We don’t know about you but we’re dying for the final season of Game of Thrones to start! We need our weekly fix of epic dragons and vicious power struggles, plus we’re really looking forward to staring at Jon Snow brooding for Westeros in his fur coat whilst trying to save humanity from extinction.
Sadly there’s still just under a year to go until series eight hits our screens, so in the meantime we’ve compiled a list of fascinating facts about the hit HBO series. There’s plenty of drama and interest behind the scenes, so scroll on down to find out more about your favourite fantasy series…
*spoilers for all seasons ahead*
1. Catelyn Stark and Daenerys Targaryen were originally played by completely different actors
Remember Jennifer Ehle from the BBC’s Pride and Prejudice? She was originally supposed to play the role of Stark matriarch Catelyn! In fact, she starred in the ill-fated pilot before being swiftly replaced by the more familiar Michelle Fairley. However, Ehle later claimed that she asked to leave the series because she had just given birth to daughter Talulah and couldn’t commit to a seven year contract.
What’s more, The Tudors actress Tamzin Merchant was cast as the famous dragon queen Daenerys, but after the original pilot she was replaced by Emilia Clarke.
2. Dothraki is a real language
Ever fancied getting together with a nice Dothraki horseman and settling down somewhere in Essos? Well never fear, because you can actually learn the Dothraki language in real life! The language was created for the series by linguist and self-proclaimed conlanger (i.e. language creator) David J. Peterson.
Random House released a Dothraki language learning app in 2014. In the new “Dothraki Companion” app, you can learn how to pronounce up to 300 Dothraki words with flashcards, games, grammar summaries and conversational dialogue. HBO also released their own audiobook course, so you’ve got no excuse for not brushing up on your Dothraki before season eight arrives.
We only wish Khal Drogo was still around to talk to…
3. Cersei and Bronn refuse to film any scenes together
In reality, actors Jerome Flynn and Lena Headey were an item for quite some time. However, things didn’t work out and it must have ended really badly because the two now refuse to work together on-set. Producers were given strict instructions to keep the pair well away from each other at all times, and there are now stipulations written into their contracts which mean that they cannot be in the same room together. What on Earth happened there?!
“Jerome and Lena aren’t on speaking terms any more and they are never in the same room at the same time,” a member of the crew previously stated. “It’s a pity because they appeared to have patched things up for a while, but now the word is they should be kept apart at all costs.”
While this wasn’t really a problem for too much of the series, viewers did begin to wonder why Bronn randomly left the epic showdown in the dragon pit in series 7. After all of the main players in Westeros have arrived, Bronn (the leader of the Lannister army) awkwardly asks Podrick if he wants to go for a drink, before the two quickly exit. This was all done to avoid Lena and Jerome having to appear in the same shots together. That’s a lot of trouble to go to so that two actors don’t have to be near each other on set! Maybe it’s time to put the past behind them?
4. Daenerys was originally meant to have violet eyes
Fans of the books will know that all Targaryens have bright white hair and violet eyes. However, in the series Emilia Clarke’s eyes are a natural blue colour. The show runners did try and add this detail onscreen, and early on in the production of Game of Thrones Emilia shot some scenes with violet contact lenses in. However, she found them uncomfortable and they negatively affected her performance so they were swiftly dropped.
5. The death count is much higher in the series than in the books
Anyone who has read the books and watched the HBO series will know that there are many differences between the two formats. This isn’t really the fault of the show runners David Benioff and DB Weiss – the books are huge and it would be impossible to do all of the fascinating back stories justice in one TV show.
However, this means that to keep things interesting for viewers of the series, they’ve had to kill of a fair amount of characters along the way. Many of these characters are still alive and well in the books, including the following familiar names: Shireen and Stannis Baratheon, Night’s Watchmen Pyp and Grenn, Barristan Selmy, Myrcella Baratheon, and Mance Rayder.
6. Sean Bean kicked his own severed head around on-set
Everybody’s favourite brooding Northern lord, Ned Stark, was famously killed off right at the end of season one. However, Sean Bean did manage to make light of the incident – the diehard Sheffield United fan was spotted kicking around the replica of his own severed head onset! That’s one way to grieve Eddard’s loss, we suppose.
7. The show runners know how the books will end
That’s right, as if it’s not enough for them to produce one of the most successful TV series’ of all time – they also get the insider scoop on how the Song of Ice and Fire books will end.
Martin has told Weiss and Benioff the “broad strokes” of how the series will end. “Last year we went out to Santa Fe for a week to sit down with [Martin] and just talk through where things are going, because we don’t know if we are going to catch up and where exactly that would be,” Benioff told Vanity Fair. “If you know the ending, then you can lay the groundwork for it. And so we want to know how everything ends. We want to be able to set things up. So we just sat down with him and literally went through every character.”
8. Meryn Trant’s death scene was the most expensive to film
It might also have been one of the most satisfying, too (apart from Ramsay and Joffrey, of course)! Child molester and general creep Meryn Trant was brutally assassinated by the newly-trained Arya, who ended up gouging out his eyes in a particularly gruesome scene from the show. At the 2017 SXSW Festival in Texas, Weiss and Benioff explained that the reason the scene was able to rack up so much money was simply because, as Benioff put it, “she couldn’t really poke his eyes out.”
9. The moon door is only one metre deep
We’ve often thought that the Eyrie’s dreaded Moon Door is actually one of the worst ways to die in Westeros. It still makes us feel slightly sick when Lysa thrusts Sansa over the open trap door, making her look down at the seemingly endless fall to the mountains below. Fortunately for Sophie Turner, the terrifying view is all just an illusion. Turner revealed in some behind-the-scenes commentary that in reality the hole is only ‘like a metre deep’. That’s slightly less petrifying then!
10. Sansa adopted her direwolf in real life
Remember Sansa’s direwolf Lady from series one? Well after Lady’s unfortunate death (thanks Joffrey you twit), Sophie Turner decided she couldn’t part ways with the dog. Instead she decided to adopt it and renamed it ‘Zunni’ instead. We’re so jealous! We’d love a pet direwolf to hang around with.