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.