The Game of Thrones prequel pilot is complete. Here's what we know
"If you think this has a happy ending, you haven't been paying attention", says a smug Ramsey Bolton back in Game of Thrones’ third season.
HBO’s flagship, big-budget, genre-defining drama concluded in May to a chorus of mixed reactions, which saw over a million fans petition for its remaking and many of its cast express their disappointment at the reaction – Conleth Hill described it as a “media-led hate campaign” – to the climax of a show eight years in the making.
We were warned, at least.
But George R.R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire was, and will likely remain, the most popular and financially successful TV series of all time, so when HBO announced plans for five potential spin-offs last year, fans were quick to speculate as to what realm of the known world we would be headed to next. As filming is completed for a pilot episode of the first confirmed spin-off series, a Game of Thrones prequel, we piece together the details.
A synopsis from HBO’s official site suggests the prequel series will “chronicle the world’s descent from the golden Age of Heroes into its darkest hour”, taking place “thousands of years” before Martin’s original story.
The author is set to executive produce the series, while screenwriter Jane Goldman (X-Men: Days of Future Past, Kingsman: The Secret Service) will pen the script. The prequel promises to explore the “horrifying secrets of Westeros’ history” and the “true origin of the White Walkers”, so an even bigger budget (yes, really) looks set to break further ground as HBO continues to blur the lines between television and cinema.
Naomi Watts (Mulholland Drive, Birdman) leads the cast-list (so expect more Cersei-level theatrics), along with John Simm (Strangers), Georgie Henley (The Chronicles of Narnia trilogy) and Marquis Rodriquez (When They See Us), amongst other confirmed names; an exciting blend of new and seasoned talent that will likely see a wave of young stars emerge from the show’s inevitable success.
In a blog post last year, Martin confirmed that “none of the characters or actors from Game of Thrones will appear in the new show.”
The series’ official title remains a mystery – The Long Night is Martin’s favoured choice while Bloodmoon is the current working title – as well plot and character details beyond those detailed in HBO’s official synopsis, though the author revealed in a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly that there’ll be no King's Landing, no Iron Throne, and no Targaryens (so no dragons this time around).
"Westeros is a very different place", he says. The series will, however, feature an earlier generation of Starks and will visit some familiar locations – such as Casterly Rock – Martin confirms.
As unofficial information goes, an image of a regally-clad Naomi Watts has circulated amongst eager fans, and filming has reportedly taken place in Belfast, the home of the original series. Given the confirmed focus on the origin story of the White Walkers, it’s also widely expected that the Children of the Forest – the tree-hugging beings introduced in season four of Game of Thrones – will play a large role in the prequel.
While concrete details for the upcoming prequel series are few and far between, Martin’s close association to the project and the scale of money and talent involved suggests the beloved lore of Westeros is in safe hands.
An Arya standalone series doesn’t look likely, though. Not today.