Filed Under: Game of Thrones, Transcripts
Game of Thrones: Khalakka dothrae!
By Whitney Hall
Based on the number of people still waiting in line when the Game of Thrones panel started, it could easily have been held in Hall H. Stars Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Kit Harington, Lena Headey, Peter Dinklage, Jason Momoa, and Emilia Clarke were on hand for the most anticipated TV panel of the con. They were joined by executive producers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss and moderator (and GoT mastermind) George R.R. Martin. Peter Dinklage earned the loudest cheers and applause – as one would for playing my second favorite character in the books – but it was Jason Momoa who walked out like a rock star. Long hair flowing loose, dressed all in black with big black sunglasses. When he dipped them, he revealed blacked out eyes Khal Drogo style. Jason Momoa IS the Great Khal. I don’t think that’s a role he’s going to be able to put aside any time soon.
Q: Producers – What was your first introduction to The Song of Ice and Fire?
A: David hadn’t heard of the books when the first four showed up on his doorstep six years ago. He didn’t know how he was going to get through them, but he was hooked as soon as Jaime pushed Bran out the window. “It’s like crack on paper.” (Seriously. Or possibly heroin.) Rejecting the mad idea that the books could be adapted into a 2 1/2 hour, PG-13 movie, David called G.R.R.M. directly and proposed it as an HBO series. To his surprise the author went for it.
Q: Emilia – Yours is quite the Cinderella story. You came to this project right out of drama school. If you could go back in time three years, what advice would you give yourself?
A: “Do exactly the same thing.” Her education hadn’t entirely prepared her, “there were no dragons at drama school”, but she immediately fell in love with Dany on the page. It’s changed her life, but without the wig (she’s a brunette) people rarely recognize her. She was concerned that when she walked out onto the stage the hall’s reaction would be, “Who IS this girl??”
Q: Lena – You played a hero in T:tSCC, and now you’re playing a character that many of these people hate. How is that different for you? How do you prepare?
A: “It’s kind of fun to be able to play a character who isn’t trying to be morally good.” She loves Cersei, saying she thinks she’s misunderstood. That got a laugh from the audience because, no. No she isn’t. She did admit that it’s horrible to have people come up to her and say, “I HATE you!!”
(In the Ringer panel someone asked SMG who she would come as if she dressed up in character. Lena was clearly cosplaying as a hipster.)
Q: Nikolaj – Did anything in your past prepare you for the intense internet discussion of your nose?
A: (Really? There was intense discussion about his nose?) He told a story about shooting a movie in Iceland, and one of the gaffers coming up to him drunk at the wrap party. “He said, ‘I gotta tell you, when I saw that nose I thought ‘Sh*t, I’m in trouble.’ ”
Q: Jason – The question on everyone’s mind: What is best in life Who would win, Khal Drogo or Conan?
A: “Between you and me, Drogo would kick Conan’s ass!” To emphasize the point he leaned into the mike and let loose with a raging stream of Dothraki. It may have been the most amazing thing I saw at Comic Con. I think if he had ordered us to storm Hall H and bring him the heads of the Twilight cast we would have done it in a heart beat.
Q: Jason – The incredible moment where Drogo rips out Mago’s throat isn’t in the book. How did that scene come about?
A: He had just finished shooting Conan, and chopping off 100 people’s heads. “Drogo’s just such a bad ass, I wanted just to do one scene. The most intimidating thing to me would be to not even use a weapon. I had a dream I wanted to rip someone’s throat out. I wanted to do something so it looked like he was just the baddest man in the world.” He apologized for deviating from the source material, but G.R.R.M. assured him he loved the scene, as one would.
Q: Peter – Tyrion is many readers favorite. What is it like to step into a situation where so many people already know and love the character?
A: He thinks everyone on the panel was faced with something similar. They all had big shoes to fill. “Yeah. It was terrifying.”
Q: Kit – “You realize that your poster is going up in the bedrooms of thousands.” You’ve been working with animals a lot – both actual and puppet – which do you prefer?
A: He began by answering that he finds the prospect of becoming a teen idol “terrifying”. As for having a casting preference, the thing about puppets is, “they do what they’re told. But I love my dog. I love Cooper, or Ghost, as he’s called. We got on very well, he just didn’t do what he was told.”
Q: Producers – what kind of extras can fans expect on the Season 1 DVD?
A: There were very few deleted scenes because they used almost everything that they shot. There was very little left on the cutting room floor. What will be included are the casts’ original auditions for their roles. “If you could see what Momoa does… You need to see him do the haka. (I need to see that like I need air to breath) It’s the dance that won him the role.”
That led to a thank you to the fans for bringing Jason to the producers’ attention. “We were looking all over the world for Khal Drogo [and] couldn’t find the right person. We went onto [a discussion thread] on Westeros… and no offense, I hadn’t heard of you before. I hadn’t kept up on my Baywatch.” That earned David a middle finger from Jason. “We clicked [on a link to his picture] and thought ‘he kind of looks Drogo-ie’. He came in and he read the scene, and then – there’s no dance in the actual scene – Jason decided to show us how good he was, he was going to do the haka, and just tore off his shirt…” Cue the cheering and demands that he recreate the moment on stage. (Didn’t happen. Great was our sorrow.)
Q: Jason – Almost all of your dialog is in a made up language. That must have been an interesting challenge for you.
A: “Yes, very interesting.” At the first table reading the producers pulled him aside and told him about their idea. “It’s like German-Arabic. It literally sounded like Jabba the Hut and Fozzie the Bear. ‘Wokka-wokka. Chewbacca’. I was like, ‘I really want this job, I’ll do anything!’ Ordered a lot of pizza and got a lot of Guinness, and next thing you know… That’s all it takes. A little bit of Guinness.” The producers gave credit to linguist David Peterson for creating the Dothraki used in the show. Jason called it an amazing, beautiful language and an achievement for his character to be able to communicate in that way. Emilia added, “Shekh ma shieraki anni”. (“My sun and stars”)
Q: What was your favorite scene? The one you got most excited about, or looking back, one you’re really pleased with?
A: Nikolaj – “Isaac was really annoying, so pushing him…” He kids! He kids! Instead he chose Jaime’s last scene with Catelyn when she confronts him about Bran.
Kit – The scene with Arya (when he gives her Needle), calling it a sad and wonderful moment for Jon.
Lena – The scene with Mark Addy (when Robert and Cersei discuss their relationship and marriage) because it was so revealing. She said many of her favorites are still to come, having just read some of the scripts for Season 2.
Peter – Slapping Joffrey. “When I’m on trial, that was fun. It was a long day, and there’s a lot of extras in that scene. I felt like the master of ceremonies for a bunch of bored extras. It was entertaining off screen.”
Jason – His big speech after the attempt on Dany’s life. “When I read the book, it was the greatest war speech I’d ever heard. I had to have this role. That was it for me.”
Emilia – “Mine’s pretty easy. Definitely the final. Getting to see it properly on screen was, ahh, just the sound of those dragons. Shivers. Amazing.”
David said Emilia stole his, so he chose the scene with Arya and Syrio. (*tear*)
Q: How many of you ran home after filming Season 1 to read ahead and find out what happens?
A: Emilia read – “devoured, I was obsessed” – the first book after her first audition and was ready to move on to Book 2, but “I wanted to be with Dany as we were filming Season 1. My celebration at wrapping Season 1 was starting Book 2. All I want to do is read ahead but I’m trying to pace myself.”
Jason was blown away when he read the book, but “when it came to me dying… I was so in love with Drogo and I started panicking. I went to Barnes and Noble and started reading and I was so mad at you [pointing at G.R.R.M.]. I hated you!” He pantomimed flipping through the pages and then angrily flinging the book away. To cries of ‘bring him back’ George said he would take it under advisement. “Who knows, he may have a twin brother somewhere.”
Q: “Mr. Martin, why is it you’re always killing off people’s favorite characters?”
A: “It keeps you on your toes. I want people emotionally involved in my story… I want the readers to be almost afraid to turn the page, not knowing who’s going to live and who’s going to die. We all know books and movies where the hero may seem to be in deep trouble, but you know he’s going to get out of it because, after all, he’s the hero. Those shows are fun, but they don’t really involve your emotions and that’s what I’m looking for.”
Q: Lena – How do you play all of the different sides of Cersei, and how damn heavy were those wigs?
A: “I’ve been criticized for giving her some humanity, but I think everyone deserves a chance. I just think she’s a confused woman who thought life was going to be something very different, and she just tries to cope with what is, and hold on. The wigs? Part of the game.”
Q: How do you end the series if you could? What would you do?
A: Kit – “I want Jon Snow to be on the throne, definitely.”
Nikolaj – Fade to black. “20 years later. A small cottage. Jaime and Cersei. ‘Finally, my love.’ ”
Lena – “Bring Khal Drogo back, for sure, and have him and Tyrion co-rule. I think things would get interesting.”
Peter – “Dance number.”
George then pointed out that the new book is called A Dance with Dragons.
Q: Jason, “You are my sun and stars.” How hard was it to do the fight scenes with the long hair?
A: It was easy compared to the weight of the dread-wig he had to wear on Stargate: Atlantis. “That was just like a little rat tail. It wasn’t very hard at all. Thank you moon of my life.”
Q: What was the moment in the book or the script that hooked you?
A: Nikolaj went back to Jaime pushing Bran out the window. “I thought ‘what the hell?’ Suddenly you’re in that dark, dark place. You know all bets are off, and that’s brilliant.” Peter liked the opening with the supernatural element of the White Walkers and setting the landscape. “And then I lost interest when I came on. My scene was over, and then I was interested again.”
Q: Producers – what can viewers expect in Season 2?
A: “Everyone dies.
“It was all a dream.”
“It’s a season of exploration.” New characters will be introduced, including the Red Priestess and “it’s time to see those dragons and wolves.” Looking beyond Season 2, David thinks that Book 3 in the series will be the most difficult to adapt into a single season because of its length. They don’t know yet how they’re going to approach it. His ultimate hope though is to get to what he cryptically (in an effort to avoid spoilers) referred to as ‘R.W.’ “If we can get to R.W. then I can retire.”
Q: Are you going to be able to film the Battle of Black Water the way it was written?
(Wordy McWord of New Wordington. When I finished that chapter in Book 2, I said a silent prayer to the gods of HBO that they would give the production the budget to do that scene justice.)
A: There will be a battle, and George (who is writing the episode) is planning to pass his hat around for contributions. (Put me down for $20) “The guys from WETA [Workshop] came up to me and said they were huge fans of the series, and I asked them if they would like to donate some free special effects. For some reason they declined.”
Q: (And the stirring the pot / balls big as Tuesday award goes to…) “I know that the writer can’t always do what’s going to make the audience happy. Are you still concerned about – to put it in your words – ‘pulling a LOST‘?”
A: George prefaced his answer by saying he was going to be careful because Damon [Lindelof] was in the room. He admitted that with two more books to go he is concerned about the ending. “I’m juggling a lot of balls, and of course there is the deep fear that eventually some of them are going to fall on my head and knock me unconscious or kill me. All I can keep doing is juggling as fast as I can and hopefully bring everything together in the magnificent way that I see it vaguely in my head. It’s easier to dream these things than to do them. I certainly hope that the ending will tie together. In terms of making people happy, well hopefully it will make some people happy. I’ve always been a fan of the bittersweet ending.” He cited his love of Lord of the Rings and The Scouring of the Shire. “There was a cost to the war. It was a human cost. It’s a triumph yes, but there’s also tragedy mixed in the triumph. I think Tolkien did it brilliantly. I hope I can do something half as good.”
Q: Emilia – Dany is one of the most identifiable characters. How do you portray such a strong, but realistic and feeling woman? Do you have any tips?
A: Dany felt very real to her on the page, and she could understand everything she was going through. Her instinct to survive was the fundamental thing about the character that came through for Emilia. “It’s women. We’re strong. We’re good. We’re powerful. We’re sexy. Own it. Be true to yourself.”
(Not to go all women’s studies, but something very interesting occurred during this question. As Emilia began her answer, David Benioff looked at Jason Momoa with this ‘seriously?’ look on his face. Jason tapped him on the shoulder, and the two of them leaned back in their chairs with an air of, ‘Yes please tell us how to be strong women. We’re all ears.’ In the moment it was kind of funny, but thinking about it later, it was kind of a Richard move. Emilia couldn’t see what they were doing. She wasn’t in on the joke. She was focused on the girl in the audience who asked the question, and it threw her when a ripple of laughter started through the hall. She powered through it, but it was disappointing that that was their reaction to a young woman talking about finding strength and inspiration in another woman’s struggle. /End rant.)
Q: Kit – What are you most looking forward to in the upcoming season?
A: He loved Jon the minute he saw him on paper, and he has a big journey – literally – ahead of him as he goes beyond The Wall. He hopes that Jon’s decision to choose the Night’s Watch over his family will allow him to “get on with a bit of his own agenda.”
Q: Kit – Has George revealed to you who Jon Snow’s mother is?
A: “Um… no. I’d love to know. Haven’t got a clue.” Lena offered her own opinion by pointing to herself.
Q: G.R.R.M. – Did you set out to break the cliches of ‘good guys always win / the hero never dies’? Is there a character that you’ve mourned as you’ve killed them?
A: “I mourn all the characters as I kill them.” He described a process of climbing into the skin of his POV characters in order to make them human. He’s lived with some of them for 20 years, so it does make it hard to kill them. “I tell myself it’s not me killing them, it’s the other characters.” He called R.W. the hardest scene he’s ever written. It was as “emotionally wrenching and painful for me to write as it was hopefully for all of you to read. I think that when they film it and show it I’m going to try and arrange to be out of the country, someplace that doesn’t actually have television.”