Gemma Whelan (Yara) talks season 8: “I had to pick my jaw up off the floor”


We’re two weeks out from the premiere of the final season of Game of Thrones, and while plenty of cast members have sounded off, we haven’t heard much from Gemma Whelan, who plays Yara Greyjoy. The last time we saw the would-be queen of the Iron Islands, she was being dragged through the streets of King’s Landing after being captured by her evil Uncle Euron. Whelan spent most of her Game of Thrones career filming in cold and rocky areas, so she was excited to film in sunny King’s Landing for season 7. “But when I did manage to get there, I got cabbages thrown at me!” she told The Scotsman.

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So what can fans expect from Yara in season 8?

"All I can tell you is when I read the final episode I had to pick my jaw up off the floor. Because we’ve all conjectured and wondered and been asked over the years, who, what, how, and it’s not ANYTHING you could have guessed. It’s brilliant, so movingly clever."

Whelan’s reaction pretty much lines up with everything her castmates have been saying about the ending for months now. Still, she is keeping the specifics close to her chest, including what happens between Yara and her brother Theon. If you’ll recall, Theon abandoned Yara to Euron in season 7, but eventually regained his confidence and is now mounting a rescue mission. Will he be successful? “It would be very nice and circular, wouldn’t it?” she asked. “But we all know Game of Thrones doesn’t always give you what you want….No, can’t say anything. But it’s Game of Thrones, so there will be some bloodshed… I’m sure.”

It’s also possible that Whelan plain doesn’t know everything that happens because she doesn’t read the parts of the scripts that don’t involve her character. “I like to watch it like a fan and be surprised,” she said. “So I sit on the sofa watching with my husband. I’ve never watched a TV show more vividly than the way I watch Game of Thrones. I have a physical reaction, get up off the sofa, walk about, slap my arms around. It’s a very physical experience in our house, Game of Thrones!


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Whelan heaps praise on showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss for how they’ve chosen to end the show. “[T]he writers have always known where they want the story to end, they’ve been working towards this from the beginning,” she said. “So I do know it’s going to be brilliant – just one of the many brilliant things about Game of Thrones.

You can see how Yara and Theon’s story plays out when Game of Thrones returns for its eighth and final season on April 14.

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