We’ve got a few more post-Game of Thrones Season 8 interviews for you today, and I promise two of them are more serious than the title may suggest. First of all: yes, Maisie Williams (Arya Stark) recently appeared in the popular be-interviewed-while-eating-increasingly-spicier-chicken-wings “Hot Ones” Youtube channel, and it was hilarious if not informative; but also, courtesy of Spanish fansite Los Siete Reinos, we’ve got costume designer Michele Clapton speaking about her favorite costume (and character!), as well as cast members Isaac Hempstead Wright (Bran Stark) and Liam Cunningham (Davos Seaworth) discussing and defending the ending of the show.
Aside of providing us with a few good laughs at poor Maisie’s expense, her appearance on Hot Ones also serves as an interview of sorts, though one in which the interviewee grows increasingly inarticulate. You may have heard versions of these questions and answers a hundred times (“Is it true you learned to fight left-handed because Arya’s left-handed in the books?”), but the video is worth it for the laughs anyway:
Now, onto today’s meatier –but not spicier– interviews. Our friends at Los Siete Reinos got the opportunity to chat with costume designer Michele Clapton as well as Isaac Hempstead Wright and Liam Cunningham at a recent Game of Thrones event in Madrid, Spain (which was very much like the touring exhibition we reviewed a few years ago.)
Of particular interest in the interview with Clapton is what she considers her favorite costume of season eight: Sansa’s coronation dress as Queen in the North. As it happens, Sansa’s the character she “loves the most”, and as well as designing her final dress she got the opportunity (as you might have heard before) to appear in the scene in which Sansa’s putting it on; though you may miss her, since we only see her hands.
Clapton says she especially appreciates how that scene was shot, showing the costume up-close and without rushing through it, “because on-set you never see it with such detail; you see things but you can’t tell it was created with such care.”
Then, again speaking to L7R, Liam Cunningham makes what I believe to be a great point regarding the ending of Game of Thrones, often criticized as “rushed,” about the realities of production, which has time constraints that writing a novel simply does not:
“The books are a beautiful, beautiful thing, but if we’d ‘just done the books,’ you’re never going to match what’s in people’s heads. And [showrunners] David and Dan gave 15 years of their lives, and they love the books… but we have to make a television show that opens it up to a much bigger audience. [George RR. Martin] writes beautifully. To compare the two is ridiculous; one is a visual medium, the other one’s literary.”
“As regard to the end, there’s nothing we could’ve done to make everybody happy… I think we had the most happy ending that we could possibly have. The Starks are in good shape. The Lannisters are gone. Daenerys –the Targaryens– finished. The Small Council at the end is mostly good people; it’s Brienne, Samwell Tarly, Davos, Bran, Tyrion. It’s a pretty happy ending for something that’d had genocides up to that point.”
“I think it was a really good ending. We got people saying ‘it was too short!’. It was originally going to be 70 hours, and [David and Dan] added three more huge episodes, which is six months more of work than what they were contracted by HBO. So they went the extra mile. But they didn’t want to drag it out. I know people say it was rushed. Well, everything’s rushed. Davos had seven sons in the books. Bran’s more magical. There’s Lady Stark returned. There are thousands of things in the books that we couldn’t [have fitted.] It’s impossible. We’d all die of old age. Think about how long it takes to film these days. Six months for ten hours; or in the last season, one year for six episodes. Isaac would be 75 years old if we’d adapted everything. It’d be impossible.”
Now, it’s only natural for an actor to defend their project, and Cunningham has never been anything but a fierce defender of the show, but I believe he makes some great points: young actors age out of their roles, and time is money, not to speak of good old-fashioned physical and mental burnout by producers, writers, cast and crew alike.
The show just couldn’t go on forever, or even for ten seasons like some, including author Martin himself, had suggested in the past. While it’s true HBO offered the showrunners to go on for longer, either the production value wouldn’t be what the explosive final act of this story deserved or we’d get a season every two or three years. And we return to young actors aging and time being money. The math just doesn’t work out.
Perhaps it’s ironic (or is it just funny?) that that’s partly why Martin started writing A Song of Ice and Fire after working on Hollywood for years: he wanted to write something limited only by his imagination, eschewing all realities of production. The show didn’t have that luxury, especially once they ran out of published source material.