There’s just one episode left in Game of Thrones season 6, with the finale, 'Winds of Winter,' set to air Sunday night. But it’s not only the season that’s coming to an end. The series is expected to wrap up with season 7 and 8, meaning audiences are closer than ever to Game of Thrones’ endgame.
With the show breaking ratings and streaming records all the time, it’s clearly one of HBO’s biggest successes. And as the end of the series approaches, its actors are reportedly getting a significant bump in pay.
According to Deadline, five of the series’ core cast members will receive a raise for season 7: Peter Dinklage (Tyrion Lannister), Kit Harington (Jon Snow), Lena Headey (Cersei Lannister), Emilia Clarke (Daenerys Targaryen), and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Jaime Lannister). These actors, all part of the show since its first season, will now each earn more than $500,000 per episode. A negotiation prior to season 6 had brought those numbers up to $300,000 per episode. The piece adds that contracts are not yet done for other members of the cast.
The article states that the news of the contract renewals “does not guarantee that all five characters will survive til the end,” although the actors signing on now would at least seem to guarantee that all five of their characters will survive Sunday’s episode, in order to start earning their new salaries next season. Then again, everyone who followed the protracted “is Jon Snow really dead?” saga likely learned that you can’t always trust what HBO and the Game of Thrones showrunners say about the future status of characters.
The raises are obviously well-deserved. Game of Thrones has made money hand-over-fist for HBO over the years, and there’s no reason why the main actors shouldn’t share in that. The acting has been an underrated but crucial part of the show’s success, both in making stars out of previously obscure actors such as Clarke and Harington and in giving a long-respected actor like Dinklage the best role of his life, one that has earned him several awards.
And besides, keeping the cast happy and in the fold is important on an intricate production like this one. Whatever the endgame of Game of Thrones’ plot turns out to be, showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss would likely find themselves in a tricky situation if, say, Emilia Clarke was unavailable to shoot crucial season 8 scenes due to a salary dispute.
Game of Thrones season 6 ends with 'Winds of Winter' Sunday night at 9pm on HBO.