The hit HBO show Game of Thrones returned in full force to Comic-Con 2012. Panel moderator and Song of Fire and Ice author George RR Martin appeared on stage to thunderous applause and quipped, "There are even more of you than last year!" He was right. The darling of last year's Comic-Con, the Game of Thrones panel moved from the smaller Ballroom 20 to Hall H, the vast 7,000 seat marquee venue.
While there was no new footage shown at the panel, Martin announced that Season 3 of Game of Thrones would premiere March 31, 2012 on HBO, and revealed several new cast members.
With every seat filled and the lights dimmed low, Martin introduced a sizzle reel of highlights from Season 2. It was as awesome as I remembered it being when it first aired. The crowd cheered scenes featuring fan favorites Arya Stark and Faceless Man Jaqen H'ghar, and booed those starring Theon Greyjoy.
Next, Martin introduced another video, this time showing the audience some of the actors who have been cast in new roles for season 3. Here's a breakdown of who's who and how (without spoilers) they relate to the storyline in the next season:
- Clive Russell as Bryden "Blackfish" Tully (Catelyn Stark's Wise Uncle)
- Nathalie Emmanuel as Missandei (A new servant of Dany)
- Mackenzie Crook as Orell (A Wildling that Jon Snow meets)
- Kerry Ingram as Shireen Baratheon (Daughter of Stannis Baratheon)
- Thomas Brodie-Sangster as Jojen Reed (Helps Bran after he escapes from Winterfell)
- Ellie Kendrick as Meera Reed (Sister of Jojen. Also helps Bran on his journey.)
- Richard Dormer as Beric Dondarrion (Part of the Brotherhood Without Banners, a roving gang that. . .well I can't tell you what they do without major spoilers)
- Paul Kaye as Thoros of Myr (Also a part of the Brotherhood Without Banners)
- Diana Rigg as Olenna Tyrell The Queen of Thorns (Margaery Tyrell's grandmother)
The announcement of Diana Rigg as The Queen of Thorns was definitely the biggest bombshell of the casting video. While her granddaughter Magaery shows her ambition after the death of Renly Baratheon in the television show, those who have read the books know that The Queen of Thorns is the true grit behind the House of Tyrell, so having such an acclaimed actress take on the role is truly exciting. As Martin commented at the end of the video, "Pretty cool. Diana Rigg as the Queen of Thorns. I flashback to my youth and all of those days I spent watching The Avengers!" He then went on to say, "I think we have the biggest cast in television. So obviously, we're going to need to start killing some of these characters off to make room for the new ones!"
Jeez, George. We get it. You don't have to rub it in.
The first panelist Martin introduced was series producer Carolyn Strauss. "They came in and they plunked a couple of really heavy books down on the coffee table. I was intrigued by it. It seemed like a genre buster."
Next, Martin introduced members of the current cast including Richard Madden (Robb Stark), Michelle Fairley (Catelyn Stark), Alfie Allen (Theon Greyjoy), Rose Leslie (Ygritte), and Emilia Clarke (Daenerys Targaryen).
Martin started off with Alfie Allen, the talent behind the twisted Theon Greyjoy asking, "Gray characters. I don't think any character in the whole opus is any grayer than Theon Greyjoy. Is Theon a villain?"
"He's just kind of misguided. He's got issues, but I can relate to that. Dark and more complex characters are more complicated to play. It's been great to play, and I'm just happy to be a part of it," Allen responded.
Martin then started to list all of Theon's sexual conquests over the past two seasons -- including almost having sex with his own sister -- and in a playful manner implied Allen should thank him for all of the action he's gotten on screen. "And have I gotten as much as a box of chocolates?!" Martin joked. Allen assured him that those chocolates were in the mail.
When Martin asked Richard Madden who plays Robb Stark whether he liked the sex scenes or the war scenes better, Madden admitted, "Swinging a sword is a bit more fun."
Next, Emilia Clarke -- the only cast member brave enough to come back to Comic-Con -- commented on what it's like to be recognized at any moment in real life. "When it happens, it really happens. I was at a department store. I was in a lift [elevator], and the doors opened, and this woman just said 'Khaleesi!' and then the doors closed."
The conversation soon turned to the physical production of the show, which is shooting concurrently in four different countries. When asked about shooting scenes with his Direwolf, Madden admitted that there's never a real wolf to be found. "It's a fantastic silver ball on the end of a stick. They tell me where to put my hand, but it's not scary at all."
As the Game of Thrones panel came to a close, Martin introduced what he called "a very short video," which ended up only being about five seconds long; however, it did contain one very important piece of information: The third season of Game of Thrones will premiere March 31, 2013 on HBO.