One of the hottest tickets at Comic-Con, HBO’s “Game of Thrones” panel began with an “In Memoriam” segment played to Boyz II Men’s “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye” where all of the characters from season one to the present were paid tribute via video homage.
Those fortunate enough to get inside Hall H (many “Game of Thrones” fans who had gotten in line as early as 7am were still unable to penetrate the walls of the hall) proceeded to watch creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss introduce the panelists. The star-studded panel included Peter Dinklage, MIchelle Fairley, John Bradley, Kit Harrington, Rose Leslie, Richard Madden, Emilia Clarke, and of course, George R. R. Martin himself.
Benioff and Weiss also introduced film critic Elvis Mitchell as the moderator for the discussion.
Mitchell wasted no time in diving in to say what most fans probably were already thinking by beginning, “George, you heartless bastard,” in reference to the now infamous Red Wedding, which continued to be a major topic of discussion throughout the hour.
After admitting that he does kill characters, but he can always make new ones, Martin defended himself in stating “I should say in my defense David and Dan have turned everything up to 11, and killed many characters that are still alive in the books. I take only a little of the bloodthirsty blame.”
Weiss recalled that when they wrapped the Red Wedding, “The crew was crying on the set. These fictional deaths…had them in tears.”
Madden, whose character Robb Stark was one of the casualties of season three’s penultimate episode, admitted to having a good cry on set and ordering “multiple drinks on a one hour flight” as a result of the sadness he felt from the death of his character, and thus his exit from the show.
“We knew immediately if we could make this happen… and get to that scene and do justice to the ‘holy shit’ of that moment…that we would have done something right,” Weiss said of devastating Red Wedding scene.
“We’d been waiting for it for so long…I remember standing on set and watching Michelle have these takes over and over again… ” Benioff remembered of the day of filming, also remarking that it turned out “better than we could have imagined.”
In regards to the now unforgettable tune “Rains of Castamere” which set off the series of tragic events in season three’s ninth episode, Benioff praised composer Ramin Djawadi for not only composing the song, but also the incredibly memorable main theme to the show.
It should be noted that at one point, actor Jason Mamoa (who played the now-deceased Khal Drogo) made a surprise appearance on the stage as Richard Madden was discussing the demise of his character. It lasted only a second as Mamoa simply came onto the stage and sympathetically kissed Madden on the head before waving to the crowd and exiting the stage, but it was enough to work the crowd into a mini-tizzy.
Even though Red Wedding was one of the main topics to the discussion, Mitchell didn’t lose any opportunities to inquire about how the actors have approached the evolution of their characters over the seasons.
In asking Michelle Fairley about her last scene, she likened her process to a piece of music, saying that “you have to work your way through it.” When describing her final scene, she explained that all of the elements of the atmosphere from the music, to the darkened room, to the people leaving, all informed how she played all aspects of the scene.
When Mitchell asked Bradley about his character, Sam, becoming a hero this season, Bradley responded by explaining, “Sam’s always been a hero…It’s braver sometimes to absorb punishment and just be the underdog all the time. And I think that Sam had a lot of that.”
Speaking of the moment when Sam saves the character Gilly from the White Walker, the actor elaborated, “When he’s placed under enormous pressure… he’s a bit of a dude.”
When Mitchell pointed out that Harrington’s character is drawn to strong-willed men for mentorship and guidance, Harrington added, “What’s coming up is he gets sick of that and becomes that person.”
Emmy-nominated Peter Dinklage was questioned about his scenes with Charles Dance (who plays his character’s father, Tywin Lannister), and he stated, “It says so much about an actor when you can’t imagine another actor playing that role, ” and added that their scenes are so intense that they would result in Dinklage receiving shoulder rubs from Dance after the more intense ones, just to ensure that their friendship was still intact.
“His three children are sort of three different parts of a whole… And they’re not in the right person. They each lack what the other has,” Dinklage explained.
Mitchell also questioned recent Emmy nominee Emilia Clarke how her character has evolved from season two to season three.
“Going into season three and rearing up to the scene, she had a lot of self doubt eating away at her. It’s taking the plunge really. It was the first time that she didn’t discuss anything with her closest advisers… It was entirely a risk she was taking,” Clarke explained.
Talk eventually turned back to The Red Wedding, but on more practical terms. Mitchell wondered how the secret never got out.
Benioff said, “There’s this incredible self-policing” about keeping the secrets of the books from those who were watching the show, but also added that “there will always be a couple of douches” who want to tell you everything.
Before questions from the audience began, fans were elated to find out that they would get to see a deleted scene between Pycell and Tywin which took place right before the first meeting of the small council with Tywin as the new hand of the King.
The scene showed Pycell trying to get his old position back (which had been eliminated while Tyrion was hand), and Tywin hearing none of it, easily seeing through Pycell’s act of playing the old, stammering, loyal servant of the realm. Upon being called out by Tywin, Pycell halts the act, stands up straight, and explains to Tywin that he doesn’t want all the power, he just wants to be in the game, eventually convincing Tywin that he would be a useful servant to the Lannisters. The scene ends with Tywin telling Pycell to take the fish he just caught up to the kitchen, telling Pycell he hopes he will serve him with more vigor than he did with Tyrion.
It was a powerful scene, and one can only imagine the treasure trove of material on the cutting room floor that have gone unenjoyed by fans.
When the audience was given the floor, one asked if Martin would entertain doing any sequels that showed Robert Baratheon’s rebellion, and other past events that have only been spoken about in the series.
The fan also noted that he just wanted material to watch where Sean Bean doesn’t die, which the laughing crowd was in general agreement with.
“I might… it won’t be a prequel about Robert’s rebellion,” Martin confirmed. He added that there’s lots of material, but “I just won’t do the immediate precursors.”
With that, fans were given a small glimmer of hope that once Martin is done with his next two books (who many fear won’t be done in time to keep up with the show), that there’s the possibility of more visits to the Seven Kingdoms.
And to a fan of the show, the potential more adventures in Martin’s world can be more valuable than the iron throne itself.
No date has been set for the season four premiere.