Peter Dinklage discusses Tyrion’s new life & Inside the sets of Game of Thrones Season 7 with production designer Deborah Riley

Tyrion-Season-7-Dragonstone

In a new interview, Peter Dinklage goes deep into Tyrion’s journey, both geographically and in terms of his re-formed identity. Also, TIME published yet another interview, this time with production designer Deborah Riley, who touches on how it is to work with the showrunners, the challenges of production, and the greater scope of season seven.

With EW, Peter Dinklage reiterated the claim made by fellow cast members that, despite the fewer episodes, he has “worked more days this season”, as there are fewer characters now and they are all converging: “I love Meereen but it’s good to get out of Meereen because you’re in one story and here you’re in overlapping stories.”

“He found purpose,” Dinklage declared, regarding Tyrion’s figurative journey during these last few seasons of physical journeying. “He was just going to drink himself to death after the end of season 4, then Varys gave him a purpose in life and then in Daenerys he saw somebody he could get behind. That’s what somebody like Tyrion needs — he needs a gig to get behind. Give him a drink and he doesn’t do so well.”

“He’s returning home, and returning home a new person,” the actor said. “He has Dany and the dragons on his side but he is a very different person than when he left this place. And he’s returning to a brother he loves and a sister he…” Dinklage then literally indicated an ellipsis by saying ‘dot dot dot’. “He’s bracing himself.” And so are we!

Deborah Riley Season 5

Meanwhile, Deborah Riley gave a wonderful (and wonderfully long!) interview to TIME, which I encourage you to read in its entirety for all the examples and anecdotes she provided about her job as production designer. She began with how her working relationship with showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss functions:

“Our process, really, is over email,” Riley began. “Every single set and any major scene or image that we want to create is concepted and that image will come from the art department. Last year, season 7, we had six concept artists working full-time for most of the season and then one that worked all the way through with us. So there’s a lot of images being created and so Dan and David will weigh in on each of those images. And before we take it any further, start construction or anything like that, David and Dan have to approve that concept. We’re email pals during the season, because I write to them multiple times a day. I’ve found out is if they like it, they’ll reply immediately, and if they don’t, it’s going to be another day or two. They’re really honest people, and they’re very kind in their criticism, very clear in what they want. It’s very rare that we have to go back in multiple times to fix things. Most of the time we hit it, or close to it, quite fast.”

“The first time that I read the outline is immediately before the meeting with the writers that we have at the start of every season. It’s an opportunity for David and Dan to talk the producers and I through every episode. It may not have the final details of the shooting script, but it does, from an art department point of view, tell us everything we need to know,” Riley explained. “David and Dan are very conscious of the fact that we need as much information up front as we can get, for how the next six to nine months play out. From that point on, I’ll start in Belfast, and usually there’s about 15 weeks pre-production with the art department. Depending on when a set is scheduled will obviously [determine] when we start building it, but if a set is a substantial build, we’ll get started as soon as we can. If it’s something that doesn’t appear later until later in the season, that’s something that we can sit on and do more prep for before we begin.”

“It begins with David and Dan’s description to me of how they see something, what they’re imagining, if there are any historical references that they want me to use or if there’s any images that they think are particularly strong,” the 3-times Emmy winner continued. “It’s all about research and finding as many images as I can to share with the group. It’s a very collaborative process, and there’s always a bit of give and take.”

The new Dragonstone throne room set in season 7

The Dragonstone throne room set designed for season 7

“Season 7 is the most original work that we’ve been able to do,” Riley revealed, corroborating what every other department has in the past — the scope of the production has grown immensely: “I’ve been much more reliant on references in previous seasons, whereas in season 7, we’ve reached that point of developing our own original language. In Game of Thrones, it’s been really fun to see how far we can push it.”

“The limits of the location are never an issue on Game of Thrones,” she said, when asked about production difficulties. “If a location is stunning and perfect for the scene, despite the fact it might be up some inaccessible boat ramp, Game of Thrones will go there and shoot. I have known on previous productions that you would walk away, you would say ‘That’s too hard.’ But we all grab a piece of equipment and we walk up the goat track.”

“It’s hit this position in pop culture. The world’s getting a bit darker and so’s the show, it’s paralleling it quite nicely. In terms of exploration of power, it’s right on the nerve.”

57 responses

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    1. “I love Meereen”

      lol no you don’t

      Now excuse me as I stare at the small photos in the background of that Deborah Riley photo and try to figure out what’s up. Are they from season 7 or is this an old photo?

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    2. Flayed Potatoes: Now excuse me as I stare at the small photos in the background of that Deborah Riley photo and try to figure out what’s up. Are they from season 7 or is this an old photo?

      It’s from a BTS video released before Season 5. I remember all of us trying to discern what each of the concept arts depicted. That was fun!

        Quote  Reply

    3. And the news keeps coming! Thanks so much for getting these up so quickly!!

      Once Thrones wraps, I really hope there will be a “Making Game of Thrones” book or series. Michele Clapton, Gemma Jackson and Deborah Riley, Helen Sloan, Tommy Dunne – everyone who’s been part of making the show the groundbreaking production it is. Would love to hear from HBO executives as well – what were their first impressions of this show and what are their takeaways? So much talent, effort and passion has gone into Thrones and it would be wonderful to hear from these guys in a more…IDK, formal way!

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    4. “hereas in season 7, we’ve reached that point of developing our own original language”

      The Night King speaks?

        Quote  Reply

    5. Every time I look at that Dragonstone throne room set, all I can think of is, “That’s sedimentary rock, not igneous!”

      I guess the location scouts never took Earth Science in high school.

        Quote  Reply

    6. Luka Nieto,

      Luka do you and the gang have a WOTW viewing party for each episode? Watch at home?

      Myself, I have to watch alone…and turn my phone off. Couple times I’ve watched with friends, their reactions and incessant questions distracted me too much.

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    7. Firannion:
      Every time I look at that Dragonstone throne room set, all I can think of is, “That’s sedimentary rock, not igneous!”

      I guess the location scouts never took Earth Science in high school.

      To be honest I don’t think I’d have noticed if you hadn’t pointed it out. Mind you, I often don’t notice things even if I’ve had them pointed out to me. There’s supposed to be a continuity error in the film about The Cid starring Charlton Heston where a jeep is visible but I’ve never been able to spot it. Just in case you are thinking “Doesn’t this old girl have a life” I am not continuously watching reruns of The Cid but it is a film that gets repeated fairly frequently on British TV.

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    8. I wonder if it was Gemma Jackson who recommended Riley? Jackson set up the whole production design of GoT , then took a 2 year break in 2013, came back with a different show.
      If D&D have final say I have got to give it to them. They sure have an eye detail and mood, only a few other fantasy visual media productions are as good. For the setting I can only think of Peter Jackson’s Tolkien stuff.

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    9. HunerMac87:
      “hereas in season 7, we’ve reached that point of developing our own original language”

      The Night King speaks?

      I keep picturing him opening his mouth and having ice cubes fall out. Handy at parties.

        Quote  Reply

    10. Pigeon: I keep picturing him opening his mouth and having ice cubes fall out. Handy at parties.

      Brilliant idea, Pigeon! I want to see this item offered in the Think!Geek catalogue pronto.

        Quote  Reply

    11. Firannion: Brilliant idea, Pigeon!I want to see this item offered in the Think!Geek catalogue pronto.

      Yes! I’m still a little salty that they haven’t produced my Ned and Cat PEZ dispensers yet.

        Quote  Reply

    12. I have nothing to say about this particular post, but I’m SOOOOOOO EXCITED for Sunday!

      First I’m going to send my husband and kids away for the night. Then I’m going to cook up a nice feast (stuff I never get to eat since hubby is vegan and kids have food allergies blah blah blah) and lay it out on the coffee table, open an expensive bottle of wine and place it on the side-sofa table (can’t have it obstructing the view), pull down the blinds, turn off all the lights, and sit on the sofa, with my trusty dog at my side.

      I’m going to open and close my HBONow AppleTV app until the show appears. Then I’m going to completely immerse myself in the premiere. No computer, no twitter, no WotW.

      Then I’m going to get up, take a quick break, then start the episode again (duh). And jump on here and Twitter and Reddit etc. and join the online party. Learn what subtleties I missed and debate the finer/not-so-fine points. Pausing and rewinding along the way.

      I can’t wait. I can’t wait. I can’t wait. I can’t wait. I’m so ready. I’m not ready at all. I’m ready.

        Quote  Reply

    13. Firannion:
      Every time I look at that Dragonstone throne room set, all I can think of is, “That’s sedimentary rock, not igneous!”

      I guess the location scouts never took Earth Science in high school.

      Are you saying that because it’s layered? There is such a thing as an igneous layered intrusion…

      “The causes of layering in large ultramafic intrusions include convection, thermal diffusion, settling of phenocrysts, assimilation of wall rocks and fractional crystallization.”

      #protect_the_set_designer

      That said, obsidian is extrusive, so there is that!

        Quote  Reply

    14. Mel,

      I have fallen in love with r/Freefolk 🙂 It’s where I found out Jon is not dead forever (yes, I knew because everyone here kept saying it, but I needed it confirmed for like really sure.)

      I also hate freefolk because I didn’t realize until after that I didn’t truly want to be spoiled. So the fact they exist kinda sucks in that regard 🙂 But yes I know I can’t blame them when I go there by my own free will.

        Quote  Reply

    15. Don’t like the explanation about Dany’s crown, Renly had one and was not ‘crowned’ yet.
      Anyway, bookwise, Dany had a dragon-crown , given to her in Qarth. GRRM made that one sound a little to elaborate, but artists ginned up better , even leather-look versions that a Dothraki would like.
      I do think she ought to go into battle with some kind of Targ helm, of some sort.

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    16. I haven’t seen the KIT interview yet. I will wait till WOTW does a post about it!

      As for Tyrion, I totally love his story. I think he is trying to be a better man, and almost making up for the horribleness his family has caused over the years.

      What I find interesting this season and (next season), is the characters that have combined their stories, like Dany and Tyrion/Varys and Dany with the Greyjoys, Jon/Davos/Tormund, Brienne/Pod with North, Bronn/Jamie…. all have someone who served someone else or was previously an “enemy” (Stannis, Lannisters, Wildlings etc..).. hard to explain what I am trying to say… and then when these people unite for example if Dany and Jon meet one day or Dany Cersei, Jon/Cersei… its so interesting to see the different characters in one room

      I don’t know. I am so excited I don’t even make sense
      Sue me

        Quote  Reply

    17. Boojam,

      It’s a flimsy explanation because, let’s be honest, they’re going to crown her in the end lol. It’s been obvious for years now.

        Quote  Reply

    18. Also, I just love how much work and details goes into making this show… its insane. They work so so so so hard. <3

        Quote  Reply

    19. Flayed Potatoes,

      “When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die. Now if you’ll excuse me I need to have sex with my brother”!! LMAO he killed the Cersei and Arya auditions. He definitely has a career in comedy in case he wants one!

      Flayed Potatoes,

      I thought this was what Clapton was getting at, by saying that Dany has not earned her crown “yet”, tbh. Her statements have convinced me of this even more.

        Quote  Reply

    20. I am on holiday when it airs in UK at 2am, and can’t watch it in hotel as no Wi-Fi and no Sky so it either means waiting until 9pm to watch on SKY GO 😣or going to somewhere that has Wi-Fi in morning with tablet. Is there anyone out there that knows a nice place to watch it in Brighton? Preferably where there is a nice glass of wine to celebrate with😆

        Quote  Reply

    21. Dee Stark:
      Also, I just love how much work and details goes into making this show… its insane. They work so so so so hard. <3

      I agree 100%! The producers, the writers, the directors, the rest of the crew and of course the actors… they have all my respect. Sadly, a large chunk of fandom doesn’t care… *cough*Westeros.org and a specific Wikia admin*cough

        Quote  Reply

    22. Dee Stark:
      I haven’t seen the KIT interview yet. I will wait till WOTW does a post about it!

      As for Tyrion, I totally love his story. I think he is trying to be a better man, and almost making up for the horribleness his family has caused over the years.

      What I find interesting this season and (next season), is the characters that have combined their stories, like Dany and Tyrion/Varys and Dany with the Greyjoys, Jon/Davos/Tormund, Brienne/Pod with North, Bronn/Jamie…. all have someone who served someone else or was previously an “enemy” (Stannis, Lannisters, Wildlings etc..).. hard to explain what I am trying to say… and then when these people unite for example if Dany and Jon meet one day or Dany Cersei, Jon/Cersei… its so interesting to see the different characters in one room

      I don’t know. I am so excited I don’t even make sense
      Sue me

      I don’t know how D&D would write it but I’d like to see more scenes more between Petyr Littlefinger Baelish and Tyrion Lannister. There have been too few scenes between those two exceptional game players.

        Quote  Reply

    23. firstone,

      I’d like to see a LF-Tyrion scene in which Tyrion confronts LF about the false VS dagger story LF fed to Catelyn, ie that Tyrion won the dagger in a bet with LF.

      Especially if, as speculation from S7 promo pictures suggests

      , Arya sonehow winds up with that VS dagger.

        Quote  Reply

    24. Regarding Danaerys Ms. Riley says: “I think it’s quite interesting that we finally see her embracing her brother’s ambition,” Clapton said. “What does that say? You’re seeing the beginning of something. We’re not at the end yet and I think it’s very important at this moment that we start seeing who she is.”

      That’s a thought provoking comment from the show designer. I love the mystery of not fully knowing what kind of turn these characters will take as we approach new territory with them 🙂

        Quote  Reply

    25. ghost of winterfell,

      His Cersei bit was so funny. He’s great at comedy and should do more of it. I liked that tennis movie he was in with Andy Samberg.

      Re: your second reply

      Yeah exactly.

      The lamest of endings let’s be real lol.

      But what actually annoys me is how little they try to hide it. They can at least be more subtle about it lol. They’re making the show ridiculously predictable. This is supposed to be the actual final ending and they’ve been giving it away so blatantly for years (bad writing?). At this point, I don’t know what they could do to surprise me.

        Quote  Reply

    26. Flayed Potatoes,

      I had always thought that it was going to be between Jon and Dany, as to who ends up on the IT, so it was always going to be a bit predictable. I seem to remember (unless I am mistaken) that GRRM has said that there will be an IT in the end, so independence for the 7 kingdoms could be ruled out, which left these 2. Given that the show kept Danny’s ruling arc in Meereen and more or less scrapped Jon’s at the Wall, and since he doesn’t do much ruling in season 7 either, I have felt that maybe the reason they did this is that Jon isn’t meant to end up ruling anything. I feel more and more certain that Sansa will end up ruling the North, whether as Warden or Queen and that Dany will probably end up on the IT. Clapton’s statements have reinforced that belief lol.
      Frankly I hope Jon takes Ghost on a world tour or something, rather than end up as the royal consort lol.

        Quote  Reply

    27. ghost of winterfell,

      Yeah I thought of that ending as well, but I was at least hoping it would be executed better. Well executed predictability doesn’t bother me as much as poorly executed predictability lol. The showrunners are as subtle as a ton of bricks lol.

      It would be a waste for Jon’s character that after all he’s gone through for him to end up as a royal consort (especially if he is actually the rightful heir). It seems like there would be nothing for him to do.

      I’m totally hoping he’s going to travel the world or something lol. Though if he impregnates Dany, I don’t see how that trip would be possible. Abandoning his kid seems out of character. He’ll probably be marked for death. I feel like D&D only see him as a sperm donor now and they don’t feel like they should bother with the character beyond swinging a sword.

        Quote  Reply

    28. Flayed Potatoes,

      Yeah I agree

      After everything he has done, an ending as royal consort would be underwhelming. If there is a kid and both Jon and Dany remain alive, I don’t see any other ending possible. Oh well..

        Quote  Reply

    29. ghost of winterfell,

      I dunno, after all he has done, maybe ‘underwhelming’ is just the thing. Lots of famous people have later decided that being closer to home is just as challenging and rewarding as what ever else there was doing (and no, I know you weren’t saying it wasn’t! Just thinking how i’d be at this point. I’d just want to go home and play with my cats for a few thousand years after all this)

        Quote  Reply

    30. Eek, right! And I’ve managed to stay mostly unspoiled for the season. Was really hard but now I’m so glad i didn’t read all the leaks!

      Mel: Damn that sounds pretty exciting, just beware of reddit especially freefolk there are leaks galore on there for the entire season with no spoiler warning

        Quote  Reply

    31. hunterMac87:
      Pigeon,

      hahah I think you just ruined his intimidation factor for me lol

      I always figured that if they did have language, and not just various levels of menacing stare-offs, it would sound like a cold, crackling sound, not something recognizable as words. Creepy and matching their iciness. Now all I can think of is *press button* “Whrrrrrrr hummm CLINK CLUNK CLINK!!!!” *drip* *stare*

        Quote  Reply

    32. ash,

      If it were real life, yeah I would be happy for him to find any sort of happiness. But such an ending would be unsatisfactory for a heroic fictional story, at least for me 🙂 .

        Quote  Reply

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