Friday, August 3, 2012

SDCC 2012 Recap: Game of Thrones Panel - Of Sex Scenes, Direwolves and Turtles

After a rousing second season of "Game of Thrones", cable channel HBO has upped the ante even further with regards to fantasy-based TV productions.

That epic heart-stopping scene from the Battle of Blackwater has to be one of TV history's finest.

The series has an astounding number of characters belonging to different houses and set in varied lands. But these factors did not deter "Game of Thrones"' ever-growing fandom as they find themselves increasingly hooked when the story unravels after each episode.

Giving the show a nod to its success and huge popularity, the "Game of Thrones" panel was held in the cavernous Hall H on Day 2 of Comic-Con this year. Hall H has been holding mainly movie-related panels in recent years.

And to pay homage to their favourite TV series, hundreds of fans camped outside Hall H for the panel overnight since midnight. (Note: The panel was scheduled almost 15 hours later at 2.45pm!) Thanks to a few good friends, Red Dot Diva and her roomie @eserei27 managed to get seats right up front with a very good view of the stage.

She later learned from a friend who was volunteering and managing the Hall H lines that day, that many fans were angry when they learnt that no more fans were allowed inside the venue for either "The Walking Dead" or the "Game of Thrones" panels.

Hey... the No. 1 lesson to be learned here, people - "One does not just walk into Hall H."

There were fewer key actors attending this year's "Game of Thrones" panel. Most of them were busy filming on set for Season 3. That was a pity, as most fans would have loved to see Peter Dinklage and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau again.

Disappointingly, cutie Kit Harrington was also said to have a sprained ankle and could not make it to the convention in the end. Bummer. He should have come anyway. Red Dot Diva would have willingly donned a nurse costume and attend to his needs during Comic-Con.

Despite of these shortcomings, fan favourites - our "Khaleesi" Emilia Clark and adorable Richard Madden were both at the panel. The affable "Hodor" Kristian Nairn was also being the ambassador of the series, walking around the convention centre meeting fans. Unfortunately, Red Dot Diva did not get to bump into him. :(

Red Dot Diva's friend Pam aka @TheRealRebel has a detailed account of what happened during that hour.


"I think there are even more people here than last year," quipped TV series creator, author of "Game of Thrones" and panel moderator George R.R. Martin.

This was definitely the case as every seat in Hall H was taken up on the Friday afternoon at San Diego Comic Con.

Martin apologized not only for the absence of the series creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, who were not only currently overseeing the show's filming but were also directing episodes.

Then, a re-cap clip of Season 2 was shown, and to the delight of the fans who were eager for any tidbits about Season 3, a video introduction of actors who would be playing new characters in Season 3 was screened after that. Check out the same clip featured below:

On that note, Martin introduced the show's Executive Producer Carolyn Strauss on stage, followed by the cast: Richard Madden, Michelle Fairley, Rose Leslie, Alfie Allen, and to thunderous applause - Emilia Clarke.

Fans of the series are familiar with the fact that many characters in "Game of Thrones" were not all good nor all bad. "And no one is as Grey as Theon Greyjoy who became a very dark shade of grey this season," Martin said. Alfie agreed and said about Theon: "I wouldn't say he's a villain. He's just mis-guided and out of his depth. I could relate to that. Dark, more complex characters more interesting."

Upon recounting the number of sex scenes Alfie has played, Martin asked the actor if he liked filming them. "It was fine; it was good. I enjoyed it. I had to get into shape anyway to feel like a warrior. It was cool, it was great. The sex scenes are with prostitutes so its not like Theon is some stud muffin." Alfie said, self-deprecatingly.

On the contrary, Madden who seemed charmingly coy, said that "swinging a sword is a bit more fun."

Turning to "Lady Stark" Michelle Fairley, Martin wondered if portraying a character who has lost her children, home and husband has taken an emotional toll on her. Fairley, who seemed as elegant in real life, replied that being able to work off the other actors and dressed in costume with a wonderful script on hand, she tends to forget that she is on a set. To be able to believe that she's Lady Stark makes her love doing those big emotional scenes.

Rose Leslie who played the Wilding woman Ygritte, was a newcomer in Season 2 of "Game of Thrones". Interestingly enough, Leslie was actually raised in a real castle in Aberdeen Church. Smiling at her childhood memories, Rose went on to describe that the castle was "cold and drafty" and how a game of hide and seek could take days because there were actual dungeons to hide in.

Finally, Martin posed a question to the bright-eyed Emilia Clark, who was the only cast member that was back at Comic-Con. "Emilia, you said last year no one recognizes you without your Dani tresses, does that still hold true?"

"For the most part," Clarke gave a bright smile. "But when it happens, it really really happens in a big way. I was in a department store I was in a lift and the doors open this woman kind of looks at me and says (- dramatic pause -): 'Khalessi.'" The audience roared with laughter.

For those who wondered about how real the Direwolves were, Madden revealed that all he had to act with was a silver ball. The Direwolves are just computer generated effects. "If they had been real, given their size, I would've been terrified," Madden said.

Many of the show's fans would have wished the Dragons could have been real, and Emilia said she fared better than Madden because she had actual dragon-like casts to work with. And as she worked on the sets longer, she grew more protective of them.

There was still time so questions were thrown to the floor. A fan in leather garb asked the cast, "How is it like for you to wear those amazing costumes?" Michelle Fairley answered, "Michele Clapton, who is the Costume Designer, is just a genius and she works with amazing crew. The detail, the research, the embroidery the designs is just a delight and privilege to work with."

A young man who came from Iceland where part of the series was filmed greeted, "The North says 'Hello.'" He then asked a very interesting question about what the turtles on George's hat signified. "Does it relate to your first works where you talk about being a turtle and living your own life?"

Martin explained, "In a way it is my sigil, I suppose, when I was a kid growing up in Bayonne New Jersey I lived in a Federal Housing project. And because it was a federal housing project, we were not allowed to have traditional pets. I was not allowed to have a dog. We were not allowed to have cats. So the only pets I could have were turtles. I had an entire toy castle filled with turtles and I gave them all names. And since they lived in a castle, I made up stories about how they all were kings and knights and killed each other. So 'Games of Thrones' actually began with turtles. I just decided to re-cast with humans. That's the origin of the turtle thing."

Someone also asked about whether the cast members have read the book series. And here's a short video clip what Richard Madden and Michelle Fairley had to say about that:

Dressed in Danearys cosplay, a female fan was curious to know what Emilia thought Dani's vulnerabilities and insecurities were.

"She's got a huge number of them really," Emilia replied, thoughtfully. "That's what you saw in Season 2. Her self-doubt. It's something she comes up against, again and again. She's so protective of her people and her dragons. She needs to be as strong as she can and not show her fear. But she does feel it. It's what keeps her human and noble. As opposed to wanting the throne for the throne's sake."

And then as cruel as Joffrey Baratheon, a fake teaser trailer for Season 3 was screened to the agonized groans of the fans at the end of the panel. All it showed were the words, "Games of Thrones, Season 3".

Let's hope the producers make up for this evil gag by giving us a more than awesome Season 3 next year!


Thanks to Pam @TheReal_Rebel for contributing this article.

1 comment:

  1. I do so appreciate that you guys report back on this, especially since I've never been. You give a delightful sense of the panels and of the tone of the con itself.
    You inspired me to go to a smaller comic con last year. Maybe next year SDCC!!