GAME OF THRONES Comic-Con Panel Recap: D.B. Weiss, David Benioff, George R.R. Martin, and the Cast Look Back at Season 4

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Game of Thrones Comic-Con panels are tough because there’s nothing to really show.  Unlike The Walking Dead, the new season isn’t only a few months away.  Shooting on GOT: Season 5 is just about to begin, so it’s not like there’s going to be a full trailer ready to go.  Instead, these panels function as retrospectives on the most recent season.  As a big Game of Thrones fan, I always enjoy these leisurely, pressure-free panels that almost function like debriefs.  We don’t know much about season five, but we’re going to learn about the most memorable scenes from last season

Hit the jump for my Game of Thrones Comic-Con panel recap. [Warning: Spoilers for the Show through Season 4]

game-of-thrones-comic-con-panel-recap-brienne-houndThe presentation began with an amusing gag reel for season four, which is capped with a great bit of Tyrion approaching his trial.  Presumably, this will be on the upcoming Blu-ray/DVD.

Showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss introduce the cast John Bradley (Sam), Rose Leslie (Ygritte), Kit Harington (Jon Snow), Sophie Turner (Sansa Stark), Natalie Dormer (Margerie Tyrell), George R.R. Martin, Maisie Williams (Arya Stark), Rory McCann (The Hound), Gwendoline Christie (Brienne), Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Jamie Lannister) and Pedro Pascal (Oberyn) followed by moderator Craig Ferguson.

Panel Highlights

  • McCann says he’s a bit surprised to be here to which Christie responds, “I think you got off lucky,” and McCann jokingly mutters, “You bitch.”
  • Martin says the show looks more or less like he thought it might.  However, the show doesn’t inform what he writes, and although it can be a bit tricky at times, “The show is the show, and the books are the books.”
  • They shoot in Belfast year-round.  They’re going to Croatia and Spain this year.
  • They said they lost a location because of a Bible-thumper who, “Did not want his property involved with ‘Porn of Thrones.’”

Then we got a brief video showing all the new actors for the new season and whom they’ll be playing.

Audience Q&A

  • Does Martin have a preference in Westeros’ religion, and does he identify with a violent god?  “My reputation for killing is greatly exaggerated,” said Martin.  “David and Dan are far bloodier.  They’ve killed characters who are still alive in the book.”
  • Harginton says that when it comes to preparation, “a lot of work is done before you get there,” and for him the costume adds a lot.  He says he’s about to go back for season five on Monday, and the moment he puts on the costume, it will ground him.  As for acting in the cold, Bradley notes that while they can keep warm with their costumes, it’s sometimes difficult to act through the on-location weather.
  • When it comes to bringing all the plots together, Benioff says, “It all came from some dark region of George’s mind.” Ferguson says why do all of the places in Westeros sound like dairy factories (i.e. King’s Landing)?.  Martin says naming locations is really difficult, especially after having to do a map book that’s coming out soon.
  • Pascal prepared for Oberyn’s big fight scene by working with Wu Shu martial arts Master Hu.  Pascal also noted that he had an amazing stunt double.  With regards to all of the fighting, Christie adds that they have an incredible stunt team that requires lots of training, but they’re also patient with the actors.
  • game-of-thrones-comic-con-panel-recap-mountain-viperFerguson asks if Dormer and Turner wish they could get in on the fighting, and of course they do.  Dormer mentions that why she likes the fights, especially like the one between Brienne and the Hound, because they’re so dedicated to the reality and brutality of the violence.
  • Has writing about the characters and their issues personally helped Martin?  “You draw from yourself, people you know history, and others,” but quoting Whitman, “I am large.  I contain multitudes,” as way to explain that there’s a part of all of his characters in him.  When asking about the Westeros’shistory by Ferguson, Martin says some of “it was stolen from your [Scottish] history.  “Good times,” says Ferguson.
  • When asked about playing Jon and Ygritte’s final scene, Harington said that Jon is happy to see Ygritte to where he doesn’t even care if she kills him.  Leslie also found the scene to be very profound, and says Ygritte didn’t expect to be stunned when she finally saw Jon again after planning to kill him for the entire season.
  • Weiss and Benioff can confirm that there will be more Stannis in Season 5, “and we will be taking advantage of both the character and the actor.
  • When asked if people should keep watching the show until the books are out, Martin says he encourages people to keep watching the show, but he also encourages people to read the books.  But to the question of “How can you expect the story in its true form?”, Martin says there are two ways to tell a story.
  • game-of-thrones-comic-con-panel-recap-emilia-clarkeWeiss and Benioff say the production process is like shooting a 10-hour movie.  For example, they shot scenes from the season four finale during their first week of principal photography.  Pascal says his first scene was the prison cell scene with Tyrion, and it was nerve-wracking because it was such a big scene for the character. But the showrunners and director helped to ease the transition.  Leslie says it was nice that her final scene was Ygritte’s death scene.
  • When asked what it was like to kick Christie “downstairs”, McCann said it was a lot of fun.  But when she punched him, there were some “connections.”
  • “Best moment of my life,” says Christie.
  • “And then when she bit my ear—,”
  • “Second best moment of my life,” says Christie.
  • “Will there be more male nudity on the show?”  “Equality!” says Dormer.  “You can’t really lose with me,” says Bradley.  “Wooooo!” goes someone in the audience, before he can finish his joke.  When the female audience finishes cheering, he says, “If I went nude, I would also provide the boob count.
  • Turner didn’t really think about her character’s arc when she was originally cast, and even though she admits it’s a cliché, she grew with the character.  However, she felt that the scripts for season three and season four were a relief because Sansa could finally stop being a victim and start being a player.  “It was freakin’ awesome.”
  • When asked about the Brienne/Hound fight that isn’t in the book, Martin says it was great television, so he doesn’t mind that it’s not his.  The only thing he mourns is stuff that doesn’t make it in.  He reiterates his desire for 13 episodes per season instead of ten.
  • game-of-thrones-comic-con-panel-recap-shaeTurner’s thoughts on Tyrion and Sansa’s relationship now that they’re apart: “It was devastating.  I loved him so much.  You can feel the love,” jokes Turner.  She does say that in seriousness, a real partnership was starting to develop, “So naturally in the Game of Thrones world, that was cut off.”  However, she would like to see them reunite at some point because they make a good power-couple.
  • Does Williams think Arya still thinks of her self as a Stark? “She is no one,” Williams says to great applause.
  • When it comes to cutting scenes, there are difficult things to keep because they’re tough to tell within the limits of a TV series.  They would like to do thirteen episodes, but there’s no way to do it and still maintain a high level of quality because the moment they finish post-production on a season, they’re launching into pre-production on the following season.  Benioff also notes that when they first approached Martin about adapting the books, it was thought that they might be done as 1-to-1 movies, but that it was so much better to do it as a TV series.
  • Weiss adds that when author James Thompson was asked about how Hollywood had treated his book, Thompson replied, “Hollywood hasn’t done anything to my books.  They’re right there.”

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