They returned to Hall H, but novelist George R.R. Martin and his HBO "Game of Thrones" panel lacked the ebullience of last's year's panel in the smaller Ballroom 20. That one included eventual Emmy winner Peter Dinklage, Lena Headey, Kit Harington, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Jason Momoa (who made the fans go gaga).
This year's dense recap reel of Season Two did incite screams in the audience, as did a preview reel with new characters (including Diana Rigg; see the complete list of fourteen below). Martin says they were already the biggest cast on television and now they are even bigger; "I better start killing these characters," he says.
Cast members Emilia Clarke (Daenerys) and Richard Madden (Rob Stark) nabbed the warmest Hall H welcome. They were joined by Michelle Fairley (Catelyn Stark), Alfie Allen (Theon Greyjoy), Rose Leslie (Ygritte) and exec producer Carolyn Strauss. The panel concluded with a pathetically brief "clip" of the "Game of Thrones" logo and a flash of the season three air date (March 31, 2013).
Throughout the panel, Martin referred several times to the thirteen-year old boy "producing partner" inside him who is responsible for all the "boobies" on the show. Martin's agents from WME, sitting nearby, assured me that he simply "has a weird sense of humor." Well, clearly that thirteen-year old boy is responsible for the boobies, sex and violence for which "Game of Thrones" is beloved. Martin explained that exec producer/writer/showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss (who attended last year's panel) sent their apologies as they are busy shooting Season Three. They've decided to direct now too, since "they didn't feel they needed to sleep anymore!" says Martin.
Martin and the cast believe the show's popularity derives from real human characters with flaws. Martin said that the show is about "the human heart and conflict with the self."
Clarke said her Khaleesi often comes up against self-doubt, despite her needing to express herself as strong and without fear: "But the self doubt keeps her human and linked in to something very real and noble, not just wanting the throne for the throne's sake."
Martin thinks "Game of Thrones" is the first TV show in history to shoot in four locations simultaneously. Strauss thinks he's probably right, and confirms that it's "a phenomenally difficult show to pull off."
Strauss also recalls the show's beginnings, when "two straggly youngsters [Benioff and Weiss] came in." She says they "put a couple of really heavy books down on the conference table." They didn't exactly scream HBO, but Strauss "saw it as a genre buster, something that has the pillars and posts of genre, but takes it in an entirely new direction, like 'The Wire' did with the cop drama...So I said go write a script, and it came back exactly that."
HBO put it through a few changes but "the script stayed great," and they threw "a ton of money behind hit." And the rest is history.
EW lays out the new characters below, who also introduce themselves in a video: