When Game of Thrones hit HBO in 2011, readers of George R.R. Martin’s Song of Fire and Ice series were easy converts. The violence, nudity and dragons quickly hooked the non-readers, too, helping the series pull in a record 6.6 million viewers for the Season 4 premiere last week.
But viewers aren’t the only ones who have become obsessed with the series; some of the actors count themselves as Game of Thrones nerds, including Gwendoline Christie and Pedro Pascal, who recently visited Miami to talk GoT.
A six-foot-three British actress who plays the sword-wielding Brienne of Tarth, who last season took a long, grueling and memorable journey with “kingslayer” Jaime Lannister, Christie found out about the series when Internet rumors began to circulate about her being cast.
“I had a friend who told me there was something on the Internet about me being in an HBO series. I looked at the character, and I totally fell in love with Brienne, and I read the books and I thought the storyline was just phenomenal. I was desperate to play that part, I really was.”
As she plowed through the books she became a major fan. “These were books in the fantasy genre, but they were some of the most unique narratives I had ever read.”
Season 4 addition Pascal, a Chilean-born actor, says he was worried when he was called to audition for the role of Oberyn Martell, aka The Red Viper, the Dornish prince who heads to King’s Landing with a major revengenda.
“I was a big fan,” he says. “I was in the middle of the third season when the audition came around. I had just finished seeing the episode of Daenerys freeing the slaves and then ordering her dragons to burn it all up. There were pretty intense auditions for the role of Oberyn, and it came with a lot of spoilers from the fourth season, so I was nervous that my viewing experience for the next season was going to be ruined for a part that I wasn’t going to get.”
Being on the series has also given the actors a chance to share the screen with some of their idols. Christie says she was giddy when she read that she would be in scenes with legendary actress Diana Rigg.
Pascal, who spends a lot of screen time with Peter Dinklage, remembers a chance meeting with the actor years before.
“I was a fan of Peter Dinklage for a really long time. I’ve seen him on stage. I’ve seen him in movies. I even approached him once on Elizabeth Street in downtown New York outside this gelato place. I had seen him in Living in Oblivion, and he was amazing. I told him how much I loved his performance.”
The show has been picked up for two more seasons, and the scripts may end up outpacing the novels (Martin, a notoriously leisurely writer, still owes us two more Song of Fire and Ice books). Christie’s not worried: “George R.R. Martin is an executive producer of Game of Thrones, so you can be assured that the integrity of the books is upheld. Now we enter into quite an unusual area. Will the TV show influence the author in what is written in the future?”
Both actors have refused to pester Martin about the fates of their characters, though Pascal assures us that the show will keep fans on their toes. “If you read the books, you know that it’s well-adapted, but they find a way to mix things up. There are so many possibilities.”
Just don’t expect any spoilers from these two: Christie and Pascal are protecting this season’s highlights like knights of the King’s Guard protect the king. Unless that knight is Jaime Lannister, of course.