Game of Thrones took over New York City’s Radio City Music Hall on Wednesday night for the world premiere of its Season 8 return.
Inside the theater, as attendees took their seats, the screens were filled with footage of the cast on the red carpet as they shared touching moments (a hug fest when Sophie Turner and Maisie Williams spotted each other), reconnected (Pedro Pascal and Indira Varma, who played Prince Oberyn Martel and Illaria Sand, looked to be catching up) and spoke with the media.
The carpet wasn’t just full of the show’s sizable current cast (Kit Harington, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Peter Dinklage, Emilia Clarke, Gwendoline Christie, etc.), but also welcomed many of the show’s alums: Sean Bean (Ned Stark), Mark Addy (Robert Baratheon), Kristian Nairn (Hodor), Charles Dance (Tywin Lannister), Natalie Dormer (Margaery Tyrell), Jack Gleeson (King Joffrey), Rose Leslie (Ygritte) and Jason Momoa (Khal Drogo).
Inside the packed venue, before things kicked off, some familiar voices were piped in over the speakers — Turner and Williams – who offered a Game of Thrones twist on standard screening warnings. Turner joked — in character as Sansa — if someone’s phone happened to ring during the episode, their face would look lovely on her sister Arya’s wall. “Remember what happened to the last bastard who fucked us,” Williams as Arya added before Turner told everyone to enjoy the show.
Before the screening, HBO programming president Casey Bloys reflected on the impact of the show during his address to the crowd.
“It would be hard for me to overstate how meaningful this show has been for HBO and I think TV in general,” he said. Bloys went on to thank former HBO exec Richard Plepler, who greenlit the show’s pilot (and the show’s pilot reshoots), many of those involved with the program, and executive producers David Benioff and D.B. (Dan) Weiss.
Bloys also reflected on how putting together Game of Thrones has affected HBO for years to come:
“One of the great legacies of this show will be the institutional knowledge that we gained from doing it. So now, any creator who walks in our door and says, ‘I have this insane idea. This is what want to do,’ we don’t say, ‘Oh, we don’t know how to do that.’ We’ll say, ‘Here’s five different ways you can do that.’ And that is really, really meaningful for us.”
Benioff and Weiss then took the stage, where they thanked A Song of Ice and Fire author George R.R. Martin, who was in attendance.
“Making the show is a team effort, but Tyrion Lannister, Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen were born in a single brilliant ruthless mind. George, thank you for letting us take your children into our care. Sorry we didn’t treat them better,” Weiss said.
Weiss went on to recognize the Game of Thrones family, mentioning the experience they shared in the rain, snow, mud and sun. “It has been an honor to work with each and every one of you and an honor to call you our friends,” he said before introducing the cast of the show. Then, the curtain opened revealing the current cast and alums, who received thunderous applause and a standing ovation.
After the premiere (no spoilers here), the cast celebrated at the Ziegfeld ballroom, whose high walls were lined with epic-sized Season 8 posters of the characters on the Iron Throne. Throughout the night, a DJ spun tunes next to an Iron Throne, bathed in an orange and red light.