Game of Thrones cast talk fans, the final season, what they miss, and more


The Game of Thrones stars recall their early days on the series, what they took from set, how the show didn’t overstay its welcome, and more.

Game of Thrones is more than a year gone, but I’m still finding interviews and discussions I missed from around the time it ended, probably because there were so many coming out at such a fast clip that I couldn’t keep track of them all. For example, take a look at this fantastic roundtable interview featuring the likes of Gwendoline Christie (Brienne of Tarth), Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Jaime Lannister), Joe Dempsie (Gendry), Liam Cunningham (Davos Seaworth), Carice van Houten (Melisandre), Isaac Hempstead Wright (Bran Stark), John Bradley (Sam Tarly), Jerome Flynn (Bronn), Kristofer Hivju (Tormund Giantsbane) and Maisie Williams (Arya Stark), all of them talking with Complex AU about the show, the fans, the end, and each other.

This roundtable interview was published in December of 2019, but reading it, I get the idea that the cast members actually gave it sometime before the final season aired, mainly because at no point does anyone address the massive fan backlash that followed the series finale. So this is a look back to a more innocent time, when the stars were grappling with leaving the show behind when the break was still pretty new. Let’s see what they had to say.

Early Game of Thrones memories

  • Gwendoline Christie (Brienne): “It’s been a really fascinating experience watching this show grow from its origins of being a fantasy show people weren’t convinced about, to the global phenomena it’s become.”
  • Joe Dempsie (Gendry): “When I was first gearing up to start season 1, and people asked what I was up to, I’d go, ‘It’s kind of like a magic, medieval thing… there’s a dragon in it.’ I’d see eyes glaze over, and thought, ‘I’m not selling this well, [but] think it’s going to be quite good.’”

It’s hard to believe that there was a time when a show with dragons and magic was seen as a risk. Now, studios can’t rush in to fill the hole left by Game of Thrones fast enough.

Image: Game of Thrones/HBO

On those legendary security measures

  • Liam Cunningham (Davos): “We had to carry our phones with us to read our lines. It drove Peter Dinklage mad because he couldn’t see the words that were so small on the phone.”
  • Carice van Houten (Melisandre): “Also, you had different names on the call sheets, all sorts of made-up names.”

“I kept forgetting my name,” Cunningham chimed in. “Me, too!” Van Houten said.

Looking back, I have to wonder if the Game of Thrones crew thinks all these security measures was money wasted. I mean, details from the show leaked anyway, and most of the audience was still surprised.

Going forward, it looks like big-name shows like The Wheel of Time and The Lord of the Rings will follow in Game of Thrones’ footsteps and try to keep things on lockdown. Their choice, I guess. That’s money that could go to coronavirus prevention.

Image: Game of Thrones/HBO

On what they took from the set

  • Jerome Flynn (Bronn): “I couldn’t get away with anything. I wanted my leather outfit, but they weren’t having that.”
  • Cunningham: “I liberated quite a few props. Do you know the stag that I carved for Shireen? I gave it to my daughter.”

Each member of the cast also received hand-illustrated storyboards from artist William Simpson that showed a key moment for their characters. Jerome got one of Bronn facing off with Drogon, for example. Others including Melisandre leeching Gendry (not sure if that went to Dempsie or van Houten) and Jaime pushing Bran out a window (not sure if that went to Wright or Coster-Waldau).

“I felt sorry for the artist,” Dempsie said. “He thought he was done, then they were like, ‘Oh, by the way, can you do storyboards for all the actors?’”

Image: Game of Thrones/HBO

On the fans

  • Christie: “It can be deeply moving actually, and I never failed to be overwhelmed and moved by it, because the character of Brienne of Tarth seems not only to resonate with women, but to people who feel some sense of isolation or being marginalized.”
  • Kristofer Hivju (Tormund): “It’s been interesting to feel the love of the fans cheering for Tormund to come out from the snow [at the end of season 7]. I saw this beautiful valentine’s card that said, ‘I love you as much as Tormund loves Brienne.’”

And of course, we can’t discount the impact social media had when it came to fans getting in contact with the people who were actually involved with the show. For better or worse, we’re living in an unprecedented age of connectiveity. “Technology has transformed our lives, and it’s happened at the same time as this show,” Christie said. “It’s been an interesting pairing, where forums are created and everybody has an equal voice.”

Image: Game of Thrones/HBO

What they’ll miss

  • Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Jaime): “I’m going to miss working with Gwen. We’ll find something else hopefully, but it’s really nice to be done. I feel really proud that we’ve done it, and we’ve ended it.”
  • John Bradley (Sam): “The further distance I get from it, the more special it seems. When we were filming, it was so intense in the bubble and routine of it. Now, we’re starting to look back on it and realize how special a time it was.”

Over a year out, I know I still miss the community Game of Thrones created, and am still waiting for the show that can command my attention quite like this one did…

Image: Game of Thrones/HBO

On the final season having fewer episodes than usual

  • Coster-Waldau: “I really thought that they’d done an amazing job, because it is impossible. I’m sure there must have been temptation, but they never seem to want anything but to tell the story in this exact way. And that does give you a sense of pride to be part of this thing, because it didn’t overstay its welcome.”
  • Isaac Hempstead Wright: “Respect to [David Benioff and D.B. Weiss] for not just trying to pad it out and get a whole ten episodes out of it. They know where the story is going, they know what they want to tell, and they know what portions need to be featured. So they’ve kept it like that.”

Now, considering how much flak the final season got, I’m guessing there are a lot of fans who disagree with Wright and think a few more episodes would have done wonders for the show’s final stretch. But that’s what’s interesting about this interview: it’s a look at a more innocent time, before COVID-19, before election season, before season 8.

Winter has passed.

Next. All 73 episodes of Game of Thrones, ranked worst to best. dark

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