One reason that Game of Thrones is not coming back until 2019 is due to the production waiting until actual winter to film key scenes. For years, filming scenes in Westeros in August and September was fine. But once the season turned on the show, and the production found itself having to spend extra money to cart in fake snow so it could stage, say, the Battle of the Bastards on a "frozen tundra" even though it was early September. It just became easier to wait until the real deal arrived. That's why Game Of Thrones Season 8 spoilers didn't start flying until recently. Now that it's January in Ireland and Iceland, it's time for the show to take full advantage of the conditions.
Game of Thrones, as fans know, films in several locations. There's Croatia and Spain, which stand in for the southern country of Westeros, including King's Landing, The Reach, and Dorne. There's Northern Ireland, which stands in for everything from the Riverlands to Winterfell. Then there's Iceland, which is where scenes beyond the Wall are filmed.
The big news this week is that, after weeks of filming at Winterfell, a group of actors have all suddenly shipped off from Belfast and headed to Iceland's frozen lands. We'll talk about who, and what they might be up to below.
Warning: Spoilers and speculation for Game of Thrones Season 8 follow.
Before we head way North, let's talk about that filming at Winterfell because it brought with it some very interesting shots from those stalking the set. Most of the shots are taken at night, and are badly blurry because of it. (You can check them out here if you like.) But all evidence points to a major battle being filmed, with what looks to be fire inside the windows of the castle and an army outside. The clearest shot of that army looks as if they are the Unsullied, not the Night King. But the sheer amount of fog, smoke, and blowing snow look an awful lot like the storms we see heralding the arrival of the Army of the Dead.
That filming finished at the end of last week, and while we were hoping for more battle scenes, instead it looks like things have packed up shop for the moment moved to another location "for the next few days."
It started with the news that Emilia Clarke (Daenerys) and Kit Harington (Jon Snow) had both arrived in Iceland yesterday. Fans have been stalking them since they were first spotted at the airport hoping to get a good picture. Finally, the two obliged, in an adorable photo sure to set rumors aflame that the Targaryen incest is still on.
But they're not the only ones who were spotted up north of the civilized world. A Reddit user posted a picture of several cast members at an airport Starbucks, having obviously just arrived and getting their caffeine before moving to the hotel.
The photo includes:
- Iain Glen (Jorah Mormont)
- Gwendoline Christie (Brienne of Tarth)
- Kristofer Hivju (Tormund Giantsbane)
- John Bradley (Sam Tarly)
- Daniel Portman (Podrick Payne)
- Joe Dempsie (Gendry)
It looks like the Magnificent Seven of Season 7 may ride again, albeit with a few members traded out and the addition of the Mother of Dragons. (Let's hope she's providing transportation.) The lack of Rory McCann (The Hound) and Richard Dormer (Beric Dondarrion) is slightly worrying. Could they not have made it to this fight? But it's good to know that at least one of our witnesses to the Wall's collapse made it back safely to the rest of the group.
The question is, is this trip North before the battle we saw being filmed at Winterfell or after? Does our core cast chase the Army of the Dead back to where they came from? Or is there a cunning plan we have yet to learn about?
We won't learn anything until 2019. Speaking of which, a story from Metro UK that came out last week quoted Maisie Williams saying filming actually goes until December and then the show starts in April. There's a reason only the months were mentioned and not the years. It was bunk.
Apparently, Maisie didn't say any of that in the interview. It was cribbed in from one she'd done with them several years ago, back when that was the scheduled pattern.
So, we still don't actually know anything beyond the fact that Game of Thrones will return to HBO in 2019.