Oscar-nominee Naomi Watts has reportedly landed a lead role in HBO's in-development Game of Thrones prequel. The prequel pilot, scripted by Jane Goldman, was ordered up by HBO back in June. The network's president of programming Casey Bloys later revealed that the prequel will be an ensemble piece featuring several strong female characters.
One of five GoT spinoff shows that were initially placed in development by HBO (it's not known how many of the planned spinoffs will actually make it to screens), the announced first prequel series will take place thousands of years before the events of the main series and will depict "the world’s descent from the Golden Age of Heroes into its darkest hour." The series will also reveal the true origins of the white walkers as well as "the mysteries of the East to the Starks of legend." The show is reportedly set to begin filming in early 2019 with an eye toward a 2020 premiere.
With filming just months away from cranking up, the as-yet-untitled GoT prequel series has begun putting together its cast. As reported by Variety, Watts is the first actor to sign on for HBO's deep dive into the distant history of Westeros. Very little is being revealed about Watts' character (or anything else connected to the series, secrecy being a big deal in the world of Game of Thrones) but it's known that her strong female character is "a charismatic socialite hiding a dark secret."
A two-time Oscar nominee for her roles in 21 Grams and The Impossible, Watts was most recently seen leading up the now-canceled Netflix series Gypsy, as well as lending her talents to David Lynch's Twin Peaks: The Return as Dougie Jones' patient wife Janey-E. Twin Peaks indeed reunited Watts with Lynch after he gave the actress her breakthrough role in his acclaimed drama Mulholland Drive. Watts will next be seen starring alongside Mel Gibson and Frank Grillo in Joe Carnahan's action film Boss Level. She will also reportedly reprise the role of Evelyn in Ascendant, the planned TV movie wrap-up of the Divergent series.
Best-known for doing serious drama with the occasional genre movie mixed in, Watts' biggest role in the fantasy realm came when she starred as Ann Darrow in Peter Jackson's King Kong. Now Watts will make her way into the biggest small screen fantasy franchise of all, taking on a central role in what will surely be one of the most hotly anticipated shows of 2020. It's hard to glean many hints from the very brief description that's been offered, but it seems Watts' character will be a member of the elite of Westerosi society in the years before everything fell apart and the Long Night descended on the world. The coming weeks will no doubt see many more casting reports and more small hints about what the new series will cover.
As it heads into its 8th and final season, Game of Thrones has established itself as a pop culture juggernaut and huge money-maker for HBO. Much is riding on this new prequel series, and whatever other spinoffs the network concocts as a means of keeping the GoT brand alive beyond the wrap-up of the main series.