For the first time ever, Game of Thrones is actually on the air at the same time that San Diego Comic-Con is in full-swing. Thus this creates a curious dynamic with the fan favorites who showed up for thunderous applause in Hall H around the same time that the new season was airing. There was Sophie Turner, aka Sansa Stark, as well as Gwendoline Christie (Brienne of Tarth), Liam Cunningham (Ser Davos Seaworth), Isaac Hempstead-Wright (Bran Stark), Alfie Allen (Theon Greyjoy), John Bradley (Samwell Tarly), Nathalie Emmanuel (Missandei), Conleth Hill (Varys), and making his Comic-Con debut, Jacob Anderson (Grey Worm).
But the one who received the warmest welcome is without a doubt the panel moderator: the gone but never forgotten Kristian Nairn. Indeed, Hodor came back from the dead like a Winterfell bastard to host the panel and receive the biggest cheer from the Comic-Con faithful.
Of course, the most tantalizing news out of the panel was the new season 7 sizzle reel, which you can watch again right here, but we’ve rounded up plenty of other amusing details, stories, and anecdotes from the event which continues to prove that the Game of Thrones cast is still the one you most want to party with if you ever come by San Diego’s way in July.
Gwendoline Christie Thinks Brienne Likes Tormund’s Attention
One of the funniest aspects out of Game of Thrones in the past two seasons is the awkward “courtship,” for lack of a better word, between Tormund Giantsbane (Kristofer Hivju) and Brienne of Tarth. The humor is derived from Tormund’s unusually forward (and awkward) flirtations, which simply makes Brienne annoyed and uncomfortable. But according to the actress who plays her, Brienne also enjoys these moments of social uneasiness too.
When it comes to being viewed as both a warrior and a desirable woman by the wildling, Christie says, “I mean, who doesn’t like being appreciated as both, really? I don’t think that’s really what she’s invested in at all. I think she’s finding it incredibly awkward. But underneath any awkwardness is always a potential secret enjoyment.”
She then turns it to the audience. “What do you all think? Does she like it? Or does she like someone else?” And like that, the actress intentionally set off a shipping war amongst the fans.
Sophie Turner Thinks Sansa Cannot Be Played by Littlefinger Ever Again
While much in the media has been made about Littlefinger turning Sansa Stark against her adopted brother Jon Snow, Turner seems to signal this is unlikely because she thinks Sansa has learned much from Littlefinger and the other King’s Landing manipulators she’s faced—including how to play them right back. Indeed, Turner suggests Sansa cannot be played at all anymore and is every bit the master game of thrones participant.
“I think initially, there was definite manipulation on Littlefinger’s part,” Turner says. “But you know, as Sansa has grown and been a prisoner by all these master manipulators, especially Littlefinger, she’s been silently absorbing and learning, and adapting, and in my opinion, she’s just as good at playing the game as he is at this point.” When the audience cheers in approval, Turner adds, “Thanks guys!”
Liam Cunningham Does Not Think Davos Can Ever Be Really Happy
Davos Seaworth has been through a lot. He’s risen from smuggler to knight, to even Hand of the King. Yet in the process, he’s seen his only son die, and the king he pledged fealty to turn into a deranged monster before dying himself. Now he serves a better, budding monarch in Winterfell, yet the actor who plays him doubts Davos will ever be truly happy again.
“Him being promoted from small-time criminal to being sucked into this web, this game, there’s very little room,” Cunningham reflects on Davos’ capacity for peace. ”I think it reflects real life, people end up in powerful positions. You can’t have a simple life anymore, you’re playing games, you’re paranoid, the whole thing. But I think he feels he has a responsibility to be there, to try to keep whoever it may be on the right track, because he’s distant and he’s loyal, and he doesn’t have that addiction for this horrible drug that is power. So his head is a little bit clearer than some. I love the guy’s simplicity. He is who he is, and he’s not a complicated character. It’s really nice to play somebody like that. Play those little colors.”
Gwendoline Christie Sees Overlap in the Cultural Impact of Star Wars & Game of Thrones
When fans were allowed to ask questions, of course someone brought up that Gwendoline Christie is both Brienne of Tarth on the HBO flagship and Captain Phasma in the new Star Wars trilogy from Disney. Christie was asked which fanbase is more passionate, and she gave a courteous dodge by saying they’re equal. But then she more intriguingly compared the role Star Wars has had in her life, and what she hopes Game of Thrones will be for future generations.
Says Christie, “Star Wars is something that many of us have grown up with and gives us something that, actually, I feel is a sense of hope. That’s how I feel about Star Wars. I feel like I’ve come home. And it’s amazing the way that Game of Thrones is seven, we’re going into the seventh season now, but there’s a similar feeling, which I think is matched in the passion and love, and I look forward to the resonance of Game of Thrones carrying on through people’s lives, so they have that same feeling of hope and love for it.”
Sansa Stark is ‘Woke,’ and a Natural Politician Unlike Jon Snow
Sophie Turner was also asked whether Sansa Stark maintains any semblance of the girlish idealization for romance and courtly love she harbored in season 1. While Turner says that Sansa is no longer looking for love from any man (much to the despair of one male fan crying in the back of the hall), she does think Sansa is “woke” to the realities of the world.
“I don’t think she’s like season 1 Sansa,” Turner admits. “She’s not really looking for a relationship or love at the moment. I think she’s kind of done with that. I think she’s always on the search for happiness, because she doesn’t see the world through rose-tinted glasses anymore. I think she sees a reality of the situation. In terms of seeing men in a different light? I think she sees the world in a different light. I don’t think men in particular… She’s woke now, guys. She’s real woke. She’s cautious, she trusts no one, whether it be man or woman, whether it’s family member or not, she trusts no one. And I think that’s important when you play the game of thrones.”
However, she does think Jon and Sansa can get their act together, for she views Jon as a classic military man and herself as a politician who he needs, just as much as she needs him.
“It’s about them finding that balance and finding that collaboration,” Turner contends. “But it’s proving quite difficult. He’s the military man, she’s the politician, but I think they both need to realize that they need to stop fighting for ultimate power and just work together.”
Nathalie Emmanuel Has to be Sown into Her Costumes
The first fan question of the day was whether any of them had trouble with the show’s notoriously elaborate costumes. Nathalie Emmanuel, who plays the ace interpreter Missandei, did admit that having to be sown into all her costumes isn’t ideal.
Says Emmanuel, “I definitely have to be sown into my costumes, which is really problematic when you need the bathroom. Because every time you need to go, you have to cut out and then get sowed back in.”
While Hodor’s Costumes Smelled Like Real Pigs
After the above anecdote, Kristian Nairn chimed in that he too had costume difficulties of a different sort—and it was the smell!
“I grew up on a farm, and the only time I have smelt something that smells like my costume after six years is when I go into like a sty of pigs. I can literally smell my costume [on the animals].”
At this point Gwendoline Christie interjects, why in the Seven would his costume smell like pigs?! It’s only supposed to look filthy, not be it! Nairn sheepishly added that every year they’d put another layer of clothing on it as Hodor went North, and he sweated more and more.
Brienne is Fighting for Equality, Even if She Doesn’t Know It
Gwendoline Christie continued to prove to be highly eloquent throughout the panel, such as when she relayed that Brienne is searching for equality now that she has found and rescued Sansa Stark, returning her home like she pledged she’d do to Catelyn Stark. After that, it’s become about improving the culture of this world in her own small way.
“It doesn’t matter if a person lives or dies, it goes into that person’s daughters,” Christie says of Brienne’s unwavering dedication to the late Lady Stark. “And it is significant that they are her daughters, to return the Stark girls home. And even in her own way, I think that Brienne feels that it’s one small thing for one person or two people, that that’s going to perpetuate a sense of good, which maybe subconsciously creates a better sense of equality. And that is what I think is driving her. It’s that she’s connecting to an idea that’s greater than herself.”
(Almost) Everyone Wants Hodor Back
Perhaps due to the simple fact that he played one of the most beloved characters, who had one of the worst, teary-eyed deaths imaginable, Nairn asked a pointed question: who would every actor who still enjoys a living character like to resurrect from the dead? Unsurprisingly many—especially Isaac Hempstead-Wright who spent the first several seasons riding on Nairn’s back in his younger days—had to give a tip of the hat to Hodor. But here are the full answers:
Gwendoline Christie: “Two people. Obviously, one was a magnificent presence in the series and who happens to be hosting this panel. And also Catelyn Stark.”
Alfie Allen: “I would say, Khal Drogo. I liked him.”
Conleth Hill: “Catelyn and you [Nairn].” After Nairn said he doesn’t technically have to say that, Hill didn’t miss a beat. “Okay not you.”
Jacob Anderson: “I’m still hurting about Ned, still breaks my heart. I also have a flame for Barristan Selmy. Pour one out for Barristan.”
Sophie Turner: “I just really liked working with Jack Gleeson so much that I have to say Joffrey.” You could sense her satisfaction when the audience booed her choice of summoning the name of demon spawn incarnate. (Joffrey that is, Jack Gleeson’s a peach.)
Liam Cunningham: “Yeah, I have no choice, I have to say my baby girl Shireen. That still hurts big time.”
Nathalie Emmanuel: “I think I am still heartbroken about Hodor. Like I honestly can’t put it quite into words… so I think my answer is Hodor, like truly.”
John Bradley: “The first legitimate answer is Robb Stark. And the second answer is if there was one character I wish they hadn’t killed, it would be Jon Snow, just to save us having to talk about it every five minutes for a year. That was a pretty crummy year.”
Isaac Hempstead-Wright: Sitting next to his onscreen, surrogate big brother, Hempstead-Wright sarcastically rubs his chin, pretending as if he didn’t have a good answer. Finally, he says, “Actually some of the direwolves,” which earns a round of both laughter and some boos. Then he breaks his own smile and says, “No, it’s you.”
The Night’s King is from Philly
One of the most surreal, only at Comic-Con moments came during audience Q&A. A wonderfully authentic cosplayer came up dressed like the Night’s King, but stayed entirely “in-character,” while asking his question… which is all the more impressive since the Night’s King doesn’t actually talk. Demanding fealty, and promising them their dragons nor direwolves can save this cast, the icy fiend asked if they looked forward to rising again as “children of the cold.”
This tickled Liam Cunningham to no end, who then turned things around on the enthusiastic fan.
“We don’t have much choice in the matter do we?” Cunningham replied. “I didn’t realize the Night King was from California.”
Taking this very earnestly, the fan responded he’s from Philadelphia. “Sorry, [the mask] made you sound like you’re from the valley,” Cunningham shot back. Eventually though, he and the rest of the cast complimented just how cool that costume was as the Night’s King took his leave, likely to plan his next attack on the Wall.
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