Here's how the cast of Game of Thrones reacted after they first read the scripts for the forthcoming final season. After beginning in 2011 and running for seven seasons so far, HBO's live-action adaptation of George R. R. Martin's epic A Song of Ice and Fire is set to conclude next year with its final, eighth run. While Thrones fans have had a long wait for this final trip to Westeros, the recent confirmation of prequel spinoff, The Long Night, will no doubt help soften the blow of losing much loved characters such as Jon Snow, Daenerys Targaryen and Tyrion Lannister.
As arguably the biggest show on television, there has always been a high appetite for Game of Thrones spoilers but this has become significantly more problematic since the TV series overtook Martin's books and eager viewers could no longer perform a quick online search to find out the fate of a certain character. As such, Game of Thrones has suffered several significant leaks in recent seasons, with both scripts and entire episodes finding their way online before official air dates and producers have taken serious measures in order to prevent a repeat occurrence.
In a recent cover story for EW, members of the Game of Thrones cast revealed their immediate reactions to the scripts for season 8. Interestingly, Kit Harington (Jon Snow) was the only actor who chose not to read the scripts in advance of the joint table reading, opting to discover his character's fate with the remaining cast reading along, instead of alone at home. Harington's colleagues weren't quite as resistant to temptation, however. According to Peter Dinklage (Tyrion Lannister), this was the first time he didn't skip straight to the final script to find out if his character died, instead reading in full from the start. On her reaction to reading the scripts, Sophie Turner (Sansa Stark) claimed, “It was completely overwhelming. Afterwards I felt numb and I had to take a walk for hours.” Likewise, Emilia Clarke (Daenerys Targaryen) read the scripts in one late night sitting, stating:
“I turned to my best mate and was like, ‘Oh my God! I gotta go! I gotta go!' And I completely flipped out. Genuinely the effect it had on me was profound. That sounds insanely pretentious, but I’m an actor, so I’m allowed one pretentious adjective per season.”
Like Harington, Liam Cunningham (Davos Seaworth) also hadn't seen the scripts prior to the group reading but this wasn't due to any sentimental reason, he simply couldn't get past the heavy password protection. While showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss admitted to feeling nervous about the cast reaction, Joe Dempsie (Gendry) was anxious for a very different reason, claiming:
“You’re in possession of something millions of people want to know. It’s such a bizarre feeling. And between now and when it comes out, I’m gonna be drunk at some point.”
Obviously, there's an element of marketing and promotion to how much the Thrones cast are hyping up the show's final season - they're hardly likely to admit it if they thought it was awful, after all - but it's impossible to escape the feeling that Benioff and Weiss have something truly special in store for this final chapter that will exceed all previous seasons in terms of spectacle, surprises and grandeur.
While the Game of Thrones cast certainly seem moved and excited by the season 8 story, it remains to be seen as to whether fans will feel the same. The point at which the Thrones TV series overtook its source material seemed to coincide with a slight dip in critical reception, although the series remains as popular and profitable as ever. In any case, the concluding season of Game of Thrones certainly has a huge amount of anticipation and expectation to live up to and an awful lot of ground to cover in these final six episodes.
Game of Thrones season 8 is set to premiere in 2019 on HBO.