SDCC 2013: HBO’s ‘Game of Thrones’ Panel
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There are two age-old proverbs in Westeros: “If you think this has a happy ending, you haven’t been paying attention” and of course the more well-known, “If you think fans would let a Comic-Con go by without an appearance from Game of Thrones, then Hodor hodor hodor hodor.” One of the highlights of 2013’s San Diego Comic-Con is, no doubt, currently HBO’s most popular show Game of Thrones, which had a panel today in Hall H.

The panelists this year included executive producers/writers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, Song of Ice and Fire author George R.R. Martin, and cast John Bradley (Samwell Tarly), Emilia Clarke (Daenerys Targaryen), Peter Dinklage (Tyrion Lannister), Michelle Fairley (Catelyn Stark), Kit Harington (Jon Snow), Rose Leslie (Ygritte), and Richard Madden as Robb Stark. The panel was moderated by public radio host Elvis Mitchell.

The panel began with a somewhat comical “In Memoriam” reel dedicated to all the characters that have died on the show, set to the tune of Boys II Men’s “It’s So Hard To Say Goodbye To Yesterday.”

Benioff and Weiss then introduced the rest of the cast, to the resounding roar of the audience. Madden came out to cheers of “King of the North.”

Moderator Elvis Mitchell admonished Martin for killing off his main characters to which the author responded that its always an opportunity to write new characters. Benioff and Weiss admitted that despite changes in the series, they always knew the Red Wedding would end on film as written in the books. Madden was devastated by the loss of his character and cried on the plane ride back home after the shoot. He said he has since sorely missed working on the show. Fairley hasn’t read past the season she’s working on, as she feels she’s committed to the script she’s given. Dinklage said he also doesn’t want to know what’s coming, and won’t plan on reading the books until years after the show. Harington and Leslie said the scene where they say goodbye was easy to play thanks to Benioff and Weiss’ script, despite Ygritte being devastated by Jon Snow’s departure. It was that devastation that motivated Ygritte’s hunting Jon down to shoot him.

Mitchell congratulated Clarke on her recent Emmy nomination, and she recounted hearing the news from Benioff and Weiss. She talked about what a phenomenal journey Dany has been through leading up to an “absolutely exhilarating” final episode, being lifted up by her followers. Suddenly, Jason Momoa (Khal Drogo) made a surprise appearance, running up on stage to kiss Clarke, shouting out to Martin “I’m not dead, George!”, before walking off stage.

Benioff and Weiss said their hope for filming the Red Wedding was if they could just capture the “oh shit!” aspect of Martin’s book, they could die happy, and the scene came out better than they expected thanks to Fairley’s performance. Fairley added that playing that final scene was like playing a piece of music, having her character make the discovery of betrayal as the scene slowly goes on. Benioff and Weiss credited composer Ramin Djawadi for his role in coming up with gorgeous, haunting music for “Rains of Castamere” to propel the Red Wedding.

Bradley noted that he felt Samwell has always been a hero, and his virtue is the bravery of absorbing hardship. The one moment that turns his character around was the moment when he discovers that dragon glass stops white walkers. He feels Sam’s role was to take the baton of hero to protect Gilly. Mitchell said that he felt Ygritte’s most vulnerable moment was when she stands up for Jon Snow, despite everyone else’s protestations, to which Leslie credited Benioff and Weiss’ writing.

Dinklage said that Charles Dance is so great in the role of Tywin, he can’t imagine anyone else in the role, and after their tense scenes, Dance gives him a little shoulder rub to make sure they’re ok as actors. He said he’s only as good as the actors you work wit, and he;s working with some great ones.

Martin said he could’t escape the storm of angry fans after the Red Wedding, cause the reach of the books is globally inescapable, and he’d already had a hint of the rage 13 years earlier when the books were first published. Benioff is amazed by the self-policing on the internet from people who don’t want to spoil upcoming scenes from the book like the Red Wedding. Weiss had a feelng that after so many people kept quiet about Ned Stark’s death in the first season, that the fan base as a whole would protect further surprises.

Clarke said it was hard to come out of season two after Dany reached rock bottom, and she had to put her trust back into her dragons, and allow her confidence to grow and build. Madden said during the Red Wedding scene, he had to play the scene in the moment, despite knowing how tragically it’d end. It’s a committed decision to be present and honest in the scene.

Benioff and Weiss then introduced a deleted clip where Grand Maester Pycelle confronts Tywin, asking for his position on the King’s Council back.

At the start of the Q&A section, a T-shirt wearing Tyrion fan asked what it’s like to work on such diverse sets, to which Dinklage said it’s amazing to travel to the most beautiful places in the world, and work their asses off. Another fan asked Martin if he’d consider doing a prequel series of books showing the fall of House Targaryen, also giving Sean Bean a chance to come back to life. Martin felt pressured to finish the series, since Benioff and Weiss are shooting the books rapidly behind him, but he might go back even earlier, writing about Aegon and his sisters, but probably not again about Robert’s Rebellion.

An fan praised Clarke’s performance for being such a strong, complex, compassionate character and asked what it’s like to play her. Clarke said she never expected to play such an empowering character while she was in acting school, and if there’s the remotest chance she had made other women feel powerful, she’s incredibly grateful.

Panel Photos

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[All photos by Dave3 for Geeks of Doom.]

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