An interview long in the making, we finally got to sit down with Ryan Condal, lead writer, executive producer, and now sole show runner of House of the Dragon last week to talk about the show. After Linda had a chance to say hello, she headed off to keep an eye on our very rambunctious puppy Lancelot, we started the interview. We open up with a question on post-production, and then get into the weeds on favorite book characters, depictions of violence, heraldry, a forgotten Valyrian house, the change from book canon when casting the Velaryons, whether Ryan will continue with the show after completing this particular story, and more.
Ryan Condal behind the scenes with a maquette of Caraxes. ©️ Ollie Upton/HBO
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!
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.
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?
Iceland really looks stunning. This time around the shooting was in the summer. Lots of sunlight, relatively warm weather?
It’s always a pleasure to interview writer and story editor Bryan Cogman, who has so far written an episode of each season, including what are amounting to two of our personal favorites of the series: “What is Dead May Never Die” and his season three episode, “Kissed by Fire”.
Below, I talk with Bryan about the episode, the introduction of new characters, his proudest moments, and much more. It’s a lengthy one but, we hope, a good one. Enjoy!
All right, thanks so much for taking the time, first off!
Now, often episodes seem to have their titles decided at the last minute—George’s episode went through a couple of different names before it was settled. Was “Kissed by Fire” always the title you preferred for your episode?
Continuing our interview series, next up is actress Rose Leslie, who had a memorable turn as Ygritte last season.
In this interview, she gives some hints about things to come, discusses just how often Kit Harington smiles, and much more. I note one place where she laughs… but truth be told, she laughs often and was clearly enjoying herself immensely at being involved in a project like Game of Thrones.
What can you tell us about season 3?
Why is Ygritte interested in Jon Snow? What piques her interest?
Continuing our series of interviews, this time it’s Iain Glen on board. Playing Jorah Mormont, he may be rather (a lot) different from the character in the novels, but the dignity and gravity he brings to his performance is a terrific counter-point to Daenerys Targaryen’s youthful energy and determination. In the below interview, we touch on topics such as his luck in filming locations, his views on the violence in the show, and just how Jorah feels about Daenerys.
How is this season for Jorah and Dany this season?
This is the third in our series of actor interviews leading up to the premiere of Game of Thrones on March 31st (April 1st in the UK, Scandinavia, and elsewhere).
And as it happens, this is also our third interview with Nikolaj to date, and he remains as charming and entertaining as always. The interview transcript below doesn’t really go very far to indicate just how engaging he can be to talk with, and how funny. Despite the provison from HBO that details for season 3 were not really permitted to be discussed, Nikolaj provided some small suggestions about how the story may go in the course of discussing the series, his character, and the fans.
So, what can you tell us about the new season?
One of the real pleasures of the press junket this year was getting to talk to a member of the cast I’ve not met previously… and perhaps no cast member has really excited me as much as Gwendoline Christie, the imposing Brienne of Tarth.
The actress seemed practically born for this role, and she made quite an impression in her all-too-brief appearances in the second season. The third season promises to give us a lot more of the Maid of Tarth, as she travels through the dangerous, war-torn riverlands trying to deliver Jaime Lannister to King’s Landing as Catelyn Stark commanded her to do.
What can you tell us about this season of Game of Thrones?
This is the first of a series of interviews that we’ve had with actors from Game of Thrones, ahead of season 3. It was nice to say hello again to some of the actors, who are starting to become familiar faces, and also to meet some actors (both old and new) that I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting before. First up, here’s our interview with Michelle Fairley, who plays Catelyn Stark!
What can you tell us about Catelyn in season 3?
The release of Inside HBO’s Game of Thrones was a chance for fans the world over to get a closer look behind the scenes at the making of the series, thanks to the writing of series story editor and writer Bryan Cogman having penned the book, filling it with the insights he was able to take from fellow members of the production team and the cast.
And now the collector’s edition has been released (Order: Amazon US, Amazon UK), and it adds an additional wrinkle: among the various bits of swag, such as the scrolled maps, is a whole second volume, this one containing storyboards from artist Will Simpson which are a key part of the process of creating and producing the series.
To explain more about the books, and what they reveal and what’s contained within, we had the opportunity to interview Bryan so that he can provide a better understanding of what fans can expect to find.
Comic Con’s done, but we managed to land an exclusive interview ... with Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, who plays Ser Jaime Lannister in Game of Thrones. With the help of our correspondent (and site host!) Rachel Blackman, we put together a few questions for Nikolaj during the convention. Scheduling problems made us miss the opportunity for a sit-down interview, but Nikolaj—who was taking off for Belfast on Saturday, rehearsing on Sunday, and already filming on Monday—was kind enough to answer our questions via e-mail.
To read more of Nikolaj’s thoughts on the series, be sure to visit our first season interview with the actor.
NOTE: There’s a spoiler, which we’ve hidden.
The special effects of HBO’s Game of Thrones is something that really interested many fans before production started, because of the grand epic sweep of the setting and the fact that epic fantasy on television was a tall order. It certainly captured our imaginations as well, as we considered what HBO had been able to achieve in its other shows, as well as what other television programs and VFX vendors were able to create. The end result? Some of what some imagined (and even what we tried to project) proved to be too ambitious for a show on such a tight schedule and with so many other budgetary needs to meet outside of visual effects (massive use of sets and locations, many costumes and extras, etc.)
Still, despite the fact that the battles never really transpired that some might have hoped for, there were some jaw-droppers, and those are thanks to BlueBolt, the lead VFX vendor for the series. We had the opportunity to speak with Lucy Ainsworth-Taylor, one of BlueBolt’s founders and the VFX producer for the first season of the show. We learn some surprising things along the way, with a refreshing level of frankness regarding the reality of producing VFX for a television program such as HBO.
My understanding is that BlueBolt is a pretty new company, but its founders have quite a lot of experience in VFX for film and television. What role has landing the lead vendor role on Game of Thrones played in the present and future of your company?
A gifted actor who’s lately been turning heads on both sides of the Atlantic, Harry Lloyd landed the role of Viserys Targaryen, the exiled prince yearning to restore his family to the rule of the Seven Kingdoms. As Daenerys’s brother, he has been an antagonist who’s dominated her entire life… until she marries Khal Drogo, and among the Dothraki finds independence and courage she didn’t know she had before.
In the following interview, we discuss how Lloyd prepared for his role, the question he’d most like to ask author George R.R. Martin regarding the series, and more!
Conan Stevens was one of the first actors that came to the attention of fans in association with the production, when it was simply still in development: he put out the word that he thought he’d make a fantastic Mountain that Rides.
Many months later—after a pilot was ordered, after it was considered, after a second season was green lit—he landed the part he set out to get. Below is our exclusive interview with Stevens, who discusses his early career, his views on the differences between Thai and American productions, and more.
Tommy Dunne is the weapon master for Game of Thrones, meaning that he’s overseen the conception, design, and production of the many, many weapons used in the production. The total number of weapons has gone into the hundreds, we’ve been told, and all that thanks to Mr. Dunne and his team.
His career in television and film production was not something he really planned for, but began (tellingly enough) with a little film named Braveheart. From there, Dunne has gone on to work in some pretty remarkable productions. Just a short list: Saving Private Ryan, Gladiator, V for Vendetta, and both Band of Brothers and The Pacific. He’s certainly no stranger to high-end productions, nor is he a stranger to working HBO. Read below to discover how he got his start, the influences behind some of the weapon designs, and the surprise he got when it came to creating the swords of the white walkers.
The role of Lord Renly Baratheon was one that many fans were interested in seeing cast. Filling the role is Gethin Anthony, who brings his talents to bear on a character whose role in this season culminates in a crucial decision . . . and who may well go on to become one of the chief players of the game of thrones if a second season is commissioned. Below is our interview with the actor, discussing his early career, the auditioning process, his views on Renly and Renly’s family, and more.
We know you read English at Oxford, but you also performed some theater there. Was that part of your education or was that extra-curricular?
I studied English Language and Literature for my B.A., but there’s a great theater scene in Oxford—there’s a lot of theaters there—as well as a burgeoning short film scene as well. There’s a lot of people interested in it, and because it’s not actually a course at Oxford, you do it as an extra-curricular thing. There were quite a few societies and organizations there—the Oxford University Drama Society, the Experimental Theater Company, a great company called Crackhorse Productions as well to name a few—who were putting on plays and being very fortunate and privileged to have the space, the resources, and support to do it. We were supported by people like Thelma Holt, who’s a big producer here, and Cameron Mackintosh, who give up their time and money to help students put on their productions. It was a big part of my life while I was there?