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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!

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!)

Laws of Gods and Men Episode Guide

Our analysis and book-to-screen breakdown for “The Laws of Gods and Men” are now live at the episode guide.  As with last week’s episode, this week’s recap will have to wait—hopefully we’ll have it up tomorrow, or Tuesday at the latest.

Besides our material, HBO has released three post-episode videos which are linked in the Extras section of the guide.

Reviewing the First of His Name

The episode’s done, and our episode guide for “First of His Name” has gone live with our initial analysis of the episode, as well as our book-to-screen breakdown and a number of HBO’s post-episode videos. Our own video—as well as our exhaustive recap—will have to wait until tomorrow this time around, as neither of us can stay up much longer out here!

But to tide you over, there’s always the forum, and HBO has also released the preview to the next episode, which you can find at the guide for “The Laws of Gods and Men”.

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: