Back before Game Of Thrones was a huge international hit, it was a questionable pilot that had some at HBO wondering if they were making a dud. The episode apparently did a poor job explaining who was who and why they were doing what … not all that surprising considering the number of characters in the show. To fix the issue, they recast Daenerys Targaryen and rewrote the pilot almost from scratch, ditching a large amount of the original scenes.
What exactly was done is still largely a secret as footage from the pilot has never surfaced. But now Sir John Standing, the actor that played the very dead corpse of former Hand Jon Arryn, has revealed that they filmed a scene where he was alive. Here’s how he described the part to Spanish Game of Thrones site Los Siete Reinos:
He said “I want you to get out of your bed and I want you to crawl across the room and I want you to put your hand up and there’s a bottle of ink on the table. And I want you to take it as though you’re going to write something. The bottle of ink will come crashing down, you’ll be covered in ink. And then the queen will come in and she’ll stamp on your fingers and you’ll die.
And I said “Got it, okay. Whatever.”
So I did this and it was just lunatic, I can only tell you. And then this woman came in who was adorable, it was Lena [Hedley], she was just the best. And she came in and did her bit and everything. And the scene inevitably got cut. To nothing!
But the other part of the scene was when I’m actually dead lying on a table with stones on my eyes with eyes painted on the stones. And I still get fan mail for my part in Game of Thrones, ‘Oh wonderful performance in Game of Thrones!’ The only performance I’ve got is a corpse lying there dead with stones on my eyes. And I get fan mail for it! Which goes to show the lunacy of Game of Thrones, to me, anyways.
And nothing of value was lost. As Sir John Standing said, it’s a bit of a whatever scene. Everything that needed to be seen or said regarding Jon Arryn’s death was summed up in his funeral scene, which leaves the tone of the show much more nuanced than Cersei Lannister grinding Jon Arryn’s fingers like a pro wrestler. Although I do admit it makes me hope the original convoluted pilot gets leaked some day. It sounds like wonderful lunacy.
To be fair, those are some pretty cool stones.