The eighth and final season of GAME OF THRONES will debut in Asia same time as the U.S. on Monday, 15 April at 9am, exclusively on HBO (Astro Ch 411 / 431 HD). The series will also be available on HBO On Demand (via Astro Go). The debut date was announced with a new tease that was just released, entitled Crypts of Winterfell (#ForTheThrone).
Q. How does the final season of Game of Thrones begin for your characters?
NCW:The last time we saw him, he left King’s Landing to go north because he wanted to be part of the fight against the undead threat, but we don’t know if he makes it up there or what happens.
Q. His relationship with Cersei was at a low point…
NCW:Well she was threatening to kill him. I’ve been in situations like that in relationships. It’s never good to pull that card.
JF:So he goes off and he doesn’t say a word. No mention to his old friend, not even a message…
NCW:Again, let me clarify. Someone called The Mountain was about to chop off my head. I didn’t really have much time to make calls.
JF:Anyway, it means Bronn is going to suddenly be like ‘what the?’ and he’s got an interesting choice to make because his employer of the last few years has disappeared on some quest. It’s an interesting question. He’s left King’s Landing. Will he go after Jaime? How much loyalty does he have? We’ll see how that pans out.
Q. Is there anything, no matter how cryptic, you can say about where things are heading?
NCW:Well, I think that it is the final season, so you would imagine we would move towards some resolution when it comes to the major questions.
JF:With a fight or two in between.
Q. We’ve got six episodes that have taken more than a year to make. What can fans expect for their patience?
JF:Part of the wait initially was started filming later because winter has come: they wanted less clement weather rather than having to use lots of CGI.
NCW:The fact is it took twice as long to shoot these six episodes than a normal season. That’s to do with the scale of what we did. It was I think unprecedented for television and even for most movies, the amount of people involved in the shoots and the amount of characters involved. We’ve shot this whole series where we’ve had all these characters in different parts of this world Westeros. Now a lot of these characters, as we’ve seen in season 7, have come together. Just shooting scenes with that many people take a lot of time.
Q. Was it tough?
NCW:It was tough but it was tougher for the crew than for us actors. We will moan and whine a lot, but the truth is we would have say three really hard days, then a couple of days off, then we’ll go again. At one point the crew had 50-plus nights in one go and they were still smiling. It was a crazy final season. But because everyone in front or behind the camera loved working on the show, everyone was so determined just to finish it the right way. I also think that if it hadn’t been the last season, if we’d just been ordered for another four years, then the enthusiasm might not have been quite as high when they came to night number 43. But yes, this is the hardest thing we’ve ever done, but the end is in sight and we really want to deliver.
Q. Having worked on Thrones for many years, are there still moments where you see things on the show and think, ‘Wow’?
NCW: Yes, especially these sets that they built and the set pieces that we were part of. The likelihood of us being involved with something like this again… it’s not going to happen. There were really quite a few of those in this final season. It just took your breath away.
JF: Also, there is just the scale of it and what it’s represented in terms of the revolution of long-form television. It’s iconic like that and it’s been amazing to be part of it. It doesn’t cease to shock me. And make no mistake, this season tops every one that’s gone before, no doubt about it.
Q. What particular skills do you have that you did not have before Game of Thrones?
NCW:I’m better on a horse for sure, yes. Better with my left hand, too. And technically you get better at acting – for example, we did this a couple of seasons back, this big sequence we shot in Spain, and you learn a lot from doing something which is so massive in scale action-wise. It takes a long time to shoot. It’s about keeping your focus for those few beats that you have, understanding the technical aspect of doing action pieces. You know that if you have to go again, it’s going to be at least another hour before you could do take number two. It’s that whole thing about not letting that pressure get in the way of the performance.
JF:I call myself a swordsman now, although I did once whack Nikolaj on the head with a sword. I hope I’ve got better now. Having all that stuff to do is like a boy’s dream.
Q. How much secrecy has there been around this final season?
NCW:A lot. In the past when you needed to remember what had happened you could go back and find the scripts. Now, literally, the script has vanished. It no longer exists. I’m not very good at keeping secrets, but with this show it’s always been easy because you know you can’t say anything about storylines.
Q. When you got the disappearing scripts did you rush through them?
JF:Did you want to know what happens to your character? Of course, you want to know if you’re still around. This one, we knew we were all going to read together, which was a unique case. I don’t think the whole cast ever did that before. Because it was the last season, it was like I had an idea what my character was and wasn’t doing, but I wanted to live it out with everybody. It was brought to life in those two days we did it in Belfast. It’s very special.
Q. What was your final day, your final scene like to film?
NCW:For me, it really was the perfect way. I can’t talk about the scenes, but it was just the perfect ending to my whole experience of being on this show.It was a beautiful day, Northern Ireland, it was great crew, great scenes.I’d seen quite a few of these farewell speeches by this point. I remember I was like, “Why are people getting so emotional? It’s ridiculous. I’m way too hard for that.” Then, they give you this beautiful bit of a little framed bit of storyboard – mine was when my hand is chopped off. On the back, they write some nice words to you and then suddenly I felt some wet stuff on my face. I was like, “God. Er. I must be coming down with a cold.”
JF:There’s definitely a mourning. I couldn’t really take it in on my final day but afterwards it started to sink in. For eight years, we’ve had it there every year for those of us lucky enough to have been on this show. It takes a bit of time to realise there’s not another year coming.
The Final Season begins April 15 on HBO. Can’t wait to watch it!