Believe it or not, even with 6 seasons (almost 7) under its belt, a record viewership, numerous praises from critics, an Emmy-award record for a scripted television series, and the title for the most pirated show in history, Game of Thrones still holds a few surprising secrets!
As its season 7, which will mark the beginning of the end for GoT, is only a few days away from premiering on HBO (July 16 to be exact), we decided to jump behind the scenes of the series to learn a number of pretty interesting facts – and the least we can say is that some of them left us quite stunned. Here’s our top 10…
1 – It takes an army
The production of the show is a massive undertaking according to producers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss. Filming a full season of Game of Thrones can take up to an entire year due to its many locations. For instance, season 5 alone was shot in 5 different countries on 151 sets, for 240 days, having 166 cast members, over 1,000 crew members and over 5,000 extras.
Quite the journey!
2 – Ramsay Bolton could have played Jon Snow
Welsh actor Iwan Rheon, whose portrayal of heartless and sadistic Ramsay Bolton is close to perfection, was actually the primary runner-up to play Jon Snow! Hard to believe when we see how much playing the bad guy suits him (he even won the title for “the actual worst character on television“).
As we all know by now, the role eventually went to Kit Harington – a decision that Rheon – just like us – seems to find pretty logic, “It would’ve been a very different Jon Snow if I’d played him,” he said during an interview. “I think they made the right choice.”
3 – Cersei Lannister and Bronn never share a scene – and for good reason
Creative differences, the fact that they can’t stand each other, or even bad breath could have explained why Lena Headey and Jerome Flynn, who respectively play evil Cersei Lannister and sarcastic Bronn in the series, refuse to work together on the set of Game of Thrones. But the real – and a bit more awkward – reason is that the actors actually used to date.
With their relationship ending on bad terms just prior to both of them being cast in the show, the production had to add a clause in their contracts stating that they were never to share scenes and must remain apart on set.
Must have been a pretty bad break-up!
4 – George R.R. Martin’s books were meant to be impossible to adapt
Unhappy about having to write stories that accommodate the budget of TV shows he worked on (such as The Twilight Zone and Beauty and the Beast), George R.R. Martin deliberately wrote the A Song of Ice and Fire book series so that it would turn out to be “absolutely unfilmable”. But after the success that Peter Jackson managed to make of The Lord of the Ring’s movie adaptations and because his books were jumping on every bestseller list, Martin was approached to license his latest work for the screen.
Today, Game of Thrones proves that nothing is impossible to create anymore in the TV universe. The sky is the limit!
5 – An expensive show
If you put together the dragons, the army of White Walkers, all the fight scenes and, well, the bloody displays that come with them, Game of Thrones is a pretty expensive show to produce! Up to season 6, the cost per episode was on average around $6 million (the most expensive being Episode 9 of Season 2, Blackwater, which reached $8 million).
By season 6, HBO decided to up the budget by setting it around $100 million, which meant an average production cost of $10 million per episode, making it the most expensive TV show of all time (on par with Friends).
The good news? Season 7 will be made of fewer episodes, which means a bigger budget for each of them, opening the door to action-packed scenes!
6 – A cast straight out of Harry Potter
Did you know that 10 actors from Game of Thrones actually appeared in the Harry Potter films? Here’s the full list:
- Bronson Webb (“Will”) played a student in the 3rd film
- Natalia Tena (“Osha”) played Nymphadora Tonks
- David Bradley (“Lord Walder Frey”) played Argus Filch
- Julian Glover (“Grand Maester Pycelle”) voiced Aragog
- Michelle Fairley (“Catelyn Stark”) played Mrs. Granger in the 7th film
- Ciarán Hinds (“Mance Rayder”) played Aberforth Dumbledore
- Ralph Ineson (“Dagmer Cleftjaw”) played Amycus Carrow
- Edward Tudor-Pole (“Protestor at King’s Landing”) played Mr. Borgin
- Ian Whyte (“Gregor Clegane”) played Madame Maxime in full-body shots
- Jim Broadbent (his role has not been revealed yet) played Professor Horace Slughorn
7 – You can get the full Game of Thrones experience in Northern Ireland
Surfing on the show’s success and also on the fact that many of its scenes are shot in Northern Ireland, the Northern Ireland Tourist Board offers sightseeing tours to a lot of the filming locations along with various unique experiences, such as a King Robert medieval banquet at Winterfell, or an encounter with the dire wolves from the series.
Excited about the idea? Check out the official discovernorthernireland.com page and book your next holiday!
8 – A total of 150,966 on-screen deaths – so far
(In)Famous for its violence, Game of Thrones has accumulated (so far) 150,966 deaths (including extras and animals) on screen since its first season. A YouTuber has even made a compilation of all of them in a video titled ‘Game of Thrones 150,966 Deaths in 21 minutes Compilation’ which you can watch, below (just make sure you’re not eating while you do so).
9 – Dothraki is a real language
Linguist David J. Peterson worked with HBO to create the language spoke by the nomadic inhabitants of the Dothraki Sea. It is based on the Dothraki words and phrases in George R.R. Martin’s novels and also inspired by Turkish, Russian, Estonian, Inuktitut, and Swahili.
The best part? Fans can learn it via an online course!
10 – There are official Game of Thrones hip-hop/rap albums
Catch the Throne and Cath the Throne Vol. II were released for free via SoundCloud in 2014 and 2015 by HBO. The playlists made of tracks sampled from the Game of Thrones original soundtrack include songs by Snoop Dogg (“Lannister Anthem”), Common (“The Lader”), Estelle (“Let Me Go”), and Big Boi (“Mother of Dragons”).
You can listen to them, here.