While season eight of Game of Thrones was still in production, the show’s cast came together to film a reunion special hosted by Conan O’Brien in Belfast, Ireland. All the names you’d expect to see were there, including Emilia Clarke, Sophie Turner, Maisie Williams, Isaac Hempstead Wright, Sean Bean, Kit Harington, Lena Headey, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, and Peter Dinklage, alongside surprise guests like Mark Addy, Jason Momoa, and Ned Stark’s head. No Joffrey or Rickon, though. The reunion, which is only available on Game of Thrones: The Complete Collection (out now), is a lot of fun, and here are eight of my favorite things I learned, one for each season of the series.
1. Peter Dinklage took the role of Tyrion with two stipulations. “I met with [David Benioff and D.B. Weiss] in Los Angeles, and I said a couple of things that I didn’t want before I read anything,” he said. “I didn’t want a very long beard. And I didn’t want pointy shoes, so they gave them to Conleth,” who plays eunuch Varys. Why were the beard and pointy shoes sticking points? “Because I think that speaks to a lot of other things.”
2. Thrones mastermind George R.R. Martin wrote Conleth Hill a letter that he was asked to keep secret until the show was over. Dinklage’s response to this: “What the f*ck?” But what did the letter say? “He said ultimately I’m a good person,” Hill revealed. Not the biggest bombshell, but it dictated how the actor — who Conan joked had it easier than his co-stars; instead of a sword or a horse heart, he mostly held glasses of wine (no wonder Emilia Clarke blamed him for the coffee cup incident) — played the character.
3. Sophie Turner (Sansa) and Maisie Williams (Arya) are real-life BFFs, and when they weren’t impersonating their on-screen dad Sean Bean, they were pretending to make out. It is Game of Thrones, after all. “Even though we are sisters, we tried to sneak a kiss into every scene we did together to freak everyone out a bit,” Turner said earlier this year. “It kept them on their toes making sure they were following the script.” The kissing isn’t mentioned during the reunion, but it does appear in the behind-the-scenes footage.
4. Isaac Hempstead Wright (Bran) has spent half of his life working on Game of Thrones, but he wanted to quit almost immediately. “I just remember it raining, like, all day,” he told Conan about his memories from his first day on set. “And coming back and saying something like, ‘I don’t think I can do this.’ This is not what I signed up for.” Good thing he stayed — now he gets called “your grace” everywhere he goes.
5. The Thrones crew member who had it the worst wasn’t whoever had to “clean up” after the horses — it was the poor soul tasked with getting the stink out of Kit Harington’s costumes. The Jon Snow actor is a notorious complainer, and he had a lot to say about his cloak. “The trouble about the cloak is that when you’re in the scene and there’s context, you feel relatively cool. But the minute you step off and you’re in a cloak, you just feel like such a dick,” he said. “Like if you take it out of context, you’re just an idiot wearing a furry cloak. And it… yeah. I won’t say that.” After some pressing by Conan, Harington added, “If you fart, it traps it.” You know a lot about dutch ovens, Jon Snow.
6. The reunion’s most emotional moment came from John Bradley after he was asked about Sam being a survivor. “On the outset, it looks like you need a lot of physical prowess to survive. You need to be a warrior. You need to be able to handle yourself on the battlefield,” he said. “And I think that Sam’s a great lesson to people, not only in the show, but also watching the show. There are any number of sets of skills that you can get yourself through life.” It’s a lesson that meant a lot to Bradley, who used to go to bed every night and wish he was someone different. But “all that time I was thinking that, those two guys [Benioff and Weiss], they were looking for exactly me,” he added. “They were looking for an actor who knows what it’s like to be bullied because of his weight. And looking for an actor who knows what it’s like to be painfully shy and have grave doubts about yourself. And the stuff that they were looking for, not only did they see worth in me when I couldn’t see it myself, but they saw what I considered to be my failures as virtues. And I think that’s Sam’s journey throughout this whole thing as well.”
7. Shortly after Bradley’s inspiring speech, Jason Momoa came out with a bucket of beer and talked about his butt. That’s our Aquaman! “I’m sure there’s some crew members here that saw my buttocks,” he said. “When I’m uncomfortable, I can make everyone feel uncomfortable. So, I would definitely bend over and there’d be a gaffer or grip there and I’d be like, ‘Hey! What’s up, buddy?’ And it just helped me be comfortable.” Momoa also discussed his first meeting with Emilia Clarke, who he “rugby tackled” to the ground. “I walked in like, ‘Oh, I just got off the plane.’ And then coming, ‘Wifey!’ And literally, I was on the ground,” she said. He’s the life of the (environmentally-friendly) party.
8. Let’s end with one more Kit Harington story. When asked about his hardest day on set, Harington responded, “There will be a few in the crew that remember this and John as well. But we were in Iceland, and I think it was windchill minus 40. And I remember, I remember it being dangerous and John’s face froze, like, literally froze. If you look back, the continuity doesn’t work at all. It cuts away from him and he’s normal, and it cuts back and he looks like Father Time.” It turns out Sam was the Night King all along!
Game of Thrones: The Complete Collection is available now.