Showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss are always elusive during the off-season, so when their interiews begin you know it’s almost time for our yearly dose of Game of Thrones. The time has arrived, and they discuss everything from the convergence of characters and the new pacing to the massive battle scenes. Of course, they also get into the cause for all of this: as the endgame approaches, the Great War is finally here.
EW first asked the showrunners about what strikes them most about season seven:
“There’s a whole bunch of reunions and first time meetings that people have been waiting for for a long time,” Weiss began, “and when you put it on paper you just want to do justice to the work that these guys have done building these characters over so many years. You want to give them as much as you can.”
Benioff focused instead on the noted improvement across all aspects of the production: “Every department constantly improves, from the effects to the acting. [Maisie Williams and Sophie Turner] have been great from the beginning and how they’ve grown as actors — I mean everybody in the cast has, but in them it’s especially pronounced since they started as kids. Now we’re coming into the final season and it’s very gratifying.”
As for the much-discussed faster paced in this seven episode season, the showrunners were quick to note they didn’t rush things because of that:
“For a long time we’ve been talking about ‘the wars to come.’ That war is pretty much here,” revealed Benioff. “So it’s really trying to find a way to make the storytelling work without feeling like we’re rushing it. You want to give characters their due.”
How is that possible, despite the shorter season? Apparently, many characters have more screen time, not less. Weiss explaibed how that’s possible: “If you kill enough people, [those] who are left just by default need to carry more dramatic weight. As the worlds start to converge characters who haven’t met each other before start to meet each other and there are more and more main characters together in each other’s storylines than there have ever been before. Ever since Tyrion crossed the Narrow Sea and met Dany it’s been the show’s general direction.”
That general direction has now taken us to a seventh season that, if the promotional material is to be believed, will be chock-full of elaborate action sequences, and apparently they weren’t a walk in the park to produce:
“It’s the first time we shot two battles at the same time in different countries,” Benioff reveals, regarding Spain and Northern Ireland. “It was really hard in terms of a strain on resources and manpower. That was a difficult month but we managed to get through it.”
Now that the seventh season is in the bag and about to air, what about the eighth and final season? According to Benioff, “it’s nearly completed”… though Weiss wouldn’t “go that far.” They were similarly unclear about a definitive air-date.
If you wish to learn about how they try to avoid leaks, the Ed Sheeran cameo, the original plans for a less action-heavy season seven and more, read the interview at EW.
Aidan Gillen was also interviewed by EW, and as well as discussing the relationship between Petyr and Sansa in season seven, he also touched upon an oft-forgotten surprise encounter with Arya back in season two: Baelish went to Harrenhal to broker the Tyrell alliance with Tywin, and there was Arya passing herself off as a cupbearer, but Baelish said nothing, despite seeming to take notice of the disguised wolf girl. Did he recognize her? If so, why didn’t he say anything? These are five year old questions in the fandom, and Gillen finally provides answers, at least from his perspective as an actor:
“It was unclear if he recognized her or not, but I have my own thoughts on that: yes, I did recognize her — I just didn’t say anything or do anything about it.”
Now, that is interesting. Every storline is converging now, and a Stark family reunion has been teased, so it wouldn’t be out of the question for Petyr and Arya to meet again, properly this time. Should we expect this old detail to be paid off in any way this seventh season, or was this just a way to highlight Littlefinger’s perceptive powers and nothing more?