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Game of Thrones cast and crew spill the beans on the absolutely bonkers original pilot

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'Fire Cannot Kill A Dragon' is now available in Paperback Edition

The first attempt at making something new doesn’t always succeed. When it comes to crafting a world as mystical as Game of Thrones, you can expect a few mistakes. The truth about the scrapped pilot episode of the famed series was revealed in a book by Entertainment Weekly editor, and the legend behind some of the best Game of Thrones coverage, James Hibberd.

An excerpt from Hibberd’s upcoming book Fire Cannot Kill a Dragon, which delves into the making of the show, contains some interesting bits and pieces from the cast and crew. The way they describe the pilot episode is almost unbelievable. The crew filmed the original pilot in 2009. However, the show finally took after 4 years of hard work by the production team perfecting the rocky vision of showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss.

It was a frightening time because it was our first time running a production of any scale,” Weiss recalls. “And there are many, many moving parts, human and otherwise, that go into any production, especially one of this size.”

The shooting took place in Northern Ireland and Morocco. There was a feeling of uneasiness among the cast and the crew. According to Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Jaime Lannister), no one had any idea what they were doing. He said, “During King Robert’s arrival I remember finding the whole thing ridiculous.”

He added, “It’s a very fine balance between being serious and believing it and just being cosplayers. There was certainly not a sense that this was going to be some game-changer for anyone. But we had a lot of fun

Mark Addy, who played King Robert Baratheon, describes, “We were trying to establish the rules and order of this new world. In the Winterfell courtyard scene, nobody kneeled when the king arrived in the first pilot. You can’t play being the king. You can’t display “look at how powerful I am.” People have to give you that by showing subservience. It has to be afforded to you by others. In the reshoot, everybody kneeled. It made a huge difference in terms of establishing who’s in charge.”

Game of Thrones pilot Robert Baratheon

Lena Headey (Cersei Lannister) shared, “I looked like a Vegas showgirl in the [original] pilot — furs and massive hair, like a medieval Dolly Parton. Not that I’m complaining, I loved it. My hair devolved.

Bryan Cogman (then Benioff’s assistant; later a co-executive producer) recalled, “When we first shot the scene where the Starks find the direwolves — this was the version you never saw — the wonder of what a direwolf was wasn’t coming across. It didn’t seem important enough to the characters. And I’m little assistant Bryan running around the set yelling to anyone who would listen: “These are direwolves! No one has seen these in a million years! This is like seeing dinosaurs! It’s not like finding puppies!” And everyone’s sort of chuckling.”

Christopher Newman (producer): “Joffrey had a different haircut. In the original pilot, it was more pageboy cut, slightly pudding bowl-ish, like Henry V. It wasn’t that it didn’t suit him being a little shit, but it softened the edge. The modern cut in the version that aired gave him more spitefulness.”

David Benioff (showrunner): “At first it seemed to us like it was going well, but that was because we didn’t know any better.”

Dan Weiss (showrunner): “As we went on, the cracks turned into bigger cracks, which turned into fissures. You started to feel the wheels coming off by the time we got to Morocco.”

It seems like the pair was clueless about what they were doing from the first day, the previous reveal of which has angered the fans.

George R.R. Martin definitely had fun on the set. He said, “I went to Morocco for Dany’s wedding in the first pilot. I played a Pentoshi nobleman with beard extensions and an enormous hat. I looked like an idiot, but it was fun.” You might remember this picture of GRRM’s Game of Thrones cameo:

George R. R. Martin Game of Thrones cameo

Harry Llyod (Viserys Targaryen): “I had a different wig. It was titanium and silver, and it was shorter and a bob. Looking back, it was a mistake. There were consultations: “I’m not like Draco Malfoy, I’m not like Legolas … how do we do this?”

Iain Glen (Jorah Mormont): “It was a bit ragged and, in some ways, ill conceived, and no one had great conviction. Since the wedding was shot at night, quite a lot of money had been spent on seeing absolutely f—k-all.”

Bryan Cogman: “Is it fantasy with dramatic trappings? Is it a drama with fantasy trappings? There was a nervousness about the pilot leaning into the fantasy too much — ultimately to a fault. Key exposition was cut to make the dialogue sound more “real,” and as a result, the pilot didn’t make much sense. The impulse to not be over-the-top Shakespearian and Tolkien-esque was right — you’re trying to make it as grounded as possible — but this is still an epic fantasy, and if you ignore that, it’s to the detriment of your story.”

Originally, Tamzin Merchant played the role of Daenerys. Jason Momoa, who played the fierce Khal Drogo, recalls, “[Merchant] was great. I’m not sure why everything was done. But when Emilia got there that’s when everything clicked for me. I wasn’t really “there” until she arrived. ”

Emilia Clarke Game of Thrones pilot

Bryan Cogman: “Everybody involved in making the original pilot scored such a bull’s‑eye with so many of our actors. I thought Tamzin did a really good job. It’s hard to say why things didn’t work out. Ultimately, it’s obvious Emilia Clarke was born to play that part.”

Cogman also noted that HBO somehow gave Game of Thrones a second chance, something which is rare in the industry. The pilot episode was a $10 million disaster for HBO. It is a relief for the fans that they didn’t cancel the show altogether. James Hibberd’s Fire Cannot Kill a Dragon, which is bound to have a lot more behind-the-scenes bits from Game of Thrones, comes out Oct. 6 and is now available to pre-order.

What do you feel about these revelations? Let us know in the comments below.







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Interview

Richard Madden was sad about not sharing enough screen-time with Game of Thrones co-star Kit Harington in Marvel’s Eternals

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Richard Madden was sad about not sharing enough screen-time with Game of Thrones co-star Kit Harington in Marvel’s Eternals

Game of Thrones stars are a close knit bunch. Many of them are close friends in real life, like former on-screen brothers Richard Madden and Kit Harington, who played Robb Stark and Jon Snow respectively on the show. Hence it must come as no surprise that the two cherish any opportunity they get to work together. In this case, it was Marvel Cinematic Universe’s latest phase 4 film Eternals.

Though Madden was thrilled to be a part of the project, and getting to work with Kit once again, he was sad about not sharing much screen-time with him. He told Entertainment Weekly in a recent interview:

Richard Madden was sad about not sharing enough screen-time with Game of Thrones co-star Kit Harington in Marvel’s Eternals

Just great. I mean, I’ve been friends with Kit for many, many years, and sadly we don’t get to do a lot in the film together. But I get to have one moment with him where we say hello, and it’s nice to be on set with someone you know and trust and have known for a long time. On set, it was kind of like hanging out with your friends, and then it’s like, ‘Oh, right, we’ve got to do acting now? Okay.’”

When Madden was asked why Eternals and his character of Ikaris appealed to him, the actor said:

For me, it was the fascination of when you’ve got a character that’s thousands and thousands of years old, what is it about them that makes them want to keep living? What is it about the world around them that they find joy in?”

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Interview

House of The Dragon co-showrunner Miguel Sapochnik explains how his job has changed since his Game of Thrones days

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Miguel Sapochnik

Game of Thrones prequel House of The Dragon is a hot topic over all the social media platforms, as periodic leaks cause waves of reactions and excitement amongst curious fans. The teaser trailer received a largely positive response from the audience, and fans are expecting a lot from the upcoming Game of Thrones prequel. The series’ co-showrunner Miguel Sapochnik, who has also worked on the original show, explains how his job has changed since his Game of Thrones days.

During a Hollywood Reporter interview about his upcoming postapocalyptic Apple movie Finch, he said, “It’s a lot of work,” Sapochnik said. “It’s a pretty interesting shift. I’m producing other directors and getting involved in a lot of the minutiae. Directing feels really simple by comparison. I feel vaguely elated on my directing days because I don’t have to think about anything other than directing. I’ve also learned, as I learned on Finch, that it’s becoming more and more important to me as I’m getting older to work with people I like.”

House of The Dragon: Filming period in Caceres extended as an important crew member tests positive for COVID-19 on the last day of schedule

“The journey is the destination and if you can’t enjoy the journey, then the destination has so much less meaning. I’ve got a group of filmmakers on House of the Dragon I have a lot of fun working with. I’ve never had that level of repeat business of working with the same people again and again. The way I work with [GoT veterans] Fabian Wagner, my DP, and Tim Porter, my editor, we have fun and make jokes and we never used to have that. I can’t tell you how important that is. Because there’s not a lot of funny stuff going on in the world of Thrones, so it’s quite nice to spend time with people you enjoy spending time with.”

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Interview

House of The Dragon co-showrunner Miguel Sapochnik says the show has a different tone than Game of Thrones

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House of The Dragon Co-showrunner Miguel Sapochnik says the show has a different tone than Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones prequel House of The Dragon is a hot topic over all the social media platforms, as periodic leaks cause waves of reactions and excitement amongst curious fans. The teaser trailer received a largely positive response from the audience, and fans are expecting a lot from the upcoming Game of Thrones prequel. The series’ co-showrunner Miguel Sapochnik has a small message for the viewers waiting impatiently for the show – it will be a having a very different tone than the original show.

Talking to The Hollywood Reporter, Sapochnik said, “I think we were very respectful of what the original show is. It wasn’t broken, so we’re not trying to reinvent the wheel. House of the Dragon has its own tone that will evolve and emerge over the course of the show. But first, it’s very important to pay respects and homage to the original series, which was pretty groundbreaking.”

House of The Dragon Co-showrunner Miguel Sapochnik says the show has a different tone than Game of Thrones

We’re standing on the shoulders of that show and we’re only here because of that show. So the most important thing for us to do is to respect that show as much as possible and try and complement it rather than reinvent it. And I was involved in making the original show, so I feel like that’s been useful. Like, I’m not arriving going, ‘Let’s change everything! Let’s do a different color palette!’ No, I quite like the color palette.”

That said, we can’t say, ‘Well, when we did Thrones, we did it this way …’” he added. “If you start every sentence with that, you’ve lost. This is something else, and should be something else. It’s a different crew, different people, different tone. Hopefully, it will be seen as something else. But it will have to earn that — it won’t happen overnight.”

“Hopefully, fans will enjoy it for the thing that it is. We’ll be lucky if we ever come close to what the original show was, so we’re just putting our heads down and getting on with it and hoping what we come up with is worthy of having a Game of Thrones title.”

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