“They managed to successfully sum up in 10 minutes what took me 1200 pages to write,” said George R.R. Martin after a clip show that summed up the entire first season. His light attitude was indicative of the entire Game of Thrones television panel, making it clear that everyone involved really loved being a part of the show, especially Jason Momoa (Khal Drogo), who joked that he was furious when he found out his character died, and spent part of the panel trying to convince GRRM and the showrunners to bring him back.
When the cast walked out, they pretty much all looked different than you would expect. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Jamie Lannister) had a pretty crazy beard. Momoa looked more like Conan than Drogo. Emilia Clarke (Dany) had her natural brown hair, which was decidedly un-Targaryen-like. And the most shocking tranformation was Lena Headey (Queen Cersei) who looked more like a hipster with her gigantic sunglasses, weird straw hat, tattoos on her arms, and short wacky hairdo. Pretty much the only one who looked “normal” was Peter Dinklage (Tyrion).
According to creator/showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, having 5,000-plus pages of A Song of Ice and Fire dropped off on their doorstep was incredibly intimidating after GRRM chose them to adapt it, but both were immediately drawn in. As they developed it, they said that many execs wanted to do the first book as a 2-hour movie, but they just couldn’t imagine that. Finally, they approached GRRM with the idea of doing an HBO series, but they weren’t sure how he would react. When he said he was on board, they were thrilled.
GRRM then asked what part of the story got the panelists “hooked.” Many of them said it was the moment when Jaime pushes Bran out the window. Coster-Waldau said that’s when he knew it was serious. Peter Dinklage, who was surprisingly subdued during the panel, said that it was the Whitewalkers and all of the fantasy elements that hooked him. He joked that he was bored any time he came on screen, then immediately became more invested after he left. He also had another great one-liner when everyone was asked to describe how they thought the series should end. Most said they wanted to “win” or be on the throne, but Dinklage simply said, “Dance number.”
When asked if they were addicted to the books, Emilia Clarke revealed that she read the first book before the filming of the first season and it became her “bible,” with tons of character notes all over the book. But she didn’t want to read ahead because she wanted to be in more or less the same place as her character, so she decided to use the books as a sort of present for herself—when she finished filming season 1, she let herself read book 2, and she plans to follow that method from now on.
GRRM asked Kit Harrington (Jon Snow) if he preferred working with a fake elephant (from a stage play he was recently in) or with the real dog who played Ghost. He said that he loves Copper (Ghost), but it’s hard to work with animals since they don’t always do what you want them to. Copper apparently spent much of his time being happy and excited about the meat Kit often carried around when filming with him instead of looking like the serious and dangerous Ghost.
It was Momoa, however, who stole the panel. In true Hollywood fashion, he was wearing sunglasses in the beginning, but early on he removed them to reveal that he was wearing the distintive black eye makeup of his character. He and Emelia even spoke in the Dothraki tongue! He said it was really neat to talk to someone in a madeup language and be understood.
One extremely interesting tidbit the creators revealed was that Jason’s casting was actually the result of fan discussions. They’d been scouring actors to find someone for Drogo to no avail when they decided to check out the fan discussion boards. You know those lists we’re always creating of our “dream choices” for who gets cast in what role? Well, they saw Momoa on one of those lists. They weren’t familiar with his work (“We didn’t watch much Baywatch,” one said.), but he looked right so they figured they might as well bring him in. The audition that followed was unforgettable. Momoa decided to show that he had what it took for the role: during his audition he ripped off his shirt and started doing a Dothraki dance he made up for Drogo.
Wish you had been there to see that? Well, good news! Though Momoa refused to do it for the Comic-Con audience, it will be an extra on the DVDs for the first season, along with many other cast members’ auditions and lots of artwork and storyboards. Deleted scenes won’t be on the DVDs because they used pretty much all of the footage for the final product that we’re already seen. A pretty good reason, I think.
Another fun tidbit: when Jason was asked who would win in a fight, Conan or Drogo? His answer was unequivocally the Khal!
What does the future hold? Benioff and Weiss said that the second season will stay pretty true to the second book, with more dragons, bigger direwolves, danger in the North, and the introduction of the Red Priestess. However, they think book three (A Storm of Swords) is too big and complex for just one season, so season 3 may diverge from the book a little more and extend into the 4th season… should they get renewed for those seasons. The creators didn’t want to spoil anything for those who hadn’t read the books (which I was very thankful for!), but they said that their goal was to get to the event they called “RW.” They said that those who read the book would understand. GRRM decribed it as the most difficult scene he’s yet had to write in any of the books, and said that he actually had to write every other scene in book 3 first, then come back and make himself write this one. If they get to the point with the series, all of them will be “very happy.”
Juliana Weiss-Roessler has been writing professionally for over 10 years. Currently, she’s an editor for PinkRaygun, a geek girl e-zine, and a food and organic living contributor to Savings.com. She has ghostwritten one sci-fi novel and is now ghostwriting a second one. You can learn more about her writing at WeissRoessler.com or follow her geekery and adventures onTwitter @julweiss.