Dan Weiss David Benioff Featured Interview Maisie Williams Season 7 Season 8 Sophie Turner

SXSW: Game of Thrones panel reveals details on seasons 7 and 8

(Photo by Amy E. Price/Getty Images for SXSW)

Game of Thrones was one of the biggest properties at this year’s South by Southwest festival, held annually in Austin, TX. HBO brought their big guns for a panel on the show, as showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss were joined by Sophie Turner (Sansa) and Maisie Williams (Arya). Technically, Turner and Williams moderated the panel, although the pair fielded their share of questions.

SPOILERS follow.


It was revealed near the end of the panel that Weiss had written many of the questions Williams and Turner were asking, but it didn’t stop the showrunners from answering them honestly. There was no new footage revealed, but there were some big takeaways. Let’s look at them:

  • The showrunners confirmed that Season 8 will only contain six episodes.
  • Season 8 will have four writers. Episode 1 will be written by Dave Hill, Episode 2 by Bryan Cogman, and the remaining 4 by Benioff and Weiss.
  • Season 7 had three visual effects teams working on it simultaneously.
  • Tyrion Lannister has the best line of dialogue in season 7 (shocker).
  • Someone asked Benioff if it was possible to have a dragon controlled by a White Walker. His response: “Maybe.”
  • Ed Sheeran will make a cameo in season 7. He’s been hankering for that for a while.

(Photo by Amy E. Price/Getty Images for SXSW)

There was some lighter (hopefully) stuff as well.

  • Benioff and Weiss were asked if Daenerys and Jon Snow would meet. Benioff said that they felt too obvious. “Maybe we should just avoid that.”
  • When asked why Sophie Turner had blonde hair, rather than Sansa’s normal red, Maisie Williams quipped, “She’s dead.” Then there was an awkward silence…

Benioff and Weiss were also both highly complimentary of Turner and Williams, stating that they were proud of how the pair had grown up in the spotlight. Benioff specifically mentioned his desire for his own daughters to grow up like Williams and Turner. Feelings.

Although the two of them named Williams as their favorite.

Looking back on the series, Turner said she was most proud of filming her wedding night scene with Iwan Rheon (Ramsay Bolton). She liked that the scene opened up conversations about rape, and led her to become an advocate on the subject. Williams was most proud of moderating the panel.

Benioff and Weiss also revealed some info about the show’s original pilot, which still hasn’t been seen to this day:

  • The showrunners considered the scene involving Theon, Jon, and Robb shaving “the worst scene we’ve ever written.”
  • Peter Dinklage and Sean Bean were the first actors cast.
  • Williams was scared of the other two actresses up for Sansa Stark, but felt at ease with Turner.

Death is a huge part of Game of Thrones. When asked which actor they had the hardest time killing off, both Benioff and Weiss nominated Jason Momoa (Khal Drogo). The pair also admitted that they so enjoyed working with Noah Taylor (Locke) that they rewrote his death to occur in season 4, as opposed to season 3. Locke was originally intended to die in the bear pit where Brienne is rescued by Jaime Lannister.

Benioff and Weiss also said they wished they could bring back Michelle Fairley (Catelyn) and Jack Gleeson (Joffrey). Ser Meryn Trant’s death at the hands of Arya has the honor of being the most expensive death to shoot for the show thus far.

On to on-set shenanigans: Benioff admitted that, while on location in Belfast, Jason Momoa broke his hands while playing the “slap game.” The duo also described pranking Kit Harington in season 1 by writing an elaborate scene involving Jon Snow’s face being horribly burned during the scene where he rescues Lord Commander Mormont from a wight. The duo told Harington he looked too “Disney” before laughingly giving up on the prank.

Post Game of Thrones, Benioff and Weiss admitted they would like continue to write together, but would have no involvement in a prequel or sequel series. The both agreed that “new blood” would be best for the show going forward. When the show wraps, the showrunners have their eye on some of the prop swords, specifically calling Heartsbane, the Tarly family sword, beautiful. Just don’t tell HBO.

Elsewhere at the festival, Williams and Turner surprised fans who attended HBO’s Game of Thrones-themed “escape room” interactive exhibit. Lucky fans.


  • How can the Jon ,Theon, and Robb shaving scene be the worst scene when we’ve had to endure the Sandsnakes and Greyworm and Missandei scenes?

    • I’d go also for the scenes where Tyrion tries to get Gray Worm and Missandei to drink and tell lame jokes. Not to mention a mortally-wounded Arya being chased by Terminator II.

      • Agree with zandru; the scene in Mereen w/ Tyrion attempting to get Missandei & Grey Worm to loosen-up a bit and tell jokes was SO awkward that I felt awkward watching it.

    • What about Sophie’s acting skills as Sansa? Don’t B and W find it cringeworthy too? Haha!

      Thought that scene with Robb, Theon and Jon was ok though. Agree with the Sand Snakes and Dorne scenes. Too blah. Wrong casting of the Sand Snakes actresses, that’s why ..

  • I agree that they shouldn’t be writing a prequal or sequel. The show is great but they ruined many aspects of the books. Pointless story lines like grey worm and missandai are cringeworthy. And dorne is trash.

  • Maise and Sophie look like they’re with their dads!!😆
    I liked lockes time on the show, he was entertaining.

  • Question 1 – Were they…joking, when they said “We wrote all of our own questions and gave them to Sophie and Maisie”? From the way they say it? Or was it difficult to tell?

    Question 2 – Were Benioff and Weiss drinking again?

  • Season 8….6 episodes!
    That sucks!😢
    All this is wrapping up in 13 episodes!? That’s gonna be a crazy ride!


  • I would have liked to hear Maisie do her Canadian accent. Maybe someone will post a video soon! There are three small clips on YouTube that are comical.

  • The She-Wolves of House Stark.

    I guess in the “lore” of House Stark Arya and Sansa must unarguably would be the deadliest Stark women of them all.

  • They did mention trying to prevent plot leaks, and the answer made me awayforthelads was a staff member. If he were an actor, he may be off the show sooner than planned!

  • Great job, Corey. While there were no big revelations, it sounds like it was fun. I think HBO owes both Dan and Dave a Heartsbane replica for what they’ve accomplished. And isn’t that the perfect swordname for writers who ‘executed’ Shireen, Hodor, and so many other fan fave characters? As to Maisie’s quip, back in the autumn when fans first noticed Sophie in the wig, posters here at WIC and around the Internet went mental speculating as to why Sophie had switched to a wig. A popular guess was that Sansa would die in S7. I suspect Maisie was taking the mickey out of that rumour, especially as Sophie gave an interview recently where she discussed the S8 filming schedule. After that, the Internet proclaimed that Sansa is safe. Personally, I just want No More Dead Starks.

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