You can’t just watch Game of Thrones. It’s the kind of show that needs discussing – at length – with coworkers, friends and people you stand in line with at the supermarket checkout. GoT, which is now in its eighth and final season, is a show we’ve come to obsess over, and that includes those behind-the-scenes stories as well.
As we head into Season 8, we’ve pulled together some fun facts and trivia surrounding the show and its stars. How many of these stories do you remember from over the years? Which ones are you learning about for the first time? (And be sure to check back in the weeks ahead as we’ll be updating this list throughout the show’s final run.)
1) Game of Thrones producers David Benioff and Dan Weiss were into pranking the cast during those early seasons, but one of their most creative ones involved Alfie Allen. The pair sent the Theon Greyjoy actor phony script pages suggesting he was going to be killed by Bran yet remain on the show. While Allen was on vacation, they continued the faux storyline charade a little longer, calling him up and asking him, “‘How would you feel about being a zombie who has absolutely no dialogue whatsoever?’ I was like, ‘It’s your show guys, cool.’ ‘How would you feel about being a naked zombie who has no dialogue whatsoever?’ I was just like, ‘This is a wind-up, isn’t it?” Allen recounted to HitFix in 2014
2) Speaking of pranks, we’re still not sure if Peter Dinklage was joking last fall when he told Jimmy Kimmel, “I like to pretend I’m dead,” when the late night host asked if he got involved in that type of cast and producer mischief. “It’s fun,” Dinklage said with a straight face. Whether this story is true or false, the way he tells it is delightful.
3) Here’s an oldie, but a goodie. Actress Emilia Clarke added a little bit extra to her Daenerys Targaryen audition in front of a host of executives in LA after producers David and Dan (who’d previously seen her in London) brought her out – a performance of the funky chicken. “I went in and I did the scenes and then I was like, ‘Well can I, can I, can I do anything else? Is there anything else you want me to do?’ And David Benioff was like, ‘You could do a dance, LOL.’ Like, as a joke. And I took him so seriously. … And it’s the only move I know, just the funky chicken,” she said, while sitting down with Jay Duplass for Variety’s Actors on Actors.
4) Sean Bean and Mark Addy played longtime Westeros friends Ned Stark and King Robert Baratheon in Season 1 of GoT, but they too had their own history. The pair had a drama school connection. “We were at drama school at the same time — same drama school, same time, different years, so we sort of go back, oh, longer than most of us can remember,” Addy told Access in 2011.
5) Filming on Game of Thrones isn’t always as cold as it looks! In 2013, John Bradley told Collider a Belfast summer isn’t kind on the Night’s Watch. “Sometimes it can be boiling hot, and in those costumes, it’s really uncomfortable. I know that me and Kit used to get a lot in Season 1, ‘You guys are freezing cold?’ We’re not freezing cold.” But, if it looks blazing hot, it probably is. Sean Bean revealed in 2011, he had to wear ice packs under his Ned Stark doublet while filming fight sequences in Malta. It was “nearly 100 degrees and we were all covered in leather in fur, so we had ice packs on. It was good fun,” he said at the time.
6) Lady, the direwolf, met a sad fate on the show, but the dog who played her found a happy home with Sophie Turner and her family. “Growing up I always wanted a dog, but my parents never wanted one. We kind of fell in love with my character’s direwolf, Lady, on set,” Sophie told the Coventry Telegraph in 2013. “We knew Lady died and they wanted to re-home her. My mum persuaded them to let us adopt her,” she added of dog Zunni.
7) In George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire book series, Davos Seaworth lost the top half of the fingers on his left hand as punishment for smuggling. But, because Liam Cunningham, who plays the character, is a leftie, they had to make the switch to editing out the digits on his right hand in the show.
8) Who run the world? Khaleesis! Nathalie Emmanuel, who plays Missandei, revealed to Access — ahead of Season 3 — that she and Emilia Clarke turned to Queen Bey for a little extra inspiration in scenes. “We were just basically applying Beyoncé songs to the scenes that we were doing, as like the soundtrack of the scene. … We’d be like, ‘Right, what Beyoncé song is going to this scene’” she said, noting “Run the World” was a popular choice.
9) Rose Leslie got a touching parting gift when she exited GoT in Season 4. After shooting her final scene – which happened to be the same one fans saw onscreen (of Ygritte dying in Jon Snow’s arm) – the actress received her character’s bow, which the producers added sentimental touches to. “They had changed the handle from the actual bow where my left hand grips it to a white leather strap, and then they had sewed on a silver clasp on one side and on that clasp was engraved ‘Kissed by fire,'” she told ScreenerTV. “And then on the other side was the emblem of a red rose. It was very thoughtful and I was incredibly touched, and it made me cry even more.
10) And speaking of Rose Leslie, Kit Harington pranked his former co-star (now wife) on April Fool’s Day one year by putting a fake (and dead-looking) Jon Snow GoT head in the fridge. And he recorded her reaction, sharing the video on the U.K.’s “Jonathan Ross Show.”
11) Remember Tyrion Lannister’s speech in his jail cell in Season 4? It didn’t originally include Tyrion’s brother, Jaime Lannister, Nikolaj Coster Waldau told the latest issue of Delta’s inflight magazine Sky. “I felt, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if [the speech] was actually to Jaime?’ And they agreed,” he recounted (noting producers had “probably already thought of it,” though)\
12) Lady Olenna – Diana Rigg – was lethal when it came to behind-the-scenes word games. “Don’t play Scrabble or Words with Friends with Diana Rigg, she’ll beat you every time,” Natalie Dormer (Margaery Tyrell) told People back in 2017.
13) Before becoming Outlander‘s king of men — Jamie Fraser — Sam Heughan auditioned for GoT. “I auditioned for Game of Thrones seven times! Loads of times,” he told Vulture in 2014. “I auditioned for Renly, Loras, some of the members of the Night’s Watch. And I’d always get so close! I’d be like, ‘Guys, just give me a sword!’ [Laughs.] Everyone was going in for those parts.”
14) Ed Sheeran’s Season 7 cameo as a Lannister soldier really was a surprise for Maisie Williams (but she had an inkling something was going on). “In the script he was written as ‘Ed’ and he had an amazing voice, so I was thinking like, surely they should just put Ed Sheeran there,” she told Absolute Radio backstage at the Q Awards in 2017. “I got to set and people weren’t really telling me what was going on, but I knew something was fishy. So when I saw Ed come into the makeup truck, I was very, very pleased.”
15) A couple of GoT cast members have appeared on The Simpsons. Carice Van Houten voiced a love interest of Bart’s in 2015. “It was sort of a big dream of mine,” she told The Scotsman in a 2017 interview. “When I was young and went to LA and people asked about my goal, where I wanted to be in 10 years, I’d say I want to be a voice on The Simpsons. So when that actually happened, I was like wow! I felt so flattered you cannot believe it. Of all the roles I’ve had, it was probably the coolest.”
16) Lena Headey really, really, really hated her last Cersei Lannister wig. “Ah, yes, The Turnip, as I’ve taken to calling her,” she told Vulture in an interview shared on the website in February, noting her extreme dislike of the fake coif. “Can’t wait to be rid of her. End of that. Did not bring that one home with me.”
17) Conleth Hill, who plays Lord Varys, invited his childhood hero — Debbie Harry of Blondie — to the Game of Thrones Season 8 premiere at Radio City Music Hall after he found out he had extra tickets. “I said, ‘Oh, ask Debbie Harry if she wants to come,” he recounted on “Late Night with Seth Meyers.” And she came, adding a little photo proof on her Twitter account.
Want even more Game of Thrones? Check out these recent articles below; the eight and final season premieres Sunday, April 14th on HBO.
- ‘Game of Thrones’ Seasons Ranked from Worst to Best
- Watch: ‘Game of Thrones’ Season 8 Cast Reveal Their Characters’ Most Iconic Moments
- The Science of ‘Game of Thrones’: 10 Surprising Facts Behind the Fantasy
- ‘Game of Thrones’: Why Sansa Stark Is the Leader Westeros Needs