After more than a year-and-a-half, the final season of Game of Thrones is finally just days away. It’s been an epic wait for the last chapter in the saga of Westeros – so is the last installment is poised to be the biggest ever?
“I would say so,” Carice Van Houten (Melisandre) told Collider on Tuesday when we asked her and Liam Cunningham to sum up the final season.
“They’ve fired kitchen sinks out of a howitzer at this thing. They’ve thrown everything at it. God bless them,” Cunningham added. “They have tried to exit this story with as much honor as possible and I think they have. It’s remarkable.”
Cunningham, who plays everyone’s favorite Onion Knight – Davos Seaworth – did note that the cast hasn’t seen the new season, but they’ve read the scripts. Several the show’s stars have opened up in recent interviews about the now legendary table read, where they were all together (the one Kit Harington told Stephen Colbert he went into blind).
Asked if he read it as an actor, or someone just being enthralled by the pages, Iain Glenn, who plays Ser Jorah Mormont, revealed how the cast’s table read brought the story to life for the show’s stars
“[I] sort of read it as a sort of fan in the sense that it was an unusual thing for us all to be in the same room and to hear it. And really everyone was there. And so it was just yeah, having the perfect kind of radio play kind of unfold and see what happened,” Glen said of the session (which Kit told Colbert was filmed). “So it was a chance for us all to get together, to really unite, before we were about to climb this extraordinary mountain together. So it was a lovely thing to do at the beginning.”
A few months ago, Gwendoline Christie, the portrayer of ever-honorable Brienne of Tarth, told E! News we’d all “need therapy” as a teaser for the final season, and she expanded on the “why” when Collider spoke with her and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau.
“Because this season has really outdone the others in all regards. I think that the production values and the way in which everyone was pushed is much further than anything they’ve ever done on the show before,” she said.
“The scale is so much bigger and I think that … it’s been something that’s united people across the globe where they have an experience with — whether it’s viewing, so they have a communal experience, it consists in person or online. And I think that our performances this season are so powerful that people will actually die when they watch them,” she jokingly added.
Coster-Waldau, who plays Kingslayer Jaime Lannister, helped us probe a little deeper by asking his co-star again: “You never answered the question,” he laughed. “Why would they need therapy?”
“It was a throwaway statement. I mean I — it was something I said on a red carpet. I mean, I don’t really think that. I think that they’ll enjoy it,” she said.
“And then you’ll be pleased because I think it’s a great ending and then you’ll also be really disappointed because it’s over,” Nikolaj chimed in. “It’s like you read a good book and it’s like ‘Oh! So fantastic’ (mimes flipping through a book’s pages at a speedy pace) And they go, ‘Ohhhh, shit’ (mimes frustration that the fantastic book has ended) and then you’ll find another book, another show.”
The cast has been very tight-lipped on plot details ahead of the show’s return, but we know this final run will finally include a battle with the Night King and his army, something EW reported on with some behind-the-scenes details. The trailer showed a number of our heroes gearing up for battle, including Ser Jorah. Dany’s redeemed knight ranks close to Jon Snow and Tormund Giantsbane in series-long fight counts, but how does this battle one compare to others in the show?
“It was exceptional,” Glen said. “A great deal of thought has gone into it and it took a great deal of time. But it was sort of realized within an inch of its life in terms of sort of structuring it. So you’re always just a small part in a much, much bigger thing and you try and do what you do correctly, or — well, by preparing as much as you can. […] It was hard, it was really intense, and it went on for a long time.”
The results of the actors’ work will be seen across six episodes – the first two clock in under an hour, and the final four all are close to 80 minutes each. And on May 19th, it’s all over for good.
John Bradley, who plays Samwell Tarly/Sam The Slayer, shared how he’d like to see the show remembered.
“I just hope that – and I think it’s already kind of happening – that a lot of the TV that comes after it is taking lessons from it and using it as a springboard in terms of what can be achieved through the medium of television and how given the right set of people and the right circumstances it can rival cinema and it’s got the right to be ambitious,” he said. “It is created a whole new sense of ambition in TV that wasn’t really there before. It’d done affecting drama before, but there’s never been anything, certainly on this visual scale before, and I think that TV is no longer seen as a kind of poor cousin of cinema and I think that — I just hope that TV going forward feels that we’ve empowered it to be as ambitious as we’ve been.”
Asked if they’re feeling emotional or just ready to get the show on the air as they enter their final days of press for Game of Thrones’s final season, Isaac Hempstead Wright said, a “bit of both.” Conleth Hill (Lord Varys) is also waiting for May 20th, in particular.
“Yeah, bittersweet,” he added, “But can’t wait ’til it’s all over and then we can freely talk. At the moment [we’ve] still been quite, ‘maybe….'”
But one thing we did uncover about the final season? Varys – who famously got from Mereen to Dorne in record time on Game of Thrones – is a merman.
“We’re confirming it here – Episode 3,” Isaac stated jokingly.
“He is the man from Atlantis,” Conleth added, also in jest. “No, no, I still don’t know where that came from and I still think it was too much skunk.”