‘Game Of Thrones’ Comic-Con Panel: Five Things We Learned

Author George R. R. Martin moderated the panel, which included Richard Madden and Emilia Clarke.

San Diego Comic-Con continues to provide eager fans with newsworthy tidbits about their favorite films, TV shows and comic book properties. One of the hottest tickets in town Friday (July 13) was the “Game of Thrones” panel, which took place for the first time in the Con’s largest panel venue, Hall H.

Thanks to the expert moderating skills of author/executive producer George R. R. Martin, fans were treated to a lively panel full of chills, thrills, their favorite stars and the announcement of a few new faces. Here are the five things we learned:

New Cast Members
The panel kicked off with a serious bang when we met a slew of new cast additions via an introductory reel tacked onto the end of the official season-two clip reel. Martin teased the new additions with a bit of a wink and smile: “Clearly, I have to start killing some of these characters quickly to make room for the others,” he said. In no particular order, here are next season’s new additions: Clive Russell as Bryndon “The Blackfish” Tully, Richard Dormer as Beric Dondarrion, Paul Jaye as Thoros of Myr, Thomas Brodie-Sangster as Jojen Reed, Ellie Kendirck as Meera Reed, Diana Rigg as Lady Olenna Tyrell a.k.a. the Queen of Thorns, and Tobias Menzies as Edmure Tully. Mackenzie Crook will play Orell, Nathalie Emmanuel is Missandei, Kerry Ingram is Shireen Baratheon, Kristofer Hivju is Tormund Giantsbane, Philip McGinley is Anguy, Tara Fitzgerald is Selyse Baratheon and Anton Lesser is Qyburn.

The Trouble With Sex and Violence
This is “Game of Thrones,” after all, so it was par for the course that Martin spent a considerable amount of time kidding around with Richard Madden (a.k.a. Robb Stark) and Alfie Allen (Theon Greyjoy) about how much they enjoyed their sex scenes — which was both funny and a little awkward, since Martin is more grandpa than sexpot. He made up for the sex jokes though when he referenced his “13-year-old co-creator in charge of boobies,” made famous in an “SNL” parody earlier this year. Madden did admit that he preferred his battle scenes to the sexy ones, because it is warmer wearing armor and metal than being naked. “Swinging a sword is a bit more fun,” he said with a smile, which received a healthy amount of snickers from the audience.

Stories From Set
The Q&A part of the panel provided for several good questions and answers, like when one fan asked the cast to name what they love about their four diverse filming locations — a fact that Martin claimed holds the record for the most countries filmed for one TV show. Producer Carolyn Strauss revealed that their different locations have their own nicknames: “The Wolf Unit in Belfast, the Dragon Unit in Morocco and Freeze Your Ass Unit in Iceland.” Madden said his favorite set and location are any and all scenes they film in Winterfell, because the production design is so detailed and exotic, from the large-scale exteriors to the different types of incense they use to make the rooms have distinct smells and feels. Emilia Clarke (who plays Daenerys Targaryen) added that she very much enjoyed traveling to Quarth and that the changes in her Quarthian gown were made to keep her warmer. “I, for one, enjoyed wearing a costume,” she said, making reference to her scantily clad first season. Bonus fact: Martin revealed to the crowd that Rose Leslie (a.k.a. Ygritte) was raised in a castle in Scotland. “It’s not what you think,” Leslie said. “It was cold, drafty and cranky.”

No Mixed Messages
Another good question posed by a fan was in reference to whether Martin and/or the show runners purposefully insert good vs. evil imagery or symbols into the show or whether they’re trying to send any specific messages about our political climate or society as a whole. Martin took the lead on that answer by citing his favorite quote by William Faulkner: “The only thing worth writing about is the human heart in conflict with itself.” Martin assured fans whatever symbolism or imagery they pick up on in the books or the show are not meant to be veiled statements. He said it’s all about making the characters interesting and that having them deal with good and evil and the choices they make is what it’s all about, like Theon Greyjoy’s fascinating character arc, for example: “Theon is a whole bundle of wonderful choices,” Martin said.

“Game of Thrones” Started With Turtles?
As odd as it sounds, “Game of Thrones” might very well have begun with turtles — pet turtles, to be exact. When an eagle-eyed fan asked Martin why he always wears hats with turtles on them, the jolly author revealed that turtles have always been his sigil because they were the only pets he was allowed to have as a child growing up in a federal housing project near New Jersey. Martin said they weren’t allowed to have traditional pets so he had turtles, which he made into little warriors who battled and fought in love and war. “I had an entire castle filled with turtles who I made into knights and kings,” he revealed. “In a way, ‘Game of Thrones’ began with turtles.”

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