Casting Speculation

GRRM on recasting Catelyn and writing his script

George R. R. Martin posted to his Not A Blog yesterday with some comments on the Catelyn recasting and his upcoming script writing.

Being under the weather for a couple weeks there has put me seriously behind on everything, I’m afraid. I’m now struggling to get back into it. In addition to the on-going work on DANCE, I am also trying to wrap up FORT FREAK, volume twenty-one in the Wild Cards series, and will soon need to gear up to write my season one script for HBO. I’m been over a decade since I last did a teleplay, I realized suddenly. I hope I still remember how.

Yes, the part of Catelyn on HBO’s GAME OF THRONES has been recast. The new actress is Michelle Fairley, a talented and acclaimed veteran of the British and Irish stage and television. That’s being discussed in several places on the web, most notably Westeros and Winter Is Coming, so take your comments, questions, and thoughts there, if you’d be so good.

There’s more news, both bad and good, on several different fronts, none of which I am at liberty to talk about just now. Soon, maybe.

In addition to the above info, I was able to confirm with George that he plans to write episode eight. So the full writing schedule for season one would be Bryan Cogman writing episode four, Jane Espenson writing episode six, GRRM writing episode eight and David and Dan handling the rest.

Winter Is Coming: Nice to know the full script schedule for season one. Episode eight should be a fun one for GRRM to write. Depending on how it breaks down that could be the episode where we see the Battle of the Green Fork. I’m hopeful that the good news that GRRM mentioned is more upcoming casting news. However I am a little worried about his mention of more bad news, though he mentions it is on “different fronts” so hopefully it isn’t anything related to Thrones.


    • Yes, good job!
      Did he give you that piece of info as a harmless scoop to show his appreciation of this blog or was it no secret at all?

      • I don't know. I just emailed him asking which episode he planned to write and he emailed back saying he was planning on doing episode 8. I asked him if it would be okay for me to post that info and he said "sure".

        He did thank me for all my hard work on the blog. That was nice to hear. So maybe it was a mini-scoop to show his appreciation. :)

  • Let’s hope the bad news isn’t anything related to DANCE as well. (like… having to split the paperback in two due length, for example…) Fingers crossed all goes well.

  • Let’s hope the bad news doesn’t have to do with the show. I don’t want to have to get accustomed to another new casting…

  • Not a chance of green fork showing up episode 8. It’s 9 at the earliest. My prediction (as in a previous post) episode 8 is where Ned gets owned in court, where John burns the tower, where mormont saves dany from the wineseller, And where Dany meets Mirri Maz Dur.

  • “What happend to the goats?” LMAO, that is got to be one of Tyrion’s funniest quotes! I hope they squeeze that in.

  • "Michelle Fairley, a talented and acclaimed veteran of the British and Irish stage and television"

    she's a veteran alright…

  • Anyone else find it odd he refuses to talk about the casting change on his blog? It’s almost as if he’s pissed off or really upset about it. In fact, he didn’t even say the replacement actress would be great in the role or anything. Very odd…

    • I'm sure he'd just rather not get too involved since HBO isn't commenting it or giving any reason for the change either.
      Although I have to admit that he could have given the news in a little more positive light. All we know is that he considered it a bad news…. well any recasting news has to be bad in that in implies reshooting and all, but still…

      • I agree with that. Obviously, he wasn't speaking ill of *her*, but announcing it as bad news couldn't help by color the reaction.

    • GRRM had a producer's hat on the show, so is in effect an employee (or, more accurately, a consultant) of HBO, and likely cannot comment on any decisions made by HBO without further official clarification or permission, like the fact he gets news about casting and stuff days before it's released officially but cannot say anything until HBO already has.

    • Finding meaning in lack of commentary begins the descent into echo chamber territory when one attempts to define it. Anything on this sort of topic is naught but the purest form of outright speculation.

  • I kind of feel like in some ways we're back to pre-casting days, only now we're dealing with both our pre-conceptions AND the actors we got used to thinking about as the "TV Version" of our favorite characters. Any new actor in an "established" role is going to have a lot of mental baggage to work through, but all that will change by episode three of the show, hopefully.

  • Three weeks ago, Martin blogged that he was on manuscript page 1311. Did we mention that each volume is gigantic?

    “Practically speaking, there can’t be more than about 250 more (pages),” Martin said. “(My publisher) told me 1550 (pages) is the limit. Any more and the binding won’t hold.”


    no more than 250 pages and Dance is done…. that souunsd good to me! (not counting rewritings of chapters, of course)

    • He is definitely very close. He revealed to me that he plans to finish Dance before tackling the script, which means he must be confident he can finish the book by the end of the year.

      • WHAT!??????!!!!!!!!!!!
        Do you realize how big a scoop this is???
        IMO, he needs to tackle the script even sooner than that. They have to start pre-production on the episode quite soon. Where is Paul Gude's chart or the production timeline??? If they start filming episode 2 in June (or 1st of July at the latest if we go by Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), where does that put pre-production start on episode 8?

        Of course, we shouldn't rely too much on any date that would give us and give GRRM all the peace of mind he needs to finish Dance without additional pressure, but I can't help but get excited at this news!

        • Let's look at it a few ways.

          250 pages * 300 words/page = 75,000 words. If he writes the 1,000 words/day which is common among writers then that's 75 days. Mid-June to complete, plus more time to revise?

          GRRMs rate on this book is 1311 pages * 300 words/pg / (5 years * let's say 300 good working days/yr) = 262 words/day. 75,000 words would take him 286 days. This one I don't believe because it assumes having similar difficulties writing that he has in the past, but it seems he is on a good streak getting to the end. After all he's done the last 250 pages in about 75 days. So consider 286 the worse case scenario, about 9.5 months, so end of the year at latest.

          I'd bet on July.

      • and I must add this only confirms the feeling I had recently that Dance is very very close to finish… like a month or so from it…

      • I assume that have a deadline for the script he's writing. They probably won't need all of them done before shooting starts but I'm just wondering how all that works. I'm sure some shows kind of write as they go however I heard that Lucas wants all of the first seasons scripts of the Star Wars show done before they move on a live action show.

        • Dont take too much meaning from the amount of pages. He has stated below that the total pages is a total and that some of the stuff written will be appearing in the next book so the actual Dance total is less than the pages written.

          • If we assume (do not assume, 'cause then you make an ASS out of U and ME) he set presedence with his post october 6th last year he will give the page count in finished chapters. He might not even have 50 pages left for the manuscript to reach 1550 pages. Also, he's writing faster and faster.
            October 6th 1100 pages
            February 8th 1205 pages
            March 2nd 1311 pages

          • GRRM doesn't include draft or non-finalised material in his page counts. Big jumps in page count are not down to him writing 100 MS pages from scratch in a few weeks, but more down to him getting to final draft quality on scenes and chapters that have existed in draft in some cases for years.

            This is why the 'maybe 250 pages to go' comment is interesting but ultimately not of much use in determing a timescale because we have no idea of how many of those 250 pages exist in draft state already or need to be written from scratch. If most of it needs to be written from scratch, it could be a way off, if most or all exists already and he just needs to tweek them he could be done very quickly. As the Star interview says, it could take a few days or a few months. We have no way of telling at the moment.

            Overall, though, I'd say the news is encouraging and that if he does want to finish and lock ADWD before starting on the script, he hasn't got a huge amount of time to do so.

          • That GRRM regularly tells us how he's doing with ADWD tells me that it's pretty darn close to being finished. Learning from his previous mistakes of being too optimistic about ADWD I can't really see GRRM even hoping to finish ADWD before writing the script, much less telling us about it, if those 250 pages had to be written from scratch.

            But hey, I've fooled myself before, overly optimistic I guess…

  • You have to smile at the contrast between the title "Do yourself a favour: Don’t read this book" and the way he veneres Martin's work throughout the article after that :)

    "the five stages of George R.R. Martin fandom: introduction, enthrallment, disappointment, disbelief and bitterness."
    I guess I just never got past the second stage :)

    • > "the five stages of George R.R. Martin fandom: introduction, enthrallment, disappointment, disbelief and > bitterness."
      > I guess I just never got past the second stage :)

      haha :) i guess i reached the third stage, but since im reareading books now (rehearing actually, audiobook-wise) im back to stage two :D btw, Roy Dotrice is plainly awesome:)

      • I think the five-step process goes more like this. Introduction, enthrallment. yearning, for more, patiently frustrated and jst plain frustrated. True fans, of course waiver between steps four and five as new tidbits of news (OMG Winter! I think I might even be back at step three with your bombshell today) are released.

  • Goats are one great running gag with Tyrion and Wildman. My favorite one is Tyrion's ''I'll get some goats'' when we probably hear about goats for the last time in the books (so far).

    Funny choice by Martin, I can see a point in him writing script for a more slow-paced episode but I expected him to write script for one with Jaime vs. Ned confrontation…

    • I really doubt that. It's possible one of them has a personal issue, of course, but since GoT is the first big thing for all of them, there's almost no way they'd leave it for other work or anything like that.

  • So what would be interesting these days is to find out if any castmember has recently mentioned Thrones at all. The more recent, the more likely they are still in.

  • Perhaps both Sophie and Maisie's parents found out that later in the series they both have nude scenes, and so have pulled their daughters from the production… Although I have always been assuming that they would adapt those scenes so there would be no nudity.

      • I seem to recall in Braavos, when she is trying to get rid of the old Arya and become Cat of the Canals, she sneaks out one evening and throws EVERYTHING in the river, including all her clothing (although i think she keeps needle).

        Then again, by the time they get round to filming AFFC (fingers crossed we get that far), the actress will probably be 18. Then again, as important as the scene is, i'm sure they can get around it with some tactical lighting, given that it is night time.

    • HBO may be HBO, but it won't do underage nudity. I don't remember any Arya scenes that really call for it (pissing behind a tree doesn't count) and the only really momentous scene for Sansa (with Joff ordering her stripped) could easily be done without actual nudity.

      I'd be more concerned for poor Bran having to look at naked Hodor.

      Osha: "Now that's a big man."

      • I think Maise and Sophie are safe, seeing as they've written Thrones-related Twitter posts very recently.

      • Also the scene with Tyrion at their wedding. Or is it just Tyrion in that scene? Either way, it is a very momentous and important scene involving nudity around a child.

  • Let's just hope the bad news has to do with Wild Cards or something. It would be a big setback if they have to recast another actor, because they'll probably have to reshoot the entire pilot.

    • I don't know… When I read his psot I got the feeling that both the good and bad news are GoT related, just not of the same nature (casting, shooting locations, plot, budget, schedule, you name it)…
      I hope I'm wrong about the bad news…
      And I hope it doesn't concern Dance either.

    • Well its obviously something thats been bugging him for a while now, as he has already mentioned 'bad news' in two posts. I hope its not one of the big name actors getting recast as that would definitely be upsetting.

  • seems to me he is keeping this bad news very close & guarded – may it be personal? may it be haelth related? I think these are most likely rather than books as he v open about his writing but less about himself.

      • Agreed. As much as we may not want it, I'm betting it's more casting news. The series has too big a cast for it to stay sacrosanct and untouched by the recasting bug. I'm just hoping it's not another huge role like Catelyn.

  • I think we should mentally prepare ourselves for some more bad casting news.

    I just hope it's not Sean Bean or Peter Dinklage. I would cry.

    • Absolutely pure speculation on my part here, but I seem to remember reading something about Bean's negatiations for the pilot being difficult. Really hoping it has nothing to do with him, but if it does I would be both crest-fallen to have him out, and really ticked that the guy signed on in the first place to collect a pay-check and then back out.

      • Bean is by far my favourite piece of casting, so I agree with you. However, the fact that he's only required for 10 episodes should make it somewhat less difficult to hang on to him, should it not?

  • It's not health related, as he obviously just went through a stubborn cold/flu situation and was pretty open about it. The only other bad news I considered viable is that ADWD will indeed be split, but in the Toronto interview it sounds like that's still a way off from happening.

    That leads me to the conclusion that the bad news is likely nothing to do with the books at all. It may be something to do with the TV series (another recasting? Further filming in Morocco being ruled out due to expense?) but my guess is that it's something totally unrelated to either.

  • I really like most of the cast, but the only person whose jumping ship would REALLY devestate the show is Peter Dinklage. Everyone else could be replaced with a reasonable alternate, even Sean Bean.

      • I'm assuming that someone like Dinklage would be offered even more money to stay, if he threatened to back out. Hopefully he doesn't use those kind of tactics, though.

        • He seems very close to a British actor in how he likes to work but also takes his craft seriously. My guess is that a role like Tyrion wouldn't be dropped easily.

          • I was thinking the same thing – this is the role of his lifetime. Something that really just feels like it was written for him. It's substantial, complex, emotive…and not to mention Tyrion always gets the best lines. It's the kind of role any actor would dream of, and one that Dinklage not only has the skills to do it justice, but also has the ability to *inhabit* the role. Seriously, I am so very looking forward to seeing Dinklage as Tyrion.

  • I fear we may be over-reacting a bit here. Especially wordcandy70 and concerns about George's health. Usually when George says he has news but can't share it's because he contractually can't say anything before an official announcement is made. I'm betting on problems with the calendar/comic books/movie of "Skin Trade." Bad news for George and die-hard fans but not earth-shattering.

  • Here's a theory based entirely on uninformed speculation: HBO wants to reshoot the pilot, and they need to make room in the budget. So, being the most expendable of the expensive leads, Jennifer Ehle is out. Maybe Sean Bean or Lena Headey, too (firing Ms. Headey would save them more money, over multiple seasons). Possibly Tamzin Merchant, although I doubt she's THAT expensive. My guess is that that they would sacrifice anything or anyone to keep Peter Dinklage.

    • There is no way they would fire all the best cast members, so they could re-shoot a pilot with worse cast members. It makes no sense.

      • Not saying they will cut everyone, just that if they need to reshoot and HBO won't give them more money, cutting muti-season "name" actors is the low hanging fruit.

  • What worried me as far as DANCE is concerned is … well, dropped by Amazon to check out some comments and information on pre-order (might as well pre-order rather than just waiting anxiously for it to come. Nice surprise when it gets to my doorstep). But the release date on Amazon is stating DECEMBER 25th, 2012.

    Which would make sense in a way. GOT was published 1996. Book 2 two years later, book three two years after book 2. But then all went down — FEAST took six years after STORM to get published. So assuming that DANCE takes another six years, that'll put us around 2012 … but I REALLY hope that it's not going to be six years between books … and now he's trying to finish DANCE and supervising the TV show …

      • One of my jobs when I worked for them was writing templates for responses to customer inquiries. There was one specifically about the dates being approximate. I don't know if it's still the case, but at one time you needed to provide some date, any date, in order for it to show up in the catalog.

      • Right – I've read multiple authors say those Amazon dates are pure fiction. No sense worrying about that.

    • George always says not to believe those dates. They can't be true since HE never gave a date (or he might have given one at first to his publisher but now he doesn't do deadlines anymore).

    • It would be horrible if it was due to be published on December 25th, 2012. . . because isn't the world supposed to end just a few days before that?

  • I'm Paulo on this one….the world doesn't lack talented actors …we'll be fine….don't worry be happy it got ordered…

  • Who cares about casting changes. Actors are actors. What I'm worried about is that someone at HBO is going to force them to make plot or character changes. That is what could really mess up the show.

  • i agree that losing peter would be gutting.

    but i could live with losing other actors – after watchin alot of hbo shows, they always seem to attract a great array of talent and think they get casting pretty much perfect.

    i just hope if it is casting that it has no immediate backlash on budget, forcing changes to be made that would ake away from the final product…

    the mind ponders….

    guess we shall just have to be patient until we hear more.

    ps i have just reached Tywins introduction in GoT…sh!t is going to hit the fan!

  • In so far as "A Dance With Dragons" is concerned, I get the feeling that he will soon finish the book, and perhaps that will make it easier on him with the two remaining ones. As for the publication date, I saw in one bookstore that same December 25 but it was 2011 instead of 2012. I spoke with several managers and staff in various bookstores and they all confirmed that these dates are just filler, just arbitrary dates they input until the real/final publication date comes their way (so far they haven't gotten any hints).

  • As for the re-casting, while I am certainly sorry for Ms. Ehle and her fans to be dropped from the pilot and series-to-be, I will venture to say that these things do happen ocassionaly, and are a quite normal part of the on-going production of such a large scale project. I seem to remember quite clearly that when Peter Jackson was getting ready to start shooting the LOTR trilogy, he still hadn't cast Aragorn. Vigo Mortensen was not cast until three days prior to principal photograpy starting. He was literally cast and then went directly on-set, and we all know what followed, now many of us couldn't see anybody else playing Aragorn. So let's be fair and give Ms. Farley a chance to see what she can do. George maybe pissed but alas I guess he doesn't have much say in the casting. Just remeber how many actors were suppossed to cast in this role and that role in some of our favourite movies, and for some reason or other the original plans fell through…

    • Actually Stewart Townsend was originally cast Aragorn but Peter didn't think he came across as a warrior so Viggo was brought in last minute…but point taken

  • @loco73
    If GRRM is as close we are now speculating, AND he manages to wind up the last 250 or so pages without further writer's block (Meerenese knot anyone?), AND he doesn't feel the need to tinker with any of the other "finished" PoVs, AND the publisher is happy with the draft the way it is, a Dec 2011 release date is definately possible at this current date according to my extremely limited knowledge of the publishing industry.

    That is alot of ifs (or ANDs rather). I believe I'll remain hopefully skeptical until we get more news.

    • I talked to the manager of a bookstore in my neighbourhood and he was speculating that the publication date might be placed as close to the release of the series as possible, for one to draw attention to the series and viceversa to the entire ASOIF saga. He said (mind you it was one guy) that there was talk ,that at some point, for the entire ASOIF book series to be re-released so as to reflect the fact that it is now being made into an HBO show. Or they just might put some stickers on the books like they did with the "Dexter" and "Sookie Stackhouse" novels.

      Whatever the truth turns out to be…I gather that sooner, rather than later, the book will be out, and putting it out a little before or after the show's premiere makes most sense so as to maximize exposure and profits. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

  • I have one question, if someone maybe knows.
    I wonder about the "British equity" thing.

    As far as I understand the most of the actors in this very production will be members of the British Equity.

    Is the number of the non-equity members among the cast is fix or variable?

    • My guess is that there is no fix number unless specified in the contract (perhaps someone in the industry would know the exact provisions of previous similar contracts of American productions filming in the UK), which I really doubt, and then again, it would surely be a percentage, not a fix number.

      I would rather think they would have to negociate any non British Equity casting on a case by case basis.

      But I am no professional in this matter, so hopefully somebody else will give you the answers you are looking for.

      • This idea came to my mind, after all that re-casting conversation.
        Maybe they found a couple of candidates for the roles yet to be cast, who are not members of the Equity.
        But it is just a wild speculation, I think that the most probable reason for re-casting Catlyn Stark is one of the personnals ones, not some great conspiracy theory.

        I think it is rather amusing that everybody notices when GRRM mentiones bad news, and ignores when he writes about good ones – like it was in his last livejournal.

        I would guess HBO has cast someone, but it is not announced yet.

  • James Purefoy wont be in the rome movie, seeing as his character is dead at the conclusion of the series, but i dont really see him as a bronn though
    I think he'd be great as Stannis though.