Game of Thrones is coming to an end, with the cast and crew currently hard at work filming the eighth and final season. Before filming began, the lot of them gathered in Belfast for a table read of the season 8 scripts. Kit Harington admitted to crying afterwards, and Sophie Turner (Sansa) has now revealed to The Hollywood Reporter that she was right there with him.
"[I]t was really bittersweet. It was hard. At the end of the very last script, they read aloud, “End of Game of Thrones.” As soon as they read that out, pretty much everyone burst into tears. There was a standing ovation for [showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss]. We were all clapping and cheering. It was amazing."
We’ll probably have the same reaction when the final episode of season 8 airs in 2019.
But it’s not all melancholy, as Turner admitted to feeling “very, very powerful” now that she knows how the whole thing ends, one of the most sought-after secrets in entertainment. “We’re shooting all of our final scenes. It’s getting incredibly emotional. It’s very real now.”
"To have made it this far is pretty unbelievable, considering the amount of deaths there have been. All of us have always had discussions about theories about what we think is going to happen — who’s going to die, who’s going to end up ruling. Now, we know. It almost feels like another one of our theories. It doesn’t even feel like it’s what’s actually happening. It’s very satisfying."
It would have to be, particularly considering what Sansa has gone through throughout the series. Assuming she survives the whole thing, that is.
But as surreal as it is for Turner to contemplate the end of the story, the hardest thing for her will be saying goodbye to the people she’s worked with over the last decade of her life, both in front of and behind the camera.
"The final scene we shoot on set could be the final time we ever work together. It’s really difficult and we’re all getting emotional now, thinking about it. The girl who’s done my hair since season one is like an older sister to me. The camera operator is like a father figure to me. It’s going to be very hard. We really are like one big family. We’ve maintained that family throughout every season. We haven’t switched up too many people, really…So, it’s going to be very strange. It’s been my entire life, really."
Okay, enough feelings. Let’s talk about season 8.
Like her fellow castmates, Turner was effusive about the quality of the coming episodes. “It’s definitely more epic this season, for sure. It grows and grows and grows.” As fans could expect, some of the show’s more fantastical elements — the White Walkers and the dragons, for example — are going to come more to the fore in season 8 as the story barrels to a close. But Turner stressed that the show isn’t going to lose sight of the human drama that makes it tick.
"[W]e still very much managed to maintain those human relationships and stories that bring it back to reality and keep it resonating with the audience. The thing with Game of Thrones and the reason why I believe it works so well is we have these fantastic elements, which are balanced so perfectly with the real human elements — the character-driven plot points and things like that, where you get that escapism, but it’s also very personal. It’s really key to keep that going. The greater the fantastical elements become, and the more epic it becomes with the fighting and everything, the greater the character-driven storylines become as well, and the more epic they become. There are more relationships formed this season than any other, and more people meeting and more conspiracies and plotting and forming of alliances. We have had to parallel the two, just to insure we keep that balance just right. It’s a special, magic recipe."
That’s reassuring, although if season 8 is going to feature “more conspiracies and plotting and forming of alliances,” it’ll have to do it in double-time, considering there are only six episodes. Maybe there’s something to the rumor that each episode will be “supersized.”
As for Sansa herself, Turner wonders if she’ll feel a bit adrift now that she’s finally rid herself of the deleterious influences in her life, from Joffrey to Ramsay and now Littlefinger.
"[A]t the end of season seven, we’re seeing Sansa at a place of comfort and satisfaction. She now has eliminated all of the bad from her life and away from Winterfell. She’s there with her family. They might not be the same people they were in the beginning, but they’re still her family. They’re still people she can trust…For the first time, we’re seeing her very satisfied and happy — but you wonder, what’s next for Sansa? What’s going to motivate her? Is it just about keeping Winterfell as it is in this currently good place? Is it the rising threat of the undead? It’s a very strange place for her. Where do her motivations lie now? Now that she’s run out of people to manipulate, I wonder if she feels a little bit lost!"
The White Walkers will probably be bad influence enough for anyone.
And finally, there’s the end. Turner didn’t give specifics, but is mindful of the weight of expectation. As THR points out, no matter how a beloved series ends, you’re not going to be able to please everyone in the fanbase, particular when it comes to a fanbase like the one for Game of Thrones, where different people have very different ideas of how they’d like the story to conclude. Has Turner come to peace with that?
"There have been so many theories and so many discussions with what people think is going to happen — where they would like things to go, and who they would like to see in power, and who they want to see die. Finally, just knowing… and for the people, when they watch it, I hope there’s going to be some satisfaction in that it’s come to an end and that’s how it goes. There will be some people who are disappointed, I’m sure, because they will want certain people to end up in certain places."
Let’s end with Turner’s closing: how did she personally feel when she read the final scripts with the rest of the cast?
"I’m getting goosebumps now thinking about it. It was a shock to the system. We actually realized, reading that “end of Game of Thrones line” [at the end of the table read], that that was it. When you’re in it, you don’t really see an end point. It’s just an ongoing thing you’re living with. It was a real shock. It was really sad, but there was an immense amount of pride, too. We realized we had done it. We had created this amazing thing, and that’s it now. It was just a feeling of pride. I was proud of David and Dan, and I was looking around at all of the other cast members around the table, nodding at them, and saying: “Well done. We’ve done it.” It was the craziest feeling. It’s the biggest project we’ll ever do. We’ve put our hearts and souls into it. Saying goodbye to it means putting parts of our hearts and souls behind. But we also know we’ve given it everything that we’ve got."