SDCC: Game of Thrones Panel Coverage!A column article, Shot For Shot by: Travis Moody
HBO’s smash hit epic fantasy series Game of Thrones held arguably one of the top 5 panels at the Con.
Game of Thrones creator and this era’s J.R.R. Tolkien, George R.R. Martin, held shop as the panel’s host and moderator. After showing a recap of the series’ inaugural season—perhaps for those who either enjoyed or were forced to sit through standard cable panels for Covert Affairs, Psyche and Ringer—the epic fantasy writer went on to label HBO’s adaptation “extraordinary.”
Fans were treated with a lineup of the Nikolaj Coster-Waldau a.k.a. Sir Jaime Lannister, Kit Harington a.k.a. Jon Snow, Lena Headey a.k.a. Cersei Lannister, Peter Dinklage a.k.a.Tyrion (Martin, and many others’ favorite), Jason Momoa’s terrorizing warrior Khal Drago, Emilia Clarke a.k.a. Daenerys Targaryen, and showrunners, David Benioff and D.B. Weiss. My favorite character Catelyn Stark, played by the terrific Michelle Fairley was disappointingly unavailable.
Martin opened with the basics: How did this all start? What was your first intro to the books? How did you get involved?
Benioff retorted, “Your twisted brain! Six years ago, your agent sent us the first four [books]. 5000 pages of material—wow!” And akin to the many fans new to the material, it was no surprise that Bran’s pushing out the window (at the end of the pilot) is the moment that captured the TV creators’ and actors’ attention as well. Benioff went on to mention the hokey idea that movie studios had about turning Martin’s colossal material into a 2-hour movie. “More like a 15-minute PG-13 movie,” Weiss chimed. Obviously, they both agreed HBO was lucky to have Martin shoot for this format.
Martin noted that Emilia Clarke’s story is not that unlike Cinderella, seeing how she snatched this project right out of drama school. “Did you come out of a Delorean time machine?” The dazzling British actress, strikingly brunette, perhaps hiding from the hordes of Dragon Queen stalkers lurking around Con, replied that she’d “do exactly the same thing. I had to take a deep breath. Read the books. [Because] drama school doesn’t… there’s no dragons.” And even as Emilia fell in love with her character, the only perk she’s received for her fame is free frozen yogurts.
Some other opening tidbits:
- Lena loves playing her misunderstood, manipulative queen despite played the ultimate strong female hero from the Sarah Conner Chronicles. [Cersei is] “fun to play…and loves her children.”
- This was Nikolaj’s first Comic Con. The “Kingslayer” started in New Amsterdam as a secret sci-fi geek. “Not a secret, no! I’m a geek.” After Martin asked if anything in his past prepared him for his NOSE, an obvious stark piece of architecture, Nikolaj humored that a casting agent said he saw the nose, “God, I’m in trouble.”
- Ultimate fan favorite Jason Momoa was asked the ultimate geek question: “Who would win between Khal Drago or Conan?” To no surprise, the mammoth-sized actor snapped: “Between you and me, George, Drago would kick his ass!!!” Martin admitted that when Drago mumbles he “needs subtitles. [I] don’t know what the fuck he says.” One of the coolest bits about that panel is that it appeared the huge scenes Martin did not write himself, such as Drago’s ripping of Mogo’s tongue, are some of his favorite. Momoa wanted to do one scene not using a weapon, dreaming that he was “ripping someone’s throat out. [Go on to] prove he was the baddest man in the world.”
- Kit’s upswing in popularity was turning into a “Twilight moment” (as one fan said behind me), with Martin noting that the long curly-haired actor’s posters have gone up on thousands of 15-year olds, segueing into “Team Rob” and “Team Kit.” Jon Snow’s much-heralded wolf Ghost “just wanted the bit of meat in his hand.” Kit claims he’s always asked in coffee shops, “Do you watch Game of Thrones?” Drolly, he finishes, “as it so happens…”
With the first season ending nearly a month ago, fans are surely gearing up for its DVD and Blu-Ray versions. D.B. Weiss mentioned that there were really no deleted scenes, as they kept almost everything they shot. However, the DVD is putting together “a lot of amazing supplementary material,” such as the cast’s first auditions. Benioff mentioned that Momoa won the role doing the “Haka.” The creator had never heard of the rising actor before, as he “hadn’t caught up on his Baywatch.” After drawing a sneer, it was told the actor decided to perform the Maorian “Haka,” tearing off his shirt, dancing uncontrollably wild—despite the particular dance not being in the scene. Momoa also admitted it took a lot of “Guinness” to learn the German Arabic language that sounds like a combination of Jabba the Hutt and Fozzy the Bear.
Next up, the much-dreaded audience Q&A… (Kidding.)
- How familiar was the cast with the source material? After not shocking complete silence: Martin said subtly, “Well, I know what happened...”
- Momoa went into complete panic while reading the novel when he stumbled upon the reveal of his death: “I hated you dude...fuck this!!”
- Martin explained that he killed off favorite characters to get people more emotionally involved. The novelist placed these heroes and villains in dangerous situations that fans won’t necessarily know they’ll get out of. Most heroes live through adversity. Not in Game of Thrones.
- How do you imagine the series ending? Some varying ideas were thrown out: Snow on the mantle; Dany has her dance with dragons; Cersei and Jamie moonlighting in their incest; and best of all, Dinklage proving his impeccable comic timing: “Dance number.”
- One girl sported a Drago T-shirt that replicated Obama’s famed “Hope.” She wore it in the hopes that Drago would come back, to which Martin joked: “He may have a twin brother.”
- What should fans expect for Games’ second season? “Everyone dies! It was all a dream. Dragons and wolves grow up.” The showrunners said if they get to “RW” (without spoiling exactly what “RW” is…) they’ll have made it. For the next winter will be a “season of exploration.” They also confirmed the Battle of Blackwater. And Martin begged for donations for the particular battle’s special effect insanity.
- Despite Damon Lindeloff (apparently) sitting in the crowd, one fan asked if Martin was “concerned with pulling a ‘Lost’?” The novelist still has two more books to write; however, he does see the end stretching vaguely in his imagination. He relates his hopes to the scouring of the Shire in Lord of the Rings, admitting the human cost of war—that triumph almost never excludes tragedy.
- Finally, our star of the panel Jason Momoa admits that what’s better than “ripping out tongues and raping beautiful women? It’s sci-fi. Next question."
I think all of our questions have been answered, Jason. Game of Thrones will undoubtedly go down as the greatest epic fantasy television program of all time. And this is just after one season.