However you feel about the ending of Game of Thrones, we can all agree there’s a giant void in our now Jon Snow–less lives. Lucky for us, HBO has a prequel in the works that isn’t that far off. In fact, yesterday at the TCA press tour, HBO programming head Casey Bloys confirmed major news: The pilot has officially finished filming. The GoT prequel began filming earlier this year in Belfast, Ireland, and is now one step closer to hitting the small screen. Before that happens, here’s everything you need to know about the much-anticipated series.
What’s the Game of Thrones prequel about?
On July 9, an Entertainment Weekly interview with series author George R.R. Martin revealed that during the time of the prequel, Westeros is divided into more than 100 kingdoms (whoa, that's a lot of sigils). According to HBO, the prequel takes place thousands of years before the GoT we know and love. It illustrates the shift from the Age of Heroes to the Long Night and reveals the terrifying secrets of Westeros’s history. Like what, you might wonder? Let’s just say it touches on the genesis of the White Walkers, the great mystery of the East and the legend of the first Starks. Only one thing’s certain: There’s a lot more to the story of Westeros’s early years than we know.
Are any of the great houses involved in the prequel?
According to Martin, the prequel predates the Lannisters...at least at first. “The Lannisters aren’t there yet, but Casterly Rock is certainly there; it’s like the Rock of Gibraltar,” Martin said. “It’s actually occupied by the Casterlys—for whom it’s still named after in the time of Game of Thrones.” For non-book readers, the legend goes that the Casterlys were tricked out of their home rock by Lann the Clever, who then founded the lion-fronted house. Perhaps this will play out in the prequel...
The first Starks will be involved and their origin story will be told, since it’s directly tied to “the Others,” which Martin said the White Walkers were called back then. And since the story predates the Targaryens (and the dragons), there will be plenty of other CGI animals to quench our visual hunger. “There are things like direwolves and mammoths,” Martin said. A giant mammoth running into battle? Fine, we’ll take it.
What’s the title?
The creators got a little more creative than The Game of Thrones Prequel and have reportedly given it a working title of Bloodmoon to set it apart from its parent series. However, Martin’s original preference for the prequel's title was The Long Night, which also happens to be the title of one of GoT season eight’s episodes. Martin said the show *might* be titled as a riff off of this episode title.
“I heard a suggestion that it could be called The Longest Night, which is a variant I wouldn’t mind,” Martin said. “That would be pretty good.”
Who’s set to star in the series?
In addition to Oscar nominee Naomi Watts, who plays a personable socialite (apparently, they have those in Westeros, too) with a dark secret, Miranda Richardson (the Harry Potter films), John Heffernan (Dracula), John Simm (Strangers), Marquis Rodriguez (Manifest) and Richard McCabe (Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams) will also star. Additionally, Dixie Egerickx (Summerland), Josh Whitehouse (Poldark), Naomi Ackie (Lady Macbeth), Denise Gough (Monday), Sheila Atim (Harlots), Ivano Jeremiah (Humans) and Jamie Campbell Bower (the Fantastic Beasts films) are slated to appear. Last but not least, Georgie Henley (the Chronicles of Narnia films), Alex Sharp (How to Talk to Girls at Parties) and Toby Regbo (Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald) are involved, too.
Although many were wondering whether Watts and Whitehouse would be the main stars of the show, Martin revealed that, like the original GoT, the prequel will be an ensemble cast. “I hesitate to use the word ‘lead,’” Martin said. “As you know for Game of Thrones, we never even nominated anybody for lead actress or lead actor [during awards season] until recently; it was always for supporting [categories] because the show is such an ensemble. I think that will be true for this show too. We don’t have leads so much as a large ensemble cast.”
Are the same writers and producers on board?
Author Martin and executive producer Vince Gerardis are the only auspices from GoT involved in the project. Martin penned the books from which the series was based, served as an executive producer and contributed several episode scripts. Jane Goldman (Kingsman, several X-Men movies and Kick-Ass) created the prequel series alongside Martin and will serve as showrunner. S.J. Clarkson (Succession) is executive producing and will direct the pilot episode. James Farrell (Mrs. Brown’s Boys), Jim Danger Gray (Orange Is the New Black) and Daniel Zelman (Bloodline) will also executive produce, and Chris Symes (The Alienist) will serve as a co-executive producer. So basically, there are a lot of cooks in the kitchen.
When will it premiere?
An official premiere date has yet to be determined, but a 2020 or 2021 arrival is expected.
Are there other Game of Thrones spin-offs in the works?
Martin recently penned a blog post confirming there are several more shows in the works aside from the prequel. TBD if they make it to the small screen.
Now, we wait…
Additional reporting by Roberta Fiorito