At Comic-Con on Thursday, George R.R. Martin moderated a lively panel for Game of Thrones that included stars Nicolaj Coster-Waldau, Kit Harington, Lena Headey, Jason Momoa, Emilia Clarke and the Emmy-nominated Peter Dinklage, along with producers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss.
But the author was also put in the hot seat to discuss his fantasy novels that inspired the HBO series. He was asked to reassure fans that his epic series -- which recently published its fifth volume -- will not "do a Lost"-style ending that is unsatisfying and will wrap events up too neatly.
"I am concerned about the ending," Martin told the audience that had gathered in the packed Ballroom 20. "I still have two more books to go, I'm juggling a lot of balls. And of course there's the deep fear that eventually some of them will fall on my head and knock me unconscious. All I can do is keep juggling as fast as I can and hopefully bring everything together the magnificent way I see it vaguely in my head stretching before me. It's easier to dream these things than to do them. I certainly hope that the ending will tie together.
"In terms of making people happy ... I've always been a fan of the bittersweet ending," he continued. "I've said before in interviews that that's what to expect. I love Lord of the Rings and I love the scouring of the Shire, the fact that it was not hobbits dancing happily in the woods, the-witch-is-dead kind of thing. There was a cost to the war, and there was a human cost and there's tragedy mixed into triumph. I think Tolkien did it brilliantly. I hope I can do something that matches that."
Another fan also wanted to know if he felt any remorse while killing off key characters. "I mourn all the characters as I kill them," he confessed. "I tell myself, 'It's not me killing them; it's the other characters.' I try to distance myself."
Season 2 ... and Beyond
"Everyone dies, sorry," Benioff joked about what to expect in the show's sophomore season. "I'd say for the readers, they know much of what to expect. We have a bunch of great new characters coming in. We've already got such an incredible cast, but it's time to meet the Red Priestess. ... It's time to see those dragons and wolves start to grow up. There's bad stuff lurking north of the wall. It's a season of exploration."
And even though production only recently began for Season 2, Benioff couldn't help but look forward and share his hopes to tackle Book 3.
"If we're lucky enough, if we have a Season 3, that's when it will start not corresponding so neatly to the books because Storm of Swords is too big to do as one season," he said. "Our hope has always been that we can keep this alive somehow. There's a certain scene -- I'm not even going to say the name of the scene because the name itself is a spoiler. ... Let's call it 'RW.' We've always felt that if we can get to RW, then we've accomplished something.
Martin noted that the RW scene was so harrowing to write, that "When they film it and show it, I'm going to try to arrange to be out of the country during that period and someplace that doesn't actually have television yet."
The DVD and a Dancing Drogo
The producers also discussed what to expect on the Season 1 Game of Thrones DVD as bonus features, and unfortunately, there won't be any deleted scenes.
"We pretty much used everything we shot," Weiss said. "It was a very ambitious and challenging schedule and so as a result of that, there's not a lot of things left on the cutting room floor. But the DVD team is putting together a lot of amazing supplementary material with art from Will Simpson, who is our storyboard artist of old-school 2008 comic books -- the Judge Dredd guy, the Hellblazer guy."
Benioff added, "The thing I'm really excited about on the DVDs are the first auditions for [the actors], what they came in and did with the scenes. If you can see what Momoa does, you need to see him do the haka. It's the dance that won him the role."
At this point Benioff credited a fan of Martin's books who suggested on the Westeros site that Momoa should be cast as Khal Drogo. "No offense, but I hadn't heard of you before that," he said. "I hadn't kept up on my Baywatch. But the fan was good enough to have a link with Jason's picture, and we clicked on it and we thought, 'That kind of looks Drogo-y.' So he came in and read the scene, and there's no dance in the actual scene, so he just decided to show us how good he was ... and do the haka dance. He tore off his shirt and started doing it."
The Stars React and More Panel Highlights
- Harington revealed that he still hasn't been told the identity of his character Jon Snow's mother: "'No' is the simple answer. I'd love to know, as I'm sure a lot of people would."
- Martin is grateful, but ... "I'm quite pleased with the 13 Emmy nominations ... but Sean [Bean] was robbed."
- Momoa, upon hearing Dothraki: " It literally sounded like Jabba the Hut and Fozzy Bear. It was, 'Waka-waka!'" He also didn't appreciate his character's fate. "I went to Barnes & Noble and picked up the book and I was reading it and I was so mad. I f---ing hated you, [George]."
- If Martin has any problems writing the ending of the series, Dinklage had a suggestion: "dance number." Headey, however, preferred that the show "bring Khal Drogo back for sure and have him and Tyrion co-rule."
- Coster-Waldau wasn't surprised that his distinctive nose has become the topic of intense discussion on the Internet. "Years ago, I was in Iceland and I was shooting a movie," he said. "And at the wrap party, the guy who controls the lighting came up to me really drunk and said, 'I got to tell you, when I saw that nose, I thought, "Sh--, I'm in trouble."'"
- Clarke's favorite scene: "It's definitely the final scene where I get to meet the babies. Seeing it, just the sound of those dragons -- shivers. Just amazing."
Season 2 of Game of Thrones is currently shooting and will air in 2012 on HBO.