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Discussing Season 4

Our final video for season 4 became our longest ever, needing to be split up into three parts to keep it managable. Linda and I cover the season from start to finish, reviewing both the best and worst moments, as well as speculating regarding how they’ll bring about the adaptation of the novels to season 5. There’s some spoilers along the way—some of them drawn from information about the show’s adaptation choices, specifically, and some just drawing from the novels—so beware if you’re sensitive to either!

You’ll find the videos below:

HBO Confirms Filming in Sevilla

Yesterday, remarks from James Costos—former HBO executive and now US Ambassador to Spain—were taken out of context (note: in Spanish) suggesting that the ambassador was formally announcing that HBO had settled on Spain as a shooting location; in fact, in full the comments merely said what was already widely known, that Spain’s Andalusian region was in the running as a shooting location. The hysteria in the news media in Spain, and social media, led this to transform into some sort of official announcement.

However, this morning HBO has gone ahead and confirmed wide speculation that an actual announcement was imminent. The key point of the press release:

HBO is pleased to confirm that a portion of season five of GAME OF THRONES will be shot on several natural locations in the Province of Sevilla.  Specifics on the locations will be announced closer to the time of production.

The rest of the press release can be found below:

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!

Discussing the Children

As we’ve done for the previous episodes this season, Linda and I have filmed a video of our discussing the episode, focusing on various aspects including providing insights into the history and background of various details, as well as our views on various aspects of the episode. We’ve placed the video in our episode guide, but you can find it below:

For those of you in the UK, you can also see our appearance in the final Thronecast episode of the season—as well as Iwan Rheon (aka Ramsay) and Natalia Tena (Osha) with her band Molotov Jukebox—over at Sky’s website.

The Children Episode Guide

The preliminary parts of our episode guide for “The Children”, the season finale of Game of Thrones, are now up. Besides the analysis and the book-to-screen breakdown, we’ve linked the post-episode videos HBO has released.

Unfortunately, the recap may be somewhat delayed this time around due to other commitments! And we’ll see if we can manage to get the video discussion/review out as well.

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!)

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…

Learning Conversational Dothraki the HBO Way

Well, it’s about time! HBO has just made us aware of the fact that October will see the release of Living Language Dothraki, a conversational language-teaching course with a workbook and an audio CD. Amazing, and long overdue.

Now, where’s the Valyrian book?

The full press release can be found below, including details on additional resources that can be purchased along with the entry-level course:

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!)

Game of Thrones Eyes Spain

Spanish fans, are you sitting down? Because according to James Hibberd at EW, the production is looking to film in Spain for season 5. While Hibberd’s coy about just what new region might be depicted there, the image heading the article might be taken as a hint… although as we’ve seen from the past production, it’s entirely possible that filming in Spain might be used to supplement footage shot elsewhere (just as the dragon scene in “The Laws of Gods and Men” was filmed in Iceland, as Byran Cogman revealed in our interview, despite all other Slaver’s Bay exteriors having been shot in Croatia).

Spain has a very long history as a popular filming location for its beautiful, semi-arid regions and the Moorish influence on its architecture. Andalusia—the name of the region deriving from the Arabic name, Al-Andalus—served as one of the primary filming locations for David Lean’s Lawrence of Arabia, as well as a significant part of Sergio Leone’s westerns with Clint Eastwood, such as A Fist Full of Dollars and The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, and also Anthony Mann’s El Cid. Suffice it to say, it will provide a lot of possibilities for Dorne, a region Martin has explicitly connected with Moorish Spain.

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!