Naomi Watts has signed on for Jane Goldman’s Game of Thrones prequel!

Veteran English actress Naomi Watts has been cast in the Game of Thrones spinoff!

News of the Game of Thrones spinoff has been largely speculative, but today we learned some bombshell casting info that until now had only been rumor — Hollywood darling Naomi Watts has signed on for a leading role!

According to Deadline, Watts — an accomplished actress whose credits include Mulholland Drive, The Ring, King Kong, Eastern Promises, Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), St. Vincent and The Divergent Series — has been secured “to lead an ensemble cast” for the spinoff, which is reported to be a prequel that tells the story of the Age of Heroes and the Long Night, events that happened thousands of years before those taking place in both the Song of Ice and Fire series and the Game of Thrones TV show. The working title of the prequel is, unsurprisingly, The Long Night.

Naturally, HBO is not saying much about Watts’ character, but Deadline is reporting that “she will play a charismatic socialite hiding a dark secret.” They also note that, given that the writer of the prequel is Jane Goldman and that the show is looking to “differentiate itself” from its namesake series, “it was a logical assumption that the prequel could have a female lead.” This isn’t being confirmed by anyone at HBO — and in fact, in July HBO president of programming Casey Bloys told Deadline that they didn’t want to “limit” Goldman to writing mostly female characters — but given this news, it’s certainly tempting to believe that The Long Night will feature a female lead.

Deadline also notes that the casting was confirmed after “lengthy negotiations,” which, for an actress of Watts’ caliber, makes sense. In fact, here at Watchers we’d heard strong rumors of this casting during the negotiations, but it’s nice to have it confirmed at last.

What does this casting news mean for the spinoff? And who could Watts be portraying? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

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  1. This is Great News, she is a BIG name! She has Stark or Valyrian written all over her. I think she may end up being tied to the Night King, possibly being his former Wife!

  2. “Hollywood darling” – makes me want to vomit. That said, this is an exciting casting that certainly adds a bit of gravity to this project. I’m the first to admit that I’m not massively enthused by the prospect of a Game of Thrones spin-off for a variety of reasons, but casting names such as Watts, and with decent producers and, of course, Goldman it does give me hope.

  3. I am now officially interested in this spin-off; until now, I was kinda indifferent to it. 🙂 I do hope it’s set thousands of years before GoT.
    I hope she’s playing a character from the people who were the long-ago ancestors of the Valyrians.

  4. I won’t go into this believing her character will be THE star like it will be some network offering following her around the entire time. I’m going to assume that she’ll be ONE of the main characters in the ensemble.

  5. Ok HBO, you got me hooked 👏👏👏 who the fuck is she playing?!?

    I’m catching stark predecessor vibes

  6. “it was a logical assumption that the prequel could have a female lead.”

    Do they want to imply that GoT doesn’t have a female lead?

  7. Oh look! The first big name casting confirmation is a 50 year old female in a lead role. Can we cut the complaining about age/gender for a bit now? I love her, and my interest level in the prequel just went up. I’ll be more invested once GoT is done, but this is great news. 😊

  8. mau:
    “it was a logical assumption that the prequel could have a female lead.”

    Do they want to imply that GoT doesn’t have a female lead?

    This Nellie Andreeva for Deadline apparently is. The line before that in the paragraph of the article she writes, “GOT, created by Benioff and Weiss, has a male lead, Jon Snow.” At (this) point one can clearly point him out as A lead, but I still don’t see him as standing on his own and be considered “THE.” Up until the last couple of seasons the leading character was even more murky.

  9. She is a very talented actress, very exciting. I suspect they’ll attract more big names now, given just how big GOT became world wide – it’s a wise career move for any actor now.

  10. Clob,

    I’m getting the feeling that this series is being written with a number of locations in their world used, not just in Westeros. The Long Night did spread everywhere after all so it would make sense. If they have any desire for this series to stand up in the wake of GoT I do think they’ll have to “spread it out” in scope again. Beyond that though, the description of “charismatic socialite” doesn’t seem to fit very well when considering women among the First Men 8,000 years prior to ASoIaF. It very well may fit better with some other cultures of Essos however.

  11. “she will play a charismatic socialite hiding a dark secret”.

    Maybe she’s a Greenseer who’s been Warging dead bodies. and in so doing, Corrupting a Weirwood tree far up north of where the Wall will eventually stand…

    future Night’s Queen?

    she’s not going to be a Stark. if she’s Westerosi I’ll bet either a Blackwood, a Hightower, a Dayne.

    If not, maybe the Great Empire of the Dawn’s very own Amethyst Empress?

    Mads Mikkelson or Jonathan Rhys Meyers for the Bloodstone Emperor?

    this is before the rise of Valyria, if the timelines have any accuracy, so the ‘Dragonsteel’ the Last Hero uses would be from the Great Empire. (It’s strongly suggested they were ‘proto-valyrians’).

    Oh, there might have been more than one ‘Long Night’, as thousands of years before the Long Night, the Pearl Emperor of the Great Empire of the Dawn built a chain of 5 Monstrous 1,000 ft. high fused black stone fortresses each of which could hold 10,000 men to ‘Keep the Lion of night and his demons from the realms of man’.

    Man I hope at least something I just said is even remotely accurate.

  12. Ian,

    George RR Martin has said that Dragons were all over this world at one point, so it’s possible we’ll see wild ones in Westeros and Essos.

  13. As a fan of the super-talented and super-cute Ms. Watts since “Babe: Pig in the City” and “Wide Sargasso Sea,” I’m hyped!

  14. Last thing i saw her in was Twin Peaks The Return, in which she was fabulous as always. Consistently great.

  15. Wow. This is massive. Loved her since Mulholland Drive and 21 Grams. Hoping she has some connection to the emergence of the White Walkers (beyond the CotF genesis we saw on GoT). She’s particularly great conveying dark undercurrents in her performances. Boarding the hype train!

  16. Well, if they got the very talented mrs Watts, then they’d better have a very good writing for her role and squeeze that acting skills out of her.

  17. Stoked!! This is welcome news today! She is awesome. Smart, sexy, so talented. I hve a feeling she may just be a single season cast, like Sean bean.

  18. Pigeon:
    Oh look! The first big name casting confirmation is a 50 year old female in a lead role. Can we cut the complaining about age/gender for a bit now? I love her, and my interest level in the prequel just went up. I’ll be more invested once GoT is done, but this is great news. 😊

    As long as the patriarchy maintains its stranglehold on, well, everything, then yes it will remain a topic of discussion.

  19. Sister Kisser,

    You reminded me that we (I) will be going into the new series on edge waiting and hoping for a greenlight on a second season like we did during the first few for GoT.

  20. This is going to be a bust. Not a hater. Just don’t think she is going to do half as well as people expect.

  21. This is excellent news! I have to admit that I’m not massively excited for the prequel just yet, but once season 8 is in the can, I think I’m going to start anticipating the prequel series much more. Having Naomi Watts on board helps all that much more!

  22. Sunfyre:
    Wow. This is massive. Loved her since Mulholland Drive and 21 Grams.

    I loved 21 Grams, I don’t hear too many people mention it that often! 🙂

  23. Pigeon,

    She was great in “King Kong” acting with a green screen/animatronic ape.

    Let’s face it. Casting A-List Naomi Watts is a major coup.

  24. The only things I’ve seen Naomi Watts in are J. Edgar and Birdman, in neither of which did she leave a very strong impression on me. So I have no particular expectations here.

    Well-informed-but-arrogant-as-hell ASoIaF/GoT pundit BryndenBFish is touting the hypothesis that Lann the Clever was female, and that s/he’s the character whom Watts will be playing. He’s probably pulling our collective legs, but ‘charismatic socialite’ seems not incompatible with a House Lannister ancestor. Her ‘dark secret’ could be passing as a man often enough to make it into songs and tales, I suppose, and a female showrunner might be intrigued by such a story. Maybe she’ll give us something to compensate for getting all the dull Sand Snakes but not the interesting one who cross-dresses in pursuit of a forbidden education, Sarella/Alleras.

    In any case, it seems way too early to get wedded to any speculation at this point.

  25. Pigeon,

    21 Grams is one of those films that leave you shatttered so you don’t want to see them again.

    Nevertheless, Naomi Watts was fabulous.

    Doubters are going to be blown away. She’s that good.

  26. Ten Bears,

    I first saw her in Mulhulland Dr., and she left a very strong impression on me with that movie and role. She killed it.

    I couldn’t agree more about 21 Grams. Great film, but I’m not so sure I’d like to revisit it. Naomi Watts did a fabulous job in it though!

    Her role in Birdman must have been quite small, because I don’t remember her in it. I quite liked that movie a lot, so I’m a bit embarrassed that I don’t remember her part in it.

    Other movies I’ve liked her in are The Ring, and I Heart Huckabees.

  27. Excerpts from Roger Ebert’s 2005, 4-star review of “King Kong” starring Naomi Watts. She was wonderful.

    “There are astonishments to behold in Peter Jackson’s new “King Kong,” but one sequence, relatively subdued, holds the key to the movie’s success. Kong has captured Ann Darrow and carried her to his perch high on the mountain. He puts her down, not roughly, and then begins to roar, bare his teeth and pound his chest. Ann, an unemployed vaudeville acrobat, somehow instinctively knows that the gorilla is not threatening her but trying to impress her by behaving as an alpha male — the King of the Jungle. She doesn’t know how Queen Kong would respond, but she does what she can: She goes into her stage routine, doing backflips, dancing like Chaplin, juggling three stones.”

    “….. And in the starring role of Ann Darrow, Naomi Watts expresses a range of emotion that Fay Wray, bless her heart, was never allowed in 1933. Never have damsels been in more distress, but Fay Wray mostly had to scream, while Watts looks into the gorilla’s eyes and sees something beautiful there.”

  28. This casting tells that HBO is serious about this prequel. Watts was very good in 21 grams and Mulholland Drive.

    It will be difficult to replicate the success of GOT. However, it would be negligent for HBO not to try for a prequel or sequel. The prequel will be a success even if it gets 50% of the viewership of GOT. A sequel was risky as it may have given clues on the end of GOT. A prequel is a good idea.

    And success may come. StarTrek was able to generate 4 (?) series after the original, I think the later series, particularly Enterprise with Picard, was better than Shatner’s campy original version. GOT is such a cultural event, even persons that are not TV regulars, are GOT fans. Bring on the spinoffs!

    I did wonder if Watts would be a Lannister for obvious reasons. Of course, she can wear a wig….

    I wonder how the marketing of the prequel will be tied into the final season of GOT. Should they have trailers for the prequel pilot run during the final GOT season? Does anyone know how many episodes did HBO order for the “pilot”, only one?? How soon does the first prequel episode run relative to the final GOT episode?

  29. Clob,

    Right there with you! However, I think the fanbase is there. HBO production will be there- I’m sure they will have killer filming locations, talent, resources. The world of westeros (albeit a much earlier westeros- is already established and known. People will already be connected to the families/geography/lore. People are familiar with the heroes/villains.

    As long as they don’t blow it with the writing, I think they are good. I expect the show will survive, but perhaps not her character :). (I am just doubtful that an established Hollywood actress will sign on for 6? Seasons….. I have a feeling it will be another opportunity for lesser known talent to establish their careers)

  30. Yeah, writing is key. Martin had time to labour over his character’s words. When the show writers ran out of book, I noticed a thinning out of the dialogue. Basically, all Cersei does now is curse, for example.

    On another note, 8,000 years before GoT! Yowza, that must be a really primitive looking world! I mean, did they even live in castles, back then? I imagine people living in mud huts with twigs and shit in their hair…It’s hard to imagine it.

    Was the wheel even invented then? Did they discover fire yet?

  31. Nicole Kidman is onward to Season 2 of her TV series – and she is a bigger star.
    Julia Roberts, Meryl Streep and bunch of other top women have signed up for TV series roles. Although, I do not expect Julia and Meryl to do multiple seasons. Cable has figured out how to do good series with 6 episodes and leave time for movie-making.

    Watts is very good but I do not think she is that heavily in demand that HBO could not count on her for more than one season. Especially is the season is 6-10 episodes and she appears in 5 if they have a big ensemble and she is not involved in battles etc. She is 50 and this still Hollywood (Hollywood is improving but still has a way to go.)

  32. Well, let’s remember, they do need a recognizable actor/actress to anchor the show. In this they aren’t different than any other shows in recent years on HBO. GOT itself had Sean Bean and Lena Headey, “Westworld” had Anthony Hopkins, Thandie Newton etc.

    TV is no longer the bastard cousin of movies or the wasteland where careers go to die…in many ways television has surpassed movies. For me the most interesting content these days in not at the movies, but on television or streaming or what have you. It has been thus for many years now. For example I loved Amy Adams in “Sharp Objects”, and I think she did a fantastic job in that role. I am happy she was on TV, just like I think I will be glad that Naomi Watts will be.

    I for one am please she got cast. She is an interesting actress. She might not have gotten as much attention as and even kind of existed in the shadows of her Aussie mates Nicole Kidman, Cate Blanchett and Margot Robbie more recently, but I really don’t think she lacks in the talent department whatsoever. Maybe her projects haven’t always been as impressive, but she is a good, solid actress who I think will do great in her new role and lend credence and authenticity to this new project. I really liked her in “21 Grams” and “Eastern Promises” and another role where I think her performance was quite underappreciated, “Fair Game”.

    Also I really, really hope at least two other actresses get cast, Gillian Anderson and Anna Torv!!! Please casting gods…make it so… for at least one of them!!!

    As for Naomi Watts I hope she is a bad ass Stark…Winter Is Coming FTW!!!!!

  33. OOOOKKK she’s dead by the end of Season 1. Anyway, I’m betting she’s Valyrian or a villain. Potentially the first Night King’s wife?

  34. I’m pretty happy with this news, Naomi Watts is talented and a “big name”. Also, middle-aged woman having an important, perhaps pivotal, role. All good.

    However, I get a “Ned” vibe. He, and Sean Bean, were pivotal for GOT S1 but we all know how that ended up, lol.

    I’m not all that stoked up about the spin-off, anyway. I’ll give it look, and I might be pleasantly surprised. Most of all, I want S8 of GOT and the rest of GRRM’s books. TWOW at least, I’m not sure we’ll ever get the rest.

  35. Also, the description as a “socialite”, lol. To me, it sounds like such a fairly modern American English tabloid press word, makes you think of… I dunno, Paris Hilton or something, lol.

    It’s more probable that she’s a scion of an old, powerful house, a “lady this or that” as her birth right, and maybe “lady that and the other” through her marriage to another powerful house. Whether proto-Valyrian or ancient Stark or whatever, she won’t be “common” or “small folk”.

  36. Look, this is huge, huge news. Naomi Watts is amazing. They couldn’t have done any better if GoT had cast Jim Carrey as Patchface.

  37. loco73,

    You probably know that Gillian Anderson was approached in the very early days of GoT (maybe season one) but declined because her two younger children were very small then (I think that’s the same reason that Jennifer Ehle who was Caitlin in the pilot turned the series down – she had a very young child and didn’t want to commit to working several months in Belfast). I’m not sure which part the show runners envisaged for GA – she could probably have suited either Cersei (with wig) or Caitlin though I liked the choices the show runners made in any case. I’m sorry but I don’t know much about Anna Torv.

    I saw Mulholland Drive though I didn’t like it much. NW can act though.

  38. I know that there may not be a high appetite for a spin-off or prequel…but this still sends shivers down my spine…

  39. Ten Bears,

    I’d thought of Pablo Schreiber as Patchface – but he’s busy as the Leprechaun on American Gods and the character was cut anyway.

  40. Dame of Mercia,

    What do you think about Dianne Kruger…she could play the hell out of a Stark or a Targaryen… plus she already worked with D&D on “Troy” …

    And yes I know about Gillian Anderson. As for Anna Torv, she is a good actress. Best known for being one of the leads in “Fringe”. More recently she was in ” Mindhunter”, David Fincher’s show on Netflix.

  41. loco73,

    I don’t really know Diane Kruger – though I did mean to try and check out Les Adieux a la Reine where she played Marie-Antoinette. I see she was in the American version of The Bridge – was she playing the part Sofia Helin played in the original (and Clemence Poesy in the British/French remake) i.e. the somewhat socially inept police officer? I don’t go to the cinema much these days – it’s become so darn expensive. She seems to have a solid work history as an actress.

  42. loco73: TV is no longer the bastard cousin of movies or the wasteland where careers go to die…

    I agree with all the stuff you wrote. We’re also not talking about actors doing sitcoms or even the run-of-the-mill network procedural or medical dramas. Unless an actor is top of the pile A-list material starring in a massive budget blockbuster he/she isn’t making 10’s of millions for a movie. The choice can also be about the art of it and doing something they’ve always wanted to. We’re seeing more and more well known actors taking on series, especially for cable. Naomi herself just did Gypsy, and while not well received and cancelled, I think we can assume that she would have been in it for it’s total run of seasons so it appears she’s not averse to the series idea.

  43. loco73,

    I loved Diane Kruger in Inglourious Basterds and National Treasure(s). Anna Torv became a favorite of mine in Fringe. That was my favorite show when it was on because of her!

  44. Dame of Mercia,

    Watch “In The Fade”, you’ll see… a powerful performance. She is awesome.

    Amd she was fantastic in ” The Bridge”, gives Clemence Poesy a run for her money and more…

  45. Ten Bears:

    Here, check out two clips of Naomi Watts in King Kong:

    the ice skating sequence was the one that made me cry like a baby. just too sweet! though (like anyone in the world does) i knew how the story would end, this scene gave me thoughts like “oh, Peter “fuck continuity” Jackson has made up an alternative ending. they will roof-jump their way to the suburbs, and the sequel “King Kong in the prairie” will have a budget of wham point bonk brazillions. that’s cool, and i forgive him having Naomi not freezing to death during some hours of winter night dressed just with a negligee.”
    really, those were my thoughts. i had hope.

    also, the electricity between her and Kong came close to what she and Viggo Mortensen delivered in both movies, Eastern Promises and A History Of Violence. means: awesome! the department of chicken generated images did a great job on Kong.

    especially on his T-Rex fight, if may mention my other favorite scene. they did that when Jackson had to leave the Kong set for some more LOTR work. as i remember, it was like “hey, i’m off for some weeks. when i come back i want you WETA guys to present me Hell in a Cell with Kong and as many T-Rex as you can put into a frame.” and so they did.

    i still hope WETA had lots of Kranka rawlings for sale which GoT could just have for a bargain, fine-tune and color white for S8. compensation for not turning Naomi Watts’s skin blue…

  46. Ten Bears,

    Dry boak at all the ASNAWPing, 😀 Gods, old and new, I created a monster with that acronym, haha. 😀

    I don’t mind Arya, I quite liked, had empathy for her in earlier books/seasons story in a tragic, horrified way. What I can’t stand is the glorification of her violent impulses by a section of the fandom. No, she’s not about justice, she’s a vigilante, bordering on god-delusion (my way or the high way), judge and jury and executioner. Kind of black-and-white, hehe. In my book, that’s not a good way to be.

    I don’t mind her being un-Ned-like in being dishonourable and lying and cheating to survive, especially to the Faceless Men to gain some of their secrets IF she uses her hard-won skills for the common good – lets go of her selfish grudges and thirst for revenge. I can see a good arc for her in S8, some meaningful badassery.

    Just don’t ask me to admire Arya from S3E10 to S7E7. She was in a very dark place. I can sympathise and understand, feel sad for her, but I cannot admire, much less glorify her actions in between. I’m more than glad that she seems to have pulled through, and is ready for her role in the great war, the end game, as a more rounded-up person.

    ASNAWP just seems to reduce her character to a 1- – 2 at best – dimensional cliche. I want Arya to be a fully rounded up, multi-faceted, complex character. I have high hopes for her arc in S8, due to her last scene in S7. Finally we have the old Arya back, with added skills, but also grounding in her old core identity.

    I know you, Ten Bears, think the S4 inn scene (“Every fucking chicken in the house”) is your all time favourite scene. For me, that scene was ultimately deeply sad. There was some great beats, like Arya allying with Sandor, and Arya getting her own “pony” afterwards, but for me, it’ll always be a sad scene. Arya killing Polliver in a bordering on sadistic way… No, I can’t admire that.

    That said, my second most all time favourite scene of GOT is Arya and Sandor without armour, she wants to treat his wound. You know the scene. I mist up on every rewatch. So raw, so beautiful. (My all time fave is the Jaime/Brienne bath scene.)

    Sorry to have written such a long diatribe, but I wanted to try to explain why I dislike ASNAWP but am prepared to like Arya again.

    Also, just to politely bring in a differing view, as many WotW comments seem to be ASNAPW fanboying/fangirling. 😀 I want potential commenters who are not ASNAWP believers to feel welcome here, haha.

  47. Oh, was that Watts in History of Violence?

    Viggo was wonderful and so was the wife character. I did not notice it was Watts. Somehow I thought it was Pompeo.

    Husband and wife and son were excellent.

  48. Mango,

    That was Maria Bello in “A History of Violence.” Great flick. She was also real good in “The Cooler” with William H. Macey.

  49. talvikorppi: You captured about exactly where I am with Arya. Her conduct was sobering and not in a good way. I hope Season 8 shows her continuing an upward trajectory from where she was during her killing spree.

    Ten Bears: Thanks! I did not think it was Watts. Belo did great!

    Ten Bears, I thought of you while reading a BBC article on great movies. They did a survey of 43 film critics worldwide to get each to list their 10 greatest movies. I did get a chuckle when I saw that one or two (not more!) discerning individuals did manage to list your favourite – Good, Bad..

    The majority had others thoughts.

  50. Mango: manage to list your favourite – Good, Bad..

    Nah, nah, The Outlaw Josey Wales is tops, followed by The Good, The Bad and the Ugly. 🙂

  51. oops! Sorry, I had them confused. Lol!

    Sorry for the slur on your good taste.

    Now I have to look to see if anyone mentioned the great great great Josey Wales.

    Forgive me.

  52. Anon,

    The World of Ice and Fire has been stuck in a medieval/ancient world structure for thousands of years, occasionally an Empire arises that advances the status quo but eventually falls, catastrophically and the world regresses. Valyria is the latest example, but prior to it there were greater and more ancient civilizations lost to time. Take for example Rome, reinforced concrete, road network unparalleled in history till the modern Interstate system, running water into homes, dental hygiene, trauma surgery, these latter only rediscovered in last century and half. The church suppressed many of these, as they viewed medical techniques as evil, faith should heal, not cutting people open. So much technology lost, Roman concrete for example is better than our current concrete, their technique/formula has been lost. Roman highways were not only paved with multiple layers of stone, with a finished paver last, they consisted of drain gutters and pipes which directed water to multiple series of ponds, which filtered the water into cisterns or into irrigation canals to water farmland. This hydro technology only resurfaced in the 20th century.

  53. Um, doesn’t having a lead character be a “socialite” — especially one with a “dark secret” — imply more Doom of Valeria than pre-historic Westeros? “Modern-day” Westeros barely had any culture or “society” before Cersei mass-murdered most of the latter.

    (Also, her “King Kong” experience implies they may have wanted someone who was well-versed in green-screen acting, which could again mean Dragons of Old Valeria.)

  54. Also, I have to explain why I did not like Arya mass murdering the Freys at all.

    It’s not as clear in the show as it is in the books, but breaking guest right is like the worst crime in the sight of gods and men in Westeros. Kinslaying comes next. Bog standard murder or rape are lesser crimes.

    Breaking guest right and kinslaying are sins in addition to crimes. Perpetrators are accursed by gods, old and new.

    I’m hoping that in the books, the Freys will implode. It’s all set up, jostling for the inheritance with so many, too many branches. Freys killing each other – with maybe old Walder witnessing some of it – would be so much more satisfying than some faceless girl mass murdering them. Frey civil war would be much more like a curse of the gods, their just deserts for offending the gods by breaking guest right. Nobody outside actually kills them, they do it themselves because they’re cursed.

    The show, obviously, doesn’t have time for the Frey implosion, so used Arya to tie up a loose end. Made her a mass murderer, but hey, nobody liked the Freys anyway, and like the murder girl, so what’s the problem? Ehm…

  55. Ten Bears:

    That was Maria Bello in “A History of Violence.” Great flick. She was also real good in “The Cooler” with William H. Macey.

    damn, i went with Watts having been in History of Violence since the first time i saw the movie. and i saw it some times.

    shame on me, and thanks for correcting my error.

  56. talvikorppi,

    its only a Sin if SOMEONE breaks guest right or commits kinslaying.

    Arya’s now NO ONE.


    Also, Arya can kill anyone she wants within the Frey’s stronghold and not violate guest right. in order to have guest right, the Lord has to present you with Bread and Salt and offer his protection first. you don’t just get it by being in someone’s home/castle.

    if the person whos face she was wearing was given guest right, they would have it, not Arya.

  57. Ian,

    Good point. She wasn’t a guest but actually an infiltrating assassin when she took out Walder. As for the Frey feast, well, she wasn’t actually Walder for that so guest rights couldn’t technically be applied.

  58. I’m expecting the Daynes & Starks to be major players in the prequel spinoff. And I think the greatsword Dawn will be “the” standout weapon (ala Longclaw) of the series. Will we get other great weapons like Ice, Oathkeeper, Widow’s Wail, and Heartsbane? I sure hope so.

  59. I have surmised after reading just about every article on the subject matter, is that Jane Goldman wrote the character specifically with Naomi Watts as the preferred actor of choice for the role.

  60. David Rosenblatt: As long as the patriarchy maintains its stranglehold on, well, everything, then yes it will remain a topic of discussion.

    Yes it will, and in the broad sense that is necessary. But I was talking about the recent complaints that out of casting calls for 5 characters, people were already complaining about age gaps between genders without even knowing the context. So the first ‘lead’ being a 50 year old woman should mean something as well – something positive. I’m just glad they cast Naomi, as she’s great.

  61. Ten Bears:

    21 Grams is one of those films that leave you shatttered so you don’t want to see them again.

    Nevertheless, Naomi Watts was fabulous.

    Doubters are going to be blown away. She’s that good.

    She really is. And I probably wouldn’t have even seen 21 Grams if it wasn’t for a youthful crush on Benicio del Toro. Funny how things work!

  62. TormundsWoman:

    Get out. No way she’s 50. Will google. Love her btw in Mulholland Drive & Eastern Promises.

    She is! 50 is fabulous, so many of my favourite actresses are in their 40s and 50s (*cough* Mariska Hargitay *cough*)…my personal opinion is that people are at their most beautiful at that age as well which doesn’t hurt, but perhaps that’s because I’m in my 30s. 😉 Possibly why when friends are swooning over Kit and Richard, I’ve got my eyeball on Tom, Nicolaj, Iain, Sean, and Rory.

    And I agree completely on Eastern Promises as well. Viggo is a massive favourite of mine too.

  63. Pigeon,

    David Rosenblatt: As long as the patriarchy maintains its stranglehold on, well, everything, then yes it will remain a topic of discussion.

    criticizing a woman’s exhaustion over identity politics with: “Thuh Patriarchy”…

    David, every Ancient/Medieval society in real history was completely Patriarchal, in ways we have never experienced living in a modern society.

    Personally, I hope they make it as realistic societally as possible, with men having total and complete control over the family, beating wives and children for so much as a look, men marrying and knocking up 12 yr olds, beating their wives and daughters with sticks no thicker than their thumbs, marrying their daughters off for cattle, sheep, and grain, anyone of any noble birth fucking any female they want on the spot on a whim, women dying like flies in childbirth, men dying like cannon fodder because of constant warfare and rampant societal violence, women having no control over their reproductive cycle bc of no contraception and bearing 13+ children, 12 of them dying from things an infection via tiny papercut, bad food, bad water, malnutrition, warfare, spousal/ familial violence, insect and animal bites, rampant physical/sexual/verbal abuse, etc.

    Essentially, Afghanistan with Medieval European people.

    Maybe then Westerners will realize what ‘Patriarchy’ really is.

  64. Aegon the IceDragon:
    I’m expecting the Daynes & Starks to be major players in the prequel spinoff.And I think the greatsword Dawn will be “the” standout weapon (ala Longclaw) of the series.Will we get other great weapons like Ice, Oathkeeper, Widow’s Wail, and Heartsbane?I sure hope so.

    The historical timeframe being discussed for this particular prequel predates the forging of Dawn, the invention of Valyrian steel and even the founding of Old Valyria by several millennia. So none of those swords will have existed yet.

    It’s possible that we might meet some early Daynes, as they claim descent from the First Men (this story takes place long before the arrival of the Andals or the Rhoynish). More likely will be finding out the true story of Bran the Builder, who is credited with the construction of the Wall and Winterfell, as well as possibly Storm’s End and the Hightower.

  65. James Rivers,

    My thoughts exactly. She’s the Sean Bean of this new series. He was hiding a big secret, too. Hugely impactful character, anchor of the first season, but . . . how long will she be around?

  66. Ian:
    every Ancient/Medieval society in real history was completely Patriarchal, in ways we have never experienced living in a modern society.

    This is not strictly true, unless you are using the definition of ‘history’ that means ample surviving written records. There was a time of well-developed ancient civilization, during the Bronze Age, before patriarchal beliefs held sway. Archaeological and linguistic evidence, as well as persistent social customs – notably matrilineal inheritance systems – indicate that places like Anatolia, Minoan Crete and predynastic/early dynastic Egypt had much less rigid gender-based power structures. That’s why, even much, much later, male scions of the House of Pharaoh had to marry their sisters, aunts, nieces or female cousins in order to establish a claim to the throne. The right to rule passed through the female line.

    Not saying that they were matriarchal paradises, necessarily, but the earliest cities of the Near East and Middle East were established in alluvial valleys by peaceful agricultural peoples whose religions either gave equal weight to male and female deities or regarded their mother goddesses as supreme. Patrifocal religion and patriarchal social norms seem to have arisen initially among more warlike and nomadic pastoral tribes, who caught on earlier to the phenomenon of fatherhood by watching their flocks’ mating cycles. The shift over to dominance of patriarchal systems in the cities can be traced to population shifts of pastoral people into the cities, likely displaced by an increase in volcanic activity in their traditional higher-altitude grazing lands. They brought their angry, vengeful male volcano gods with them, and those societies changed. There’s an interesting hypothesis that the early cities may have dealt with sociopathic behavior by exiling violent criminals, who would then join the nomadic hill tribes, making their gene pools even more inclined toward what we would today call toxic masculinity.

  67. Firannion,

    Thank you for clarifying. I thought about that- the timeframe involved- last night after my hasty post (which i slammed in between terrorizing trick or treaters).

  68. Firstly congrats to Clob for calling this before it was announced on the prior news article:)

    On a personal front I have mixed emotions on this news. Naomi Watts is a fine actress but I have a hard time imaging her in Game of Thrones/ASOIF. Also isn’t she American where as the current cast are almost exclusively European with the exception of Peter Dinklage so again her accent needs to be spot on to fit in. I’m also unsure about the female lead line, not that there is anything wrong with that in isolation more so that GOT/ASOIF doesn’t have a single lead and I had expected the prequel to be similar but I may be jumping to conclusions there.

    Finally, anyone thinking she could be the Sean Bean of the prequel?

  69. Jon Snowed: Also isn’t she American where as the current cast are almost exclusively European with the exception of Peter Dinklage so again her accent needs to be spot on to fit in.

    She is British, but lived in Australia for some years. She played the title role in the biopic of Diana Princess of Wales, so I don’t think you need to worry about her accent.
    (disclaimer – I haven’t seen the film).

  70. Thanks GF, that’s reassuring for me, she’s obviously good with accents then as I was convinced she was American. She can certainly act though so will be interesting to see how they cast the rest of the prequel now.

  71. Ian,

    I think you misunderstood my point. It wasn’t about Arya at the Twins. It was about the original breaking of guest right by old Lord Walder Frey and the Red Wedding.

    The point being that Walder Frey and some of his kin (not all) knowingly broke guest right, committed what is viewed as a sin, one of the top two, by Westerosi society. So, to my mind, it’d be more fitting if their demise seemed more like a curse from the gods – internal strife, kinslaying, eventual downfall of their house – than just some vengeangeful individual wreaking personal revenge.

    The books have several hints at Frey civil war. The show obviously doesn’t have time to go into it, so they used Arya to get to the same end point: demise of House Frey. The beef I have with that is that it makes Arya a mass murderer, a vigilante at best, and makes me like her less. I know many fans cheer at it, think it’s glorious and great, even justice. We just hold different views, nothing wrong with that.

  72. Ten Bears:

    My goodness. This thread derailed to Arya, and I wasn’t even responsible. 🤷🏻‍♂️

    I know, hahaha! Still, I blame it all on you, you brought up ASNAPW. 🙂

  73. talvikorppi,

    Your point about the Frey’s recieving ‘Divine Justice’ is a good one, it would be cool to see something happen that had alot of symbolism, and that made us question whether it was natural or divine.

    I know the Old Gods and/ or the Seven aren’t going to just show up and ‘smite ye heathens’, but something that blurred the lines alot would be cool.

    Arya wiping out the Freys, mass murderer…..dude. she’s a Faceless Man/Woman, this is what they do.Their reason for existing is to kill TONS of people as offerings to the Red God of Death. I get you don’t like her for it, I’d have a hard time being friends with a mass murdering psychopath too. But again, it’s what they do.

    Maybe Arya was the vengeance the Planetos Gods sent?

  74. Ian,

    I thought the Faceless Men only assassinated specific individuals they were contracted to, or euthanised individuals that came to them praying for release from their suffering… Anyway, Arya isn’t a Faceless Man, she’s Arya Stark of Winterfell and she went home.

    You’re right, the Westerosi could see the Frey massacre as “wrath of the gods”, a fulfilling of the curse said to be placed on breakers of guest right – nobody knows it was Arya who did it for personal reasons. Hey, maybe the Westerosi gods worked through Arya, for all I know.

    The problem I have with this approach is that I don’t think any of the gods are real. There’s no divine intervention or divine justice etc. Magic is real in GOT/ASOIAF world (hatching dragons, shadow babies etc.), but it’s wielded by humans, and it gets ascribed to various gods.

    I just think House Frey imploding on itself would be more satisfying from a literary perspective. They broke one of the most sacred societal rules/taboos, and once they’ve done that, the door is open for breaking others, like kinslaying, and it all spirals downward from there. Frey civil war has been hinted in the books.

    Now, the show obviously can’t spend time on a Frey self-destruct storyline, so it’s understandable they used Arya as a device to achieve the same end result – far quicker, to boot – but I don’t think that’s how it’s going to go down in the books. I think the show’s decision was neat, it tied up a loose end and gave some fan satisfaction (I mean, who doesn’t want the Freys punished for the Red Wedding?!?) but it was done at the expence of Arya’s character, IMO.

  75. talvikorppi:

    The point being that Walder Frey and some of his kin (not all) knowingly broke guest right, committed what is viewed as a sin, one of the top two, by Westerosi society. So, to my mind, it’d be more fitting if their demise seemed more like a curse from the gods – internal strife, kinslaying, eventual downfall of their house – than just some vengeangeful individual wreaking personal revenge.

    The books have several hints at Frey civil war. The show obviously doesn’t have time to go into it, so they used Arya to get to the same end point: demise of House Frey.

    I really like the point you’re making here. Violation of sacred guest right on such a massive scale as the Red Wedding should ideally doom House Frey to a curse lasting generations, as in Greek tragedy. Aside from cheapening Arya’s character, having her take out all the male Freys in one swell foop feels kind of anticlimactic to me.

    In the books to date, of course, we have Lady Stoneheart and the surviving members of the Brotherhood without Banners picking off stray Freys one at a time. But maybe that’s building up to a more profound and satisfying implosion. The more reluctant the fractious Freys are to venture abroad, the more the tensions within the Twins should approach the boiling point. I would love it if Arya sneaks in to liberate her uncle (if he hasn’t been relocated to Casterly Rock already), in the process killing a single Frey and making it appear that another Frey did it, thereby striking the spark that leads to chaos and the collapse of their house (also creating a diversion while she sneaks Edmure away).

    Such a book scenario could also be a nice nod to Tolkien: ventriloquist Gandalf provoking the trolls to quarrel until dawn turns them to stone in The Hobbit; the orcs of the Tower of Cirith Ungol killing all but two of each other off in a quarrel over Frodo’s mithril shirt.

  76. Firannion: Aside from cheapening Arya’s character, having her take out all the male Freys in one swell foop feels kind of anticlimactic to me.

    I’m not sure what show you’re watching, but that scene was amazing and was called the best opening scene in GOT’s history. It made Arya’s character even more awesome. Anyway, I’m just glad the Freys were taken out by an actual character and not a plot device like Stoneheart.

  77. talvikorppi:
    I think the show’s decision was neat, it tied up a loose end and gave some fan satisfaction (I mean, who doesn’t want the Freys punished for the Red Wedding?!?) but it was done at the expence of Arya’s character, IMO.

    I think it’s too early to make a judgement on that. I’m going to wait and see how it’s handled in regards to her arc in season 8. If, for example, it’s never brought up or addressed in any way, or has any impact on her story at all, then I would be inclined to agree with you. But I suspect it’s part of their larger plan for Arya’s character arc, so I don’t think it was just a “crowd-pleaser scene” for the sole purpose of getting rid of the Freys.

  78. Young Dragon,

    I don’t know if you’ve read all the preceding posts on this.

    I started it by disagreeing with Arya’s “awesomeness”, went on to explain why Arya as a plot device to take out the adult male Freys was a bit lame, and detrimental to Arya’s character development.

    I went on to say that Freys turning on each other (as hinted in the books) fits the “being accursed in the eyes of gods and men” – which is the supposed Westerosi consequence of breaking guest right – better than a lone vigilante.

    I also pointed out that the show does not have time for a subplot of Frey civil war, so they used the character Arya to tie up this loose end and arrive at the same conclusion: demise of House Frey. To the detriment of Aryas character, IMO, and skating over the societal importance of the Freys’ crime and sin.

    Arya killing the Freys makes it about her family, her avenging her mother and her brother. Freys turning on each other, Frey civil war, would make it more like a curse for breaking one of the most important societal rules in their society. It would not be about the Starks and the Freys, it’d be about the core values and rules of their society – a far bigger thing than Stark/Frey.

    But, as I said, the show does not have time to go into this, so they used Arya to tie up that loose end. I understand why they did it, I’m OK with it, though I view it as detrimental to Arya’s character, not some ASNAWP awesomeness. Some fans obviously view it differently, that’s OK. I was just trying to explain why I view it the way I do.

  79. talvikorppi,

    Detrimental to her character development? How? Why else do you think she trained to be an assassin? If her Faceless Men arc didn’t lead anywhere, then her time in Braavos would have been pointless. This was natural progression of her storyline. Killing the Freys was about her family and their breaking of guest rights. That’s why she said, “Slaughtered your guests after inviting them into your home” when she was listing House Frey’s crimes.

    House Frey killing each other has nothing to do with the gods. That’s just who they are. Besides, I don’t think how that’s going to go down. I think House Frey will meet its end at the hands of Lady Stoneheart. Personally, I prefer the show’s version.

  80. Enharmony1625,

    You make a very good point.

    Could the Frey massacre come to bite Arya in the arse?

    I’m wracking my brain, searching my imagination, to find anybody who matters in her current environment who’s going to kick up trouble about dead Freys (Littlefinger would have, just to stir the pot but oh…).

    I mean, honourable Jon might have some qualms about Arya’s actions but it’s not like he’d condemn her. He probably wanted the Freys dead as well. Ditto Sansa. Dany knows nothing of Westerosi politics, would probably follow Jon or Tyrion on this. In the books, both Tyrion and Jaime are horrified by the Red Wedding. The show gave us a scene with Jaime and Walder Frey, the latter “heh hehing” and trying to get matey with Jaime, Jaime looking and acting very displeased. (The face-changed Arya as the serving girl witnessed this.)

    It seems unlikely, but, yes, I like the idea of her actions come and bite her in the arse.

    On a sidenote. Jaime never made it to Arya’s list. Does that mean anything? The only person alive now who knows what Jaime did to Bran is Brienne, and possibly Bran himself. One of the things I anticipate the most in S8 is a meeting between Bran and Jaime.

    *dons tinfoil fanfic hat*
    Jaime: Sooo… uhm…
    Bran: I saw you fucking your sister. It was beautiful.
    Jaime: Uhmm…
    Bran: You made me learn to fly. It is beautiful.
    Jaime: Uhmm… err… Sorry.
    Bran: I see your in the great war. It will be beautiful.
    Jaime: Uhm… err… Right. So your brother won’t just chop my head off, the dragon queen won’t just burn me alive, the little sister won’t stab me with the pointy end… Will Brienne and I…
    Bran: It will be beautiful.

  81. Young Dragon,

    I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again. Arya becoming a mass murderer, for selfish reasons, is not a good thing. You and other community members might disagree and I’m OK with it. I just want to try to explain why I don’t think the way you do.

    Like Arya turning into a half-trained renegade assassin for her own, selfish ends is not a good thing.

    Of course House Frey killing each other has nothing to do with gods. None of the gods exist. But other people, who believe in the gods, are going to see their selfish and greedy civil war as a curse playing out. A curse they brought upon themselves by so blatantly breaking guest right, one of the core beliefs, the cornerstones, of their society.

  82. Ten Bears:
    Arya is the King’s/Gods’ Justice. Not a mass murderer.

    Debatable. She’s a vigilante at best.

    She has never been invested by any authority to mete out “justice”. Just her own “god delusion”, “my way or the high way”. There’s a reason why dear old dead Ned called her willfull and was worried. He was thinking of his sister, “with a touch of wolf blood”, “willful” and “dead before her time”. Let’s hope Arya won’t be!

  83. talvikorppi,

    One of the major themes of GoT/ASoIaF is consequence, so it’s like I’ve said before: I fully expect them to come for Arya. If nothing does, it would feel out of place in this story. Like you said, it would be cheap.

    Having said that, I still firmly stand by my belief that whatever consequences she may face does not, and should not, include death. First of all, that kind of an ending for Arya is bland, uninteresting, and cliche. There are so many more interesting ways they can end her story, especially given her overarching theme of identity. Secondly, because I find Arya to be by far the most empathetic character in the series. The suffering and trauma she’s had to face is tremendous, yet she still finds it in herself to fight and survive in spite of all that. Her mix of strength, power, and vulnerability is why I love her so much!

    In terms of who might be troubled by dead Freys, I think you’re right; probably no one. But I think it might be more about how this young girl is capable of such a thing rather than being concerned about the loss of House Frey. People like Dany, Tyrion, Jamie, and Davos might have a hard time trusting her, or just be downright afraid of her given what she’s capable of, which might cause her to feel again like an outcast among all he people gathering to fight the AotD. I dunno.. that’s one thought at least.

    There is perhaps some foreshadowing about Jamie being involved somehow in uncovering Arya’s Frey-icide because he mentioned to Cersei how the Freys are gone, and it was probably Jamie that sent that detachment of Lannister soldiers to go check up on things at the Twins.

    Ultimately, given all the talk about how D&D have had the ending planned for so long (based on consultation with George), it gives me hope that they have had a fitting and satisfying ending worked out for all the major characters in the story and that plot points along the way were done for a reason. If not, and it turns out that Arya was just a badass vehicle for getting rid of some bad guys in the story, well.. that would indeed be cheap and uninteresting. I’m very hopeful that’s not the case, however! 🙂

  84. Haven’t read the whole thread, so not sure if it’s been guessed, but my money is on Florys the Fox (Lann the Clever’s probable mother).

    From Wiki of Ice and Fire:
    “Florys the Fox is a legendary daughter of Garth Greenhand and the cleverest of his children. According to myth, she kept three husbands, each ignorant of the existence of the other two. Her sons became the founders of House Florent, House Ball and House Peake. In some tales of the Reach, Lann the Clever was a bastard born to Florys or her sister Rowan Gold-Tree.”…”Most tales connect Lann with the First Men and the dawn of days or the Age of Heroes. In some tales of the Reach, Lann was a bastard born to Florys the Fox or Rowan Gold-Tree, legendary daughters of Garth Greenhand. In the westerlands, however, it is more commonly claimed that Lann deceived Garth by posing as one of his plentiful sons and making off with part of the inheritance that belonged to Garth’s children.”

  85. Enharmony1625,

    I feel like if Arya was going to face punishment or consequence then Jaqen never would’ve let her leave in the first place. Seemed to me like he gave her his blessing to leave. It would seem strange to let her leave only to punish her later. Doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.

  86. Mr Derp,

    I wasn’t necessarily implying that Jaqen would be the one to dish out punishment to Arya (at least it had better not be!). I was thinking more along personal lines and/or how her actions might affect her relationships with people like Jon or Gendry. Apart from Sansa at the end of season 7, Jon and Gendry are the two people she has opened up to most, and while neither of them would probably bat an eye at the extinction of House Frey, they might be concerned about who she’s become as a result of it.

    Speaking of Jaqen, however, I’m still rather confused by the whole thing. It certainly seems like he just let her go, and was kind of pleased that she was able to kill the Waif, but he already punished her once for misusing the faces, so it wouldn’t be out of the question that he might do it again. However, he did say at the time that “A girl is still someone”, but at the end of season 6 he said “Finally a girl is No One,” so.. I don’t know..

    What I could see perhaps happening if Jaqen is indeed back and tries to punish her is that she does end up getting away (or saved by Nymeria?), but then realizing that she’ll never be safe from the FM ends up having to leave home and heads West as her best chance to avoid them. Also, if Nymeria does end up having to sacrifice herself to save Arya, that would be a huge and traumatizing blow to her.. 🙁

  87. Everyone in the story has had trauma including Arya. Arya has also been lucky and has met with kindness at many points of her story.

    Syrio gave his life to protect her. Even as she was disobedient did not move immediately when instructed. Her father spotted her at Baelor and was able to signal Yoren to protect her. Yoren, a northerner she met in her home covered her face from his beheading. She knew she was now heading north to Jon and Benjen. Then terribly threatened by the ever dangerous Hot Pie, Gendry protected her. Then she was in band of young friends. Yoren died protecting her. Even Tywin took her under his wing. She then earned the friendship of a fearless assassin. Then Hound protected her. Brienne tried the same. She just missed the Red Wedding – she would have been a victim. Then she found Jaquen again and started her training. Lady Crane helped her. Lannister soldiers fed her. Nymeria stopped in. Hot Pie baked her bread. Ok, Waif hated her guts! Literally. How many females, particularly young girls, during war are not beaten or raped or worse? She fared OK in the harsh circumstances. Her mind though is quite bent.

    Consider poor Bran, attacked by zombies, grabbed by NK when he was disobedient.

    And poor Rickon, captured by Ramsay.

  88. I rewatched a trio of Ms Goldman films over the weekend; Kick Ass, Kingsmen, and Stardust, and realized that I never get bored even though I’ve seen each about 4-5 times. That’s a good omen for the prequel being that her previous works are so entertaining and watchable.

  89. I just saw a new article stating that Naomi is binge watching GoT now as ‘study material’ for the new series. I find it somewhat surprising that she hadn’t watched it before signing on… You know, just so she had a better idea of what sort of show they’re probably aiming for. I suppose it would be impossible for her to be completely in the dark about GoT though even if she hadn’t watched it all, so *shrug*

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