When Alexander Siddig was announced as a new addition to the Game of Thrones cast at San Diego Comic Con in 2014, fans could not have been more hyped. He was a long-time favorite for the role of Prince Doran Martell; him joining the show in the part for season five was a dream come true for viewers who love to fancast the story in advance. Siddig delivered in his performance as the wise and cautious older brother of the beloved Oberyn Martell, but his character was seemingly shunted off to the side. Then Prince Doran was bumped off in an inglorious manner in the season six premiere by Ellaria Sand, furthering the agenda of the Sand Snakes and diverging wildly from the A Song of Ice and Fire version of the character’s plot. Fans were left annoyed and largely baffled by the move.
Speaking to StarTrek.com in a new interview, Alexander Siddig addresses his time on Game of Thrones and what happened there- as much as he knows. He admits he’s “not really sure what happened there,” and says he was actually contracted to do at least four episodes in season six. But something changed, and he received a phone call one day from the showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss:
“So we were going to kill you off at the end of last season, but we decided that we’re going to have to kill you off at the beginning of next season.” I was like, “Okay, life goes on.” But there was something wrong about that because I had been contracted for four episodes in the following season, so if they were going to kill me off at the end of the last season why would they contract me for those four episodes? Because it costs them money whether I do them or not, so it’s not great business sense to do it just in case.
So something happened; I have no idea what. There was an enormous amount of fan excitement when I got named to be on the show, and everyone was like, “Oh my god, yes, Doran Martell. He’s going to be great as Doran Martell.” That might have been the kiss of death. Maybe they didn’t want quite that much attention on that character. Maybe they thought, “Well, let’s prove that we’re going to stray from the books. We’re going to do something else, and he will be our first example of that.” So maybe that could have been the case. Or maybe I just screwed up. Maybe I said the wrong thing to the wrong person.
Siddig has quite a few thoughts on the secretive nature of film and television today in the age of internet snooping, and he speculates on how HBO might have used that to their advantage:
They misinform the crowd and they give them tidbits to send them in wrong directions. So, for example, last season, I believe that the first few episodes were stolen and downloaded online, and everybody got to see them before the show actually aired, and everybody was furious at HBO and whatnot. I don’t know if you remember. I am almost positive that those four episodes were leaked by HBO themselves. So there is an enormous amount of spin going on. I can’t tell you that for sure; that’s just my opinion, but it’s games; everybody’s playing these games.
He speaks at length about his career, his work on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine playing Dr. Bashir, and more about being part of Game of Thrones in his two-part interview with StarTrek.com, so check out the interview at the source: Part 1 and Part 2!