And now, Hall H is going from zombies to White Walkers, or from “Walking Dead” to “Game of Thrones.”
The panel is supposed to include series masterminds David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, franchise creator George R.R. Martin and a slew of cast members including John Bradley (Samwell Tarly), Gwendoline Christie (Brienne of Tarth), Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Jaime Lannister), Natalie Dormer (Margaery Tyrell), Kit Harington (Jon Snow), Rose Leslie (Ygritte), Rory McCann (Sandor “The Hound” Clegane), Pedro Pascal (Oberyn Martell), Sophie Turner (Sansa Stark) and Maisie Williams (Arya Stark). Oh and Craig Ferguson will be moderating.
That's another big panel.
Click through and follow along!
1:45 p.m. Hall H is, again, running a couple minutes behind. No biggie.
1:48 p.m. We get into things with blooper reel footage of Charles Dance on the Iron Throne, of Pedro Pascal giggling with a face covered with blood, of Peter Dinklage blinding dialogue, of Nikolaj Coster-Waldau dancing behind the scenes, of Maisie Williams falling down while fencing, of Emilia Clarke swearing and of other merriment.
1:50 p.m. Now? A black screen and, without introduction, Benioff and Weiss come out. They want to know who the first person was in the room. They applaud those people for sleeping overnight. Out come the actors. John Bradley bows gratefully. Rose Leslie is pretty. Ladies like Kit Harington. Sophie Turner is colorful. Natalie Dormer still has half of her head shaved and it's freaking fierce. People like George R.R. Martin. Maisie Williams is in a shiny dress. Rory McCann covers half of his face in lieu of scars. Gwyndoline Christie is absurdly tll. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau is well-received. And probably Pedro Pascal gets the loudest shriek.
1:54 p.m. Enter Craig Ferguson. He's not fluent in Dothraki. He apologizes.
1:55 p.m. Do any of them actually get to hang out. At the bar. “It's like the 'Star Wars' bar,” Rory says. “Things weren't looking so good the last time I saw myself,” McCann says. “I thought you got off lightly,” Christie says. “Nasty bitch,” McCann says. “Which one? Me or here?” Maisie asks. McCann is amused to be sitting between Maisie and Christie.
1:57 p.m. “More or less, but of course not exactly,” Martin says of whether this world looks like the world he imagines. “These characters have brought the characters to live amazingly,” Martin notes. He says that the show hasn't impacted his envisioning as he writes. “The show is the show and the books are the books,” Martin insists.
1:58 p.m. How did Weiss and Benioff talk HBO into this? Benioff recalls the lunch they had with George, a story that we've heard before. Martin asks them who Jon Snow's real mother was and they threw out a guess. And he nodded, not telling them, but giving general approval.
1:59 p.m. As we knew, Spain is taking over for Malta and Morocco this season. Have they had any troubles in a conservative shooting area. Weiss says they lost a shooting location this year to a man who didn't want to be associated with that he called “Porn of Thrones.” Benioff says that if the Bible-thumpers read the Bible, “They would see there's just as much incest in there,”
2:00 p.m. “I just suck up to David and Dan and George and just hope for the best really,” Maisie says of how to stay alive.
2:01 p.m. New cast members are being announced: Doran Martell will be Alexander Siddig. Woot. Trystane Martell will be played by Toby Sebastain. Myrcell Baratheon will now be played by Nell Tiger Free. DeObia Opareoi will play Areo Hotah. Enzo Cilenti will play Yezzan. Nymeria Sand will be played by Jessica Henwick. Tyene Sand will be Rosabell Laurenti Sellars. Obara Sand will be played be Oscar nominee Keisha Castle-Hughes. High Sparrow will be played by Tony nominee JONATHAN PRYCE. Nice.
2:04 p.m. We're going to questions very early. “If you do us a favor and don't ask what's going to happen next season…” Benioff requests.
2:05 p.m. “We're all friends. We're all unsullied in a way. I know I am,” Ferguson says.
2:05 p.m. Which of the Gods and deities does Martin most relate to? “No, I don't think I choose any one God over another and my reputation for killing is exaggerated,” Martin says, claiming David and Dan have killed more people than he has. He doesn't want to choose on “true” religion for the Westerosi.
2:07 p.m. Kit Harington gets the first question and a “you know nothing.” “It's true. It's true,” Harington agrees. How does he prepare? “A lot of the world is done for you before you even get there and a big part of that for me is costume,” he says, talking about the “weight” and “gravity” of his costume. He's shooting his first day of shooting on Monday. Is it always that cold where they're shooting? Leslie notes that they shot in Iceland, where it was actually freezing. “We had these thermals underneath the clothing,” she reassures us. “It's beautiful. It's mesmerizing being in Iceland,” Leslie says. “What this show really excels at is putting the actors into the same environment as the characters,” John Bradley says, remembering acting on five feet of snow in Iceland. Bradley reminds us that the costumes keep them warm from the waist down, but “As an actor, your face is your tool,” Bradley says. Everybody giggles at the word “tool.” Bradley says that in minus-35 temperatures, it's hard to be subtle.
2:10 p.m. The next question is about the pacing approaching the books that haven't been written yet. Will the show surpass the books in timeline? Which will end first? “We can't answer without telling you what's going to happen,” Benioff tells him. The fan gets another question and asks about blending the different sets and different stories. “It all started in George's brain,” Benioff says. “Those characters, every single character sitting at this table, started off in some dark region of George's mind,” Benioff says. Ferguson wants to know why the locations sound like cheese-bearing locations. “Naming things in fantasy is very hard,” Martin admits. “I'm drawing maps for places thousands of miles to the east where the story will never go,” he confesses and says he's running out of names.
2:13 p.m. Our next question is for Pedro Pascal, asking about the process of preparing for the big battle. Pascal smiles and shows that his head is intact. Pascal was put into training with a man named Master Wu? HBO hooked him up. “I had an amazing time. I mean, come on,” Pascal says. “I was just drawn to it when I was three, four months old and found I had an aptitude for it,” Christie says of swordwork. She laughs and says that she's a bit slow, but puts in a lot of work with the exceptional team. Coster-Waldau had a great teacher years ago, he says. “Wasn't that just amazing?” Coster-Waldau says of the Oberyn-Mountain fight and the Hound/Brienne fight. McCann is from Glasgow and learned to fight with a different kind of weapon.
2:16 p.m. Natalie Dormer is a big fan of “Rob Roy” and she was really into swords when she was in her 20s and she was jealous of the actors who got to use swords here. She praises the show for “accurate and naturalistic” violence. “I thought it was an outstanding fight,” Dormer says. Weiss and Benioff admit that they stole the sword-grabbing moment from “Rob Roy” themselves.
2:18 p.m. Martin says that you have to “delve into yourself” to create characters. He adds, “I am large, I contain multitudes.” He's different from many of the characters, because he's never been an eight-year-old girl or a dwarf, but the characters have a common humanity. Martin enjoys Scottish history, including The Black Dinner and the Glencoe Massacre.
2:20 p.m. A guy dressed as Jon Snow wants to know what Leslie and Harington think their characters were thinking when they saw each other. Harington thinks that in his heart, Joe was happy to see Ygritte again, calling it a “beautiful moment” and “a profound silence.” Leslie agrees. She thinks Ygritte didn't anticipate how much she loved Jon. “We didn't really want to discuss much about it on the day we shot it,” Leslie says, preferring to make the moment organic.
2:22 p.m. “Hi Natalie and the rest of the cast,” a questioner says, before giving his question to George. Isn't that always the way? His question: Hodor? Martin's response: Hodor. That was not worth it.
2:23 p.m. Now that Stannis has arrived at the wall, will we get more of “Stannis the Mannis”? “I think we can say yes,” Weiss says. “We can say he's a fascinating character and he's amazingly well-drawn by Stephen Dillane,” Weiss adds.
2:24 p.m. What would Martin tell fans who are planning to stop watching the show when it gets past the book? “Yes, I encourage everyone to watch the show,” Martin says. “I do also encourage people to read the books,” he adds. “The question of 'So you can experience the story in its true form' is kinda a loaded one,” he says. Martin says it's the same as wondering how many children Scarlett O'Hara has, because the answer is different in the book and movie. He notes the difference in Robb Stark's wives in TV and the book and says that Robb's book wife will be in the prolog to “Winds of Winter.” Jeyne Westerling fans in the crowd are relieved and pleased.
2:27 p.m. Since the show doesn't shoot in sequence, did any actors have to shoot scenes after their characters were killed? “My very first day on set was the cell scene with Tyrion,” Pedro Pascal says. “That was my intro into the season,” Pascal says, noting that the fight scene came toward the end. McCann say that the fight was at the end. [Unclear if this is intended as a confirmation of The Hound's death.] Leslie thanks production for scheduling Ygritte's death for her last day.
2:29 p.m. What was it like for Christie to bite McCann's ear off? And what was it like for McCann to get “downstairs kicked”? “Best moment of my life” Christie says of the kick, calling the ear-biting “the second best moment.”
2:31 p.m. Applause for a questioner asking about more male nudity on the show. Sophie Turner is very excited about that. “I'm gonna shut up and not say a thing so I don't have to get my kit off next season,” Harington says. “See, you can't really lose with me,” Bradley says. The crowd cheers at the idea of Sam nudity. “The good thing about me and male nudity is that everyone is served, because it'll still get the boob count up, so everyone wins,” Bradley cracks.
2:32 p.m. Dragons or direwolves? Bradley is loyal to his storyline and says “direwolves.” Leslie goes with dragons. Kit and Sophie go with dire wolves. “Dragons are dangerous,” Sophie says. Dormer likes direwolves. Christie likes dragons, but everybody else like direwolves. “I hear that dragons are easier to work with,” Martin says, but he won't take a side.
2:34 p.m. Lady Stoneheart question! But the showrunners refuse to discuss. Oh well.
2:35 p.m. A questioner stands up for Sansa Stark. She wants to know how Sophie envisions Sansa's journey. “When I started, yeah, I didn't have a plan for her. It sounds kinda gross and pretentious, but I kinda grew with her,” Turner says. She called it “a relief” to get the Season 4 script. She was excited to “shed the skin” and to show her side as a manipulator. “It was frickin' awesome,” she says.
2:35 p.m. How did separations from the book feel to George? “Well, it was a great scene,” he says. He likes the moments that are outside of the book viewpoint characters' viewpoints. “It was just great television and it was terrific to watch,” George says of Brienne/Hound. Martin wishes they had three more episode per season because he misses scenes from the books. He wants parity with episode counts for other HBO shows.
2:35 p.m. Some of the crowd has read the books, but probably an equal number have not read. He's asking a bunch of rhetorical questions to the crowd, which we can't answer.
2:39 p.m. Captain Jack Sparrow asks for a round of applause for the TV people for a show that's as brilliant as the books. He invites the whole hall to a costume party somewhere and he gets cut off.
2:40 p.m. Another question for Sophie Turner. What does she think of Sansa and Tyrion's relationship. “He was my other half. We loved each other so much. You could feel the love,” she jokes, saying that the bond “was just getting kinda beautiful” then they were separated. She wants Sansa to reunite with Tyron and suggests they could become a power couple, “The new Brangelina.”
2:42 p.m. Finally a question for Maisie. Arya has had to change her identity many times, does Williams think of Arya's current identity as a Start. “She is no one,” Maisie answers with a smile. The crowd approves.
2:43 p.m. Last question comes from a “Sexy Ygritte.” She just wants to thank everybody. So that means we get another last question. It's about Jamie releasing Tyrion and the conversation that was in the book and not on the show. “One of the problems is that we don't have access to the characters' minds,” Benioff says. They didn't want to do voiceover or flashbacks, so they couldn't fill that backstory in. He calls cuts like that tough for them, because they're some of the writers' favorite scenes. “From a storytelling point of view, we'd love to have 13,” Benioff says of episode counts. The problem is that they already have no downtime between seasons. There just isn't time for them to shoot more episodes. Benioff says they hope that fans of the show will be drawn to the books to get more time with the characters. “As hard as we try, we can't possibly match the amount of detail and storytelling in a 1200 page book,” Benioff says. He reminds us that originally they were pitched “Game of Thrones” a series of seven movies, which would have meant that even more detail would have been cut. Weiss reassures us that the books will always exist.
That's all, folks…