It’s (finally!) nearly time for the new – and final – season of Game of Thrones, and HBO has just sent all of our hearts racing and randomly dropped the first official look with a haunting clip of three former Winterfell dwellers, Jon Snow, Arya Stark and Sansa Stark standing in the Crypts of Winterfell.
Finally, we also receievd the official start date to the beginning of the end, which will land on our screens on 14 April 2019. This is all so EXCITING. Bittersweet, just as George R R Martin intended it.
To get you in the mood for the upcoming season, here are some facts about the show that you may or may not already know.
As we look back over the first seven seasons of the saucy show, let’s slice open the belly of the beasts and take a dive inside the Seven Kingdoms. Even the most diehard Thrones addicts may not know the behind-the-scenes secrets, tantrums, and dramas that go into making the show. With this in mind, here are 10 Game of Thrones secrets you probably don’t know.
George R.R. Martin always wanted Peter Dinklage
From Sean Bean to Lena Headey, Aidan Gillen to Dame Diana Rigg, some stars seem born to play their Game of Thrones parts. Out of all the cunning characters to grace our screens over the seasons, there’s no denying that Peter Dinklage’s performance as Tyrion Lannister is up there with the best.
It’s hard to imagine anyone else as the wine-swilling ‘Imp’ and we aren’t alone in thinking this. George R.R. Martin personally recommended Dinklage for the part, admitting that he’d always imagined the Elf actor as Tyrion. It looks like fate intervened and we haven’t looked back since.
Direwolves are MIA because they’re too expensive
HBOOne of the biggest part of Martin’s books (literally) are the supersized direwolves. Although the furry friends are also given to the Stark brood in the show, they’ve been sidelined in favour of Daenerys Targaryen and her flying friends. It turns out that we rarely see a direwolf these days because they’re just too expensive to create.
Director Miguel Sapochnik told Business Insider that Jon Snow’s Ghost is “an incredibly time consuming and expensive character to bring to life”. Ghost was supposed to be part of Season 6’s “Battle of the Bastards” until Thrones decided to spend its CGI budget on Wun-Wun the giant. Even a record-breaking show like Game of Thrones has to worry about the bank balance, but thankfully, a little birdie tells us that direwolves could be back with a vengeance in Season 8.
Those aren’t Lena Headey’s breasts
It might’ve seemed impossible to feel sorry for Cersei Lannister, but that didn’t stop the roaring lioness securing our sympathy throughout her Season 5 arc and that big walk of shame. Stripped (literally) of everything, Cersei was forced to walk through the streets of King’s Landing as Septa Unella rang her bell and chanted “shame” over and over again.
Thrones is known for its gratuitous nudity and Cersei’s walk of shame was no different. However, for anyone ogling Headey’s breasts and lady garden, that wasn’t actually her. Some questionable CGI may have given it away, but the showrunners superimposed Headey’s head onto a body double. If anyone wants to know who the ample bosoms belong to, it’s actress Rebecca Van Cleave.
Ramsay was supposed to play Jon Snow
Misfits star Iwan Rheon joined Game of Thrones in Season 3 and quickly become one of the most psychotic characters out there. Apparently, Rheon wanted to be part of the ensemble much earlier and even auditioned to play Jon Snow. We all know that Kit Harington has become a staple of Thrones, but imagine a show where Rheon was the long-haired bastard of Winterfell.
Speaking to Interview after the shocking Season 5 finale and the ‘death’ of Jon Snow, Rheon told the site, “I think it was between me and Kit , which is quite crazy. It could’ve been so different. I’d be dead now.” We all know how the tables turned and Jon made it back to the land of the living while Ramsay was eventually fed to his own dogs — karma is b*tch.
Jerome Flynn’s awkward ex
Game of Thrones has given us some great partnerships over the years. After Arya and The Hound or Tyrion an Varys, who’s the next unlikely couple for Season 8? Unfortunately, two characters who you’ll never see share a screen are Ser Bronn of the Blackwater and Cersei Lannister.
Considering Bronn has been BFFs with both Jaime and Tyrion Lannister, some fans might question why he hasn’t swapped insults with Cersei yet. The very good reason is that Flynn and Headey are exes. A Telegraph article from 2014 claims, “Jerome and Lena aren’t on speaking terms any more and they are never in the same room at the same time.” Well, there goes that fan-favourite pairing then.
Tommen appeared twice
As one of the rare Lannisters who you don’t automatically want to punch, Tommen was the tragic ruler of the Seven Kingdoms — albeit briefly — after Joffrey died. Dean-Charles Chapman took over from the actor who played Tommen in Season and 2, but eagle-eyed fans might’ve seen him before on the show.
Chapman had dual roles and appeared in a minor capacity as Martyn Lannister in Season 3. A fleeting part meant that Martyn was killed off by Lord Karstark and left the door open for Chapman to have a much bigger part as Tommen. This also means that unless we kill Harington’s Jon Snow again, Dean-Charles Chapman is the only actor to have two death scenes in the world of Westeros.
Meryn Trant’s bank-busting death
Game of Thrones has a surprising kill that tops the list of most expensive death scenes to film. Whether it’s being barbecued in front of hundreds of extras like the Tarly men or the cost of filming the Red Wedding, the most expensive Game of Thrones death will surprise you.
As Arya crossed another name off her list and graphically murdered Meryn Trant, Maisie Williams and Ian Beattie landed the honour of owning Game of Thrones‘ most expensive death. Speaking at the 2017 SXSW Festival in Texas, Radio Times revealed that Arya poking out Trant’s eyes was an unexpectedly costly process. Well, there you have it.
Daenerys Targaryen and THAT heart
Starting the gross-out nature of the show early, Season 1 included the stomach-churning scene of Daenerys chowing down on a massive horse heart. We never expected a young Emilia Clarke to eat a real horse’s heart, but you might be interested to know what the replica was made of.
Showrunners confirmed that the heart was made of a gummy bear-style substance, and although we might love to eat a mass of gummy bears, Clarke apparently vomited when filming the scene. She told The Mirror,“It was very helpful to be given something so truly disgusting to eat, so there wasn’t much acting required.” Sounds like it might’ve been easier to eat an actual horse heart.
Lily Allen turned down a role
While most actors would thank their lucky stars at being offered Game of Thrones, Lily Allen is one of the few celebs to turn down a part in the fiery fantasy. It was mainly to do with the script and the way in which Theon Greyjoy — played by Alfie Allen — met his sister on the show.
Heading back to Season 2, fans will remember that the introduction of Gemma Whelan’s Yara involved Theon trying to seduce her in a cringeworthy scene on horseback. Speaking in a Reddit AMA, the “F*ck You” singer explained why she said now. “I felt uncomfortable because I would have had to go on a horse and he would have touched me up and sh*t”, she said “Once they told me what was entailed, I said no thanks.”
Fictional incest is more than enough for most to handle, so Allen was right to draw a line under sharing scenes with her real-life brother.
The story you’ll never get to see
Even though Game of Thrones has arguably got better with age, Season 1 is still a pretty stellar piece of television. It’s amazing to think that 2011’s “Winter is Coming” wasn’t always the first episode of the show. There is a forgotten pilot that was the culmination of over four years work but ended up on the cutting room floor.
With around 90% of the unaired pilot being reshot, David Benioff told Variety what happened: “God, we got everything wrong on a very basic level with the writing of it. We brought three of our friends over just to get a reaction from them. Watching them watch the pilot was a deeply humiliating, painful experience, because these are very smart individuals, and it just clearly wasn’t working for any of them on a very basic level.”
As well as a complete overhaul that included the recasting of Jennifer Ehle and Tamzin Merchant as Catelyn Stark and Daenerys Targaryen, George R.R. Martin even had a cameo in the unaired pilot. Let’s cut Benioff and Weiss some slack though, even Game of Thrones can’t get everything right — we’ll just pretend it never happened.