With season eight around the corner, Entertainment Weekly is in full Game of Thrones mode, coinciding with their cover story. They were the first to break the news that critics wouldn’t receive review copies for this final season (which isn’t surprising, as there haven’t been advanced review copies since season five), and now they also have interviews with Sean Bean (Ned Stark), as well as pretty much everyone involved in season four’s The Mountain and The Viper, including Pedro Pascal (Oberyn Martell) and Indira Varma (Ellaria Sand); both as timely retrospectives before the story is at an end.
Speaking to EW, Sean Bean confirms he definitely was not told about Jon Snow’s parentage: “Like with everything with Game of Thrones, it was kept very dark and secret,” Bean says. “I think that’s the kind of magic and the glory of Game of Thrones — that’s why it’s so stunning and breathtaking when these secrets are revealed.”
“We had a really good chat, and I was very thrilled to be asked to play the role,” Bean says of the showrunners and he first got involved with the show. “I think it was only myself and Peter cast at the time. I was very thrilled by the whole idea. I didn’t actually know at that time how enormous and massive this series would become. I was just getting my head around the part, as we all were. None of us really could’ve imagined it would be such a big-scale, tantalizing drama. Yeah, that was the beginning of the story for me. And, of course, I knew I wasn’t going to last very long. I accepted that.”
Sean Bean also discusses what Ned Stark meant to people, the unaired pilot (including what sounds like a very cute scene with Bran), and his last day on the role. Read it here!
In EW‘s The Mountain and the Viper retrospective, Pedro Pascal, Hafþór Björnsson (Gregor ‘The Eponymous Mountain’ Clegane) and director Alex Graves discuss the intricacies of training for and shooting the sequence, while what Indira Varma remembers most is that “the heat was unbearable,” though there was a silver-lining of sorts: “I was really lucky because I was barely dressed compared to everyone else in their corsets,” Varma admits. “I remember [Björnsson] was dressed in all that armor, and he had to be fed extra food because the pounds were just dropping off him in that heat and [with] the exhausting nature of the fight. They were all knackered. That was grueling for them, but I just sat there and enjoyed the sun, trying not to burn.”
“The squish! The squish that I will gladly take to my grave!”, Pascal happily exclaims. Thankfully, he didn’t have to get his actual head squished; instead, a head cast was made: “The funniest thing about it is that you never see yourself three-dimensionally that way. In photographs or staring into the mirror, you do not get a real sense of what you look like until there’s a very detail-oriented cast of you. I remember just sitting there and staring at it and being like, “Holy sh—, I look so much like my dad.” I learned that from staring at the cast of my head, right before watching it repeatedly get squished.”
At Men’s Health, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau admits he hasn’t fully felt the emotional hit of the show having ended, and he doesn’t know if he ever will: “Maybe this fall, when we’re not going back to Belfast, that’s when you go, ‘Oh, I guess it really is over.'”
It really is over, though, and he commends the showrunners for making it that way: “D. B. Weiss and David Benioff stuck to their guns and said, ‘This is the story we wanna tell; we’re not gonna extend this’—because I’m sure HBO would have loved another couple years of this show. There’s an audience for it, for sure. But I think everyone who watches the show will appreciate that it’s finished—that it was one story … and we told it.”
“The last season was so intense,” he admits, especially as it pertains to the massive battle of Winterfell that was teased in the trailer, which took more than 50 muddy nights to shoot: “It was brutal, but because it was the last season, it was like, ‘Yes, we can do this.'”
Finally, because this is Nikolaj we’re talking about, he can’t go through an interview without trolling us a little bit, especially when he’s pressed for spoilers: “I can’t tell you anything about it,” he tells Men’s Health, smiling: “He grows out his arm. His arm grows back. Yes. It grows back, but not in the way you think. It’s a claw,” he assures them, “It comes out as a claw. No—it’s a paw.” Whatever you say, Nikolaj. Whatever you say.
Before you go: if you’re itching for more Game of Thrones-adjacent content than HBO is delivering, you may tune in to Saturday Night Live on NBC this upcoming April 6, the week before the season eight premiere, as Kit Harington will be acting as host.