We’ve seen and heard from the last of George R.R. Martin when it comes to HBO’s Game of Thrones. While Martin was involved with the inception of the series and even shot a cameo in the pilot (which was later cut), he’s backed away from the series in recent years as the show has moved past the books. For each of the first four seasons, Martin wrote an episode of the series, but he hasn’t been a credited writer on the show since 2015. Now, Martin reveals he was given the opportunity to shoot a cameo for the show’s upcoming final season, and he turned it down.
Speaking with EW, Martin says he didn’t have time to fly to Belfast to shoot a cameo for Game of Thrones Season 8:
“[Showrunners] David [Benioff] and Dan [Weiss] invited me to a cameo in one of the final episodes, which I was tempted to do. But I didn’t think just for the sake of a cameo I could take the time to return to Belfast.”
That’s a bummer to hear, as Game of Thrones wouldn’t exist without Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire book series. The writer went on to reveal why his cameo was cut from Season 1:
“There was a cameo in the original pilot that was cut,” he noted. “I was a guest at Dany’s wedding. But that was when she was played by Tamzin Merchant so all that footage got thrown out when we recast with Emilia Clarke.”
Indeed, Game of Thrones was almost over before it began, as Tom McCarthy—director of the Best Picture-winning drama Spotlight—directed the first pilot for the series. But it was so poorly received internally that Benioff and Weiss had to kind of start over and reconceive the episode. McCarthy was unavailable for the new pilot, so HBO veteran Tim Van Patten was hired to direct the reshot version of the pilot, which the pay cable network thankfully allowed to proceed.
Martin is involved in the upcoming Game of Thrones prequel series as an executive producer, with Jane Goldman serving as showrunner, so it’s not as if Martin is done with HBO for good. It’ll be interesting to see what he has to say about the series finale and how it all ends, as he famously told Benioff and Weiss how his version of the story is supposed to end when it became clear the show would conclude before Martin’s book series.
But yeah, when Game of Thrones returns for its final episodes in April, don’t expect to see Martin’s face.