Game Of Thrones season 8 on-set diary: Prince of Dorne
Actor Toby Osmond shares his experience playing the new Dornish prince in the Game Of Thrones season 8 finale…
Contains plot details for the Game Of Thrones season eight finale.
When you play the game of thrones, you either win or you die. Or you get cast in the final episode and get to hang out with all the Lannister, Targaryen and Stark survivors. Actor Toby Osmond (Kaufman’s Game, Black Site, Stairs) chose the latter option, turning up for an audition as “charismatic man” only to find himself appearing in key scenes in Game Of Thrones as the last prince of Dorne as season eight came to a climax.
Osmond exclusively shares his production diary with Den Of Geek, including his audition adlibs in Spanglish, his on-set wanderings during a costume fitting and the excess celebrations of one main cast member that delayed a chartered flight for two hours! And that’s before he reveals which Game Of Thrones actor walked away from him while he still had his foot in his mouth.
Monday 16 April 2018
This opportunity came through my agent via Spotlight, which is the database for the majority of professional casting staff in the UK. The listing actually said it was for Game Of Thrones, although it was totally shady about what the character was. I may sound like a twat but the casting was for “one charismatic man” and “four powerful men”. My agent was very lovely and put me up for charismatic man, so it’s nice to know he thinks I’ve got charisma!
Tuesday 17 April 2018
There was a bit of toing and froing before the audition. At one point they said it might not be a scripted role, it might be adlibbing instead. That seemed strange because something of that scale is usually all mapped out otherwise you expect everyone to start monologuing. I certainly would! But we didn’t know if they were unsure what it would be or if they were just being super-shady for security reasons because it’s Game Of Thrones. My agent asked me if I still wanted to go for it and I said, “Are you drunk!? Of course I want to go for it.”
Wednesday 18 April 2018
The audition was in London with Kate Bone, a lovely casting director who works with Nina Gold. We hadn’t received a script beforehand, for obvious reasons. It’s just Kate in the room with a camera and she says, “Imagine you’re a leader, general type – you’re in charge. You’re in a war council and you’re discussing the defence of a city.” In my mind I was already trying to work out who I would be playing. She said, “You’re Dornish and your captains and commanders are around you. You know the Dornish characters, they don’t take things too seriously, they’re very passionate, they can be funny and charming. One of your captains says something and you disagree with him and put him down. Then this woman comes in and suggests something like digging trenches and at first you disagree with her but then you’re swayed by her and you consent.”
In a lot of auditions for commercials you’ll get an extravagant description of what you need to do without any words. So it’s all quite melodramatic, over-the-top acting. I ask Kate if she wants me to speak and she say she wants me to adlib in a Dornish accent: “Did your agent not tell you?” I said, “No he did not but I’m happy to do that.” I opt for a sort of Spanglish, without going full Manuel from Fawlty Towers.
I just go off on one. I’ve done podcasts before and they can’t shut me up! I go off on tangents for two and a half hours: “Toby this is supposed to be a 40-minute interview!” So I start talking to Jose about how he remembers that time in Gileppe where he wanted to charge and half the regiment got killed. And I felt the casting director and I were getting on well and having a good old laugh. Of course, outside are three or four other guys who are pretty much like me but more muscular and better looking! And you think, “Here we go. At least it’s nice to be called in for it.”
Wednesday 25 April 2018
A week later, about 6.30PM, I get a missed call from my agent. He sends me a WhatsApp voice recording, which he never normally does, and asks me to call him. I’d been for a few other auditions outside of Game Of Thrones so you never know what that call will be about. When I call him he drags it out, gives it all the, “Hello Toby, how are you young chap? Everything OK? Now what was I calling about…” He follows that up with, “It looks like you’re going to Seville, old boy.” I’m like, “What!?” He says, “What’s that show, Game Of Thrones?” I thought he was taking the piss but he said, “I hope your passport’s in date, old boy.” At that stage only about 20 per cent of what that actually meant made it in. As an actor you think, “It’ll probably fall through. They’ll probably find someone else. Maybe they’ve contacted the wrong agent.”
Friday 27 April 2018
My agent calls again and says, “They want to know if you can go in next week for a fitting?” I obviously say, “Sure.” He doesn’t have the details at that point – it might be in London, or possibly Belfast as HBO has studios over there. I’ve been to the Galway Film Fair and heard a talk by the Game Of Thrones producers about the effect the production has had on the industry in Northern Ireland. By the time I got the final details for the fitting it was in two days’ time.
Monday 30 April 2018
It was proper star treatment for my trip to Belfast. All the flights are arranged and you’re sitting in the VIP waiting room in the airport, before a driver picks you up at Belfast airport. When I was in that car it suddenly started to hit me. You drive up to those studios, this huge, sprawling complex in hangar-sized buildings. And once I’m inside I see King’s Landing. Oh. My. God.
On film and television sets actors are never allowed to walk around on their own. They will always have a runner or production assistant who will take them from point A to point B, even if Point A is the green room and point B is the toilet 30 seconds away. It’s not because they don’t trust us – they trust us to get completely lost and go the wrong way at any possible opportunity! My sense of direction is shocking. If there’s a choice of left and right I will get it wrong a lot more than 50 per cent of the time.
As soon as the driver drops me off I manage to go the wrong way. It’s really sunny and there are Dothraki walking around and these insane sets, props and costumes are everywhere. So I’m just trying to walk in the right direction. The first cock-up I make is when I walk into a room and there’s a production assistant sitting at a desk with papers and I think I’ve found where I need to be. There’s lots of costumes and I’m here for a fitting. So I say, “Hi.” The guy behind the desk says, “Can I help you?” and I explain I’m here for the fitting. He asks me when my call time was and to be honest I don’t know, I explain that the driver just dropped me off. He looks at his watch and is a bit flustered, then this young girl runs up and whispers in his ear. He says, “Are you background?” and I say, “No. Well I hope not!” [Laughs] He says, “Are you Toby Osmond? I’m so sorry Mr Osmond!” In my best British accent I say, “That’s fine” and he explains this is the background room, so I stop filling out the form I’ve been handed. I thought it was a bit too detailed!
When they take me through to the room to get the fitting done there’s a camera in there shooting a behind-the-scenes piece. So I may well have engineered it so I’m in that bit of the documentary. But the costume guy was fabulous. The first thing they put on was this beautiful, gold-embroidered robe and that’s what you’ll see in the episode. Despite my meandering it was quite quick in and out but I remember walking past a clothing rack in that area and I can’t remember whether it said ‘Tyrion’ or ‘Peter Dinklage’ but that was me thinking, “I’m here! This is really it!” Done. Tick. What else is there? Only Star Wars!
I suddenly realised the trailer they’d given me was next to Peter Dinklage’s. He was there sitting out in the sun with his sunglasses on, and Qyburn [Anton Lesser] was there. I gave it a “Hey” and got a “Hey” back, which was so cool. I sat down myself – desperate to remain cool – and pretended to read my own book, Don Quixote.
Once I was done with the fitting I expect to get shuffled out but they foolishly let me walk back to my driver again. So I was wandering around a bit, having a peek at King’s Landing because they were busy filming on set. It was brilliant. Then I had to get the plane back to normality.
Tuesday 8 May 2018
Suddenly it was time for Seville, where the shoot was taking place, and things somehow got even better and more shock-inducing. I bumped into a guy at the airport who looked like a more handsome version of me, with long, dark, curly hair. And he was at the bar, so I thought, ‘He’s an actor!’ His name is Michael and he’s currently doing a play at the Tristan Bates Theatre with Lino Facioli – that’s Game Of Thrones’ Robin Arryn: “Throw them out the moon door mummy.” We got chatting and it turned out Michael was playing one of the powerful men, who were no longer simply powerful but lords!
Even though there were various members of crew on the flight I was still totally in shock at this point. The screen industry is so changeable and anything can shift at any time. Up until a few days on set, part of me didn’t really believe it was happening. I even pinched myself a couple of times while we were filming.
Wednesday 9 May 2018
Seville was beautiful. We had eight days shooting with one day off in the middle. And the amount of A-listers in that 10-minute finale scene is nuts. We had 80 per cent of whoever had survived because it included all of the leaders of the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros. The “charismatic man” – and thank the Many-Faced God that’s not how I’m officially billed! – became the Prince of Dorne, head of House Martell. I’m the younger brother of Oberyn Martell, the Red Viper himself.
The scene was different than the audition. It’s a council of the leaders of Westeros in that beautiful set of the dragon pit. We actually discuss who should sit on the Iron Throne and then we all vote on it. That amphitheatre is so impressive and we were sitting in that horseshoe of wooden thrones. The moment was made all the more impressive because I was next to awesome A-lister after awesome A-lister after awesome A-lister – and then Mike from the airport!
In the same scene are 100 Unsullied and I don’t know how they do it. They’re all in leather armour, standing with spears and shields in the hot sun of Seville. The shoot was in May but it was very hot. They somehow maintain those straight lines in this blazing heat all day long.
Thursday 10 May 2018
There are two actors in particular whose careers I’ve followed who appear in Game Of Thrones. One is Indira Varma who plays Ellaria Sand – the mother of the sand snakes and Oberyn’s missus. Like me she’s got curly black hair. She stars in Rome and this might sound geeky but I’ve always thought Rome is what it would be like if the Dungeons & Dragons Baldur’s Gate video game was made as a TV series set in the Roman Empire.
Tobias Menzies – who plays Edmure Tully, one of the lords of Riverrun and Rob Stark’s uncle – is also in Rome and I’ve been following him too. He’s a really fantastic actor, I saw him at the Almeida in the Chekhov play Uncle Vanya. Tobias was on set, Indira sadly wasn’t. But I had a good old chat with him and had the brilliantly funny introduction where I said, ‘Tobias’ and he said ‘Hello’ and I said ‘It’s Toby’ and he said ‘No, it’s Tobias’ and I’m like ‘No, it’s Toby!’ [Laughs] We were chatting about theatre and it was such a privilege to be able to meet these people who I had admired.
Kit Harrington was also on set and I had longer hair at the time – almost Kit-length hair. To leave you had to drive out of this fortress, which has steel gates. When you open those there’d be 50-odd screaming Spanish teenagers all shouting ‘Keeeeet’. With the darkened windows of the car they catch a silhouette and be throwing themselves in the road. So when Kit finally came to the set I said, ‘Lovely to meet you. All your fans thought I was you.’ He was really welcoming, as everyone was, and they didn’t have to be. They’ve been doing this for nine years and our week doesn’t make up much of that but they were still really invested in us and were really chatty.
Friday 11 May 2018
On day three of my shoot I was sitting next to Gemma Whelan, who plays Yara Greyjoy. She’s a lovely person. And on the other side there was Lino Facioli – so I was between the Lady of the Iron Islands and the Lord of the Vale. There was one point where Gemma turned around to me and this guy Niall Bishop, who was playing another lord, and said, “How did you guys get here? I know some pretty big celebs who would kill to sit in the chairs you’re sitting in.” And we’re like, “We’ve got no idea! Please don’t tell anyone!” [Laughs] Because of the tight security we didn’t know what episode it was. Dan Weiss leans over to me at one point and says, “Pretty good episode to get in on isn’t it?” I’m like, “Thank you!”
Saturday 12 May 2018
It was a crazy time to be on set! It was the last week they were shooting in Spain because it was the final week of principal photography. After that there would only be a small skeleton crew going back to Belfast to do pickups and other bits and bobs. The Spanish crew is called Dragon Unit, the Belfast crew is called Wolf Unit – so on the Saturday it was Dragon Unit’s wrap party.
Monday 14 May 2018
I only put my foot in my mouth one time. One of the few actors I hadn’t really spoken to was Gwendoline Christie, who plays Brienne of Tarth. I thought it would be great just to grab even just a five-second chat with her and say hello. She was coming back from catering and I was heading to the toilet and I said, “I thought I’d say hello, I’m only here for a couple of days” and she said hello back. Then I said, “I saw you in the Groucho Club in Soho a year or two ago. But I didn’t know you then so I didn’t say hi.” She looked at me like, “You know you’ve put your foot in your mouth, let’s just call it.” And I knew I had. Thankfully she wasn’t nasty about it, she said, “OK then” and headed off. That was me being an idiot.
Wednesday 16 May 2018
When they finished shooting on the final day and called cut and said it was a wrap they asked everyone to hang around for a bit. Dan and David [Benioff] went around this horseshoe to talk to all the repeat actors, even those people who had only been in the show for three scenes over the years, and they had a personalised gift for each of them. They got them up and said a few heartfelt, very well thought-out words and people were in tears. It felt like we were witnessing something like the end of Star Wars where everyone’s been on set for months and it’s been this incredible journey and it’s about to end. We were like fans who had won a competition compared to this lot! And Niall leans over to me and says, “I feel a bit like a second cousin at a wedding.” But it was such a fantastic moment to be a part of.
I didn’t think they were going to say anything to us but Dan came up and said, “Toby, you really epitomised the Dornish character.” I was like, “That could be taken either way but I’m taking it as a compliment. Thank you very much Dan.” And although we’d already had the official wrap party, there was another celebration for the final night.
Thursday 17 May 2018
Our return trip was a chartered flight for cast and crew. I’m not going to say who it was but the flight was two hours’ late leaving because one of the main cast had partied too hard the night before and couldn’t be roused out of their hotel room. It wasn’t me, they’d have left me there!
There was a practical joke on the flight as we were taking off. It’s unconfirmed but rumour has it that Kit Harrington asked a Spanish flight attendant to check if someone was on board: “Peter Dinkle-aish.” So over the tannoy came, “Is there a Peter Dinkle-aish?” And there’s a moment of silence. And then everyone pisses themselves laughing.
Thursday March 14 2019
I rewatched the series in the run up to season eight and I got a little tear in my ear about the fact that I was going to be a part of this story. It sounds super cheesy but I honestly felt honoured and excited and went through a huge list of emotions. The only sad note is that my father passed away after the first series of Game Of Thrones had finished and before season two had started. He got into it before anyone I knew and certainly before the show was such a big deal and he had said to me, “You should give this a go.” So it felt like I was carrying a torch and added to the emotions of the whole experience. I remember watching the first episode of season one at his place in Brighton and you get to that final line where Jamie Lannister turns to Cersei and says, “The things I do for love” and I thought, “I’m in! I’m here for the long haul.” Little did I know…