The venue couldn’t have been better — the Tower of London, which dates back to the reign of William the Conqueror in the early 1080s. The Tower was used by English monarchs through the centuries as a place to imprison and execute their most important victims, who arrived by boat along the River Thames through Traitors’ Gate.
VIP guests on Wednesday were given a warmer reception: first, a tour of the rooms housing the crown jewels, before being escorted by the Beefeaters — the Tower’s royal guards — to the White Tower, for a pre-premiere soiree.
Later, welcoming the audience at the premiere screening of the first episode of season five, HBO chairman-CEO Richard Plepler said that the “team from Sky have created some magic here.” He added that the show was a “global phenomenon” and the most watched in HBO’s history. “Its archetypal themes of love, war, power and revenge transcend any particular time or place, which is why I think the show resonates so deeply and engages so many millions of people around the world,” he said.
“The success of ‘Thrones’ is owed to many, many gifted artists at the top of their craft. But none of it would be possible without the preternatural talents of its creators, David Benioff and Dan Weiss,” he added.
The audience was then played a taped message from the writers, who described the Tower of London as the “’Thrones’-iest location we could imagine,” before giving their apologies for not being in London as they were “stuck in Los Angeles trying to put the finishing touches to season five.”
They thanked the “hardest-working, most fun, least-complaining cast and crew in the entire business,” before telling the audience to “keep your hands off the crown jewels,” which drew laughs from the local crowd as it is a crude double-entendre in British slang.
Plepler then paid tribute to “the man whose stunning imagination created the world that has given us so many countless hours of addictive entertainment, the master craftsman who started it all, Mr. George R.R. Martin.”
Plepler finally complimented “this breath-taking cast,” adding that “this is one of the greatest ensembles in the history of either film or television. Thirty-five extraordinary actors, some of whose characters have met an untimely death, but most of whom live to fight another day, and are here tonight. It is they who bring this masterpiece to life,” he said.
Among the cast attending were Liam Cunningham, Kit Harington, Natalie Dormer, Gwendoline Christie, Sophie Turner, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Charles Dance, Iwan Rheon, Michael McElhatton, Tara Fitzgerald, Aidan Gillen and Nathalie Emmanuel.