At the panel, HBO played a reel that revealed several of the new major cast members joining "Game of Thrones" for season five. The new cast includes Alexander Siddig as Doran Martell, the Prince of Dorne, and brother of the late Oberyn "Red Viper" Martell; Toby Sebastian as Trystane Martell, Prince Doran's son and Princess Myrcella's betrothed; Nell Tiger Free, as the new actress playing Myrcella Baratheon; DeObia Oparei as Areo Hotah, Doran's personal bodyguard; and Jonathan Pryce as the High Sparrow, a deeply religious man who becomes an important player in King's Landing this season.
Also on the list are "the Sand Snakes," the deadly bastard daughters of the late Red Viper, including Jessica Henwick as whip-wielding Nymeria Sand, Rosabell Laurenti as dagger-dealing Tyene Sand, and Keisha Castle-Hughes as Obara Sand, the Red Viper's eldest daughter.
"What do I like most about my character? Her weapons," Henwick mused about Nymeria.
The cast announcements set the audience of Hall H ablaze, except there were some notable omissions from the book's cast of characters — namely the salty Greyjoys of the Iron Islands, Wyman Manderly of White Harbor, and "Young Griff," a character who can't be identified further because, well, spoilers.
But even with so many new characters to look forward to, the "Game of Thrones" panel consisted of many cast members who met their seven makers during season four — including Pedro Pascal as the Red Viper, Rose Leslie as Ygritte, and Rory McCann as Sandor Clegane.
"I'm still sore," joked McCann, speaking of the Hound's brutal beating (and possible death) at the hands of Brienne of Tarth. "Things weren't looking too good the last time I saw him."
"I thought he got off lightly," said Gwendoline Christie, the woman who bit the Hound's ear off.
For such a bleak show, the panel was characterized by big laughs, especially because of a blooper reel that showed all sorts of hijinks from season four, including Tyrion and Jaime Lannister dancing their way to court.
There were plenty of questions for creator George R.R. Martin as well, including why he seems to kill off his characters with such impunity.
"I have plenty of punity," he declared. "My reputation for killing is exaggerated. [Showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss] are far bloodier than I am. They've killed a number of characters who are still alive in the books. I'm only he second-ranked murderer on the panel."
Martin also weighed in on how he's able to relate to the many diverse characters of "Game of Thrones," from the sarcastic Tyrion Lannister to the dragon-mama Daenerys Targaryen to little killer Arya Stark.
"I've never been an exiled princess, a dwarf or an eight year old girl," he said. "But our common humanity unites all these characters. That's what I draw on for this story."
"Game of Thrones" returns next spring.