at a medieval faire:
Although George has not confirmed the guesses at the four set of clues, we’re very confident in the guesses that have been put out there… so why not cover the actors?
The first “man with no name”, we believe, is Lalor Roddy. He’s been a guard (in The Guards) a garda who’s seen a UFO (in Summer of the Flying Saucer), he knows Murphy’s Law (having been in a show of the same name), he’s seen sleeping dogs (Circles of Deceit: Sleeping Dogs), he’s eaten a girl (Boy Eats Girl), and he’s met the greatest creation of Kavalier and Clay (The Escapist). At a guess, we think he’ll be a would-be killer in Winterfell.
The second “man with no name” was pointed out by hadespuppy: Simon Lowe. He’s neither simply (Simon), nor high (Lowe), has been on the beach (in Beachy Boys) and crossed the Mersey (in “Mersey Beat”), been on “Doctors”, and went down in flames in Hindenburg: Titanic of the Skies. We’re guessing he’ll be a certain wine seller who’ll meet Daenerys.
As to the two named roles, the first of these we believe is Welsh actor Mark Lewis Jones as Shagga (who’s fond of goats), one of the wildlings who joins Tyrion’s following. Jones is Welsh (rabbit or rarebit), and has played a nobleman (Uther Pendragon in Mists of Avalon, King Olaf in the new “Merlin” TV series), a moron (in Morons in Outer Space), and a hog (Mr. Hogg in Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World).
Finally—and we can’t believe we missed this one (we figured out all the clues but hadn’t put them together), but thankfully a commenter at Winter is Coming put the pieces together: Clive Mantle as the Greatjon, Lord Jon Umber, putting to rest questions as to whether the character would have a role. Robert Clive was a famous British empire-builder in India but never conquered the whole thing, Mickey Mantle chased after Roger Maris for the homerun record, he holds the record as the tallest actor to play Little John at 6’5” in Robin of Sherwood (we even thought of this particular fact, and missed—we own the DVDs!), and was in the recent remake of The Poseidon Adventure.
Below we’ve linked to what videos we can find featuring each of the actors. Prize has to go to Mark Lewis Jones, who stars in a short fantasy film newly posted to Youtube just a week ago.
And again, clues from George R.R. Martin for two more roles, this time for named characters:
“The first guy loves goats, the second likes his meat tough. The second guy never conquered India. Is it rabbit or rarebit? The first guy might know. The guy who had more dingers than anyone but the guys who liked the juice, well, the second guy isn’t that guy, or even the guy who chased that guy all summer. The first guy has been a nobleman, a moron, and a hog. The second guy holds a record: the biggest little guy. The first guy has been every flavor of cop. The king of the deep knocked the second guy topsy turvy.”
The first actor is clearly cast as Shagga son of Dolf. The second, we guess, is cast in the role of the Greatjon, one of the Stark’s more memorable bannermen.
GRRM has a new set of clues that seem to be for actors cast in roles that, in the books, are not given names. The clues are as follows:
“The first guy is a man with no man, who is up to no good. The second guy is a man with no man, who is up to no good. ((Maybe they’ll get names eventually, hey. Our red-headed whore did. Just sayin’)) The first guy has been a guard and a garda, he’s slept with beasts and eaten a girl, he knows that anything that can go wrong will go wrong, he’s seen sleeping dogs and flying saucers, and met Kavalier and Clay’s greatest creation (or did he)? The second guy is not simple and he’s not high, but he’s been to the beach and crossed the Mersey, seen his share of doctors, and once went down in flames. Oh, the humanity, the humanity.”
Two quick thoughts: the first may be
Lalor Roddy (been in The Guards, has played a garda in a film concerning a flying saucer, has appeared in The Escapist...), while the second must have been in a film or program concerning the Hidenburg disaster.
Also, at a guess, the two roles that come to mind—nameless men up to no good—are the catspaw at Winterfell and a would-be assassin out in the East.
Welsh actor Owen Teale, a Tony Award-winner who has appeared in dozens of television and film productions (including genre works Robin Hood, Doctor Who, and The Last Legion), has joined the cast of HBO’s Game of Thrones. Teale will be playing the role of Ser Alliser Thorne, taking over from Derek Halligan who was previously announced in the role. Teale first came to light when Belfast-based photographer John Boucher posted this Tumblr post about running into the actor on the street and asking him to be part of his Through-the-Viewfinder portrait series.
Below, you can see Teale starring in the short film Auto-de-fé, a heart-rending portrayal of two people coming to the end of their relationship:
Just a quick mid-week recap of the news that we’ve had from the production so far, as there have been a few relevant tweets, articles, and blog posts of note.
Television Without Pity’s Tubey Awards are being voted on, and Game of Thrones is among the nominees for “Most Anticipated Show of 2010-211”. If you can take just a moment, just head over there and vote! The category is on the final voting page, being category #12.
Northern Ireland Screen has posted the 2009-2010 Annual Report (PDF) on their website, which reviews the various productions, goals, and funding they were involved in over the previous year. We’ve previously reported on early reports regarding the publication, but this is the first time the public will have been able to see it.
Most notable? HBO’s Game of Thrones is very heavily featured. The cover pages make use of the first official still from the pilot, and there are references to the production through out the whole thing. There’s almost no new information to speak of that’s specific to the show, except for the fact that NI Screen gave their maximum grant of £1.6 million (roughly US $2.5 million) to the production not once, but twice: once to help fund the pilot, and once again for the first season. This was nearly 60% of NI Screen’s total grants made in the 2009-2010 period. You can read more regarding the budget of the series, and NI Screen’s funding of it, in our article, A Budget to be Reckoned With.
One last tidbit, a quote from the report which made us chuckle (and which is, we think, our first mention in a governmental publication):
‘Activity on the web was frantic, with the two main blogs "Winter is Coming" and "Westeros" vying with each other to be the first to publish hitherto unknown facts and information about the cast, locations and budget and to announce whether it would go to series.’
This weekend we shared an ITN report regarding Sean Bean filming in London for the spy thriller Cleanskin. In the article, ITN notes that the production is a six week shoot, which led us to speculate that most of Bean’s scenes in HBO’s Game of Thrones will have to wait until October. However, as a poster notes, Cleanskin actually started filming in late February.
The filming that ITN was covering was a brief, one day reshoot, and not a sign that Bean will be occupied for weeks with that production.