Posts Tagged ‘Game of Thrones’

“Game of Thrones” thoughts, Season Four, Episode Two: “The Lion and the Rose”

Monday, April 14th, 2014

Now’s as good a time as any to point out that this episode was written by author George R.R. Martin — a smart move for several reasons, one of which involves defusing potential complaints about the show’s now-innumerable deviations from the source material. For example, sexual sadist Ramsay Snow taking on a female partner in crime was a headscratcher, though that kind of killing couple is hardly without precedent (google the Moors Murders, if you can stand the result).

The other advantage is to allow the series’ demiurge to try his hand at its unique strength: pairing off characters and just letting them talk. Jaime and Bronn, Roose Bolton and Ramsay and “Reek,” Melisandre and Stannis and his wife Selyse, Cersei and Brienne, Jaime and Loras — the list of dynamite dialogues goes on and on. The dessert course may overwhelm the palate somewhat (loved that close-up of the bird blood in the pie!), but the whole episode is a feast of conversation, cooked up by the master’s hand. And note that in Martin’s original novels, Jaime and Brienne don’t make it back to King’s Landing until after the wedding, meaning some of the episode’s best exchanges wouldn’t even be possible without the show’s changes.

But many of its strengths do indeed originate with the originals. The entire ghastly, endless humiliation of Tyrion by Joffrey came straight from their pages: destroying Tyrion’s painstakingly selected wedding gift, hiring dwarves to put on a grotesque show and damn near forcing Tyrion to participate, dousing him with wine and ordering him to serve as cupbearer. Most revealing is Joffrey’s adamant refusal to let Tyrion play any of this off as accidental, or as “an honor.” Joffrey wants everyone to know exactly what’s going on, and nothing short of spelling it out will do. Joffrey’s not just cruel, he’s stupid — a terrible politician who likely wouldn’t have lasted long on the throne regardless. His final act is to point at the wrong man, for crying out loud. Here lies Joffrey Baratheon: He was the worst, even at dying.

Purple reign, purple reign: I reviewed last night’s Game of Thrones for Rolling Stone.

Game of Thrones Q&A: Rory McCann/The Hound

Monday, April 7th, 2014

You guys are shooting in Iceland this year — where you used to live, right?

I hadn’t shot in Iceland with Game of Thrones before — I’d always shot in Malta or Croatia, and [I] was far too hot in that armor. When I was told I was going to Iceland, I couldn’t believe it. Six or seven years ago I went there to do a Viking film, and at the end of it they were like, “You’re going now?” “No, I’m staying.” “No, no, the job’s over.” [firmly] “No. I’ve got my tent. And I’m staying. Thank you very much.” I phoned my agent and went “Don’t phone me unless I’ve definitely got a job.” He didn’t phone me for a year. [Laughs] “Hello? Anything?” I ended up being a carpenter, building houses. Then their whole market crashed, and I borrowed some money off an actor pal that I met up there and hitched out of the place.

I got there last year to do [this season of] Game of Thrones. I’d hitched out of the place on borrowed money, and suddenly there’s this beautiful blonde driver beside this white Range Rover, all smoked out, going [in Scandinavian accent] “Hello, my name is Herta. Should we go skinny dipping before we go to the hotel?” [Laughs] “That would be lovely, Herta.”

Then I was meeting people over there that still didn’t know me as an actor, they just knew me as the guy who used to go to the library. Some still thought I was a local there. I met old friends again, had my bicycle again, did all my old things again. I only partied on the last night, because I was behaving myself. I thought I was gonna have to get my top off for a scene, so I was working out — I mean, I didn’t even drink water for the last 24 hours. On the day, the director comes up to me, and I’ve got dumbells on set, like [makes weightlifting motions] “YEAH! UHHH! FUCKIN’ READY!!!” He touches me on the shoulder and goes “Rory, I was thinking about it last night — I think we’ll just keep the top on,” and leaves me. “Fucking…I haven’t been out for fucking four months! I haven’t had a beer in fucking three months!”

So that night, Maisie was there, it was our last night in Iceland, it was my one night out…and we got stopped by the police. [Laughs] We were all in a van, we had a designated driver, and we were all drunk — but for Maisie, of course — and singing. The police stopped us, he had his hand on the holster, and the driver went “It’s the cast of Game of Thrones.” “Oh yeah? Open up.” I had the nearest seat. I’ve obviously had a few drinks, and I’m very excited. He looks at me, and I go [booming voice] “Hello! I’m the Hound!” And he looks and says “…Hello, Hound! You enjoy Iceland?” I said a few things in Icelandic, and he’s like “Fuck yeah! Well, you have a good time!” And we went on singing. [Laughs]

I interviewed Rory McCann, aka Sandor Clegane, aka the Hound, for Rolling Stone, and it was my favorite interview ever.

The Shocking 16: TV’s Most Heartstopping Moments

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

I wrote up 16 of the New Golden Age of TV’s most surprising and suspenseful scenes and sequences for Rolling Stone (with a little help from my fabulous editor David Fear). Battlestar Galactica, Breaking Bad, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Deadwood, Downton Abbey, Game of Thrones, House of Cards, Lost, Mad Men, Orange Is the New Black, The Shield, The Sopranos, True Detective, Twin Peaks, The Walking Dead, The Wire. Read, then vote in our neat bracket tournament thing!

The Game of Thrones Season Four Cheat Sheet

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

Bone up on Thrones: Over at Rolling Stone I wrote a cheat sheet for the show so you can get the lay of the land before this Sunday’s premiere. Share it with that special “wait, who’s that guy again?” someone in your life.

Apologies if you’re getting sick of all the GoT/ASoIaF stuff, but a) you haven’t even seen the half of it here, and b) just you wait a couple weeks when Mad Men season begins.

The Top 40 Game of Thrones Characters, Ranked

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014

Valar Dohaeris or what have you — I ranked 40 major characters from Game of Thrones from worst to best for Rolling Stone. I never do this kind of thing, which is why I had to do it. I think I’m gonna do one of those supermarket “you’re our millionth customer” prizewinner things in the comments, only for people who say “obviously you’ve never read the books.”

I’m livin’ on the air in King’s Landing

Wednesday, December 11th, 2013

I think I’ve neglected to mention it for a while now, but my comrade Stefan Sasse and I have resumed episodes of our podcast on George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, the Boiled Leather Audio Hour. You can find the new episodes here — the one that went up today discusses Martin’s new novella set 200 years before A Game of Thrones, “The Princess and the Queen, or, the Blacks and the Greens.” Enjoy!

Why Boards of Canada are the Game of Thrones of Electronic Music

Tuesday, June 11th, 2013

Two great tastes that taste great together: Over at BuzzFeed Music, I wrote about the ways in which the music and career of the great Scottish eletronic-music duo Boards of Canada, whose excellent first album in eight years Tomorrow’s Harvest came out this week, mirrors the A Song of Ice and Fire/Game of Thrones phenomenon.

“Game of Thrones” thoughts, Season Three, Episode 10: “Mhysa”

Monday, June 10th, 2013

Was it enough to make up for the tone-deaf moments? I’m not sure. The show’s previously been careful to maintain a heterogeneous look for most of the cultures Daenerys encounters in her travels through the eastern continent of Essos, so the uniformly brown skin tone of the freed slaves worshipping the blondest possible savior figure was surprising and disconcerting – doubly so since, in the books, much is made of just how many different kinds of people had been forced into slavery by Yunkai and then freed by Dany when she took the city. This uncomfortable contrast kneecapped what could otherwise have been the most purely uplifting and cathartic moment in the series so far. Plus it gave the episode its title and was, you know, the final shot of the season – a rough one to go out on.

The “Mhysa” sequence will receive the most scrutiny, and rightfully so, but Dany’s triumph outside the gates of Yunkai came with its fair share of visual and narrative warning signs that we’re not to take it at face value. There’s that conqueror/liberator exchange between Dany and Jorah, which sounded like something you’d hear on a Meet the Press interview with Dick Cheney circa March 2003. The grinning joy on her face was carefully contrasted with Jorah’s concern; yeah, that could have been simply his regret that the khaleesi now has tens of thousands of admirers just as ardent as he, but it can also be read as fear that it won’t all be crowdsurfing and dragon flyovers forever. Add in the separate conversations between Tywin and Tyrion, and Stannis and Davos, about whether the ends (victory in the War of the Five Kings, peace in the realm) justify the means (the Red Wedding, burning some poor kid alive), and I half expected Drogon to be trailing a “MISSION ACCOMPLISHED” banner behind him.

I reviewed the Game of Thrones season finale for Rolling Stone. A compelling, sometimes stunning, sometimes troubling episode.

“Game of Thrones” Q&A: Joe Dempsie on Gendry’s long, strange trip

Thursday, June 6th, 2013

This is awkward to bring up, but youre a good-looking guy. I think that’s safe to say.

[Laughs] Thanks, Sean.

My pleasure! There’s a sense that with your character, and then this season also with Robb and Jon and Jamie, that theres now a movement within the show to show off the male characters the way the female characters have been shown off. When you have those scenes where you take your tunic or whatever off, people go berserk. Im curious what thats like as an actor.

It’s kind of weird, because from my personal point of view, you don’t really want to do nudity unless it’s appropriate, and unless it’s relevant to the storyline and it makes sense to do it in the scene. There’s a scene in Season Two where I’m forging a sword with no top on for no apparent reason. It’s amazing what a bit of soot and shaving can do for muscle definition, honestly. I didn’t recognize that torso.

I think David [Benioff] and Dan [Weiss, the showrunners] still try to … there is a bit of a responsibility to try and even up the balance a little bit. You can’t let the ladies do it all. But I think they do try and keep it within reasonable parameters. That scene where I’m forging the sword, I’m saying that it’s gratuitous, but the idea they wanted to convey was that … it was more for Arya than anything to do with my character. It was them trying to imply that Arya’s becoming a woman now and she’s dealing with feelings that she’s maybe not experienced before. I think they just want to hint at that – I’m saying “subtly,” but … [Laughs] But it’s not something I want to make a particular habit of.

When I was cast as Gendry, I didn’t have any of the physical attributes the part required. I was astounded that I got the role, to be honest. But David and Dan said, “We need to die his hair black … and it’d be great you hit the gym before we start filming.” So I was told to get in shape. I suppose you’ve got to look like you’re made of steel for nudity. You’ve got to get some arms on you. The reaction is not something I pay too much attention to. You don’t want to be a torso. You don’t want that to be what you’re known for. I think if it’s overshadowing your acting, you need to up your game a little bit.

I interviewed Joe Dempsie, aka Gendry, for Rolling Stone. Another thoughtful, insightful, articulate, engaging actor from this cast. It’s really been eye-opening, talking to these people.

Bloggingheads: Game of Thrones and Mad Men

Wednesday, June 5th, 2013

I had a nice long conversation about two of my favorite shows with one of my favorite critics, Alyssa Rosenberg, on her show Critic Proof. Topics include the Red Wedding (of course), Catelyn Stark, spectacle and gore, the horrors of war, world-historical events as “monster of the week,” whether character growth is necessary, repetition vs. novelty, and much more. At the link, you can even download an mp3 version if you don’t feel like watching it as a video. Enjoy!

“Game of Thrones” thoughts, Season Three, Episode Nine: “The Rains of Castamere”

Monday, June 3rd, 2013

The death of an idea can hurt just as badly as the death of a person. People are mortal, after all, and come with an expiration date – it’s the cost of doing business with them. But ideas often have a wider impact than any one person. They’re passed down and passed around, like heirlooms or viruses. It’s easy to convince ourselves that an idea that gives our life meaning will outlast our life, any life, in turn. To lose an idea like that leaves us adrift, with no shore in sight.

I reviewed last night’s Game of Thrones for Rolling Stone.

“Game of Thrones” Q&A: Gwendoline Christie on the Education of Brienne of Tarth

Thursday, May 23rd, 2013

You’ve spoken very frankly about how your unusual height has affected your life, and some of your modeling work seems to touch on this as well – taking ownership of your physical body. Brienne has struggled with her physicality as well. She’s gone a different road, obviously – she’s a warrior, not an actor – but I wonder if you see overlap between her and yourself.

Absolutely. That’s why I wanted to play the part so much. I never thought I’d ever come across a part like this. I was always told about this in drama school, that occasionally you might come across a part where you say, “Yeah, I know that. I know it. I don’t have to pretend to try and get there. I know this.” As soon as I read about the character, I had to play it.

And it’s a character that we don’t see that often. I’m certainly really rather tall at 6 foot 3, and I’ve been this way since I was 14, but for years women who are even 5 foot 10 have come up to me in the street and said, “Oh, it’s so nice to see a woman who is taller than me. I’ve always felt like a giant.” They describe it to me like outsiders. It sounds a bit worthy, but I genuinely feel that as an actor part of my job is to highlight those recesses of human life and human psychology that we don’t see that often. And if I have the opportunity, which I very luckily have, to play the part of an outsider, then I felt like I might be doing some good. Occasionally I get messages from women saying that I’ve brought them some joy, and that’s unbelievably thrilling.

An additional wrinkle for Brienne is that she’s pretty much universally seen as ugly. When you’re made up to look that way, when you change your hair and your demeanor and your physicality to look that way, does it change how you feel?

Yeah, totally. As a woman, we all want to feel attractive. We all want to feel that we’re making the very best of ourselves so we can accept ourselves. It’s like all of these gorgeous, devastatingly beautiful actresses in the show, and then there’s me harrumphing around. [Laughs] So it can be tough to look like that.

But you have to step outside of that and think about what these things really mean. I am still a person with a sense of superficiality that I’m trying to challenge. I hope that it makes us examine exactly what “unattractive” is. Perhaps it’s not the conventions that we have or the blueprint in our minds. And if it makes people question for a minute what unattractive is, and the way in which we may respond as people to what we think unattractive is, then it’s worthwhile.

I interviewed Gwendoline Christie, aka Brienne of Tarth, for Rolling Stone. Man, this interview. Even by the high standards of this (in my experience) extraordinarily insightful cast, this was something.

“Game of Thrones” thoughts, Season Three, Episode Eight: “Second Sons”

Monday, May 20th, 2013

Newcomer Daario Naharis is a man the Hound would recognize – a killer for cash. Unlike the Hound, he seems to take pleasure in the badass trappings of a successful sellsword – the rep, the women, the tricked-out dagger hilts – while the Hound himself takes pleasure, and barely, in the act of killing itself. But because of this, Naharis has the flexibility to bend before he breaks. Confronted with a physically stunning, tactically advantaged opponent in the form of Daenerys Targaryen, he kills his comrades and switches sides rather than toss himself into the fray on behalf of a wealthy but likely defeatable city. (As an aside, a show that can find time for an extensive visit to the camp of the Second Sons ought to be able to give Catelyn Stark more to do this season than scold her dopey son Robb. Okay, moving on.) Duty to his captains and his client would appear to leave him little choice, but “Daario Naharis always has a choice,” he tells Daenerys. Judging from her outrageously pulp-fictional bathtub dismount, he chose wisely.

I reviewed last night’s superb episode of Game of Thrones for Rolling Stone.

The Boiled Leather Audio Hour presents FEASTDANCE

Tuesday, May 14th, 2013

Episode 20 of my A Song of Ice and Fire podcast the Boiled Leather Audio hour is up! This week, my co-host Stefan Sasse and I are discussing the combined reading order for A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons that I came up with in order to reunite what is effectively one giant book split by character rather than chronology. It’s worth doing!