Game of Thrones was an odd presence at Comic-Con’s Hall H last year. On the one hand, it was an obvious inclusion. It’s hugely popular among geeks, and it can fill the room easily. But on the other hand, they had nothing to show because filming on the upcoming hadn’t begun. That also means that showrunners D.B. Weiss and David Benioff weren’t on hand to answer questions. Instead, the panel rests entirely on the actors and their interactions with fans. I assumed we’d be getting the same thing at this year’s Comic-Con panel, but with more actors and a different moderator (Elvis Mitchell instead of author George R.R. Martin). Instead, Weiss and Benioff were on hand, they had some fun stuff to show, and aside from Mitchell’s weak, scattershot questions for the panel, it was a big improvement.
Hit the jump for a recap of the panel. Game of Thrones returns spring 2014.
Again, filming hasn’t begun so there was no new footage, but we did open with a great “In Memoriam” piece set to Boyz II Men “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye (to Yesterday)” and the multitude of characters that have been killed off ranging all the way down to “Robert’s Bastard #2”. But then it got a bit more serious as it turned to the major characters we had loved. It was a wonderful little piece and I hope it makes it on to a DVD/Blu-ray or officially released online by HBO. For now, you can check it out below:
- After the video ends, stars Peter Dinklage, Michelle Fairley, John Bradley, Kit Harington, Rose Leslie, Richard Madden, Emilia Clarke, and George R.R. Martin are brought on stage by Weiss and Benioff. The showrunners then introduce moderator Elvis Mitchell who begins by asking Martin about killing off so many characters, and Martin jokes that it does open up new roles for actors, and that Benioff and Weiss are also responsible for knocking off characters who are still alive in the books. The showrunners do say that it was tough working on the Red Wedding, and the whole crew was crying even though the deaths were fictional and everyone knew those deaths were coming. Madden says he got straight on a plane, and did start crying, but “it was worth a cry” for not only the loss of the character, but also not getting to see the friends he made on a regular basis anymore.
- Fairley says she knew how many years she had signed for, so she knew what was coming. And while she knew the books were a guideline, the script is the king. The showrunners leave it up to the actors if they read the books or if they just stick to the script. Dinklage says he hasn’t read the books because even though he wants to know what’s happened, he doesn’t know what’s coming.
- Moving to the relationship between Ygritte and Jon Snow, Harington congratulates the showrunners on writing the dialogue that really made the good-bye scene so good. Leslie was particularly moved by the emotional devastation of Jon’s betrayal.
- After congratulating Clarke for her Emmy nomination, Mitchell asks about her reaction to the news. She said she wanted the show to get some recognition, but never thought she would be included in that recognition. And when her alarm went off, she noticed she had missed some calls from HBO to tell her she had been nominated. She went on to talk about filming this scene and Dany’s journey. “The final episode was absolutely exhilarating,” says Clarke.
- Out of nowhere, Jason Momoa crashes the stage and kisses Clarke on the mouth, and then leaves. Most of Hall H proceeds to tweet like mad.
- After the crowd settles, Mitchell asks Weiss and Benioff about writing The Red Wedding. “If we could get people to throw their remote controls the way we threw the book when we read that, we would have succeeded,” says Weiss. They also congratulate director David Nutter on that episode. Benioff said they started referring to The Red Wedding as “the scene that shall not be mentioned”. But he points to the little things like Fairley’s astonishing performance as one of the reasons the scene turned out better than he or Weiss could have imagined. Fairley comments on finding part of the character in the moment where Catelyn discovers the armor under Roose Bolton’s clothing. She says with the change in the music “Rains of Castamere” was like “someone walking over your grave.”
- Benioff adds that one of the unsung heroes is composer Ramin Djawadi. For “Rains of Castamere”, it had to be the music that cues a TV audience rather than a realization that’s written in the books. They also wanted to make sure it was a unique song rather than the song from the credits, so they had to establish “Rains of Castamere” earlier in the series.
- Harington says that Jon is looking for a paternal figure, which is odd because he thinks the character should be looking for a maternal figure. But these strong paternal figures want to nurture him, and what Harington finds interesting about what’s coming up is that Jon rejects that quest for paternal figures and becomes his own man.
- Mitchell then leads this to Leslie asking about Ygritte’s defense of Jon. She talks about how he flips her values, but she’s dominated by her love for him. Leslie, like her fellow actors, congratulates the writers on the strength of these relationships.
- We then turn to the relationship between Tywin and Tyrion, and Dinklage talking about playing opposite Charles Dance. He says he can’t imagine any other actor playing Tywin except Dance. Dinklage says he finds those scenes fascinating because Twyin’s children are three parts of the same whole, but they’re not in the right person. They each lack what the other has. But Tyrion can get away with it because of he has a sense of freedom, especially when it comes to threatening Joffrey. It helps that Tyrion knows that Tywin feels the same way about the little shit king. “You’re only as lucky as the actors you work with, and I’m lucky to be working with some truly great ones,” says Dinklage.
- In terms of spoilers, Benioff congratulates the self-policing forums where people make sure that stuff from the books wasn’t spoiled for the audience members who hadn’t read the books. Mitchell asks if Weiss was surprised that the Red Wedding wasn’t spoiled, and Weiss says Ned Stark’s fate was the test case, and since people managed to keep quiet about that monumental event, he realized they had a good group of fans.
- Mitchell (who was really changing gears without rhyme or reason), then asked about Dany facing her fears and finding her strength. Emilia says at the end of season 2, Dany’s trust in others had “hit rock bottom” and that she had a lot of self-doubt, so the trust she had to put in others was in her dragons. This leads to her testing herself by taking risks, and so she ultimately starts trusting herself and listening to others less.
- Madden talking about the moment in the Red Wedding when Robb thinks he’s won says that it was more important to play it as honestly as they can, so that means not looking ahead and committing to the decisions of the characters and their ignorance of the future. “You commit to the decision, and you get slammed with a curveball,” and Robb’s commitment to the moment and the present made the King of the North think that everything was going to work out.
- A deleted scene from season 3: Pycelle and Tywin in a scene that takes place before the small council meeting in which Tywin is the hand of the king. It’s a great scene where we see a rare moment of Tywin enjoying a leisurely activity (fishing) and Pycelle comes doddering along and pleading to be let back in on the council. Tywin asks how many others have fallen for Pycelle’s act of pretending to be an old, stamming gool. At this, Pycelle stands up straight and confidently says that his key to survival is to let others be the best and the brightest in the garden, “and let them get plucked.” He’s happy to just remain in the garden until it’s his time to return to the dirt.
Would Martin ever consider doing a prequel series chronicling the fall of the house of Targaryen?
- He’s says he’s working on “Dreams of Spring” (book 7), and that while they showrunners are laying down the tracks, they’re not on top of him yet. He would consider a prequel, but the last two books will reveal all the twists and betrayals, so it would be a retread to go through Robert’s rebellion. Aegon and his sisters, and the Mad King could be material for prequels if he pursues them, but he won’t do the immediate precursors (no offense to Sean Bean, “who dies so well,” says Martin).
What is it like for Clarke to play such an icon of female power?
- “Getting to play Dany has been a phenomenal experience,” says Clarke, and she also finds it empowering to play that character. And she says it’s so wonderful to feel that she’s helped to make other women feel empowered.
Has George told the cast anything about what’s going to happen in the future to their characters?
- Martin says that if an actor asks, he’ll respond, but usually they don’t. Furthermore, just because something happens to a character in the book, it doesn’t mean it will happen to the character on the show.
This panel was a definite step up from last year, although there was absolutely no mention of season 4. They didn’t mention new cast members or any plot points. Instead, it was more of a reflection on season three, but it was made worthwhile by the inclusion of Weiss and Benioff as well as the “In Memorium” piece and the deleted scene. It still could have been better, but it’s good to know that Game of Thrones at Comic-Con doesn’t have to stall out at the quality of the weak panel we saw last year.