Game of Thrones: Secrets, Facts, Quotes and Rare Behind the Scenes Photos
Any true fan of Game of Thrones would love these stories. I didn’t know most of them… And I couldn’t believe some of the photos, don’t miss the last two… Wow!
True Story: Game of Thrones is the television series with the largest ever cast. But only one of them received such a letter… Jack Gleeson (Joffrey) received a letter from author George R.R. Martin after the show aired, stating “Congratulations on your marvelous performance, everyone hates you!”
It’s BIG: Game of Thrones is the most watched HBO TV-Series of all time, with an average viewership of 16.1 million (Season 4), slightly ahead of a record which was previously held by The Sopranos (1999-2007).
Read on: This article is my own personal tribute to this brilliant show. If you like it too, I promise you would love some of these stories. Sounds good? Click next for more stories, and be sure not to miss the last two…!
Real live vs. Characters: Cersei and Tyrion Lannister loathe each other. In real life, Lena Headey and Peter Dinklage are very close friends and live together during filming. And Thomas Brodie-Sangster, who plays the 13-year-old character Jojen Reed, was 22 when cast in the role.
Could you believe it? Not everything is just acting. Maester Aemon Targaryen of the Night’s Watch is revealed to be blind in the novels. He is played by Peter Vaughan, who is legally partially blind himself.
Gandalf on Game of Thrones?? A replica of Gandalf’s sword, Glamdring, from Lord of the Rings trilogy and Hobbit trilogy, is near the center of the Iron Throne. Yes, this is true.
But not all rush to sit on the Iron Throne… In June 2014 Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip visited the sets at Paint Hall Studios in Belfast as part of a three day visit to Northern Ireland. They met members of the cast and crew and were presented with a miniature version of the Iron Throne. Elizabeth was offered the chance to sit on the Iron Throne but declined, as the monarch of England is not allowed to sit on a foreign throne, even fictional ones.
Why we miss some characters on certain episodes? There is not a single character that appears in every episode, and only three characters have appeared in every episode of a given season: Lena Headey (Cersei Lannister) and Jack Gleeson (Joffrey Baratheon) appeared in every episode of the first season, and Peter Dinklage (Tyrion Lannister) appeared in every episode of the second and fifth seasons.
And yet we love it! This is the first TV series in history to be screened in IMAX theaters.
Oh, her eyes! Daenerys had purple eyes in the books, but the contact lenses Emilia Clarke wore affected her performance so they were abandoned. In the year 2012, over 160 baby girls in the U.S. were legally named “Khaleesi”, after the character in the show, although it is not the character’s name (Daenerys) but a title.
Trivia Fact: Emilia Clarke (the actress who plays Daenerys Targaryen) was doused in so much fake blood during one scene that she got stuck to a toilet seat during a break.
How different is the book from TV? George R.R. Martin was inspired to write the novel series “A Song of Ice and Fire” after years of writing for restrictive television budgets, and deliberately wrote the series to be nearly unfilmable. After the success of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001) Martin was approached to license the novels into a series of films, one project was proposed using only Daenerys’ story line, and another project proposed only including the conflict between the Starks and Lannisters.
The same author, George R.R. Martin, did not write an episode for Season 5 because he was busy focusing on finishing the sixth book of the book series, “The Winds of Winter”.
Want to visit Westeros? The name Westeros comes from the real life city Västerås, Sweden.
Perhaps you can meet Arya and ask her too… Maisie Williams, who plays Arya Stark, says that fans often ask her to recite the list of names Arya always recites before sleeping – the names of the persons in the series who have injured Arya or her family and who Arya intends to kill – and to insert the fan’s name into the list.
Where does the name Snow come from? In Westeros, bastards (also ‘natural child’ or ‘baseborn’) born to nobles are given surnames different than their father’s, according to the region they were born in. These surnames are mostly associated with the geographic or climatic features of the respective regions: The Reach – Flowers; The Westerlands – Hill; The Iron Islands – Pyke; The Riverlands – Rivers; Dorne – Sand; The North – Snow; The Vale – Stone; The Stormlands – Storm; The Crownlands – Waters. These special surnames or “bastard names” apply only to noble-born bastards, who are openly acknowledged by their noble parent. Therefore, bastards both of whose parents are commoners, or noble-born bastards that are unacknowledged by their noble parent (like Gendry) cannot use the special surname. A noble-born bastard can be legitimized by royal decree, thus is considered as trueborn child and changes the surname to the father’s. However, the social stigma of the bastard may not always be lifted even after legitimization.
Always pays his debts? The official words of House Lannister “Hear Me Roar!” are seldom mentioned. Their unofficial motto “A Lannister always pays his debts” is often used, mostly in negative context, meaning that Lannisters always repay unkindness with unkindness.
Is there an end? Author George R.R. Martin was asked if he had a resolution or ending to the seemingly endless conflict. He jokingly replied that the next book would just be a description of a cloud of dust or snow being driven by the wind across a vast graveyard full of tombstones.
Meet the Dragons: Daenerys’ dragons are named Drogon, Rhaegal and Viserion. Each one is named after someone she has lost in her life: Drogon, the largest dragon with black/red scales, is named after her husband Khal Drogo; Rhaegal, who has green/bronze scales, is named after Daenerys’ brother Rhaegar Targaryen, who was killed by Robert Baratheon during Robert’s Rebellion; Viserion, the cream/gold scaled dragon, is named after Daenerys’ abusive brother Viserys. She claimed that she named her dragon this because “Viserys was cruel and weak and frightened, yet he was my brother still. My dragon will do what he could not.”
She’s not a blond! Natural brunette, Emilia Clarke has stated that she has never dyed her hair for the show. Daenerys Targaryen’s impressive blond locks are achieved via an elaborate wig and makeup system that takes considerable time to get into place.
The Opening: The Game of Thrones title sequence introduces every episode and changes depending on the locations visited in that particular episode. Producer David Benioff wanted the theme song to be the Lannister song “The Rains of Castamere.” Co-producer D.B. Weiss convinced him not to do it.
The Wall: But you can always see the wall at the end. This Wall stretches for 300 miles and is 700 ft tall, made entirely of ice.
Some Characters were Cut Off: Liam Burke was cast as Aerys II Targaryen, the “Mad King” in flashback scenes, but the scenes were cut.
Even Martin Himself! In the unaired pilot, George R.R. Martin cameoed as a Pentoshi nobleman at the wedding of Khal Drogo and Daenerys Targaryen. The scene, alongside most of the pilot, was subsequently reshot and Martin did not appear.
Dogs or Wolves? The first season used Northern Inuit dogs, a type specifically bred for wolf-like appearance, to stand in for the direwolves (the Stark’s house sigil). However, since direwolves are known to be much larger than normal wolves, real wolves were digitally composited into scenes for season 2. This strained the budget and the schedule, hence why there are only a handful of scenes with Grey Wind (Robb Stark’s wolf), Summer (Bran Stark’s wolf) and Shaggydog (Rickon Stark’s wolf); Ghost, who belongs to Jon Snow, is shown in brief glimpses.
Ice and Fire? The series takes its name from the first novel in the book series – “A Game of Thrones” – which is actually known as “A Song of Ice and Fire.” George R.R. Martin’s story credit acknowledges the entire series under this title, rather than the title of individual volumes.
Books vs. Seasons: While the first two seasons roughly cover the novels “A Game of Thrones” and “A Clash of Kings” respectively, the third season covers about two-thirds of the third novel “A Storm of Swords.” The fourth season covers the rest of “A Storm of Swords” and chapters from the fourth and fifth novels “A Feast for Crows” and “A Dance with Dragons”. Finally, the fifth season covers almost entirely “A Feast for Crows”, “A Dance With Dragons”, and even early events of the unreleased sixth novel “The Winds of Winter”.
Some names were changed: Yara Greyjoy, introduced in the second book and season, is named Asha in the books. The name was changed for the television series to avoid confusion with Osha. However, in the German dubbed version she is called Asha, like in the books. Similarly, Lysa Arryn’s son Robert is named Robin in the series to avoid confusion with Robert Baratheon.
What’s in a nickname? Hodor’s actual name is Walder.
Test yourself: How many nicknames do you know? Many of the characters have nicknames, mostly based on specific deed, behavior or physical feature of the person in question. The nicknames can be derogatory (Kingslayer) or for mockery (Brienne the Beauty). Here are the best examples: Eddard Stark is Ned, Jaime Lannister is the Kingslayer, Tyrion Lannister is the Imp or Halfman, Varys is the Spider, Sandor Clegane is the Hound, Gregor Clegane is the Mountain that Rides (or simply the Mountain), Petyr Baelish is Littlefinger, Jeor Mormont is the Old Bear, Loras Tyrell is Knight of Flowers, Olenna Tyrell is Queen of Thorns, Roose Bolton is Leech Lord, Aerys Targaryen is the Mad King, Viserys Targaryen is the Beggar King, Theon Greyjoy is the Turncloak or Reek, Melisandre is the Red Woman, Vargo Hoat is the Goat, Robb Stark is the Young Wolf, Brienne: is the Beauty, Qhorin is Halfhand, Mance Rayder is the King Beyond the Wall, Davos Seaworth is the Onion Knight, Jon Umber Sr. is Greatjon, Jon Umber Jr. is Smalljon, Eddison Tollett is Dolorous Edd, Samwell Tarly is the Slayer, Gerold Hightower is the White Bull, Arthur Dayne is Sword of the Morning, Brynden Tully is Blackfish, Oberyn Martell is the Red Viper, Daenarys Targaryan is the Stormborn, and Oberyn Martell’s bastard daughters are the Sand Snakes.
Harry Potter? Here?! Features nine actors from the Harry Potter film series: Bronson Webb (Will) played unnamed Slytherin student in the third 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 seventh 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 and Ian Whyte (Gregor Clegane) played Madame Maxime in full-body shots. Cast member Stephen Dillane (Stannis Baratheon) is also the father of Frank Dillane, who played the young Voldemort/Tom Riddle in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009). Potter cast members Jamie Campbell Bower (young Gellert Grindelwald) and Simon Fisher-Becker (Fat Friar) were originally set to play Waymar Royce and the High Septon before being replaced by Rob Ostlere and David Verrey, respectively.
How big is it? The showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss said the production of the show is a massive undertaking. The production lasts the entire year and they shoot the show like a 10-hour movie. Season 5 alone was shot in 5 countries, on 151 sets, for 240 days, having 166 cast members, over 1,000 crew members and over 5,000 extras.
Composite Characters: While most of the show is largely faithful to the books, composite characters do appear. The most prominent is the prostitute Ros, who is a composite of several named (Alayaya, Chataya, Kyra) and unnamed characters from the book series. Another composite character is the Spice King, who appears in Season Two.
Almost had a different Daenerys! Tamzin Merchant played Daenerys Targaryen in the pilot but was replaced by Emilia Clarke for the series. While the reason for Merchant’s departure has not been made public, George R.R. Martin praised her performance as “wonderful” in his blog.
What a birthday gift! The first season premiered on the birthday (April 17th) of Sean Bean (Ned Stark).
Where can you see the views of Game of Thrones? The series has used many locations to bring Westeros and Essos to life. Most of the Northern scenes are filmed in Northern Ireland. The country is the production’s home base and most interior scenes are filmed in a studio in Belfast. Scenes in King’s Landing are filmed in the Croatian city of Dubrovnik. Scenes in Essos were also shot in Croatia. Many of the scenes in Essos and King’s Landing were filmed in Malta in the first season, but for unknown reasons the production never returned to Malta from Season 2 on. Morocco was used as a location for Daenerys’ sequences in Astapor and Yunkai in Season 3, but the country was dropped as a location after the third season. Scenes beyond the Wall were filmed in various locations in Iceland. The fifth season added Spain as a filming location for Dorne. It has been revealed that the production will return to Spain for Season 6, but it is unclear if it will be for Dorne or another location (the locations scouted are different to those used in Season 5).
Belts and Fashion: During the series you can see characters wearing belts with a particular knot twisted after the buckle, this is clearly visible in most knights. The knot is actually correct and used in medieval times, often referred as a garter and used to fix leg armor pieces to the knights’ legs below the knees. It is one of the symbols of the English “Order of the Garter” , the highest Chivalry Order founded in 1348 by the English King Henry III in the early stages of the Hundred Years War with France. The Arms of the Order of the Garter is a blue belt, or garter, with this same characteristic knot seen in the TV series. An example can also be seen in the tomb of one of the Order founders, Sir Reginald of Cobham, at Lingnfield Church in Surrey, his effigy has the garter below his left knee.
Doctor Who: The show has three Doctor Who (2005) guest stars, each of which participated in two parters: Harry Lloyd (Viserys Targaryen), Iain Glen (Jorah Mormont) and Thomas Brodie-Sangster (Jojen Reed). Both Lloyd and Sangster were in the same episodes.
Lord of the Rings: Features actors from two different adaptations of The Lord of the Rings: Peter Vaughan, who played Denethor in the BBC Radio adaptation; and Sean Bean, who played the character’s son Boromir in the Peter Jackson films.
The Seven: The dominant religion in Westeros is the Faith of the seven. This is a monotheistic religion, with each of the seven representing aspects of the same one god, though they are often incorrectly referred to as multiple gods. They are the Father, the Mother, the Maiden, the Crone, the Warrior, the Smith and the Stranger. The religion is based on Catholicism, which likewise involves different aspects of the same God, the father, the son, the holy spirit, prayer to the virgin Mary.
Trivia Fact: In the episode “The old gods and the new”, Tywin Lannister tells Arya Stark that his son Jaime is dyslexic.
Spoiler Alert – The Red Wedding: George R.R. Martin has stated that the infamous “Red Wedding” was the hardest chapter for him to write in “A Storm of Swords.” He was so emotionally attached to the characters that he actually wrote the rest of the book first, and then that chapter last. David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, upon reading it, declared it was one of the major reasons they decided to option the books for a television series. Their dramatization differs from the book in a few details. Most notably, Robb’s wife is not present at the wedding, nor is she killed. Whether she is pregnant is unknown.
Say What?! After filming his death scene, Sean Bean (Ned Stark) played football with his replica head.
Ohhhh… So cute! Series author George R.R. Martin reported on his blog that after the filming of the episode in which Sansa’s direwolf Lady is executed, the dog that played Lady, a Northern Inuit named Zunni, was adopted by Sophie Turner, the actress who plays Sansa.
Trivia Fact: The ominous theme song of the Lannisters, “The Reynes of Castmere”, was played throughout each episode of the fourth season (save for the ninth episode) to foreshadow the deaths of Tywin and Joffrey.
Spoiler Alert – Death of a King: In every season at least one king (or claimant) dies. In season one they are Robert Baratheon (King on the Iron Throne), Viserys Targaryen (claimant to the Iron Throne), and Khal Drogo (a Khal is a chieftain similar in position to a king); in season two Renly Baratheon (claimant to the Iron Throne) and Xaro Xhoan Daxos (King of Qarth); in season three Robb Stark (King in the North); in season four Joffrey Baratheon (King on the Iron Throne); and in season five Mance Rayder (King Beyond the Wall) and Stannis Baratheon (claimant to the Iron Throne).
But… Robert Baratheon is never seen sitting on the Iron Throne.
Crazy conspiracy or alternate ending? George R.R. Martin has said that some fans have correctly guessed the ending of the series. One of the most popular fan theories is that Jon Snow is in fact a Targaryen, with his true father being Rhaegar Targaryen and true mother being Ned Stark’s sister Lyanna. It is debatable if this could make him an heir to the Iron Throne, as his presumed father was married to another woman (Elia Martell) and he would still be a bastard, however because the Targaryens were known to practice bigamy, if Lyanna and Rhaegar had been married than he would be a legitimate heir.
Another big difference: In the novel, Robb Stark’s wife is named Jeyne Westerling. House Westerling are staunch supporters of House Lannister, and take part in the sinister scheme to bring the Starks down. In the show, she is called Talisa Maegyr and her backstory is changed. In addition to this, she dies while carrying Robb’s child along with Robb and Catelyn at the Red Wedding. In the novel, Jeyne does not attend the wedding, she is not pregnant and later discovers the fate of her husband while residing in Riverrun.
This was too complicated: In the show, Ramsay Bolton is arranged to be married to Sansa Stark to solidify the Boltons’ hold on the north. In the novels, he is arranged to marry Sansa’s best friend Jeyne Pool. Jeyne is married to Ramsay under the guise of being “Arya Stark.” However, Jeyne does not have a major role in the show, so Sansa Stark became the most suitable marriage choice for Ramsay.
Natural… Maester Aemon is the first prominent character on the show to die of natural causes. Hoster Tully (Catelyn’s father and Lord of Riverrun) also died of natural causes, but only appears on-screen after his death at his funeral. Old Nan also died of natural causes according to the show-runners after the death of Margaret John who portrayed her, but the death was never seen or mentioned on-screen.
How come he is still a baby? In the fifth season Myrcella said she has been in Dorne for four years since Tyrion sent her away in the second season. This means Gilly’s child Sam, who was born in the third season, should not still be a baby but a three-year-old child.
Anecdote: In the show, Sandor Clegane is mortally wounded and left for dead by Arya Stark. In the novel, he is wounded at the Inn at the Crossroads, after a fight with Polliver and The Tickler.
Die Fast! Sean Bean, the actor who portrays Eddard Stark, also plays Boromir in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001). Lord of the Ring was one of George R.R. Martin’s biggest influences while writing the series. Coincidentally, both of Sean Bean’s characters don’t make it past the first installment in both Game of Thrones (dies at the end of season 1) and Lord of the Rings (dies at the end of the first movie).
Is it an act? Grand Maester Pycelle’s elderly and feeble demeanor is an act, briefly alluded to in a scene from season one’s finale “Fire and Blood” showing Pycelle doing a series of exercises and stretches. A deleted scene between Pycelle and Tywin Lannister shot for the third season and included on the DVD/Blu-ray set shows Pycelle’s normal posture and speaking cadence, explaining that he maintains the facade to appear harmless.
My favorite quote from Game of Thrones – Cersei Lannister: When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die. There is no middle ground.
Second favorite quote? Tywin Lannister: A lion does not concern himself with the opinion of sheep.
The two mostly repeated quotes?
1. Eddard Stark: Winter is coming.
2. Tyrion Lannister: A Lannister always pays his debts.
The quote that brings tears to my eyes… Ygritte: You know nothing, Jon Snow.
The quote that brings a smile to my face… Robert Barathean: I’m simply asking you to run my kingdom while I eat, drink, and whore myself into an early grave.
Crazy Credits: The opening pictures on the revolving metal rings show part of the history of Westeros. It begins with the conquest of Westeros by Aegon the Conqueror of House Targaryen, followed by Robert’s Rebellion (where the Targaryens are deposed), and ending with the crowning of Robert Baratheon as King of the Seven Kingdoms.
The credits evolve throughout the series, with different cities being featured depending upon the center of action at that point in the series. Have you noticed? During the opening credits, each cast member’s name is accompanied by the insignia of his/her character’s house.
The average episode costs HBO $6 million to make. Game of Thrones is one of most expensive shows on TV. It costs three times as much to make an episode of GoT as it does to make an episode of The Big Bang Theory. (However, it is still costs $1 million less than it did to make any episode on the final season of Friends).
Most expensive episode? Some episodes cost even more than $6 million to make. Season 2’s action-packed “Blackwater” skated in with a reported price tag of $8 million.
Tourism? Northern Ireland says ‘Game of Thrones’ has brought more than $100 million to their economy.
Showrunner David Benioff was already an accomplished Hollywood screenwriter before Game of Thrones. Benioff and Weiss convinced George R.R. Martin to let them adapt the books by answering the question, “Who is Jon Snow’s mother?”
Having worked in Hollywood himself, most notably on the late ’80s television series Beauty and the Beast, Martin was skeptical of anyone adapting his life’s work. Luckily, Benioff and Weiss got their pitch — and the answer to Martins question — right.
Will this be the end? Benioff and Weiss want to end the series in Season 7 or 8, even if the books are not finished.
Do you speak Dothraki? Two languages, Dothraki and Valyrian, were created for the television show from only a few words.
In the books, Martin only provided a few examples of the foreign tongues spoken on Game of Thrones. So the show’s producers enlisted linguist David J. Peterson, founder of the Language Creation Society, to develop Dothraki and Valyrian into full, grammatical languages that the show’s actors could actually speak. Despite having created the 4,000-word Dothraki dictionary, Peterson says fanboys still try to correct him on his pronunciation.
They added Sex Scenes! David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have added moments of sexual violence that were not in the books. The showrunners added Robb Stark’s pregnant wife, Talisa, to the infamous Red Wedding, as well as Season 4’s controversial rape scene between Jaime and Cersei Lannister.
Martin has defended these moments, despite outrage from fans. The author says rape and sexual violence are a part of his story because they illustrate one of the series’ main themes, “that the true horrors of human history derive not from orcs and Dark Lords, but from ourselves.” Whether the sexual and other violence in Game of Thrones bears any resemblance to “how things were back then” in our own history may be another story.
If you’ve reached all the way here, you must be a true fan. Lean back, relax and enjoy 4 minutes of a great video with 5 surprising facts!
Let’s admit it, we all fell in love with Daenerys. That’s how our love story with Game of Thrones started. And yet it grew steadily. Now it’s so much more.
Just to be clear about her hair, the truth is that it is a wig. Yes, she’s not even blond. And still, beautiful no matter what, right?
Just before this wonderful journey reaches the last chapter, here is the closing quote…
Ramsay Snow: If you think this has a happy ending, you haven’t been paying attention.
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