At last year’s Comic-Con, we couldn’t fathom why the programmers would stuff Game of Thrones into Ballroom 20, especially when there were so many sparsely-attended panels in Hall H. This year, even though Hall H has plenty of good stuff, Game of Thrones is in the line-up and rightly so. It’s easily one of the most popular geek properties currently on TV, and the show only got better in its second season. While filming on Season 3 hasn’t begun, Season 2 is still fresh in the minds of fans, and Hall H was packed to see author George R.R. Martin and some of the cast to talk about the popular HBO series.
Hit the jump for the recap of the Game of Thrones panel, and click here for all of our Comic-Con coverage.
Martin was moderating the panel, and he opened by cracking a joke about the SNL sketch about the 13-year-old kid who made sure the TV series has plenty of boobies. Then we kicked off with a long and dry video recap of season 2. Afterwards, we got a look at the actors who are playing new characters in season 3. We didn’t see them in character or in costume, and it was each actor saying who they were playing and how excited they were to be part of the show. The promo sped through all the cast members them and I wasn’t able to write them down [they make you shut off all light during videos so I had to close my netbook], but you can click here for a recap of all the new Game of Thrones characters. [Update: You can actually watch the video that were were shown right here.]
After the lights came back on, Martin brought on the panelists: executive producer Carolyn Strauss, and cast members Richard Madden (Robb Stark), Michelle Fairley (Catelyn Stark), Alfie Allen (Theon Greyjoy), Rose Leslie (Ygritte), and Emilia Clarke (Daenerys Targaryen).
- Strauss talked about how HBO decided to pick up the show. She said how D.B. Weiss and David Benioff brought in the books, and Benioff had some clout because of his screenwriting experience (25th Hour). She said it wasn’t the network’s usual fare, but a “genre-buster”. It has “the pillars and posts” of the genre, but does something completely different (e.g. The Wire in terms of a crime drama). And then they ordered a script, HBO picked up the script, then the pilot, and now we have a ridiculously popular show.
- Martin asks Allen if the considers Theon a villain. Allen says Theon isn’t a villain, but he’s misguided and has issues. Martin then jokes how he’s given Theon so many sex scenes, and hasn’t received a single thanks from Allen. Allen responds that he had to get in shape for the sex scenes, but so far he’s been enjoying it. Apparently preoccupied with sex, Martin then mentions how Robb has a sex scene as well, and then asks if Madden prefers the loving or the fighting. Madden says he enjoys “swinging a sword”, waits a beat, and then realizes the innuendo.
- When asked about how playing a darker character impacts her performance, Fairley says it all goes back to the script, and she loves the big emotional stuff and she doesn’t consider it a chore. It also helps her to forget that she’s on a set, and you just “get stuck into it.”
- It turns out Leslie is the only cast member to be born and raised in a castle, but she quickly says “It’s definitely not Winterfell.” Martin then asks if there’s a dungeon, and the audience begins to realize that he is a bit of an awkward moderator.
- Clarke says she can still walk down the street without being noticed, but when it happens “it really happens.” For example, when she was in a department store, a woman came up to her and said, “Khaleesi.”
- Martin asks Strauss if they’re the first show to be shooting in four countries simultaneously. She doesn’t know, but she said there’s a pretty good chance. Strauss went onto say it’s a herculean task for the amazing production team to manage so many locations and crew.
- After a terrible way of asking the question, Martin finally gets Allen to tell the story of how Weiss and Benioff wrote a fake script where Bran kills Theon. Allen was a little distraught about it, but he took it professionally. Then they asked him, “How would you feel about being a zombie?” He said it would be fine. Then they asked if he would play a naked zombie with no dialogue. He said he would do it, but then realized that they had been playing a prank on him the whole time. Strange prank.
- It turns out that Kristian Nairn (Hodor) is in the audience (instead of the panel for some reason). “He’s still learning his line,” Martin jokes since Hodor is a mute.
- People apparently ask Madden what it’s like working with the direwolf. Madden says it’s terrific working with a metal ball on a stick. He added that Clarke has lifesize dragons, and all he has the metal ball, but occasionally they’ll have a stuffed animal direwolf. However, in season one Clarke just had a lime green sausage with a smiley face. It wasn’t until season two that she got full-scale dragon models.
- Martin asks Clarke if she liked Qarth. After that lame question, he finally opened up the panel to the audience.
What was the most enjoyable scene to film in season two:
- Allen: He liked his last scene doing his big speech and then getting knocked out.
- Fairley: She enjoyed the scene she filmed with Madden where Catelyn reminisced with Robb.
- Madden: He enjoys all the scenes he has with Fairley.
- When asked about their costumes, Madden said he loves his armor and it helps him get into character. But then when he’s putting it on after 39 days and it smells from the day before, it’s a bit of a drag until it’s fully on, and then all the bad stuff fades away. Martin asks Leslie why no one beyond the wall wears a hat since it’s so cold. Leslie says she was grateful that her costume had a hood.
What would their house sigil would be:
- Allen: Arsenal badge
- Strauss: Ostrich
- Madden: Wolf
- Fairley: Horse
- Leslie: Eagle
- Clarke: Dragons
- When asked about his favorite place to film, Madden said he loved Winterfell. The set had unique smells and was so detailed and intricate. He also said his love of Winterfell paired well with the character.
- An audience member asks if the show relates to contemporary issues. Clarke responds that it deals more with universal issues like family and death. Strauss adds that the show goes beyond the fantasy paradigm of good vs. evil, and says that Game of Thrones boils down to complex stories and characters. Martin notes that J.R.R. Tolkien rejected the notion that Lord of the Rings was an allegory for World War II. Martin says it’s the same way with A Song of Fire and Ice, and he’s trying to relate to larger issues rather than recent real-world events.
- Everyone on the panel said they had read the books. Madden says it helps him with his character, and stay honest to Martin’s words. It also provides good research. However, he reads the books season-by-season so he can be as surprised as the audience members who haven’t read all the books. Fairley adds that having material like the novels “gives you the thought process” of the characters.
- Clarke thinks her character’s vulnerabilities and weakness came to the fore in season two because you see her self-doubt and how protective she is about her people. She likes how Daenerys has to face her fears and still remain powerful and in control.
The panel finished with the announcement that Season 3 would premiere on March 31, 2013.
This is a great show that had a terrible panel. Martin just didn’t know how to moderate, his questions were weak, and at one point he basically asked why Clarke wasn’t showing her tits in Qarth because that’s how he wrote the outfits in the book. Not every moderator is outstanding, but Martin seemed lost and the actors followed suit. The energy came back a bit when the audience started asking questions, but if you’re a Game of Thrones fan who was bummed they couldn’t make this panel, you didn’t miss much.