With Season 5 of HBO’s epic “Game of Thrones” fast approaching, we “GoT” obsessives here at Indiewire like to get our hands on all of the details we can. Luckily, Entertainment Weekly managed to spend a crap-ton of time on set during the shooting of the upcoming season, and put out an epic 30-page spread. It’s not all available online just yet, but we’ve got our hands on a hard copy and can share some details now.
In addition to addressing the current hot topic of how many seasons the show might run, EW traveled to Croatia, Spain and Ireland to chat with cast members and showrunners D.B. Weiss and David Benioff to get the scoop on Season 5 plus some behind-the-scenes secrets. Follow “Game of Thrones” around the world and check out a few highlights below.
HBO Headquarters, New York
Will “Game of Thrones” end at 7 seasons? Or go for 10? Will the show, like author George R.R. Martin has suggested, conclude in an epic, big screen film? Weiss and Benioff have publicly stated that they plan to end the show at seven seasons, but with two books to get through, and two more still yet to be written, it sounds impossible.
But HBO isn’t necessarily on board with that idea. “When you start a series with our subscribers, the promise is that for your HBO fee, we’re going to take you to the end of this. I feel that on some level [a movie] would be changing the rules: Now you have to pay $16 to see how it ends,” said HBO programming president Michael Lombardo.
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Dubrovnik, Croatia stands in for King’s Landing as well as Pentos, where Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) and Varys (Conleth Hill) have fled at the beginning of Season 5.
Changes are coming.
Because some story lines on the show have essentially caught up to those in Martin’s books, deviations simply have to be made, the most notable probably being the absence of Bran (Isaac Hempstead-Wright) and Hodor (Kristian Nairn) for the entirety of the season. EW also reports that “Characters still alive in the books will die this season. Key story lines will deviate in controversial ways. And one major subplot (from Martin’s ‘A Fest for Crows,’ set in the Iron Island) is omitted entirely.”
“Every season has been a little bit more divergent,” Benioff said.
The show is running into some religious obstacles.
Previous news reports spilled the beans that the production was banned from filming inside a local church in Dubrovnik, Croatia because of a nude scene involving Lena Headey’s character Cersei Lannister. But that hasn’t been the only location loss. “We lost a location in Northern Ireland too, only because a very religious person decided our show was blasphemous,” Benioff told EW. “It always happens, and it puts more work on the location teams, but it always ends up working out.
Speaking of nudity…
During EW’s set visit, “a much easier problem presents itself. A nude male extra sparks and only-on-‘Thrones’ debate. Namely, is it okay if a naked guy in this medieval-style fantasy world is, um, clearly circumsized? Do the old gods and/or the new have any opinion on this subject? (Verdict: the extra made the cut.)” Ouch.
Season 5’s newest shooting location is Spain, which stands in for the southern kingdom of Dorne, home of the late, great Oberyn Martell (Pedro Pascal), where his bastard daughters The Sand Snakes are planning revenge.
Casting the Sand Snakes.
EW describes The Sand Snakes as “George R.R. Martin binged on Quentin Tarantino… Benioff cast actresses of all different nationalities who still pass as siblings, and who each have their own method of menace.”
This includes Keisha Castle-Hughes, from New Zealand, British Jessica Henwick, and the Italian-American Rosabell Laurenti Sellers — each wielding a different weapon in their quest for vengeance.
“We haven’t seen women like this on ‘Game of Thrones’ before,” said Castle-Hughes.
When it comes to sets, “Thrones” doesn’t mess around.
“More than 500 extras participated in an arena battle sequence shot in Osuna, and the production shut down half of the city’s largest tourist attraction, the Alcázar of Seville, to serve as the home of House Martell.
Once past the gate, you see the sprawling palace, a mammoth mash-up of Arabic and Spanish influences. It’s surrounded by lushly manicured, pal-dotted grounds that will serve as Dorne’s famous gardens. Peacocks stroll authoritatively. Exotic bugs hover…” EW describes, adding this exclamation from Alexander Siddig (who plays Oberyn’s wheelchair-bound brother, Prince Doran Martell): “This is wonderful — I’m not staring at green screen, we’re in a 14th-century palace!”
Dorne is being added to the opening credits sequences this year.
“Game of Thrones'” Emmy-winning title sequence is a fan favorite for its clockwork map of Westeros. “Dorne is architecturally unique from the rest of the opening credits. ‘It’s more of a Mediterranean or Middle Eastern layout. We put in Jade and jewels and things we didn’t have in the other locations to give it a sense of elegance,'” said producer Greg Spense.
Oh and good news: In the Season 5 opening credits, Winterfell is no longer on fire!
10 episodes a season is literally all they can do.
“Most TV shows can’t tell you which scenes they’re shooting one week in advance. ‘Thrones’ knows in July what scenes will shoot on any given day in, say, November. This is a necessity. The production works year round, and the show is so complicated, with so many moving parts and up to three different units shooting at the same time in different countries, the only possible way to pull this off is for every element to be mapped out months in advance…’We ran up against the absolute limit of how many days we can shoot in a year,’ Weiss says. That’s why, when fans demand more episodes per year, the show runners reply: ‘We can’t.'”
Belfast houses the enormous Titanic Studios hangar, where most of “Thrones'” interior scenes, such as in Meereen or Castle Black, are shot.
Apparently, Belfast is where the partying happens.
“One ‘Thrones’ team member woke up naked and locked out of his hotel room, then had to walk to the front desk and ask for a key (‘Do you have ID?’ the clerk asked). Another topped that story by waking up, also naked, at the top of his hotel’s waterslide while being kicked in the ribs by an annoyed kid who wanted him out of the way.”
Someone who is still alive in the books is going to die on the show.
Which actor is a mystery, but that didn’t stop EW from getting the person’s take on ending their “Thrones” run. “Their death will be as surprising to fans as it was to them: ‘I thought this season I was going to have more to do, and I was really looking forward to that. The [showrunners] rang me and told me “Your time is up in this series.” I’m disappointed, but you have to accept that the demands of TV are different. I find myself being white emotional about it. I’m going to miss it.'”
Any thoughts on who might be killed in Season 5? Take a guess in the comments below.