Charles Dance has and will always be a blunt man. He is, after all, an actor who spent time promoting Godzilla: King of the Monsters by saying “I had difficulty staying awake.” But if that’s what he says about his current project, he can be even harsher about ones he’s long left behind… like Game of Thrones.
Indeed, the once zeitgeist-defining epic fantasy series continues to be a subject of controversy for many folks, including some of its actors, with a final season that deeply divided fans. Dance previously revealed he was disappointed with the final season last year, and he’s now elaborated on that again while speaking with website popculture. While Dance might remind the most distraught fans that he thinks the show was impressive overall, and he has nothing but admiration for its creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, he also was sorely disappointed with an ending that included Bran Stark being made king by a “committee” of nobles.
“I just thought it’s a fantastic television show, you know?” Dance said. “I was very lucky to be part of it. I loved it; there were storylines [where] I wanted to know what was going to happen to these people! I know that the finale satisfied a lot of people. It also disappointed a lot of people, and I’m afraid I am in the latter camp.”
He went on to add, “I think David and Dan raised the bar when it came to television screenplay writing. They are phenomenal. And for the whole thing to end up as a committee, I just thought, ‘Hmm, no.’ I would say I was somewhat underwhelmed by [it].”
Perhaps though Dance’s most acerbic comment was admitting he might sign a petition about remaking the final season. The Change.org petition in question was one started by a particularly vocal set of disappointed fans over a year ago. Titled “Remake Game of Thrones Season 8 with competent writers,” the petition has been signed by more than 1.8 million people as of press time.
“Well if there was a petition, I would sign it,” Dance said. It should be made clear, however, that Dance is reported to have been unaware of the petition, and given his praise of Benioff and Weiss, it is unlikely he knows the name of the petition—or that popculture. read it to him.
Dance remaining vocal about his disappointment in Game of Thrones Season 8 is on brand for the actor. He also isn’t the only one disappointed with the final season. Star Emilia Clarke, who played popular Queen Daenerys Targaryen on the series, said earlier this year, “I knew how I felt [about the ending] when I first read it, and I tried, at every turn, not to consider too much what other people might say. But I did always consider what the fans might think – because we did it for them, and they were the ones who made us successful, so it’s polite, isn’t it?”
Such disappointment is echoed by many fans, which at least judging by social media were uniformly disappointed if not outright enraged by the series finale. However, actual polling shows that as many if not more fans were at least reasonably satisfied by the ending. Whatever the actual divide may be, I suspect if asked about how the petition refers to Benioff and Weiss as incompetent, both Dance and Clarke would likely stop well short of agreeing.
Personally, I was disappointed in the last season, but more in how it rushed through narrative plot points in a mechanical fashion than with the ending itself. The actual conclusion of the final episode makes sense for most of the characters—but how the series got there leaves something to be desired. Even so, online petitions and a growing fan expectation to dictate what creators make—and corporate owners then capitulating to those demands—is a relatively recent phenomenon. One that I find to be grossly entitled.
Personal fandom should not mean talent owes some kind of social responsibility to every grievance and expectation from those in a Twitter or Reddit echo chamber. Yet many fans, making good on the word’s root origin of “fanatic,” are trying to will that dynamic into existence.